Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fraction Circles

I cannot tell you how many hours youngest dd has spent through the years with our Lauri Fit-A-Fraction Circles.  They are oversized foam circles cut into the normal fractions such as 1/2, 1/3 and so on.  Each one is a different color.  I couldn't find them anywhere online; this was the closest by Lauri that I could find.

The other fraction material that has been used over and over (but not quite as much; which would be impossible) are the rainbow fraction circles from Learning Resources.  I only had the set for the overhead that I used as a classroom teacher but it didn't seem to bother the dc so I never bought a different set.  For some reason the overhead ones are a bit cheaper here.  Unfortunately they don't fit the Montessori material to measure degrees or percentage such as these :(.  I had gotten the Montessori plates last summer when a school was closing but they won't work for me so I guess I'll be selling them.  BUT these other ones will be perfect and I look forward to using them:  Rainbow Fraction Rings also by Learning Resources.  I'm not finding any online (I'm looking at an old LR catalog) but I found these "Measuring Rings" at Rainbow Resources (out of stock right now).  Nasco has some fraction rings but I couldn't find a description telling the inside diameter of the circles so I can't recommend them.  Surely a local teacher store will have a set I can use, right?

Another fraction work favorite:  Hamburger Station.  It's homemade and not even close to professional looking :) but the dc enjoy it.  Each player has a set of the following circles:  2 brown, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 red, 1 dark brown (and probably more that I can't remember).  The 2 browns are wholes and they are the bread.  The others are something like green (lettuce) is cut into 1/2; yellow (mustard) is cut into 1/3; red (ketchup) into 1/4; dark brown (meat) into 1/6 - whatever you decide.  There is a spinner with the fractions on it.  As they spin they build their hamburger by collecting fractions from their own set.

There are lots of hands-on ways to teach fractions, but I love how Montessori takes things through to abstraction.  We never made it through the fractions album with the olders but I have it on hand for youngest dd.  Here are lots of ideas for fraction manipulatives:
Search Toys&Games for fractions

Some Montessori fraction links:

This has pictures of some Mont fraction materials (I was so thrilled to see my blog on her favorites - Mil Gracias).  How I would love to get my hands on one of those boxes with activities to use with the fraction circles :):

And totally unrelated:

I ran across this site with recipes for homemade hand lotion, etc.  I use plain coconut oil for lotion, face cream, and so on (and on!) but this site looks fun to explore:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Do Lemonade and Beans Have in Common?

Lemons!!  Yes, really :).

Obviously the lemonade has lemons. 

The beans are *soaked* in water with lemon added to it overnight to neutralize the aflatoxin in it.  For 1 pound of beans I use the juice of 1/2 lemon.  When I read that in Nourishing Traditions I had a major *WOW* moment (as dh and dc say, "Now I'll say it backwards - WOW.  Upside down:  MOM."  He teaches in middle school, what can I say??).  I knew I wasn't allergic to beans and corn; had grown up with both in Central America with no issues; but couldn't even eat one single teaspoon of beans without suffering very, very painful open lesions all over the tops of my hands.  No tortilla chips either, no way...

Well, when I read that I thought I would test it in a big way.  I made the beans according to the directions (basically soaked as I just described, drained, rinsed, drained and cooked in the crockpot with water until tender).  I ate not one, not two, but three hunkin' bean burritos bursting at the seams for dinner that night... Nothing.  No reaction.  No  cuts.  No lesions that take weeks for a single one to heal.  No shudders of pain every time I washed my hands with pulsating pain later.  Nothing.  Wow, wow, mom.  That was a huge breakthrough for me!

No more canned beans for us and much less any beans at a restaurant or anywhere else.  We only eat soaked and homemade now.

I have several thoughts on the issue. 

#1:  I grew up eating corn and beans made in TRADITIONAL ways.  When they are manufactured in the modern food industry they don't take time to soak their beans!  Corn was still treated with lime (nixtamalized) and prepared slowly (which also neutralizes the mold/toxins).  As long as I eat traditionally treated beans and corn I'm fine.  The last few weeks I've gotten into some corn somehow and am paying the price (ow!).  BTW, fresh corn on the cob is fine for me because it hasn't been in storage to accumulate the mold/toxins like cornmeal has.  Weird, eh?

#2:  Immune system connection.  I started having this problem at the tale end of my 5 year non-stop Lyme treatment with antibiotics.  My immune system had suffered so, so, so much with the Lyme, co-infections (Babesia, Bartonella, Erlichia), and dormant viruses that had a huge party with numbers out the roof.  My poor immune system had nothing left to fight off whatever damage aflatoxin, etc does.  Plus, I had no more good bacteria left to fight off any candida or anything else entering through the gut (not to mention leaky gut).  I'm only surprised it didn't start sooner.

#3:  I am the canary in the mine.  Apparently there is something to the soaking.  I react in a visible (and painful) way but that doesn't mean that it's not affecting my other family members as well.  I use to get them organic tortilla chips and they love them but in the last several weeks I've been convicted of only getting treated/organic tortilla chips.  Of course, those don't exist so I haven't gotten any.  I'm sure I still will but we were eating 1-2 bags a week (for a family of five) with beans/rice or chili or whatever.

#4:  I am so very grateful to be able to eat beans again!

#5:  I've noticed that (except for the last few weeks) whenever I do get into something by accident and get a lesion there are fewer than I would normally get and they heal overnight (I use PRID salve, it's the only thing that works), and sometimes they were even healing with no salve.  I took that as a sign that my body was not so overloaded or was (finally) getting stronger and healthier overall.

About the Fermented Lemonade...

I've tried several recipes that are all equally wonderful but I thought I'd post what has been working for us.  Lemons usually go on sale 4 for $1 so I get 4.  I steal 1/2 to soak the beans and only use 3-1/2 lemons to make the fermented lemonade.  Add the following to a 2-quart mason jar.  Leave it on the counter for 2 days.  Put in the refrigerator.  These are vaguely the directions in NT.
- 3 Tablespoons rapadura (the probiotics will eat up some of that so it doesn't taste sweet at all)
- 1/4 C whey (from drained yogurt or kefir)(This is what makes it a lacto-fermented drink with good probiotics)
- Juice of 3-1/2 or 4 lemons/limes
- Filtered water to the top of the jar

This post is part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday:

Algebra Tiles ~ Lumpias ~ Cloth Pouches

What's Cookin'?
Lumpias (sort of):  I was in the mood for lumpias.  I combined this recipe with what I had.  I had to use eggroll wrappers and used 1/2 small cabbage (pre-cooked) with a (lightly pre-cooked) carrot and 1 pound pre-cooked ground pork.  I actually had some ground pork from the farm, otherwise I would have tried it with beef.  I *thought* they had rice but they don't so I served my pre-cooked rice on the side.  It really helped to have things already cooked in the fridge (except for the meat - I had to do that on the spot).  Dh gave these 2 thumbs up :).

I used Nasoya Egg Roll Wraps because of their ingredient list and because they are Non-GMO, and msg-free.  I'd like to (remember to) look for the actual lumpia wraps at an Asian market.

I made garlic vinegar as a dipping sauce and it was no surprise that I was the only one who used it :).  I got about 25-30 lumpias from this batch and froze 12 for lunch.  I *should* have frozen them before frying so they would be freshly fried but forgot and fried the whole batch.  I think they'll be fine reheated in the toaster oven.

The next day I was getting some leftover ham (thanks, D!!) and cheese out for dc's sack lunches.  Since the lumpias were on my mind I put a chunk of ham and a chunk of cheese in an egg roll and fried it.  It was so incredibly good!  Yes, I actually drizzled some garlic vinegar on it but it was good without it.  The dc had one of these for snack after enrichment classes/band (with a glass of fermented lemonade).

Soft-serve ice cream:  If you're a food additives geek like I am you need to see this link that was posted on kellythekitchenkop.  What ever happened to plain cream, sugar, and egg yolks?

What's Schoolin'?

I have some Algebra Tiles but honestly have never used them for the olders.  Here we are in the middle of Algebra so I'm hunting some resources.  I found a couple of resource books on amazon here and here and here  but I'd like to see them in my hand before buying them.  I'm hoping our local bookstores will have them.

Here is a freebie.  It has a template to make your own tiles and a power point for students to watch.  The pp has some gaps though and doesn't demo the problems.  It seems to be made for use with a teacher showing the probs:

Good, short explanation of Alg Tile use:

Great Virtual Alg Tiles and lets you manipulate them but doesn't show the answers :(.  It does, however, have short explanations of types of problems that can be solved using the tiles:

Good Tutorial:

This compares different algebra manipulatives (from Lab Gear author): 

Here are some pictures of the Montessori algebraic pegboard I found on image google:

What's Green?

I was actually looking through image google for cloth pouch ideas for Montessori materials.  I ended up on a familiar search of mine:  cloth sandwich bags.  I just cannot decide where to buy which one at what price (sigh) so I periodically go searching.  I always think: Why not just make them?  But I never get around to it.  Here are some really cool ones.  Since we don't eat full-sized sandwiches (the way I slice our homemade bread from the breadmaker is about the size of a store-bought foldover sandwich) I think the snack size would be fine:

This is cute:

Here is a how-to:

Another how-to:

One more:

I may have already posted this link:

I found this tutorial very helpful a few years ago:

Thursday, January 20, 2011


[Before I get into the recipes, here's a Note to Self:  Make seasonings and have ready.  I need more Ranch dressing seasoning, Italian seasoning mix, and chili powder.]  [And baking powder if I decide to try it]

I've missed a few weeks but here are my Gottatries from this week's RFW:

Meatza (pizza with no crust):

Toaster Pastries (think: homemade poptarts).  Basically use pie crust (yogurt dough from NT)(Maybe try the kefir flat bread - probably not) with a filling such as homemade jam, pumpkin puree, home-canned or gently sauteed *apples* or other fruit.  Bake for 10 min @ 375F (so I should cook at 350 and flip at 5 min in our little toaster oven):
[Update:  I made these this afternoon for tomorrow's breakfast and they are already 1/2 gone!  I gave in and let each dc have one plus, of course, I had to taste one :).  I just used the yogurt dough and homemade canned applesauce for the filling that has no added sweetener.]

Lettuce Tacos:

Squash/Beef Soup (1 leek, garlic, broccoli florets, 1 butternut squash, 1/2 bunch kale, ground beef, stock):
[Update: Tonight I tried this one for dinner. I didn't have leek so I used an onion, forgot the broccoli, and used my (new!) stick blender to puree it before adding the cooked ground beef. Very satisfying and filling. Oh, and I used some kale chips that I had made instead of fresh kale in the soup.][I can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch!]

Carrot souffle (requires oven):

Chickpea Chicken Soup (cooked ckn, cooked chickpeas, onion, pepper spinach, garlic, carrots, celery).  I'm off to soak some garbanzo beans!  Since I probably won't have the bacon for this recipe I'll toss in a smoked ham hock for flavor and maybe let this go all day in the crockpot.

Chinese Fried Rice (ckn, shrimp, soy sauce - would need fermented soy sauce):

I don't know that I'm ready to try sprouting yet, but this has some good photos and direction links.  Soaking legumes in lemon juice neutralizes the aflatoxin and I'm able to eat them.  Sprouting may release the nutrients but I may still have trouble with the mold/toxins.  I need to do more research.

Baking Powder.  We use a lot of baking powder and I've been very pleased with Rumford Baking Powder.  Why?  Because it is gluten-free; GMO-free; aluminum-free; and made in the USA.  On the other hand, the starch is from corn.  Even though it is non-GMO I am sensitive to the alflatoxin/molds that nixtamalizing neutralizes.  I doubt they nixtamalize their corn to make the starch, right?  It's hard to even find tortillas that have nixtamalized corn meal.  Anyway, this may be worth a shot but the choices for starch are:  arrowroot (which I have on hand although I've recently read somewhere that it's pretty high in carbs and I honestly don't like the consistency when I use it to thicken sauces and use flour instead); potato starch; and tapioca starch.
BTW, I use Rumford Baking Soda as well just to support the company (plus it's less than $1).

Use this Cobb Salad wrap as inspiration for my lunch lettuce wraps:

Tomato/Cheese Melt.  I'll probably have to wait until next summer when I can get organic tomatoes from the Farmer's Market.  I never buy them from the grocery store unless I'm in a bind because the arm and leg that organic tomatoes cost  - well, I need them for other things like walking and cooking and making school materials!

Veggie Crostats (will need oven):

Green Beans Almondine.  Use bone broth and real butter.

Cheese Biscuits. I wonder if almond meal would work for these.  Probably not:

Chili over Spaghetti Squash.  Mmm.  After eating Dh's venison chili over rice I think I would really like this.  I still have some kidney beans in the fridge and I *think* I have some prepped sketty squash in the freezer (and some pre-cooked hamburger meat):

Another Flatbread to try:

Apple Crunchy Crisp (grain-free):

Breakfast Pizza (needs oven):

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prairie Primer 'Lapbook' Sale

A Journey through Learning has a 20% discount right now on the Prairie Primer Binder-Builder (could also be used as a lapbook) that they are currently launching.  Use the code PP20 and the sale goes through Monday, January 24th.  This goes along with the Prairie Primer book that covers the first 3 Little House Books.  Hmmm.... We're currently doing the LHOP (Little House on the Prairie) series with youngest - I need to check this out!!

Here is the link.  Click on Prairie Primer Binder-Builder on the left-hand sidebar menu:

Here is the Prarie Primer and a few other LHOP resources.
Praire Primer (M. Gray); The Little House Cookbook; My Little House Crafts Book;
A Guide for Using Little House on the Praire in the Classroom.

What's Cookin'?

Youngest has been wanting French Toast for several days so I finally made some today... for dinner!  I should do this more often - it only took one hour start to finish  (including eating/talking time) instead of 2 hours to make dinner plus eating/talking/talking/talking time.

Oldest dd is making cinnamon applesauce for a 4-H food show that's coming up soon and middle dd is making strawberry cream cheese from yogurt.  They'll be practicing this week so we'll have some yummy snacks.

Shelf Work Choices ~ Mayonnaise

What's Cookin'?

Pita Bread:  I "accidentally" made little pita breads :).  I finally got around to the Kefir Naan Flatbread recipe.  When I baked the first 1/2 of the batch they poofed out a bit.  It was enough that we split them and put in tiny pieces of reheated stew meat for a snack (mmmm).  So, for the next 1/2 of the batch I added some baking powder to see if it would rise more.  It didn't.  No difference.  They were good though.  I used all white wheat flour.  I may get more rise with 1/2 and 1/2 all purpose but I'd rather not use much white flour.  Uh, or I could use a pita bread recipe ;).  I'll try these a little bigger and make 10 instead of 16.


Chicken Lettuce Wraps:  These are so tasty I can hardly stand it!  Basically I just boiled or crockpotted some chicken legs (read: they were on sale although were organic - I couldn't believe how cheap they were!).  Then I shredded the meat and kept it ready in the refrigerator.  When I was hungry for lunch I reheated the chicken in some butter/coconut oil/lard (grease of your choosing - but this really gives it the flavor) with a few strips of onion thrown in and some red bell pepper.  That's it.  No sauce or condiments were needed.  I rolled it up in some organic green lettuce and couldn't believe how good and filling it was.  (the photos are fuzzy 'cuz of my eyes - I really thought they were focused until I saw them on the computer!)


Mayonnaise:  I usually use this recipe with this technique to make mayo.  One dd holds the mason jar while I whisk using a hand-mixer.  It takes forever but is good muscle buildup!  Today I'm trying this techniqueHere is Katie's vlog also and here is Sarah's video. Kelly has a detailed recipe here.   As you can see there are several variations.  I'm secretly glad I accidentally gave dh the Christmas shopping list in late December that had a few of my own listed!  He got me this Hamilton Beach stick blender (I just noticed that it's $9 off right now).  I've been waiting and waiting to make mayo so I could break it in.  The ingredients are simple:  2 egg yolks, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon sugar, and 1 cup oil.  I used 2/3 C Sunflower oil and 1/3 Coconut oil because that's what I had [I really do NOT recommend using the Coconut oil for this but I was low on any other oils at the time].  I used organic lemon juice instead of fresh because I've seen that recommended (fresh squeezed lemons aren't uniform enough to guarantee what's needed for the recipe regarding acidity - or something like that). My disclaimer:  I'm not recommending that you eat raw egg; on this blog I only share what works for us and you have to make your own decisions.  If you saw Katie's disclaimer at the above link, you know what I mean.  BTW, I only use farm fresh eggs for mayo from trusted sources.  Since I'm, uh, a bit neurotic, I eat it the first day and then let the dc eat it the next day (when I'm still okay, lol).  Fermented mayo didn't work well for me so I just make it regular.  Sometimes with mustard, sometimes without.  Here are the ingredients:
[Update:  It didn't work!  The first time the jar actually had a crack in it so I had to throw everything out, clean up the mess, and clean the blender.  Then I started all over again.  It started to emulsify but I think I went too fast too quickly and it blobbed.  I added another egg yolk but no-go.  I stuck it all in the refrigerator and will use Katie's technique to save it.  We'll see tomorrow...][New update:  because of the coconut oil I used it solidified overnight in the refrigerator.  So, it's not mayo but would make a great sandwich spread, lol.  I'm going to try to save it and emulsify it again using Katie's technique above of pouring it in slowly as I blend it as soon as it liquefies at room temperature (I hope).  The mayo saga continues...][Last update:  This is a botched batch.  We're using it as a sandwich spread as is and I added some onion powder to some last night for salad dressing.]

This compilation of mayo links is part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday:

Venison Chili:  Dh is cooking up some venison chili as I type.  It smells delicious.  I'm not one to like game (blame it on my early childhood in Missouri!) but I'm trying to stretch myself and stay open-minded :). [Update on this also:  It was very good - A bit spicy for my wimpy palate but very good.  He served it over rice.  The best part was that I didn't have to think about dinner and decluttered a tiny bit.]

What's Schoolin'?

Here are some pictures of what dc chose last week during shelf work time.  Youngest dd used the movable alphabet.  You need to read the long one forward and backwards :).  Middle dd used playdough to make orbitals for Chemistry.  Oldest dd read about children from around the world in this book.  I don't necessarily fully endorse it but it's what we have.  She also fixed our microscope.  That got all of us interested in the slides. 

I went to Dollar General and got each dd a pretty little notebook for $1 each to log in their shelf work this semester.  I got another for me to log everyone's work.  I've tried different things for record keeping - We'll see how this goes.


Last week oldest dd used the cards from a card game called Atlas in a Box to color a world map according to religion.  It was very interesting.  She color-coded it and went through every card to find the religion info for every country (it's listed as part of each country's facts).  You could do the same for languages or other aspects as well.  We have gotten a LOT of mileage from this card game!

 What's Green?

In my constant quest to challenge myself to be more green (greener?) I actually hit on something.  We use a Swiffer wet mop for the dc to easily and routinely mop the tile kitchen floor.  I don't want to use the throw aways anymore, nor use more chemicals than necessary, nor spend money (almost $5) on plastic containers (more trash) of wet cloths.  I found a microfiber cloth at the dollar store that has sort of a scrubby side to it.  I think it may have been a "dish cloth" - I can't remember for sure.

First we got it wet, stuck it on the mop, and started mopping.  I told dd that she could spray the floor with one of the spray bottles if she needed to as it dried out.  She never needed to add more water while she mopped.  It stayed wet.  It also got most of the spots up.  Yeah!  It may not look 'pretty' but it works!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Quick Freebies: Free Kindle Kaplan Prep Materials Jan 15th Only

I just got an e-mail from Thrifty Homeschoolers about this.  It's a bit late in the evening so I hope some of you get this in time.

If you go to the Kindle store search for Kaplan (see below) you will find lots of freebies!  I'm going to get back online after putting the dc to bed and get the SAT subject test for Chemistry for sure!

1 - click on the link:

2 - In the search box change it to Kindle Store to narrow it down (or just browse there for the freebies)

3 - Find what you want.  Get it for your Kindle.

4 - If you don't have a Kindle (which I don't, btw, but sure wish I did):  In the green box on the right-hand side that says "buy now for 1-click" (DON'T click that) there is a place to click that says "available on your PC."  That's what you want to click if you do not have a kindle.

ALSO:  I did another search in the kindle store for just "$0.00" in the search box and found more for free, some public domain and some not.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Decimal Fraction Board (Montessori)

Here are some decimal number cards to use with the decimal fraction board.  Print on cardstock.  You can then either laminate them or back with self-stick fun foam.  Mine are neither - just plain cardstock for this work :).

If you need to make the board yourself here is a wonderful file by Lisia.  Scroll down for the downloads.  Print, tape together, and laminate.

I used the presentations in the Montessori R and D Decimal album with the olders and will do the same with younger dd.  We actually did it over the summer one year when life wasn't so crazy.  Here is the link to their manual:

This photo and the next one show the material I made for this work a couple of years ago (or see below):

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

St. Nicholas Lapbook

I really did mean to post these pictures during Advent... or at least during the Christmas season!  Oh, well... maybe they will help someone next year?  We made these several years ago.  I *think* my main resources were domestic-church and but I'm not completely sure.

What's Cookin'?

Flat Bread:  Dc wanted to make some salami cheese melts on some flat bread or pita style bread.  When we were getting groceries and I read the ingredient lists I just couldn't bring myself to get what we found as I put down pack after pack of choices.  I told them I would just make them some for the dinner they were making.  I wanted to honor their choice of meal since *they* were making it :). 

So, there I was in a familiar spot of trying to find a recipe that I can make in... an hour.  This recipe has no yeast and got good reviews.  I'll be trying it on the tortilla maker.
[update:  they were good but were basically like tortillas.  I probably flattened them too much - although the recipe said to flatten like a tortilla]

Here is another recipe that I want to try - Naan Bread:  I wonder if these would work on a griddle?  I may try it baked in the toaster oven and also on the griddle.  I would also like to try it with wheat (white wheat or whole wheat).