Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Writers' Circle (Writers' Club) ~ Pear/Cheese Pizza Side Dish

What's Cookin'?

I vaguely remembered seeing a recipe with pears and brie cheese on a pizza crust but couldn't find it when I finally had some pears (I think it was in a cheese making book because I've been reading several of those lately).  I searched online and found a few recipes but ended up doing my own thing.

- Your favorite homemade pizza dough (enough for 1 pizza)(oil to lightly oil the dough once it's on the pan)
- 3 pears (sweet but still firm)
- About 1/2 C sliced, shredded, or crumbled cheese (a sharp cheese works well for this - I used raw Swiss which is really sharp)
- Honey

- Spread out your pizza dough.
- Lightly oil the dough (you could brush it but I just smeared it with my fingers).
- Peel the pears and slice into very thin slices.  Put all over the pizza in a single layer.
- Crumble the cheese over the pears (or place slices or sprinkle shredded cheese).
- Drizzle honey very lightly over the top.
- Bake according to pizza dough directions (mine was 400F for 18 minutes).
- Enjoy!

What's Schoolin'?

I had an inspiration over the weekend that has me *finally* excited about writing this year.  Our move affected many things (4 houses within 3 months can do that!) - a major "thing" being my school organization, teaching, focus, follow-through, energy, and plain umph (that's way more than one thing!).  Writing has been more haphazard than I would like at this point in the year even though they are writing for pleasure and using writing for a purpose in other subject areas (book reviews should be coming soon!). I even picked up a Spectrum Writing workbook for youngest dd the other day at the store... and later put it back.

Teaching a writing class right now as we are still settling in to our new town and *I* am still adjusting just wouldn't be a smart move.  However... I CAN host a once-a-month Writers' Club!  I'm thinking of calling it Writers' Circle instead so it doesn't seem exclusive (although I'll just start out with a few families and see how it goes).  This would just be a low-key, unstructured (well, more of that in a minute), safe, social place for the children to share writing pieces.  It can be works in progress, completed works, short works, long works, poems, pleasure writing, literature responses - basically anything the child wants to share with the group.  I got jazzed just thinking about it :).

Regarding structure... The beauty of it would be that it would fit a variety of ages, learning/teaching styles, programs (or not!), and can serve different purposes for different children/families.  That said, there WILL be a few ground rules.  First and foremost only positive responses to other people's writing.  I'd like to incorporate the Reading Response aspect of Writing Workshop.  In the Nancy Atwell model (In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning), after a child reads his or her work the others respond with "I like the part...." and ask a question.  This helps build self-esteem in writing and assists in the most difficult stage in writing: revision.  We may just do this for those who are still in the draft stage or we may do it for all.  I'm still formulating the details.  Most likely I'll see how it's working for the children and just make the call as we go along.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More Lenten Links for ideas

Here are some more Lenten resources:




What's Cookin'?

We had tortilla soup (again!) tonight for dinner.  We just use tortilla chips in the bottom of the bowl and serve the soup on top.  I cannot eat unsprouted or un-nixtimalized corn chips so... I took a pack of our organic nixtimalized corn tortillas I got from Azure Standard with our last order (I assume they are because the ingredients list "a trace of lime"), rubbed both sides of each tortilla with sunflower oil, cut through a stack of 3 or 4 into 8 wedges, put each piece in a single layer in a glass baking pan, sprinkled with salt, and baked for 10 minutes at 400F.  Yum.  The dc (who had a bag of organic tortilla chips) really liked them and didn't even wait for the last batch to cool before eating :).  It took 3 batches to make the whole bag since I was using just a regular-sized baking pan.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bird Resource ~ Pancakes!

[I have no idea why this post is underlined and weird.  I tried over and over to fix it but it wouldn't listen to me! Sorry...]

What's Schoolin'?

I just ran across this bird link and thought I would share:


I haven't explored every bit of it yet, but can't wait to sit down with dd and delve into it!

What's Cookin'?

Today is Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras/Pancake Tuesday.  Do you know what's in your pancake mix???  Here are the ingredients from the box of the Pioneer brand complete pancake mix that dh used to make pancakes Sunday while I was still recovering on the couch (at which point I tried hard not to care and be thankful that he was making them - plus he and dd were enjoying time in the kitchen together, priceless):

Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Ribloflavin, Folic Acid). Yellow Corn Flour, Sugar, Dextrose, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean And/Or Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate (A Milk Derivative), Mono & Diglycerides, Buttermilk. [14 ingredients!! And some are baddies.]

Here are the ingredients in the homemade pancakes the dc and I make (often I soak them, sometimes I don't):

Flour, baking powder (aluminum-free from Rumford), (Real) salt, (real) egg, (real) milk, (healthy) oil/fat, and bit of sugar (optional).  
[I only count... 6 or 7 and it's all real.]

Honestly, it only takes about 30 seconds longer to make it from scratch.  Give it a try!  Here is the recipe (without soaking, using white flour to make your transition easier):

1-1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour


Mix it all together and add a bit of water to thin it to your preference (I don't actually sift or mix dries/wets separately and they still come out okay).

To use the soaking method:

I use white whole wheat or whole wheat when I'm soaking.  Mix flour with 1/2 C milk, 1/2 C water, 1/4 C whey (plus 1 teaspoon rye flour if you have any).  The next morning add the rest and thin with water.  I often double this recipe and usually soak it.  

This recipe is shared in the Old Fashioned Recipe Exchange:

It is also part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lent Lapbook Resource

It never occurred to me to do a Lent Lapbook until I saw this link.  What a great idea!  Some ideas to include might be:

~ The Stations of the Cross
~ The Corporal Acts of Mercy
~ The Spiritual Acts of Mercy
~ Customs from around the World
~ The significance of the color purple and other symbols

I really have to give a plug for Holy Heroes Lenten Adventures.  It's free and will enrich your children's faith lives (and maybe your own - it sure has *my* own!):

These books caught my eye but I can't personally vouch for them:

I got some great ideas from this link just from the "look inside" part. Looks like a great resource:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Laminators, Art Supplies; Solar System Set on Sale

What's Schoolin'?

I usually get things laminated at Mardel for 25 cents per foot.  However, that's not always convenient and many don't have access to affordable laminating.  I've seen laminators discussed on various homeschooling groups so I thought I would post these sales that caught my eye:

Scotch Thermal laminator - 62% off and free shipping:

Scotch Thermal Laminator Combo Pack - 42% off and free shipping:

Purple Cows Hot and Cold Laminator - 23% off and free shipping:

I also found this 80 Piece Art Set - 54% off:

Here are some Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils (24) - 56% off:

This Learning Resources Inflatable Solar System Set is now officially on my wishlist :) - 48% off and it says free shipping on the side bar:

What's Cookin'?

I've been sick this week (sigh)... but bone broth in the refrigerator saved me!  It hit suddenly and I certainly wouldn't have had time to make broth (or even go by the store and buy some if I still bought broth).  I happened to have 3 quarts already made and in the fridge.  I dumped a quart in a little crock pot with 2 smooshed cloves of fresh garlic and a bunch of Real Salt.  It simmered and waited lovingly and solicitously  to care for my needs.  I was able to drink it throughout the night, and next day, and next night, and... I just added more broth as it was used.  I used up all 3 quarts; although some of it was for dc so they could get an immune boost also. The moral of this story:  make some broth!  I'm out now so I'll be defrosting a chicken tonight, baking it tomorrow, and making more broth as soon as it's done baking.  I don't even freeze my broth because we go through so much of it.

This little crock has a removable insert for easy washing.  I've had the other kind before and like this one so much more:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Saint Valentine's Day

May you all have a wonderful Saint Valentine's Day.  Who is Saint Valentine?  Here are a few sites:

This one has free printables!








Here are a few children's books:

Okay, so this isn't related to anything but I didn't want to lose the link for future ideas:):

Visual Exploration of the Elements Book on Sale (40% off!)

This book is a wonderful resource for any Chemistry study, regardless of age.  Thanks so much, C., for the lead! The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe

I've checked it out from the library before and it is really cool :).

What's Cookin'?

We're on schedule with the dinners I posted.  For one lunch I'm making polenta and will slice, brown slightly in a pan, top with a tomato slice and sliver of cheese, and broil just until the cheese barely starts to melt.  Doesn't that sound good?

I found non-gmo polenta mix at Big Lots, yes - Big Lots :).  Gmo products are not allowed in Europe so I like to look through their international foods in the back grocery corner.  Here is a link to the corn meal (which I used recently to make corn bread).  It's not organic, but is IS non-gmo, gluten free, Kosher, and very inexpensive for non-gmo at only $1.50.  I'm getting about 3 batches of corn bread from the 1-pound bag.  The polenta mix is 100% corn flour.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Young Underground by Robert Elmer

What's Cookin'?

The dc worked out the menu for this week.  These are the dinners written and posted:
- Pancakes (oldest dd made these tonight)
- Taquitos (already made and in the freezer)
- Beans and Cornbread (pinto beans have already been soaked in filtered water with juice of 1/2 lemon and are now gurgling away in the crock pot)
- Chicken Tacos (we'll be trying our first organic corn tortillas from Azure Standard.  The ingredients say 'trace of lime' so I'm hoping they are nixtamalized and my hands won't bleed - right now I"m suffering from eating, literally, two small handfuls of Fritos after a looong day yesterday at a sporting event  PRID is the only thing that heals the lesions from eating unsoaked corn or beans)
- Chicken Nuggets (homemade) and mozzarella sticks (homemade breaded/fried cheese sticks)
- Tortilla Soup (will have to make homemade chips because I can't find organic corn chips around here)
- Quiche (using the last little bit of Amish swiss cheese I have and a little handful of pastured pork sausage.

We didn't plan any breakfasts, snacks, nor lunches (except leftover chili for one lunch) but it's a start... at least  the other 2 dds got the bread dough soaking for tomorrow.  We have (soaked/dehydrated) homemade peanut butter and some home-canned blueberry jam ready for sandwiches.  Wow, I sound so domestic!

Dud:  I don't have any yogurt or whey to make fermented lemonade, but I DO have some So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt (vanilla flavor 'cuz they didn't have plain).  I had gotten them for an activity because I thought one family might have dairy allergies.  Anyway, I tried draining it for whey to make the lemonade and maybe 2 drops of whey came out. That sure didn't work!  I need to get a plain little yogurt to use as starter and make a few quarts of yogurt very, very soon.

What's Schoolin'?

It's been quite a while since I've oohed and aahed over Robert Elmer books.  Youngest dd is currently reading one of his absolutely wonderful youth sci-fi books (that actually make me laugh out loud sometimes) outloud to me.  She's already read it and it's below her reading level but *I* haven't read it yet and thought it would be good 'together' time for her to read it to me.  Her book is:  Astroball Free-4-All (AstroKids) from the AstroKids series.

The older girls are studying World War II right now and I just pulled out the series The Young Underground for them to read.  It says ages 8-13 and they are older but I don't worry too much about that since technically it's for history and will be good reads.  Somehow I managed to find books 1, 3, and 4 used in bookstores but am missing book 2 :(.  I noticed that some are in Kindle form for $2.99 (and no shipping!).  IF I had a Kindle I would probably do that but even though I have the software to read Kindle books on my computer I'll have to pass.  It's tricky sharing the computer between so many of us!  We'll just read the books we have since neither library I use have any of his books (both used to and have discarded them!).  On the other hand... several are on Amazon (see links below) for only a penny so they are basically just the price of shipping (I think about $3.99 per book).  That's a great deal!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Detective Adjective Game (or Detective Triangle Game)

What's Cookin'?

Chicken Nuggets:  So far, from our home-raised broilers, I've made chicken spaghetti, chicken tacos, tortilla soup, chicken/cheese melts (chicken and cheese on homemade pitas broiled until melted), and chicken sandwiches. I also plan on chicken enchiladas and maybe even chicken lasagna. Notice they're all shredded chicken? :)  I'm excited to try these chicken nuggets - hopefully ahead of time so they can just be frozen and reheated for fast meals.  Your choice of ingredients is what will change up the recipe to make it more traditional or to suite family needs.  We'll use our home-raised chicken, homemade bread for breadcrumbs, Amish cheese, Hain Safflower Mayonnaise, and yucky factory eggs (no layers yet!). [1 egg; 1 Tbl mayo; small onion; 2 C cooked chicken; 1/4 C cheddar cheese]

[ Update:  These were fantastic.  Dh even really like them!  In the photo I came at the plate with the camera in the exact same moment that dd came at the plate to swipe one.  Since she had actually shaped each nugget, rolled them in breadcrumbs, and baked them I thought she was entitled to a few extra nuggets :).  I plan on making them again with the chicken I just baked last night.]

What's Schoolin'?

We introduced the Detective Adjective Game to youngest dd ("we" being me and olders so it could be more interactive).  Then the olders left to do their own school work and youngest and I continued.  This shows her notebook page after doing several presentations from the R and D manual.  She did some with just the phrase (marked with the grammar symbols) and then she did some for which she traced/cut/glued the triangle after copying and marking the phrase.

You can get printables to make it yourself here:

This is a wonderful resource.  I cannot even express how much help I got from Suzanne's generous printables and instructions when I was starting out with Montessori in our home school.  Here is the main page for the Hope4me printables.  Please visit:

Printable for the triangles to print on colored paper(only $2.29!)
Here are their command cards - really necessary to make it independent (also $2.29)

I couldn't have said it better myself:
What's Wrong with our Food System?  by 11-yr-old Birke Baehr

What Else is Cookin'?

 I'm reading this book right now from the library.  However, after tagging some pages that I wanted to copy for my files I realized that I need to just buy the book.  I can't wait to try cottage cheese again:

Should I just get one of these kits to start?
Cheese Making Kits

This post was linked on Kelly's Real Food Wednesday:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Crayola Kits, Leapster I Spy, Healthy Food Stamps, Electronic Kit, Hydropower Kit, Genetic and DNA Kit, K'NEX Middle School Math and more on sale

I had waaaay too much fun window shopping for good sales at Amazon!!  Some of these are going on my personal wish list.  These are some sales I found on Amazon that I thought some of you might like:

This is my favorite of all (67% off!): Educational Insights Healthy Foods Stamp Set

Thames & Kosmos Technology and Electronics Electronics Workshop 1 (31% off; save over $30)

Thames and Kosmos Alternative Energy and Environmental Science Hydropower (40% off)

Thames & Kosmos Biology Genetics and DNA (25% off)

K'NEX Education - Middle School Math (23% off; save over $30)

Crayola 12ct Oil Pastels Portfolio Series (34% off)

Learning Resources Totally Tut Math Operations Game (34% off)

Crayola Undersea Adventures Color Stories (58% off):

Crayola Glow Station Day & Night (42% off)

LeapFrog Leapster I Spy (52% off)

Mazin Hamster Series 1 - Sweetie (50% off)

Whac-A-Mole Card Game (60% off)

Webkinz Leopard (88% off)

Talicor Lifestories (29% off)

Wild Planet Crayola Crayon Town Large Mat Construction Set (50% off)

U-Build Sorry (45 % off)

StickaDoodle StickaDoodle Activity Pack (60% off)

Freeze Ball (55% off)

Mega Bloks Magnext Dynamix Gears and Elektronix (35% off)

Spectrangle (22% off)

I tried to have terrariums for the different biomes we studied but didn't really make it beyond the first one!  I love the idea of growing cacti from seed in the DuneCraft Cactus Gardens - Wild West Cactus Roundup (39% off).

I used something similar while teaching 4th grade. We used it for ratiocination during writing workshop and each child needed the same colors. It's 47% off: Crayola Washable Marker Classpack.

MathDiction (31% off)

Maybe my poor roma tomato plants that I babied and babied would have survived with something like this.  They lasted until this last week and suddenly drooped over beyond resuscitation... they only needed to last a few more weeks :(:  Educational Insights GeoSafari GreenThumb Classroom Greenhouse (52% off)