Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Multipication Bead Board

Multiplication Bead Board:
I redid my Mult Bead Board. Here is a picture of my old bead board. It's been a few years so I don't remember exactly, but I *think* the printout and directions were from jmjpublishing.
Below I'll paste a photo of my new one. I cheated and used the blank side of a $0.99 hundred board (available at any teacher store but I got mine at Mardel). I trimmed off the border; rubber cemented it to white foam board; used a highlighter to make a yellow border at the top and left (because I didn't have yellow foam board) to match the yellow for the multiplication works; trimmed using a metal ruler and exacto blade; wrote the numbers on top with a sharpie; and finished the edges with clear strapping tape to hold down the edge of the chart and wrap around the edge of the foam board. This is smaller than the older board so it fits straight up in the cubby with about 1cm to spare.

There are 2 sets of materials to use with the board. Set one has the little flat beads I used with the olders (in the old picture above). I switched out the little green wooden milk jugs with velcro and the little chips with velcro that the olders used for little yellow fun foam tiles I cut up and wrote the numbers on with sharpie and just 1 red translucent chip to move across the top.
The other set has 100 units from the Base Ten Blocks, poker chips with the numbers on them, and 1 red translucent chip to move across the top numbers (my personal favorite because I can handle the little cubes easier; youngest dd likes the pretty flat beads best). The child can choose from either of these sets.

What's Cookin'?
[disclaimer: I started this post weeks ago so "tonight" doesn't necessarily mean "tonight"! So much has happened since starting this post - like blowing out my oven and attempting to make tomato sauce so I could can it.]
I made some macaroni and cheese using this recipe. I added a VERY non-NT ingredient: cut up Little Smokies that dh brought home the other day. It was delicious and I savored every bite :). I served it with a cantaloupe.

Tonight we had tacos. Sounds simple. I can make just about anything complicated. I used Kelly's fermented tortilla recipe but since I didn't have milk, I just used water and since I didn't plan ahead I just used white flour instead of wheat. Older dds helped me flip tortillas while I sauteed a mixture of onion, banana pepper, and zucchini slices in butter ("Wow, that's a lot of butter, Mommy!"). Then I reheated some browned ground beef that I miraculously precooked in the early afternoon. Then (I'm using the same pan, BTW, for each of these, lol) I heated up the black beans I had made the day before and left them simmering on the stovetop while I stuck the rest in the warm oven. Then I sat down with a cup of coffee and typed dd's 4-H paper for about 20 minutes because, well, just to help her out a little since she had already written it, and everyone else played outside (bliss!). Between the sweet sauteed mix, a diced tomato from a friend's garden (thanks, K!), and everything else it was a party to the taste buds.

Blueberries are in season! I LOVE blueberries. We picked almost 30 cups of blueberries at a blueberry farm. 15+ cups are in bags in the freezer. 10 Cups are waiting anxiously to see what becomes of them. The fate for some will be in a blueberry cobbler. The fate for others will be to be scarfed down unceremoniously by any and all. Others will be turned into blueberry jam and canned. Some have already mysteriously disappeared. I found this blueberry cobbler that I plan on making:,1837,152191-241197,00.html
[Update: the cobbler was delicious - just not quite enough for 2 servings for a family of 5 (over 2 days, not at one sitting!)][After all was said and done I saved at least $45 on blueberries and jam for the year (10 jars of jam) ... Not bad for a fun family outing!]

Onions: I picked a bunch of onions and am cutting up and freezing them. They may last 1/2 year of cooking/seasoning. I'm going to try making onion rings. Here are a few recipes:,1650,147189-248197,00.html,166,147188-248197,00.html
I find myself at often. I like their recipes because they're simple :)
[Update: I used the second recipe and they were delicious. Here's a picture]

Then I fried some zucchini and some eggplant with the same batter. Not nearly as good as the onion rings but okay.

Since I broke my oven (sigh) I tried making yogurt in a water bath in the crockpot. The 3rd try I heated the milk up in an electric skillet, poured it in a quart jar (spilling a bunch on the counter!) and was able to keep the temperature at 110F from the beginning. We won't talk about the first 2 tries... (Ignore the ugly stains in my crockpot from cooking black beans) I put a washcloth under the jar so it wouldn't sit directly on the bottom and I preheated the water to the right temp. I also waited until the milk was the right temp before putting it in the jar.I got a bunch of tomatoes to make some canned tomato sauce. By the time I spent hours washing, parboiling, seeding them (the dc peeled them), and cooking the sauce I only had 5 cups of sauce. I'll try it again with Roma tomatoes but without more yield it's hardly worth it for me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stamp Game

What's Schoolin'?

The addition strip board has been a big hit with youngest dd and also with a visiting dc the same age. Youngest is now also doing the fish bowl with Finger Chart 3. Oh, and setting up a pet shop in her room with stuffed animals for sale and leaving advertisements around the house like solicitors leave ads. Her ads even have a business phone number and website listed :). Too cute.

Youngest needed 1/2 inch grid paper to do maths but the only 'paper' I've found is 1/4 inch, which is what the olders use for math notebooks and math reference folders. I did a search and printed off the following grid to put in a 3-prong folder for youngest to use. Today I'll be showing her the problem cards and Stamp Game. Soon after I'll demo the Dot Game. She has been doing addition with regrouping using the Base Ten Blocks for a month or so in her regular Math Curriculum (Excel Math - It's excellent). She can also do the dynamic addition without manipulatives but giving her the option of more abstract support like the Dot Game will help her, I think. So, although I didn't exactly follow the right order (she jumped straight to abstract from the Base 10 Blocks) I'll offer these to her now.

Here is a picture of my homemade Stamp Game using printed stamps stuck on self-adhesive fun foam. The foam backing makes it much easier to grasp and manipulate. I keep the cards in a little plastic drawer in one of the math cubbies so that they can use the cards with different materials.

What's Gardenin'?

We harvested our very first crop of potatoes! Not really enough to store but we'll certainly enjoy potatoes for a week or so. Last night I just washed off and boiled some of the red potatoes. The dc and I decided that we'll definitely plant potatoes again next season. This was my third and last try but it worked in both the raised bed and the big planter on the back porch. We worked really hard but it was fun.

As soon as we dug up all of the potatoes we planted the sweet potato slips. I put the dill that was growing with the potatoes in the planter in a smaller planter with some thyme already in it. It's in bloom but the cucumbers aren't ready yet for me to use the dill. That happened last year also - the timing was off so I let the blue swallowtails eat the dill.

My zukes don't seem to be getting pollinated. The peas and cukes in the same general area are and those flowers are so big and beautiful - I don't see why they're not. After 3 tiny zukes shriveled up I cut a tiny one when it was only about 4 inches long to eat.

What's Cookin'?

Last night was a strange dinner, but one of my favorites lately. It was just what I needed and I felt great afterward. The best part was that the onion, pepper, potatoes, tiny zucchini, and a handful of peas were from our garden; the butter was good Amish butter (we're almost out -sniff!); the bread was homemade sourdough; and the eggs were wonderful eggs from a friend.

I sauteed chopped onion, pepper, zuke, and some diced ham in coconut oil. Then I added eggs which dh whipped up for me while I sauteed. Meanwhile middle dd made the toast and oldest dd shredded some extra sharp cheddar to sprinkle over the eggs or potatoes. That's it. Simple dinner. Scrambled eggs with veggies/ham in it served with boiled potatoes, peas, and sourdough toast.

I share this as an example for how real food doesn't have to be gourmet. It's just real.

Quote of the Day:

~ Youngest was reading Farmer Boy out loud last night (usually I read it to her but she asked and did fine). "What does sedate mean?" (I answer) What does placidly mean?" (I answer). "Why can't they just say calm and peaceful?"

~ "I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short."
Blaise Pascal (I'm not necessarily endorsing him but I love the quote)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sunscreen again???

How many posts will I have about sunscreen?

When I obsess about something I REALLY obsess! Hopefully this will be the last post! Until next summer that is :).

I was bypassing Badger unscented SPF 30 because it has 'micronized zinc oxide' as the active ingredient. After reading the explanation on their website I'm sort of almost sold (that is, unless I find something else)(sounds a bit wishy-washy, eh?). Better yet - they list 2 stores in the area that sell it. Read about it here:

Their anti-bug spray looks good. Both are about $16.00 for 2.9 ounces.

The winning sunscreen is.... (drum roll)

Loving Naturals Sunscreen.

Why? Because, even though the Badger brand had me (almost) convinced regarding their zinc oxide use, Loving Naturals has non-nano particles zinc oxide AND it specifically addresses the chemical coating that Badger uses. In the following link click on product info on the top tool bar and then active ingredient on the bottom.

The cost is $10 for 2.7 ounces (different than I found originally); $19 for 5 ounces. Funny, this price sounded outrageous a few weeks ago yet now I'm more than willing to pay it for a year of safe sun protection. If you know me locally and want to know where to get some, let me know.

They also have a natural bug spray or lotion ($13 for 4 ounces). I used a natural bug spray today to go out to our thrip-infested peas in the garden and the citronella-based spray kept them at bay. Their product looks good.

What's Cookin'?

Cabbage, cabbage, glorious cabbage: Kroger has cabbage on sale for $0.50/pound. I got 4 to use for sauerkraut. I just accidentally ran across an old recipe (that I've never tried) to use cabbage in lieu of spaghetti noodles. That should be interesting. The recipe is on my counter waiting for tomorrow. [Update: We made 3-1/2 quarts of kraut today but I completely forgot until we were done and cleaning up that I wanted to hold some back for that recipe - argh! 2 quarts are plain; 1 qt has pickling spices like dill, mustard seed, and coriander seed in it; and the pint has a pepper from our little garden (sort of like a banana pepper)] Alyss' instructions are easy to follow. I don't really measure but I always refer back to her instructions:

Roasted peanuts: I've soaked and dehydrated some peanuts but I'm trying to make them more palatable to dh by tweaking a spiced nuts recipe. I plan to roast them with just oil and salt. Dc and I just eat them plain or use them for peanut butter (very occasionally). [Update: the nuts were a hit with dh. I ended up mixing the roasted peanuts with the plain ones once in the jar and it's just enough of a salt coating flavor. I mixed 2 Cups soaked/dehydrated peanuts with 2 teaspoons oil and almost 1 teaspoon salt. Then I put them on parchment paper and roasted for 10 minutes at 350F. I should have done a lower temp because I think I killed my enzymes - That's what I get for not checking NT and doing it on the fly. At least 1/2 the nuts in the mix still have live enzymes.

Sourdough Bread: I made 2 loaves of sourdough bread (one is baking while I type). Last Sunday I started a new starter and used water from boiling potatoes for most of the water. It took off and ended up being the best starter I've made yet. The first loaf rose beautifully in the bread maker on dough cycle (then I put it in a pan, let it sit, and cook in the oven so it can finish the 8 hour rise/soak). Unfortunately, I don't bake bread in the oven in the summer, so I just used up all the starter in this first batch (sniff, sniff!). I need to figure out which recipe will be my summer recipe for bread. I cook it in the bread maker on the back porch to create less heat in the house.

Bananas were on sale for $0.39/lb this week so youngest dd has been busy dehydrating banana chips. The dehydrator is on the back porch right now with batch #2.

What's Gardenin'?

I went to the local farmer's market today in search of I didn't really know what. I almost jumped up and down when I saw a lady selling sweet potato slips. I got 4 and went back for 2 more for a pot where I have potatoes right now. She said the potatoes need to be harvested so we'll get to play in the dirt this weekend :). Then I'll plant the sweet potato slips in the potato section of the raised bed and in the big planter on the back porch. She was the only organic grower there today. Now to google potato harvesting...

She was generously giving away some purple bean plants so I'll put those where I was *going* to plant watermelon. We missed the watermelon window because things were very hectic - in a good way - during April and May.

My camera died or I would try to upload some pictures of the kraut, etc.