Thursday, January 31, 2013

Eastern Europe Study ~ Brainstorm

What's Schoolin'?

Thursdays have been Geography days for our focus presentations lately and it's been working out great.  We're moving along to Eastern Europe in our Trail Guide to World Geography book [Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Russia][Other Eastern Europe countries follow in another lesson].  Below are some brainstorm ideas for what we may do.

~ Eat some homemade mamaliga (sort of a polenta)[Romanian recipe].  We have some non-gmo corn meal in the cupboard so this would be easy to implement.  Here is a recipe (great side bar to browse around):
Another recipe:

~ Golubtsi (Ukranian cabbage rolls):

~ Stuffed blini (plural is blinchiki) (ground meat)[Russian recipe]:

~ Make a 2-D Matryoshka doll [view images online first (see 'classic folk art' here); use template to make cardstock template; use fabric for 2-D doll glued on cardstock]

~ Pysanky (Ukranian Easter Eggs):  image google (they are so amazing). Here is a site with a link to a tutorial.  Another option would be to use colored sharpies on some hard-boiled eggs for the designs, even though the technique would be lost (it all depends on life at the time!).

What's Green?

This homemade shaving cream recipe is brilliant!

What's Cookin'?

Barbecue chicken on yeast buns with mashed sweet potatoes (and a beet snuck in!) on the side.  

I was too lazy to make the sauce and then pour it on the chicken, so... I put some frozen pre-baked skinless thigh fillets into the tiny crockpot.  On top of that I put about 1/4 C organic tomato sauce (I finished out the bottle but it was about that, maybe a little more), a squirt of mustard, a dash of apple cider vinegar, some Real Salt, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and 2 tiny dried sage leaves (crumbled and sprinkled over it).  Then I left it alone.

Meanwhile I made some yeast rolls with 1/2 white whole wheat and 1/2 unbleached all-purpose since I didn't have time to soak it anyway [click here for my soaked wheat yeast bun recipe post].  While those were rising I heated up water and put in 2 sweet potatoes and 1 golden beet.  The yams/beets cooked while the rolls baked.

When the rolls were done I let them sit a little bit to cool somewhat before slicing.  I drained and mashed the sweet potato/beet, added some butter, salt, and a dash of milk (just like making mashed potatoes).

I also served a bit of organic lettuce and pears that we happened to have with a dallop of cottage cheese on top.  Sauerkraut was available but only youngest and I indulged in it :).

As Andy Griffith would say, it was, "outstandingly good. MmmMmm."

This is part of Fat Tuesday.

Friday, January 25, 2013


What's Cookin'?

I was going to call this post "Freezer Divin' Enchiladas" but I didn't just freezer dive... I also cupboard-dived and fridge-dived to dig around and see what we had that I could use.  I finally settled on just plain "Enchiladas" for my title!

Seriously, this is not so much of a recommended recipe as it is a model of what you can do with what you have.  Be inspired by what you have!


3 C pre-cooked rice (trust me, you don't want to know about that fiasco!)
1-1/2 C pre-cooked shredded chicken
1-1/2 C cottage cheese (seriously?  yes, that's what I had!)
1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese (to sprinkle on top - all I had left)
Spices of your choice (cumin will give it a Mexican/Tex-Mex flavor)(I made sure to include garlic and onion powder since I didn't use any of those actual veggies in the mix)
Any veggie leftovers?  Include those as well :).
8 big homemade tortillas and 3 small Wal-Mart store-bought tortillas (those 3 are for dh!)


Optional:  Heat a bit of oil in a stainless steel pan (or cast iron or cast enamel) and quickly dip and flip each tortilla in it to make them more pliable but not crusty.

Mix the green sauce and cottage cheese together in a small bowl.  Reserve half of that to put on the top at the end.  

Mix the other half of sauce/cottage cheese with rice and chicken and spices (and any leftover cooked veggies).  Scoop the mixture into your tortillas and roll them.  Put them seam-side down in a greased glass baking dish.  Top it off with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle cheddar cheese over it.  Bake covered for 20 minutes and 10 uncovered.

Serve with homemade beans and garnish with sour cream... or more cottage cheese??

[Update: several children told me several times how good this was and that they want to have it again!  Also, I was a little stingy with the filling and have enough filling left over in the freezer for a lunch of enchiladas.]

This recipe/method is part of Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Plans~Records Form

What's Schoolin'?

I don't know if this idea is of any use to anyone, but just in case :)...
After spending waaaay too much time online looking for just the right form to suit our needs with my olders I made this page that has a week's worth of work done (or plans) on one page.  Depending on how many times or hours they need to spend on a subject, I made that many boxes.  We will probably use it both as a record and planner.  For example, while discussing it with middle dd (10th grade)(who really liked the layout by the way!), she mentioned how she might write "history links" in a history block just to remind herself to do it; but otherwise she might just write in what she accomplished during an hour of independent (or together) history time.  Today they watched a video of Julius Caesar's biography and it would count for one hour for the week - it worked into our day but wasn't 'planned' for today necessarily (it was on my mental "holding pattern") so in that case the paper serves as a record instead of a plan.
Clear as mud? :)
The good thing is that the olders have the flexibility of fitting their work into the week however they want but still have the structure of what is recommended to achieve their goals of finishing coursework.  So, if dd is on a roll in Science and wants to work all morning on it then she can keep a log of it and do what works for her. 
I'll make up something similar for my youngest who approaches school differently than my olders.  Hers might have 3 blocks for 'shelf work' and 2 blocks for 'science presentations' or whatever... That's a project for tomorrow :).
Anyway, here is a link to the pdf in case it helps someone else organize their child's work or helps with planning.

Let me know if you need the open office version to make your own changes.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekly Menu

What's Cookin'?

Usually if I can get dinners in order then the other meals fall into place or sort of coast into working... sort of :).  After being gone all weekend and being sick for 2 weeks it feels nice to actually be thinking about meals! Albertsons had some sales a bit ago on Sanderson chicken so you'll see mostly chicken meals.  I only have 1 pound of stew meat until the end of the month so I'll be very stingy with that!  I was able to get free-range organic eggs for $1.75/dozen.  I couldn't be more thrilled - really!


- Muffins (pumpkin or savory from the freezer)
- Cottage cheese/fruit
- Eggs: scrambled with toast and cream cheese
- Eggs: egg salad on toast and applesauce
- Eggs: breakfast casserole
- Bean/cheese melts
- Honey Goodness Breakfast Bars (for St. Francis de Sales on Thursday)(this may be for snack instead)


- chicken sandwiches with mayo and Bubbies live sauerkraut [I'm trying Laura's overnight no knead recipe tonight/tomorrow]
- cereal (yes, we had cereal today for lunch and it was such a treat! Cascadian Farm Fruit and Nut Granola ) and fresh apples with some healthy pumpkin cookies from the freezer.
- Bean/cheese melts
- Taquitos or echiladas (depends on whether I have some frozen corn tortillas or if I'm making flour ones).

- Trail mix (raisins, almonds, chocolate chips )
- Cottage cheese/fruit
- Muffins
- Animal Crackers (made from scratch - already on cooling rack)
- Crackers and cream cheese (crackers from scratch)
- Celery and carrot sticks with dip related to St. Paul's Conversion (I know it's a stretch, but they are treats for horses and oral tradition and paintings have St. Paul falling off of his horse).  If I'm really feeling productive or looking for something to fill my time (not!) we might make horseshoe-shaped pretzels or bread sticks or even cookies.


- Chicken sandwich spread on mini-pitas; oranges; cupcakes (white cupcakes with cream cheese frosting decorated like lamb faces for St. Agnes' feast day - a 4th century martyr who died in 304 under Diocletian)
- Chicken Spaghetti
- Tortilla soup
- Chili (with 1/2 lb of that precious stew meat and rice added in to stretch it more); corn bread
- Chicken pot pie or baked chicken and rice
- Beef stew with lots of potatoes and carrots
- Quiche
- Bean burritos

Things to get prepped ahead:

- Beans (already in crock pot!)
- Soak tortillas and make ahead
- Crackers
- Pre-cook other 1/2 stew meat when I make the beef stew.
- Hard boil eggs [wash a bunch of eggs ahead of time if not washed]
- Bread
- Soak/dehydrate almonds (already in dehydrator!)
- Crack a bunch of pecans...

Okay, I am so bummed!  Tonight was going to be the chicken sandwich spread on mini pitas.  Store-bought pitas.  A break.  An easy dinner.  The reason why I've been able to take time to think and post this menu. Well, the ones I got, that I thought were safe, have L-cysteine.  Argh! (envision Charlie Brown saying it!).  Now I need to hurry up and make some (or probably naan bread) and it's already dinner time!

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Winter Picture Books on Sale at Amazon!

What's Schoolin'?

Here are some deals currently on Amazon.  I just love picture books!  I don't think children ever get too old for picture books! [Actually, I just checked out several picture books for our study of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales! :) ].  Enjoy!

20th Anniversary Edition of The Mitten by J. Brett; this hardcover is 38% off:

Snowmen at Night (Hardcover) is 32% off:

 Over and Under the Snow (hardcover) is 32% off:

 The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder (hardcover) is 32% off:

 Snowflakes in Photographs is 21% off:

 Snow (hardcover) by Cynthia Rylant is 32% off (I haven't read this book in particular but I love C. Rylant books and use them in my writing classes - even with older students!):

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

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Letting Go... of Books

What's Cookin'?

Here is a great tutorial for homemade mozzarella from Cultures of Health.

What's Schoolin'?

Does it sound totally ridiculous that I actually got teary-eyed when I first pulled out all of my picture books to sort through into keep/sell piles?  It hit me that I can easily say how my in-laws need to down-size and let go of what impedes their current needs, yet I hold tightly to something as insignificant in the scheme of salvation as some picture books!  So, yes, I got a little teary-eyed, gave myself a mental shake and what-for, and set to the task.

Here is a picture of the contents of 1 of the 2 shelves I sorted (and my ubiquitous coffee mug - adrenal crutch!).  Somehow the "keep" pile keeps getting higher and higher!

I feel like I'm letting go of a professional stage and past, but don't really have a new 'professional' stage or niche to fall into at this point in life (but I need one!).  I'm not sure whether to stay where my old strength was or to branch out into the new.  Work with building elementary curricula and support materials; or move into high school curricula/support... or even something out of my 'professional profession' (I like making up words and phrases!) - something really new like physical items to sell or the real food movement... I'm sort of like a meandering teenager who is not sure what to do with his/her life... but needs to do something.  Anyway, enough of the philosophical ramblings :).

What's Going:
Amelia Bedelia, Berenstein Bears, Clifford, easy readers, easy chapter books, even a Jan Brett book (!), seasonal books, etc, etc.  I culled over 100 books!!

What's Staying:
All of my Spanish picture books, anything that had an inscription or was a gift to one of the children, books I use for writing workshop lessons or personal narrative lessons, books that I remember specifically reading with the girls when they were little, books with topics youngest has yet to really delve into (like more complicated picture books for any of the habitats/biomes or the Magic School Bus Earth Science ones), books that I used for really cool lessons, and copies of books that I had when I was a little girl (not the actual books, just the same titles).  It could use another culling... 

How would you cull out your picture books?  Do you dare?  Are you ready?  I wasn't ready, but I dared, and now I'm glad I did :).

Here is a picture of somewhat sorted piles:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top 12 Montessori Posts in 2012

Being an eclectic living blog, not every post is about school.  Of those about school, not every post is about Montessori... or are they??  Just how DOES Montessori look for a mixed aged group of 11, 15 (almost 16!), and 17 year olds??

Even what looks like regular curriculum has a Montessori aspect in our school: our daughters are involved in the choices and are actively engaged in directing their learning.  Right now, middle dd is in a sensitive period for driver's ed (seriously, she's excited about it right now, but just like other things, if we let this time slide by without meeting her readiness then her willingness and excitement will be gone)... time goes by waaay too quickly!  I still remember her enthusiasm for the bead bar works (sigh).

Another high school example: we are headed back to Teaching Textbooks for the rest of Algebra 1 because we tried Life of Fred and it is not a match for dd.  So, on the surface it looks like just a curriculum choice.  The Montessori slant is that dd was very involved in that decision as we explored and defined her learning style and needs.  No, I'm not thrilled to be buying back the same set that I just sold several months ago to get the new curriculum (Life of Fred) that didn't work out; however, it's just what we need to do to have dd's prepared environment for Math right now.

That said, these are the most popular posts that have a definite Montessori focus :).  Enjoy!

Hands down the most popular Montessori post was this one in which I shared my 3-Part Card Template.  What wonderful works have you all made with these?

3-Part Card Template:

Prime Numbers:


Detective Adjective Game:


Montessori Globes:

Regions of Texas:

Binomial and Trinomial video links:

Plate Tectonics:

General Geography Works:

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The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

What's Schoolin'?

Here are sample files for The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.

Spider Lapbooking Booklets ($2):

Sequencing 3-Part Cards ($3):

Parts of a Spider 3-Part Cards ($2):

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Lit-Mont Learning Resources Sample Files

What's Schoolin'?

Here are 2 sample files from my humble little online shop Lit-Mont Learning Resources...

The concept is to merge Montessori-style 3-Part Cards with children's literature.  I absolutely love literature. I absolutely love Montessori.  Why not combine the two??  This concept can work in regular classrooms to support literature even if it is not a Montessori environment.  This concept can expand an existing Montessori environment to support literature.  Either teaching style/learning environment wins!

I've waited and waited (4 years!) for "perfection" before offering any of these files for sale.  Meanwhile, children are getting older and outgrowing the phase in which they would benefit.  So, setting my perfection aside, I'm going to try to figure out some way to get them online so children in home, public, and private schools can enjoy using these support materials.

This file is for sequence cards that go along with Mercer Mayer's Just Me and My Dad.  Cost is $3 and can be payed via Paypal using the donation button at the top of the sidebar.  Once paid I will send you the pdf file without the 'sample' watermark.  If you need it sent to an e-mail other than the one that shows up in paypal, you can put it in the paypal comments or e-mail me.

This really simple file is for Parts of a Tree.  The cost is only $1 (mainly because I'm not happy with some of the shading)!

If there is enough interest I would LOVE to make more of these and it would be worth my clipart subscription to know that people are enjoying these materials.  My children had already outgrown this phase when I started making them :( but with over 20 years teaching experience and Reading background I feel confident that these will add to any learning environment.

I also have files for some other Mercer Mayer books and several Eric Carle books.

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