Sunday, December 30, 2012


Before getting to the Gottatries, take a peek at this great video explaining safety in cosmetics.  It also has a nice list of the baddies with simple explanations.  It's so nice to have all of this in one place!

Here are some ideas for (literally) clean tooth care options (I was already planning on trying the Redmond's Earthpaste so was glad to see positive feedback for it - I have the wintergreen in my wishlist 'cart'):

Crispy potato wedges:

Poached pears with molasses [update: tried this and everyone liked it!]

Molasses Gingerbread:

New Year's Day recipe of black-eyed peas and sweet potato and greens patties:

Fermented cranberry sauce (fresh cranberries; pecans; 1/2 C apple juice; honey; whey; juice of an orange and  lemon; raisings):

Baked Pasta casserole (pasta, ricotta, tomato sauce, cheese):

Homemade Ricotta:

The chocolate/cheese 'frosting' here looks fantastic:

Cream cheese danish:

Crescent rolls:

Crockpot Molten Lava Cake [Youngest dd had mentioned a lava cake for her birthday - we may give this a try soon!]:

Bagels (these are chocolate chip but can be plain):


Interesting blog post:

Books to check out from the library:
How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons for info on biointensive mini-farming.  Our library has it checked in (for now!).

The Backyard Homestead.  I've had this checked out before but didn't give it a good read... Time to revisit it.  There is one for farm animals also.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Letting Go... of Materials

What's Schoolin'?

Youngest went through our Math/Language shelves yesterday to see what she has outgrown and we don't need anymore.  I also went through our Montessori storage boxes.  Wow... she's close to reaching the end of what I have for her regarding manipulatives in Math.  The Language materials now only take up a little bit of space.  I actually emptied and folded up the bank boxes I use for storage for both Math and Language so now we only have what's out on the shelves for those subjects.  The few things left to do with the olders I put out on my teacher shelf (sentence analysis things).

It seems silly to be emotionally attached to teaching materials, but some of them were much harder than others to sell, lol!  The hardest for me to let go were the small wooden number cards, the teddy bear counters (oh, my sweet dc had SO much fun with those through the years, and my classroom kids before them), the relational geosolids (they filled them with rice and especially our youngest spent hours with these when she was little), and the moveable alphabet (mine was plastic) (although they didn't use these much I thought they were just so cool :) ).

I just asked asked my 17-yr-old if she would like to play with the teddy bear counters before I packed them up :).  She just smiled but she agrees that it's not just about the object but about my memories of them with the objects.  I always had it in the back of my mind that I would go back to work once the youngest was grown and we were done homeschooling.  That was another reason to keep them.  I spent a lot of personal money through my teaching career on classroom materials and books.  However, I have to be realistic and acknowledge that my health may not ever be optimal enough for such a long and grueling day to teach again. However, said I, I may teach part time or university courses again where these materials can be used with children or to show future teachers some great teaching practices.  Well, reality is something else.  Right now we need to declutter and buy other teaching materials (like buying back a copy of Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 which I sold to get Life of Fred Beginning Algebra which is not working so dd wants to go back to TT and I agree - LOF is not a match for us ~ sigh).

What's still on our shelves in Language [We are reviewing the R and D manual of Language Arts 1 because we had such a gap with last year's move and I wanted to redo before moving on.  It's actually been a good thing because the review presentations go pretty fast and I can see her advanced cognitive development from when we started it so long ago.]:

- Parts of speech 3-D shapes (I made these with air-drying clay a billion years ago)
- Little plastic 2-drawer organizer to be rotating the cards from the manual presentations
- Spelling Power Task Cards (they never use it but none of my children ever want me to sell it!)
- Tackle box with our Farm environment for labeling
- Language books like Cache of Jewels and other books by Ruth Heller
- Parts of speech cards for labeling sentences
- Little cut-up sentences for them to put in order and label with the cards (then copy in notebook and draw symbols above the words)
- Thesauruses and a dictionary (although I keep the 2 bigger dictionaries on another shelf)

I'll be putting out some ancient Spanish lotto and rhyming cards I found in our storage box and some American Sign Language cards .  I re-discovered our Learnables Book 1 in the shelf that she never chooses but she wants to do it now so I've pulled it out for her and it's on the school table.  The olders are going through Clase Divertida Level 3 and she sits in on it so she's jazzed about Spanish right now.

I've decided that (sniff) my children are growing up, we need other materials, and if I need any of this professionally again I will remake, rebuy, or make do without. [Audible sigh] I am letting go...

Here are some links to some of what I mentioned:

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Northern Europe, Germany, and Netherlands Study Brainstorm

What's Schoolin'?

We are using Montessori materials and Trail Guide to World Geography for our Europe studies.  I also have the Hands of a Child Europe lapbook.  There is a cool resource recommended in TG called Geography Through Art... which I don't have :(.  Left to my own devices, here are some of my ideas to incorporate some art (and food!) into life/homeschooling.  They have been going to art classes the last 2 semesters so I finally let it go, but this is just too good of an opportunity to incorporate some art and/or crafts.

These are brainstorm ideas... not necessarily what we will actually do!

For Northern Europe, Germany, Netherlands:

~ Make a Viking Rune Stone in clay
~ Do something related to Hansel and Gretel... gingerbread house?  Also, along the lines of the Black Forest/Bavaria... talk about the Passion Plays and Oberammergau  (and show photos)
~ Sketch Big Ben in ink
~ Make sauerkraut for Germany (which we need to make anyway!)
~ We'll do more Germany things with our celebration of St. Nicholas Day Dec 6th
~ Some Germany ideas from Mr. Donn (always good resources!):
~ Eat potatoes for Ireland (not very creative but it's what I have!)
~ Eat Hutspot for The Netherlands (carrots, potato, and onion cooked and mashed)[update: this was delicious!  Here is the post] (I would just cook all together then add butter and real milk)
~ More Dutch recipes here:
~ Dutch folk art inspired embroidery?  Here is some inspiration:
~ A simple paper with the ouline map of Holland printed on it with the words The Netherlands is known for: typed on it.  They draw/label windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, famous artists (Van Gogh and Rembrandt), and cheese.  Same for Germany.
~ has castles.  They used this site to research 3 German castles for a page from Trail Guide.


First the non-foodie gottatry:
Advent basket:

Natural Cleaners (baking soda sprinkled on the stove and squirted with a mix of white vinegar and dish soap is what I use to clean our stove top - it really gets the grunge off that this messy cook renews daily with spills and burnt food!):

Gingerbread doughnuts [A doughnut baking pan would be awesome.  I wonder if they make in stainless steel?]:

Candy cane lemons (how cool!):

Easy eggs baked in oven (each in muffin cup):

Peppermint Bark (I will sub canola with palm shortening and probably make single layer):

Toffee/chocolate bar! Yum.  I was thinking about coming up with a recipe for this and was thrilled to see this:

Banana oatmeal (looks good!):

Chocolate almond bark (has link to make own coconut butter for recipe):

Soaked sugar cookies:

English muffin bread (2 loaves):

Christmas bundt cake:

Easy Panir cheese:

Easy Ricotta cheese:

One more!  Cream cheese cut-out cookies:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ancient Rome Part 3 (Plans)

What's Schoolin'?

Here is a link for my plans that I am using with my high schoolers.  It works well for us to have a unit sketched out and divided into what we will do together and what they are responsible for doing independently.  Although I listed the spine as a read-aloud, they ended up just reading and doing the questions on their own at the beginning of the unit.  I actually gave them a copy of these plans; especially since it has all of the books and assignments listed.

... I just found a typo but I honestly doubt I'll go back and fix it at this point so, please overlook any faults!  Some of my notes may not make any sense :).  If this is the case, please don't hesitate to ask me.  The books that the students read are posted in my Ancient Rome Part 2 (Books) post.  Resources that I used are posted below.  If you would like to see what links I gave the children for use with the unit, you can see them in my post Ancient Rome Part 1 (Links) (under 'Other Work' in the plans they are to 'Visit the Roman Links sent through e-mail.').

Another thing you'll notice is that The Aeneid is spread out within the plans.  I have Julius Caesar plans for Shakespeare's play but they are printed separately and we won't begin that until they are done with The Aeneid.  They are choosing to read the whole thing even though I only required Book 9 (together) and Book 1.  I'm glad I let them "decide" because it gives them more ownership in their learning.  Of course, it helps that they can only answer some of the key concept questions if they have read the whole work :).

Please remember that this is for personal use only.  It is for free use but please share the link to the blog post instead of just the doc link when passing it along to others.  Any small donations are welcome and go directly to dc's 4-H projects (use the button in the upper left margin).

In the Hands of a Child has an Ancient Rome lapbook all ready for you.  Silly me... I bought one when it was on a super sale a few years ago... and wouldn't you know that I totally forgot to use it in our Rome studies!! Argh!!  So, now that I've remembered in the middle of our studies we'll pull some things from it for them to document some of what they are learning from all of those great books.  Since one dd is lapbooking history (the 11th grader) and the other is notebooking it (the 10th grader), this will work out fine.  I just love HOAC lapbooks!!  It's $12 at this time for the e-book:

A Journey through Learning has a lapbook for Ancient Rome also:

Here are most of the resources mentioned in the plans:

Sparknotes: The Aeneid Themes, Motifs, and Symbols:

Sparknotes summary and analysis of The Aeneid Book 1:

Sparknotes Quiz on The Aeneid: 

Suggested essay topics:

Character List/Descriptions:

Key Facts worksheet for The Aeneid (this is the answer key; I made another without the answers for them to fill in; then we went over together):

Aeneid Quiz:

Easy Timeline Creator:

M. Wittmann's article “The Martyrs of Ancient Rome":
I can't find her article anywhere, but here is a link to her unit ideas:

Ancient Civilizations (McDonald Publishing):

History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations (it says gr.1-3 but I like the graphics and such for lapbook mini-books):


 All Ye Lands:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ancient Rome Part 2 (Books)

What's Schoolin'?

Here are some of the books that we are using for our studies of Ancient Rome.  Currently they are reading The Aeneid by Virgil (Warning: it's a bit gory!  Boys may love it!).  I have several literature lessons embedded in my Rome unit for it [Book 9 and Book 1 are the required books but they want to read all of it].  I listed the links they will use in Part 1 (which includes some lit excerpts) and will upload the lesson plans in Part 3.

Note:  This is for my high schoolers.  Youngest is not doing Rome right now.

The Aeneid for Boys and Girls (they read this before the original Aeneid)

 The Aeneid by Virgil

Julius Caesar by Shakespeare

Cicero's The Republic and The Law (2 separate books that I have in one binding)

 St. Athanasius (Tan Books)

Lives of the Later Caesars (Penguin Classics)

Constantine biography

St. Helen of the Cross (Constantine's mother)
[Here is a link:]

The Children's Plutarch (Tales of the Romans)

Horrible Histories:  The Rotten Romans

Lost Civilizations:  Ancient Romans

Understanding People in the Past:  The Ancient Romans

The Human Adventure:  Greek and Roman Civilization

Oxford Profiles:  Ancient Romans (especially Constantine and Theodosius the Great)

Detectives in Togas

The Spear or The Restless Flame by de Wohl (The Spear is excellent; I haven't read the other yet)

Pocket Dictionary of Roman Emperors

Eusebius:  The History of the Church

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What's Shoppin'?

Doing Christmas shopping online this year?  If you will be using Amazon, I would be very grateful if you would go to their home page through my link.  Thanks so much!  Just click below.

Amazon home page

What's Cookin'?

**This is so, so cool!  DIY beeswax cotton food wraps:

**Here is the source given for beeswax.  I see that they have 100% beeswax candles, which I have wanted to have in the house for quite some time:

Simple, simple homemade fruit rollups! [Update:  We made these with some apple sauce that we had recently made and they were delicious (although I over-dried them and ended up breaking them into small bite-sized pieces.]

Dairy-free/grain-free peanut butter cookies (1 C peanut butter, egg, sugar, baking powder):

Cranberry sauce (use sweetener of your choice):

Pumpkin brownie tarts.  I would un-veganize it with milk but otherwise mostly use it as-is:

This has a crust that would be good for any unbaked pie (like homemade chocolate pudding!) (3/4 C almonds; 1/4 C dates):

This pumpkin pie filling is no-bake:

Caramel sauce (I was looking for a recipe for caramel squares to make popcorn balls and caramel apples - this may be too saucy for that but it looks great for other things):

**Caramel squares.  I think this thicker recipe will be better for popcorn balls and caramel apples [update:  worked GREAT - 1/2 recipe was enough for a huge pot of popcorn]:

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts!  I don't have a doughnut baking sheet but they can be made as muffins:

Baked cheesy chicken strips:

Brownie dessert shooters - these are too cute in the tiny cups.

Soaked pumpkin pie oatmeal.  I think this would be a good dehydrated cold cereal also.  They really liked it when I mixed baked oatmeal muffins with some crumbled (healthy) pumpkin cookies and dehydrated them for breakfast cereal...

Chocolate coconut butter bites:

Chocolate nut clusters.  This would make a great gift... hint, hint!

Peanut butter banana leather:

Sweet potato sloppy joes:

Raw nutty truffles:

Homemade hot cocoa mix (handier to have ready than how I usually make it):

Another take on hot cocoa:  Peppermint Hot Cocoa with steamed almond milk.

Chewy grain-free nut butter breakfast cookie (with pumpkin!)

Coconut berries delight (uses frozen berries):

Chocolate almond bark:

How to make sprouted flour!  Yeah.  I want to try this so I was happy to see this tutorial:

Hutspot (Dutch recipe)

What's Cookin'?

Since we are talking about The Netherlands, Germany, and Northern Europe in Geography right now I thought this was the perfect companion dinner.  The fact that I only had to buy a bag of carrots and an onion only added to my thrill.  Also, since I rarely can leave a recipe alone, this is done my way (here and here are some recipes I found that I adjusted).  That means tossing in a beef soup bone for added nutrition and, after cooking and straining, adding in some 'mush' from my last juicing adventure earlier in the week.


1-1/2 lb organic potatoes (the rest of the bag from the beef stew)
1 lb organic carrots (I left out 2 huge ones so dc would have some for snacks later)
1/2 large yellow or white onion (I would've used the whole onion but I thought I could use some for something else)
Optional: Any meat you would like to serve it with or add to it later.


Chop the potatoes, carrots, and onion (and beef soup bone if using).  Place in the crockpot with plenty of water for them to boil and cook throughout the day (I put in 2 quarts water) until tender.

Remove the soup bone; drain the water.  Mash.  [This is where I added my juicing pulp]  Add Butter and melt while stirring.  Add milk and stir.  Add salt, pepper, spices/herbs to taste.  [This is where I added just less than 1/2 pound pre-cooked ground chicken].

We were literally scraping the crock pot to get every last little bit.

This recipe is part of:
Real Food Wednesday,
Allergy Free Wednesday:
Fat Tuesday
Old Fashioned Recipe Exchange

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas books on sale at Amazon!

We really, really need to update our Christmas book basket!  The books that worked when our dc were little... just don't grab them anymore.  I'm sharing some of my window shopping with you :).  Some I have read and some I haven't but all are at least 20% off at the time of this posting.  All are eligible for free shipping (see details).  I hope this helps some of you with your Christmas shopping!

The Christmas Quiet Book (20% off):

Room for a Little One (20% off):

The Spirit of Christmas (34% off):

 Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (32% off):

Charlie and the Christmas Kitty (42% off)

Legend of the Christmas Stocking (32% off):

 The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (32% off):

The Christmas Baby (32% off):

 How the Grinch Stole Christmas (33% off):

The Night Before Christmas (32% off):

The Jolly Christmas Postman (32% off):

Olivia Helps with Christmas (32% off):

The Legend of St. Nicholas (32% off):

Letters from Father Christmas (JRR Tolkien)(32% off):

Any referral fees from affiliate links helps to support our homeschool.

Advent: O Antiphons ~ Jesse Tree Link

O Antiphons:

We've done the O Antiphons for a few years now but as I was googling to find the original resource I used I came across this neat site with the songs for each along with a sort of devotional and personal reflection for each day.  If you are not familiar with the O Antiphons, just think of the song O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.  These prayers were used in the 7th or 8th century and have continued since then.

The original resource I've used for years has some food ideas for each prayer/day.  Here are some great links with food ideas:

Here is the beautiful, wonderful printable that I use:

Foods I want to have ready to start on Dec. 17th (separated by O Antiphon day):

- Gold coins with the symbol for that day on it for each day (organic choc coins? homemade coins, here, here, or HERE? homemade peppermint patties? Dollar Tree chocolate coins??)(There are chocolate coins and a few molds starting on this page at Amazon)
The printable for the O Antiphons gold coins are here [as well as the gold coins for St. Nicholas Day]:

- Blueberries, dark chocolate, eggs, fish(?), maybe these  cute fig newton books (using an all natural brand like Barbara's Bakery or others found here  (check ingredients), or homemade bars - I have fig puree in the freezer)

- Cookies in the shape of the tablets, chips/salsa, make our gingerbread house this day?  (maybe eat dinner in the tent?) (We use to make our gingerbread houses from scratch but have been using kits the last several years. Time for homemade again?

- Stew with carrots/potatoes (or mashed potatoes); drink natural root beer :) (we like Blue Sky or Hansen )

- Unshelled pistachios, peanuts, or pecans; key lime cookies (recipe here); we like Lara Bars for traveling snacks so maybe a key lime Lara Bar!

- Oranges, "sun" with toast and honey (toast cut in strips and set up like rays on a plate with a dab of honey in the middle)

- Cookies in wreath/crown shapes (use wreath tip from press-out cookie gun) (or cut slices of fruit bread with circle in center like a wreath/crown).

- Birthday cake for Jesus on the 23rd.

Jesse Tree:

Domestic Church has a direct link now for the Jesse Tree ornaments.  I printed the pdf, the children colored them, then I laminated them.  We have used these simple ones for years.  You can see how humble mine is here.  It is a treasured tradition.

 There are many Jesse Tree resources at Amazon here.

 By one of the co-founders of Domestic Church (where I got my printable):


Any referral fees generated from affiliate links help to support our homeschool.