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.