Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mystery Dinner ~ Shopping Surprises

What's Cookin'?

My mom surprised me at Thanksgiving by 1) liking my cherry bread pudding (I didn't know she liked bread pudding!) and 2) asking for that for Christmas.  So, today I'll adjust my blueberry bread pudding recipe to make it cherry - and will probably make an extra for us!  I also plan on making her a pumpkin craisin bread as an extra surprise... and an extra for us if I have enough ingredients!  More on those later.

[Update:  bread pudding was a flop!  I really hate wasting ingredients but I actually had to trash it - ouch!!  We were able to pick some of it out for us and a 1/2 batch was edible but not pretty - sort of eggy in between the bread pieces - so we'll keep that one and I'll just take her the pumpkin craisin bread.  Obviously not the same recipe I used at Thanksgiving.  I'll toss it so I don't use it again and find my other recipe for another time.  Bummer - I spent so much time on it because I had to make some bread first so I could make the bread pudding.  Plus I made 2 batches so I wasted 1 C cherries for one and 1 C blueberries for the other.  So sad!  On the other hand:  the pumpkin craisin loaves look beautiful!  I can't wait to cut one open for a "taster" loaf.]

Here's a quiz photo:  see if you can guess what this is!

That's the before picture and I didn't get an after picture because we were busy eating it up :).  It was actually quite good, believe it or not from the above photo!  I put leftover roast and rice in the casserole dish and started digging through the freezer.  On top of the leftovers I put a handful of frozen tomatoes (that I flash froze during market season), about 1 cup + of frozen shredded zucchini, and 1 C of frozen white gravy.  After it was thawed in the oven I stirred the zukes into the rice, smooshed the tomatoes and took out the peels, and smeared the gravy over everything.  Then I let it continue in the oven until heated through.  Strange?  Maybe!  However, it was an easy, satisfying meal with whole food ingredients.  What's in your freezer? (said in my best Viking voice)

What's Schoolin'?

The thing about homeschooling is that schooling and life are sometimes hard to separate.  Case in point:  Is reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol school or just plain life?  We're counting it as school but want to make it an annual tradition in life - so it's both.  The language is definitely vocabulary building, the details are historical, the story is captivating, and the writing is such a wonderful model of exemplary writing that has withstood time and place.  I was reading from the free kindle download on my laptop but ended up checking out 2 copies from the library so the olders could read it on their own.  One went ahead and read it but the other is really enjoying my reading aloud so she would rather sit in on my read-alouds and then reread it herself.  They will jot down examples of his writing and do a short reflective essay in their literature response logs also.  I like the version we checked out because of the print size and the beautiful illustrations scattered throughout.

What's Shoppin'?

This was a surprise:  I saw a nice wooden Shut the Box game at Big Lots for $10!!  Then I saw another version from the same company at Target for $15.  I guess it's making a comeback because a few years ago when it was mentioned on the Montessori group it was impossible to find.   We ended up playing the game with just index cards with the numbers written on them and flipping them over. I'm posting links below so you can see what I mean.

Another fun surprise at Big Lots was Rumford Baking Powder.  Yes, I'm weird that way - I was very excited that I didn't have to stock up on it anymore from our old town nor order it online.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hummus ~ Broiler Chicks (Week 4)

What's Cookin'?

Hummus:  I adapted this recipe:

I didn't have any tahini nor sesame seeds to make any so I just omitted that ingredient from the above recipe.  Basically, I added the following into the food processor and whirred until it was smooth.

~ 16 oz drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas) [I soaked and cooked about a pound earlier in the week; used 1/2 for another recipe] *See directions below
~ Juice from 1 lemon (would be fine with just 1/2 lemon)
~ 2 Garlic cloves (next time I'll just use one)
~ 1/2 Teaspoon Real Salt
~ 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

I was going to make some pita bread 'real quick' and serve it for lunch but it was getting late.  Instead I served it with sea salt bagel chips.  I avoid msg, soy, and various other ingredients so we only get the sea salt flavor in most things.  Weirdly, the bagel chips I used don't show the same ingredients on the amazon link so I didn't post them since I can't recommend them if they have what's listed at amazon (L-cystine?  No way!).  I double checked the bag at home and they are different.

Everyone in the family seemed to like this dish.  Next time I'll try to serve it with flat bread.  I hope to get my sourdough started up again soon.

*To make your own garbanzo beans/chickpeas soak them overnight in plenty of filtered water with the juice of 1/2 lemon (make sure to strain the seeds!).  The next morning (or that night if you started soaking in the morning) drain, rinse, drain again.  I use the crock pot so... put into crock pot with at least 2 extra inches of filtered water.  My legumes take about 30 hours on low on the crock pot so don't get discouraged if it feels like they're taking forever.  Garbanzos are firm yet easily mushed with a fork.

This recipe adjustment is part of Kelly's RFW:

Apple Tarts:  Along with the hummus and bagel chips (and raisins that dc wanted) we ate a freshly made apple tart each.  Mmm.  So easy.  I used left-over pie crust from a cherry pie, rolled it into small circles and lined a paper cup-lined muffin tin with the dough.  I defrosted 2 C of frozen apples; tossed with rapadura and pumpkin spice; filled the uncooked tart shells with the apples; put a tiny bit of butter over each one.  I baked in a 350F oven for 30 minutes and then loosely covered the tin with foil for another 20 minutes.

Chicken Saga:

The 17 4-H broilers are finally out of the garage and in their little shed.  Dh got the shed set up inside and moved them when we were gone yesterday.  What a gift!  The olders surprised dh by cleaning out the garage this afternoon.  It'll take forever to get the "dust" out of everything but they really did a lot of cleaning.  As of this typing he hasn't discovered it yet :).

The problem I'm having with these broilers is that we plan on eating them after the fair in January but we're feeding them JUNKY regular feed that I'm sure has GE corn, soy etc in it.  Ugh.  I've been researching organic chicken feed and it is outrageously expensive (sigh).  I found a cheap one in VA but shipping is the same cost as the 50 lb bag.  My plan is to get at least one bag to feed them at the end.  We give them dried meal worms for treats and they love it.  I'm still trying to stay away from the chicks because... I think they're cute.

They are in a pen in a plastic shed the previous house owners left behind similar to the one below... only a bit more rickety.  Dh sealed up the gaps from the inside.  They seem happy although the lows this week are suppose to be in the 20s (F).  They are 4 weeks old and have a heat lamp.  4 more weeks or so 'till the show.

[Update:  The wind was so strong (and cold!) yesterday that it almost blew the door off and messed up dh's coverings of the cracks.  He had to fix it and now we need a new latch.  We had to put in a second heat lamp.  Just as I was thinking that the shed could make a good permanent hen house later for our layers... If it were in better shape it would be great - they even have 2 plexiglass skylights, plenty of air ventilation and the walls are doubled so it's insulated.  Otherwise they look good - I'm just cringing with the feed we're giving them.]

This post is part of Frugal Days Sustainable Ways blog hop at Frugally Sustainable:

50% off Leapster 2 and Mega Bloks

This Leapster system is currently 51% off!  We've never used a Leapster and are way beyond its age but I know many do and may find this useful:

Leap Frog Leapster 2

Here's another good deal. These Mega Bloks are 50% off.  My dc used these a lot when they were little.  My mom just got rid of her set last year.  Her grandkids used them for about 14 years!

Mega Bloks

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dog Biscuits ~ Division/Multiplication

What's Cookin'?

Youngest dd wanted to make some dog biscuits to take to a dog-themed Christmas Party.  They were taking the gifts (dog items) to a local dog shelter.  Isn't that a cool idea?  Anyway, we used this recipe and just made a half-batch.  That was enough dough for us to take some and make some more later.  She chose Christmas cookie cutter shapes.  Oh, and it's such an easy recipe that we were able to mix, roll out, and cut in less than 10 minutes!  This could definitely be a practical life  activity for youngers :).,174,150182-252204,00.html

Basically, it was 2 C wheat flour; 1/2 teaspoon baking powder; 1-1/2 tablespoon oil; and 1 C water.  Our dog taste-tested the first one and it was a hit.  I'd like to try it again with better fat instead of the oil and some garlic powder.  Maybe some DE also??

What's Schoolin'?

Youngest dd is on Presentation 3 from Lisia's long division presentations using the Stamp Game.  This is going to lead perfectly into the racks and tubes because for one of her problems she was tired of counting out 10s of whatever for her exchanges.  It got tedious when we had a divisor of 17 because of the higher remainders within the problem and more regrouping.  We skipped presentations 1 and 2 because she was already doing 3-digit divided by 1-digit numbers to abstraction.

Regarding the Multiplication Checkerboard, dd needed it for a problem the other day, but rather than pull out the materials she drew one on a laptop chalkboard that we had been using and placed the bead bars on her drawn checkerboard.  Interesting... and funny because our checkerboard is one of my best-made materials and is quilted - go figure!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lapbook Freebie: Island of the Blue Dolphins

I just noticed last night that the quarterly freebie right now from In the Hands of a Child is a complete lapbook (93 pages!) for The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.  My older dds didn't really enjoy the book but it's an excellent book.  I think they didn't enjoy it much because it's not light and happy and they read it years ago  ["It's creepy and she never gets back to her people."].  They may have liked it better if they had been older.  It's based on a true story.  You may want to preview it for your dc - I chose to wait a while when I previewed it for them.  Maybe I should've waited longer?  Click on "freebie" at this link:

Here is the book:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Density Blocks

There was mention of some density blocks from enesco on the Montessori group so out of curiosity I did an amazon search on them.  They have the regular one in which all are the same size but different weights and densities, and they also have this really cool one in which they are all the same weight but are different sizes (since they are different densities).  Too cool not to post!

Density Blocks 1: Constant Volume

Density Blocks 2: Constant Mass

Here are more options:

Density Cubes 10 Pack

Equal Mass Cylinder Set

Density Identification Set

You could get two sets for matching for Montessori Sensorial work. I was thinking about the visual clues and thought that maybe if they were in little cloth drawstring bags it might work. The one in which they are different sizes might just be for demonstration and interest because I can't see how you can match them with just one attribute - but they are so cool :).

Here are some velvet 5 inch drawstring bags, but I would probably check the dollar store first:

What's Cookin'?

We made truffles, brownies, and German spice cookies this week.  None are what you would call nutrient dense, lol, but at least they were all made from scratch with mostly organic ingredients.  After eating all of those sweets we had chili for dinner, which WAS nutrient dense with organic, soaked, home-cooked kidney beans, organic ketchup, homemade chili powder spice mix, and grass-fed ground beef.  We topped each bowl with Amish raw cheddar cheese and also garnished with organic corn chips (not sprouted but hopefully not GMO either).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Books

K. recommended these books and they sound delightful (and of course I totally forgot about using the original Charles Dickens! Note the free Kindle for that one):

"The Jesse Tree" by Geraldine McCaughrean

"The Thirteen Days of Christmas" by Jenny Overton

"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens

"Star of Wonder" by Pat Alexander

"The Christmas Angel" by Pirkko Vainio

What's Cookin'?

Cherry Pie:  This is a total "cheat" recipe but it's at least from scratch without any frankenfood ingredients.  It was a winner with the family.  I use a very simple dough recipe and used this recipe for the filling:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Melissa and Doug 50% off today!!

I just got an e-mail from Amazon that select Melissa and Doug products are the Deal of the Day today and are 50% off.  Wow... just in time for Christmas!  We're waaay beyond Melissa and Doug products (sniff, sniff) but I wanted to pass this along.  Here is the link:

Click here for the deal!

What's Cookin'?

Yesterday was one of those afternoons - late getting in, no meal planned, attention diverted by a few unpacking tasks, tired, etc.  At 5 PM I found myself digging through the freezer hoping for something to materialize.  Lo and behold, it did!  I found a bag of precooked spaghetti noodles, a bag of precooked chicken tenders, and a bag of frozen veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots).  I defrosted then in the pan as I heated them (in some palm oil and coconut oil), added about 2 cups of chicken broth I found pushed to the back of the refrigerator, 2 teaspoons of pesto, and about 1/4 cup of cream (Mexican cream from Cacique that has less additives than even the organic cream in our stores - my backup when I'm out of fresh farm cream).  I also found some freezer biscuits and tossed those in the oven.  Phew!

I guess because of last night's frantic dinner I decided to make banana pancakes for breakfast today.  If my spotted bananas could talk they would say, "Hurry, eat me, make muffins, pancakes, anything!"  I adjusted a traditional pancake recipe to soak it.

Last night I soaked:
2 Cups white wheat flour
1/4 Cup whey
1 Cup fresh milk

This morning I added:
4 Teaspoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Egg
4 Tablespoons butter (recipe called for 3, but hey )
1 mashed banana
Water to thin
[I also added a splash of sunflower oil so it wouldn't stick - no problem]

[These soaked banana pancakes are part of Real Food Wed ]

What's Green?

~ Article about nanotechnology.  Seriously, why would you need nanoparticles in clothing???

I've been avoiding titanium dioxide in sunscreen for dc unless it says "non nano" on it.  We use Loving Naturals and it literally took me 2 straight weeks of research to find a product so here's the link in case you're in the same boat this summer (or live in the Southern hemisphere right now!):

Has your dentist recommended MI paste for tooth remineralization?  Mine did a few years ago but after I got home and really looked at the ingredients I couldn't use it.  Then I discovered Tooth Swish and was so excited when I saw that in his office (next to the MI paste) on another visit.  We use the peppermint flavor but I may try another flavor next time.

Stieler Case:

Have you been keeping up with the case against the parents of Jacob Stieler?  Here is Kelly's post:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Montessori Division Work ~ Christmas Ideas

What's Cookin'?

I totally messed up the monkey bread recipe from Heavenly Homemakers.  The house was too cold for it to rise in an hour, but I didn't have time and cooked it anyway.  Bleh.  The dc loved it but I couldn't finish mine; it felt like a rock.  I'll count it as practice for our 3 Kings Day breakfast.

I've been *trying* to plan our weekly meals out better.  This week we're having baked chicken with rice and corn on the cob; leftovers of the same; bean and cheese melts on homemade tortillas (using Kelly's fermented tortilla recipe, and wonderful Amish cheese from Minerva Cheese Factory); chili (home soaked/cooked beans, 1/2 lb grass-fed beef, spices, no msg flavoring); chicken noodle soup (homemade bone broth); spaghetti (with the other 1/2 lb of ground beef).  For breakfast tomorrow we're having soaked German Pancake to get them through a long day of volleyball games.  Very simple, inexpensive meals that stretch the higher priced items of cheese and meat.  Now I'm pausing to go make a yogurt/cherry smoothie for snack...

What's Schoolin'?

I have wanted tessellation manipulatives for about 15 years, at least, I'm not kidding.  We have pattern blocks like the ones below but I remember seeing tessellation kits with odd shapes in a co-worker's room when I taught 4th.  They were more like the blue template in the link below.  Youngest dd still likes the pattern blocks but she's soon to outgrow it.  However, I think all 3 would enjoy making tessellations using these awesome (and inexpensive!) templates.  Shipping is 9% with a minimum of $7, though, so that's something to keep in mind.  However, they had other items of interest and some clearance items that might make the $7 shipping worth it.  I saw when I was looking for shipping cost that they are based in Fort Collins, CO - I have a little affinity for them, then, because I went to CSU for my first 2 years of college :).

Here are some other templates (I actually think the first 2 are the same):

Division Work:
Youngest Dd is doing the Division booklet right now in which they go through using the unit division board.  Here is an excellent link with the presentation of the unit division board.  I simply used the blank back side of my $1 hundred board I got years ago from Mardel (see picture below - the back side is a blank grid).  You could even just print out a blank hundred board grid online to use.  I used a sharpie to write the numbers across the top and down the side.  I quickly pulled out some glass chips for markers and units from the base ten blocks to use.  Fortunately I already had a booklet printed from the olders years ago in my Math storage bank box.  I'm still working on remaking the racks and tubes division boards.  I have them printed and decided to use a wooden base for my little plastic tubes.  Dh has been drilling a few holes at a time as he's able.  I always plan on it but have only run into the garage for a few minutes at a time to check on the chicks... yes, you read correctly - we have chicks in the garage.  19 to be exact.  I'm trying not to get attached because they're broilers for a 4-H show and then (gulp) we're planning on, uh... (sigh) broiling them.  I'm still not sure if I can do it.  I'm the one who couldn't eat a chicken I had played with from the market when I was a little girl (saga of the chicks to be continued...)

This is a blatantly selfish post as I window shop for ideas.  I keep losing my lists so this way I can come back to it!  Last year I got each person in our family a book for Christmas and it was so helpful to have my links on my blog to refer to as I whittled it down.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Montessori Division Work ~ Happy Thanksgiving!

I need to remake my division board and racks and tubes materials.  I'll paste my old photos below.  However, my racks and tubes took up a lot of shelf space.  This time I won't make them oversized, nor on corkboard.  I may just laminate them and put them on foam board like I make the pin maps.  Instead of the tubes I would love to have some stackable pill cups but will need to test that they hold exactly 10 beads.  Part of the beauty of the racks is that the dc doesn't have to constantly count out their ten beads and can focus on other aspects of the work.

Intro to the Division Board (using a booklet that my dc only use once but it's very valuable):

My old photos of the racks and tubes:

What's Cookin'?

Hamburger Buns:  I used this recipe and they came out great (it sounds boastful, but it's the recipe I'm boasting - not my cooking!).  I put the warm water and yeast in the bread maker alone for 5 minutes.  Then I added the rest and let it run on the dough cycle for about 10 minutes.  I checked it throughout to see if it needed more flour (I was using all white because I hadn't planned/soaked and started out with 2-1/2 C flour.  I added about 1/2 C more a little at a time as I checked it.

Frozen Biscuits:  The same blogger (Stacy) was a guest blogger on Katie's Kitchen Stewardship and we tried her frozen biscuit recipe. I made 2 batches of soaked flour because I just knew the first batch would never make it into the freezer :).  Everyone loved them and they easily "fork split."  The night before I soaked the flour, buttermilk (or kefir or yogurt or whey), and butter (melted and cooled).  Then, after soaking, I added the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Thanksgiving Dinner:

Sweet Potato Casserole:  I'm trying this recipe using fresh sweet potatoes and homemade marshmallows from the freezer.  I'll put the homemade marshmallows on one half and store-bought minis for dh on the other half.  I hope they bake well!  I have melted them to make the grotto with puffed rice cereal but have never used them in a baked recipe (I switched out real butter instead of the margarine they mention).

Cranberry Sauce:  I'm using this recipe and will wing it from there.  I may use 1/2 C water and 1/2 C orange juice instead of 1 C OJ.  For the sugar I'll use rapadura but wonder if I could get away with slipping in some molasses.  I'll start with 1/2 of the recommended sugar. [update:  turned out awesome.  I went ahead and used just OJ for the liquid.  Dd mashed it when it was cooked and we sprinkled about 1/4 teaspoon gelatin on it and stirred it in carefully.  It was fun seeing the cranberries pop :).,1955,143162-224201,00.html

Green Bean Casserole:  I made homemade french fried onions using this recipe below.  Then I used the grease/bits and a bit more flour and the soaking milk (plus a bit more) to make a gravy.  I'm just using the gravy instead of the "cream of mushroom soup" called for in the traditional recipe.  I ended up with 2 C gravy and will use that with 2 cans (sigh) of french style green beans with the homemade french fried onions on top.

Sourdough stuffing:  DH wants Stove Top dressing so I got him a box of that to make.  However, I'm also making stuffing from scratch with no msg, etc in it.  I happen to have a loaf of California Sourdough in the freezer and will use that to use with this recipe below.  I'll add 1/2 C apple and some spices.  Right now I'm doing a super quick bone broth just on the stove to use in the recipe.

Cocol:  Today is the feast day for Blessed Miguel Pro, one of my all-time favorite heroes.  Seriously, google him... wait, I'll do it for you.  When you see the thousands and thousands pouring out into the streets for his funeral procession, remember that it was ILLEGAL to even be a practicing Catholic in Mexico at that time and that many were persecuted for their faith.  Anyway, we somehow managed to make this sweet yeast bread for his feast day and talked about what he did and how he showed such courage, devotion, charity, and good cheer. Viva Cristo Rey!  The first link is a recipe for cocol but we just used the one from the Catholic Calendar yahoo group which was almost identical:

Yesterday we  read about Fr. Byles who went down with the Titanic and what heroism and devotion he showed to both the people on board and to God as he served them and refused to get on a lifeboat several times.  Here is a link to this other hero:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Texas Felt Map

I took the concept of the World Felt Map and extended it to our state studies.  I used the megamaps site to print out a 4x4 page map (I *think* it was 4x4... it may have been 5x5 but I don't think so).  First I taped the pages together; then youngest dd roughly cut around it leaving a space of about 1-1/2 inches all around.  After pinning it to a yard of felt (she chose orange - sorry Aggies! - we love A&M so it really had nothing to do with college alliances!), I cut it out in detail.  She chose black for the background yard of felt.  I still haven't tacky glued it to the background but it's been fine anyway.

I actually uploaded photos today on my computer (yes, all 375 of them!) so here it is in its glory:

I took pictures of her work but unfortunately I was borrowing other dd's camera for that so... those photos will come later.  When they do, you'll see her layouts for Native Tribes, rivers, and cities.  I have the controls in page protectors and the cards for each work in their respective sleeve (along with blue pipe cleaners for rivers and chips for cities).

What's Cookin'?

I have 40 pounds of ugly apples sitting in 2 small boxes on my kitchen table and I couldn't be happier :).  I didn't process any today but we've been snacking on them.  They may not be "grocery store pretty" but they are crunchy, sweet, and in danger of not making it to the freezer, stove/canner, or dehydrator!  I plan on preslicing and freezing in 2 C quantities for pies/cobblers/crisps/applesauce or whatever.  I also plan on dehydrating a bunch for snacks (and I have precious little freezer space).  I would like to go ahead and can applesauce but I no longer have a water bath canner - I'll see what I can do with my soup pot.

Hmmm.... I think I'll go soak some yogurt dough right now for a pie tomorrow!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ancient Greece

What's Cookin'?

One of the reasons I avoid Canola Oil:

Green Spaghetti:  I couldn't find an online link to give credit but it's basically 2 C fresh spinach steamed until just wilted blended in a blender with 1 C broth, 1/2 C milk; 1/2 C shredded cheese served over pasta.  It was too much liquid for 1/2 box spaghetti noodles that I used for lunch so I froze the extra liquid for another day.

What's Schoolin'?

Texas History is not enough, 20th Century US History is not enough, we are ALSO doing World History this year (!!) and happen to be on Ancient Greece.  Here are some links:

Free homeschoolshare lapbook:

Cool timeline (not only Greeks)(found it looking for Aesop fables):

Aesop sites: (I just printed out the pages for each fable that has the story on it for booklets instead of all of the pages.  Olders will incorporate it into their huge history lapbook this year and younger will make an Aesop's Fables lapbook with just these)

Drawings for lapbook for Greece (Greek gods and heroes):

Free Iliad lapbook:

Good questions (see appendices) for the Iliad [We are reading this aloud before The Odyssey; I'm using the version written by R. Sutcliff - see link/image below - but the questions in this pdf don't directly match up with her book]

We'll also be reading some of this Iliad translation at Gutenburg Press (free online books):
They have kindle also (I don't have a kindle but could read it on my pc):

Odyssey story online (if using the detailed version and you scroll down under each book it has really good notes for each book)
Here is a printable pdf:

More Odyssey Lesson Plans (I'm just using Appendix B onward)

A Trojan hidden picture page (battle scene).  There are no answers but we'll see how many we can find:

These are some random links I forwarded to my dc so they could go through them (delicious wasn't working well on my computer to bookmark, I think it's google chrome giving me trouble, so it was easier to just put the links in an e-mail to my dc's account - seems odd but that's modern technology!).  Just ignore if some are duplicates.  I tried to put them here as I went along but since all tasks are interrupted (I'm sure you can relate to that!) I quit trying :) :

Design a pot:
Go through these after seeing the Hercules slide show above:

Below are some resources from Amazon (note the free kindle downloads)(since Blogger quit allowing the Amazon tool these may not align or look right):

Monday, October 31, 2011

Free Online Organizer ~ All Saints Day

Free online organizer:

I haven't investigated this yet but it looks promising.  I use Keep and Share to track 4-H activities for Record Books so I would have to see how they compare.  I can tell already though that my brain type would not get the full benefit out of this tool; however, it may prove useful to someone:

What's Cookin'?

Poutine:  Seriously?  French fries covered in gravy and cheese?  I'm there!  What indulgence!  Use healthy fats for frying, homemade bone broth, organic potatoes (only $2+ per bag at Wal-mart), and real cheese.  Then call it a health food.  Seriously!  (and I happen to have all of those ingredients on hand!)

Dinner:  I had some German sausage from a local farm and some pre-cooked kidney beans in the freezer.  I put the beans to heat in the crock pot and about 30 minutes before dinner I cut up the sausage and put it in the oven to plump.  Then I added it to the beans.  I needed something to temper the spiciness of the sausage (I'm a wimp!) so I made some polenta.  I had never made polenta.  I had never eaten polenta.  I wasn't quite sure what I was doing :).  Since I hadn't planned it ahead and therefore did not soak the corn in lime I thought I would at least soak it a few hours in water with some lemon juice to hopefully neutralize some of the mold (aflatoxin? something in corn affects me the same as aflatoxin in beans).  When I poured the water off of the soaked corn I measured it so at to replace it with the same measured amount.  Except for that soaking I basically followed the directions on the package of Bob's Red Mill Polenta (I made a 1/2 batch).  It was a big hit.

All Saints Day

I've been a bit overwhelmed with our move (and with catching something going around) so tomorrow's celebration will be simple, simple, simple.  My plans:

- Pray the Litany of the Saints together.
- Go to Mass at noon.
- Make pretzels in the shape of a figure 8 to represent saints and martyrs.  What great role models they are for living out our faith!  I'll make either these or these.
- Dig through a few boxes and hopefully find our saints candles.  One year each child chose a saint, I printed out a picture of each chosen saint, and we put them on votive candle holders (I chose St. Faustina).
- The dc like to dress up as different saints and we guess who they are.  It usually takes me several tries but I've learned a lot through this activity :).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Furoshiki ~ Crepes and Cupcakes

What's Schoolin'?

Practical Life:  Cloth Gift Wrapping

I love to wrap gifts in cloth but never know what I'm doing.  So, although I love it in theory, I usually use bags and tissue.  Now, finally, visual directions!  I didn't know that it was an official way of wrapping, didn't know it actually had a name, and didn't know that it was an ancient Japanese art called Furoshiki.  Here is a link to a page you can print out.  Unfortunately it has a green background.  I would rather have it white with black ink - especially since I've been out of colored ink for weeks.  I doubt I'll print it but will hopefully refer to it often with dc.  Great idea for Practical Life shelf work:  put a tray with boxes and fabrics along with this page.  No, not my idea ;), it's from Heidi's link also posted below:

Have a look at the above and much more in the winter newsletter here:

More on the technique:

The above one in (yeah!) black and white:

What's Cookin'?

Crepes:  I made an adjusted version of crepes yesterday morning.  It was actually much faster than pancakes because everyone just had one or two.  They were filling and I was actually able to eat one without it messing up my morning blood sugar.  I have been reading several of Dr. Amen's books about brain health and this cookbook is by him and his wife.  I am NOT endorsing this book because it includes a lot of UNfermented soy, trans fats such as margarine, and processed foods such as egg beaters.  However, I enjoyed looking through it and got some really good ideas.  Plus it has a great list of the top 50 brain foods.

Their recipe ingredients for the crepes:  flour, egg beaters, almond milk, stevia.  Their filling was yogurt mixed with ground flax seed with mixed berries and bananas.
My ingredients for the crepes:  soaked flour with fresh milk, real eggs (2 eggs equaled the 1/4 C), a pinch of rapadura sugar.  My filling was less fancy:  a dollop of homemade yogurt and a spoonful of thawed frozen cherries.  After folding it over I sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar on top.

Directions:  The night before, soak 2/3 Cup whole wheat flour (or flour of your choice but no reason to soak white flour) with 1/2 C milk.  The next morning mix in a pinch or 1/2 teaspoon of rapadura (more or less sugar to taste) and 2 eggs.  Stir until well mixed.  I added more milk to thin it further (probably about 1/4 C more).  Heat oil in a pan (I used about 1 Tablespoon coconut oil in an 8" stainless steel pan).  Put about 1/4 C batter in the pan and swirl it around to get it spread out.  Flip when the edges are firm and the bottom starts to barely brown.  Cook the other side the same.

These crepes were very pliable and this recipe worked well.  A long time ago I made crepes using another recipe and they froze well so these should also.

**This adjusted crepe recipe is part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday:

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes:  Here is a great versatile cupcake recipe from Alyss.  I have a few bags of frozen cherries left so I may use those instead of the plums (no plums around here - they are a pit fruit so I try to get organic ones once in a blue moon):
[Update:  I used 1/2 the recommended sugar (rapadura) so it was more like a sweet bread (pan dulce) with fruit than a super sweet cupcake.  I did not add any icing  and everyone enjoyed them for a special snack. Definitely a repeat!]

What's Gardenin'?

I have 2 container roma tomato plants that I barely put out last month when we moved.  They look great and have lots of flowers.  If I get one good tomato at this late date I'll be thrilled.  It will start freezing soon but I can bring them in at night.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Texas History and State Study Resources

What's Cookin'?

Tortilla Soup "a la leftovers":  I loosely followed a tortilla soup recipe (broth, diced cooked chicken, a handful of tomatoes from the freezer, sauteed then pureed onions, peppers, and a few tomatoes from the freezer in the puree, spices).  Then I dumped in all of the leftovers from the refrigerator (yes, even the bit of spaghetti!  It had grass-fed ground beef in it that I wasn't about to waste!).  I put some crumbled organic tortilla chips (to avoid gmo corn although they weren't treated with lime) in a bowl, served the soup on top, and garnished with shredded low-pasteurized swiss cheese and a dallop of Daisy sour cream (not organic but only has cultured cream in its ingredients).

Tortilla Casserole:  I (again) loosely followed a recipe that included making a mixture of cooked ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, shredded cheese, and a bit of milk to make it soupy.  Normally I would use homemade cream of mushroom soup but I had bought the only commercial one I could find that I could eat to keep at my mom's this summer when we were in and out of her house a lot.  I have to admit that it sure was convenient to grab a box!  Grease the bottom of a 9x12 casserole dish (I may have used butter but I can't remember).  Layer 6 tortillas on the bottom (I use either homemade tortillas or sprouted tortillas).  Spoon 1/2 of the mixture over all of it; repeat.  Finish off with some more shredded cheese.  Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes.  The dc really liked it.  I would like to try it again with sprouted corn tortillas.

What I learned:  Freezing tomatoes is easy at both freezing and cooking time!  I had just quartered some farmer's market tomatoes and tossed them in a gallon bag to freeze.  I made sure to lay it flat so they would not freeze together so much.  At cooking time I got out what I needed and the peels just came right off by pulling it gently with my fingers - so easy!

Rice Krispie Treat Grotto for St. Bernadette:  Okay... I *finally* uploaded this photo that goes with this post!  It tells how I made the krispie treats, why I picked organic puffed rice, and how I made homemade marshmallows.  Sequences!

What's Schoolin'?

Here are some resources that I've been using to make materials for our Texas studies:

We started with the dinosaurs :).  I made 3-part cards and she uses them to place on the large felt map.  I also made a paper copy of it for her to make a booklet for her lapbook.  I selectively printed a few pages from this free activity/coloring book with great info:

Outline map of ecoregions:

Same map in color:

Nice map of major cities:

Different tribal maps (I really wanted to focus on the moment in time when Europeans first came; although things shifted and changed with some disappearing and others moving in from different directions.  I thought that a pinpoint in time would help dd have a focus; then we can branch out to how it was different later as we study more):

Labeled and unlabel map of major rivers:

Labeled/unlabeled and colored/uncolored maps of the regions:

Really cool site with lots of info:

Excellent resource on different tribes:

More info on specific tribes and a good map:

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept activity/coloring book:

Different maps of regions of TX (colored and uncolored):

Free curriculum for grades 4 and 7 that could be a stand-alone or supplement.  For me it's a supplement.  They are both parallel curr. so it would be easy to use for multi-age/grade groups or homeschooling.  Some parts need more depth (such as distinct tribes):

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Free Lapbook ~ Texas History Lapbook

As I was scouring the internet for a pre-made Texas History lapbook (I *really* don't want to start from scratch right now even though I love creating) I thought I would check out HOAC.

The Freebie right now at In the Hands of a Child is a full lapbook for Island of the Blue Dolphins (click on freebie at the link).  It says grades 4-7 but I don't think my 4th grader is ready to really appreciate it yet.  I've saved it for later:

Texas Lapbook:

They DO have a Texas History Lapbook!  I would need to add to it for it to be a complete study for the year and be more comprehensive in the History area but it would make a great spine.  Plus, for 4th, even if I didn't add much it would still be "enough" and she would remember it so much better through lapbooking.  I remember trying to teach it all in 4th in public school - it was sooo much info for them!  For the indigenous peoples I divided the class into groups; they did research and made projects; and then presented to the class. That was one way for everyone to have exposure to all of the tribes and learn and *remember* details about at least one :).  How I wish I had known about lapbooking 20 years ago!

It turns out that the HOAC Tx History lapbook is on sale right now at currclick.  Yeah!  $9.95

Hmmm.... decisions, decisions.  I found free resources in my google search of Texas History Lapbooks but this one is more "History" and I've always been pleased with their products.

Books I need to Buy/Check out:

A Child's History of Texas

Texas (Eyewitness Books)

The Story of Texas

I keep waffling back and forth about getting this one - I would have already gotten it if I had unlimited resources:
Dinah Zike's Big Book of Texas History:

You can see them better at this older post made back when the Amazon widget was working:

Now I'm going to start working on some Montessori-inspired Texas History shelf work... I'm thinking a big map that can be used for dd to place things like dinosaur pictures; different tribes; city labels; rivers, etc.  Basically a TX version of the world felt map.  I just found this great resource link to make some type of dinosaur work (I think fossil hunting will be a must of a field trip!):

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Green Polka Dot Box Free Year Membership!!

The Green Polka Dot Box, an online buying club for organic products at reasonable prices, has extended its promotional offer of a free one year membership through October 9th.  Hop on over and check it out.  You have to watch their 30 minute webinar which is a blurb about their higher membership and then sign up.  As an example, I found this Spectrum Refined Coconut Oil for under $5.  I don't get a lot of pre-packaged food (except for this summer during our "living in 4 homes in 3 months nomadic adventurous move") so I won't benefit from the savings on the bulk of their products, but I still found plenty of items I use.

It's $9.95 shipping for any order under $150 and free shipping after that (I can't find exactly where I read that on the website but that's what I remember, anyway, from when I was on it before joining).  Memberships are usually $50.

I love being able to support a company that is in turn supporting companies that are non-GMO or moving in that direction - and that's easy on a thin, crumpled pocketbook.  I can't say at this point that I'll continue my membership next year without the promotional freebie, but I'm happy to give it a go and make a few orders; even if it takes saving up for a few months to consolidate it for the free shipping.  The prices on some of the items phenomenal.

Here's the link:

Here is my referral link, but I'm not hung up on getting referral points - I just want to get the word out about the freebie and about this company that has great promise.  Anything else would be homemade, natural dye, real butter and sugar icing on the cake!  Here's my referral invitation (which I didn't even know existed until after I had written the post):

Let me know of your experiences with this company.  So far they even helped me over the weekend when I was having trouble getting my free membership to work and I am already impressed with their helpfulness.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Portfolios ~ "BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience" video

BOATLIFT: A Must-Watch Video

What's Cookin'?

Food Show Recipes:

Dc will be using the following recipes for their contests this year.

Dd-9 is making Banana Nut Muffins.  We soak ours but will actually follow a recipe for a change for the contest :).  Of course this will take some testing so we're making them in a few minutes.  I found this recipe online.  For the contest we're making the following adjustments but for real life I would soak them overnight with adjustments: whole yogurt instead of low-fat; rapadura/sucanat for the sugar; and vegetable oil instead of canola oil (much of canola is genetically modified)(we'll probably use sunflower oil).

Dd-14 is making zucchini bread.  I'll try to type that up soon.

Dd-15 is making pancake crackers (scroll down to What's Cookin'? here) and homemade peanut butter (I posted here about peanuts).

What's Schoolin'?

What do I do with all of their work??  Well, this has worked well for us for several years... but you'd have to understand my NOT left-brain type (and compensations for my Lyme brain).  It would probably drive many of you crazy!

Throughout the year we simply toss "keepers" in one of these wonderful Sterilite plastic drawers that I kept in the closet of the old house.  It includes Math pages, tests, art work, etc, etc, etc.  Then during the summer (okay, it was every TWO summers for a while!) we go through it and they/I choose the real keepers of the year, take a photos with all of the rest spread out on the floor, and put the real keepers in a binder.  I punch holes in the art work or papers when appropriate and put others in those plastic page protectors when appropriate.  I can also put any cards, letters, smaller items and even notes to me in those page protectors.

This has worked so well that I plan to continue using it.  When we switched to lapbooking the "keepers" went down considerably because the unit pages are in the completed lapbooks that we keep on a shelf in the schoolroom.  When we switched to spiral notebooks for the different subject areas the "keepers" went down even more because random assignments or shelf work follow-up work is done in spirals.  Each spiral may span several years and when one if full we chunk it in... the drawers until summertime :).  At that time I simply store the full spriral with their other portfolio binders.

I hope posting this "system" will help others struggling with keeping/organizing their children's work.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Montessori Kindle Books

What's Schoolin'?

I've been considering a Kindle or some other reader for quite a while now for the olders.  Here is a compilation of Kindle Montessori books for download.  In case you don't already know, you can install the Kindle reader on your computer free of charge.  I did that when I downloaded some free test prep books for the olders a while back.

Here is the Kindle:

Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook (free)

Spontaneous Activity in Education (free)

The Montessori Method

Montessori from the Start

Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education

Understanding Montessori

Montessori FAQs Unplugged Book One

Montessori's Own Handbook

What's Cookin'?

Weird, I know, but I've been thinking a lot about fish heads lately, lol.  Yes, between all of the chaos of our current living arrangements I've been thinking about being brave and trying to make a similar recipe to what I remember from the beach growing up in the tropics.  You would have to scoop around the fish head to serve your bowl of soup.  Since I was so easily eeewww-ed as a kid (having spent my first 9 years up here in the States and only summers below the tropical latitude)  I would quickly scoop and try not to make faces at the fish head staring up at me.  Unfortunately my "ewww-ness" made me miss out on taking full nutritional advantage of nutrient-dense traditional foods that I simply wasn't used to eating.

What's Green?

I found 2 scorpions in our new house as I was prepping it to move in the other day.  (sigh)  One was in dd's closet and the other live one in their bathroom.  The dead one in their hallway relieved me somewhat.

So... I'll be looking into their natural predators, natural pesticides, spraying and praying.  If I remember right crushed glass is what exterminators use for scorpions.  I have a bucket of food grade garden Diatomaceous Earth somewhere in storage.  I may sprinkle that along the outside of the house for now as I think that is also a scorpion killer.  I sure don't have to worry about rain washing it away because we're in drought here with it only raining once all Summer (and 3 months straight with above 100F temps).