Friday, December 30, 2011

Bread in Five...GF

Here's what I'm up to today....

I got the danish whisk and plastic dough rising bowl from King Arthur Flour for a Christmas present! The Bread in Five website looks really fantastic. I love how they make bread baking easy for anyone.

Mrs. P

Thursday, December 29, 2011

January Gardening Lists

So this is the time of the year to get started with Texas gardens! Today we planted 6 live oak trees for some much needed shade at our little farm. I also threw some snapdragon seeds in a flower bed, but I'm not expecting much from them. I think they needed to be started indoors first. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised though.

So here are some lists for all of our garden projects for January.

Tool Care and Repair:
Sand down how handles (due to a misfortunate accident with a rototiller)
oil handles
sharpen hoes
clean blades
clean and care for lawn mower...a grandad job as I know NOTHING about mechanical things.

Flower beds
pull weeds
add mulch or leaves for beds that won't be planted yet
till beds that will hold salad greens and flowers

Vegetable Planting from seed or set:
broccoli *
cabbage *
cauliflower *
*first attempt to plant from seed rather than plants
and Hopefully, I will find some strawberry plants...but that will require a dedicated bed

Herbs to plant:

Flowers from seed:
alssum, calendula, cornflower, delphinium, echinacea, feverfew, larskpur, poppies, snapdragon, sweet pea, hollyhock

All tips were from a newsletter printed by Jim Gober. You can read the full newsletter here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baking Day

We have several things on the agenda today, but the main thing is baking day (because I am in denial that sorting/decluttering the girl's clothes will actually take the most time and suck the life out of of me.) Baking is nice. I love the warm oven and yummy smells of vanilla, butter and cinnamon through out the day. I love keeping my tea cup full of True Blueberry or Red Raspberry tea. I do not love sorting children's clothes. So I'm combining the two, hoping (and crossing fingers) that the lure of baking cookies and hot cups of tea will motivate me to quickly move through the sorting/decluttering. And because I live in a complete state of fantasy, I have even more added to my list. The dream wish list, I shall call it! I mean if I get the parlor cleaned top to bottom, and my baking done, AND the clothing thing done, then I might as well just trade my sweat pants in for a wonder woman suit, because I will be all that AND a bag of chips! onto the baking. Last night I ground flour and started a soaked grain cracker dough. I made it this morning, and the children are nibbling on them and telling me how they remind them of cheeze-its. The recipe is from Nourishing Traditions, but you can also see it on Nourishing Gourmet. It makes a TON of crackers. I used whole wheat flour and whole milk yogurt. I also roll the dough out on a silpat and they bake up perfectly.

Here are some other things I'm baking today:
Mary's Sugar Cookies
(our family's traditional Christmas cookie) I'm making a triple batch. Some dough will go in the freezer and some cookies will be bagged up for AWANA sparks.
Brownie Pudding Cake (original recipe is from an OLD Betty Crocker book)
However, I'm making this version at Nourishing Gourmet.
If time permits I will also make those drop boiled oatmeal cookies that are fast and easy. Hopefully, I will get the AWANA treats all bagged up and ready to go today and tomorrow I can move on to other things.

Other things on the list are:
  • finish putting up the garland and Jesse Tree ornaments (I'm SOOO BEHIND!)
  • sort through the girl's clothes & declutter too smalls, torn, stained, etc (I think the clothes have been reproducing like rabbits in their closet and under their beds!)
  • Tally up points for AWANA store night and email it out
  • Rock baby, tend to baby, change baby, chase the baby, save baby from near death falls off of chairs, stairs, etc -repeat throughout the day
  • Arrange and set up Christmas Caroling at the nursing home for 4-H
  • Clean the parlor top to bottom
  • Make sure Miss A does her "over the Christmas Break" homework from CC. Aren't you glad that you don't have 40 pages of Latin, 10 lessons of algebra and more haunting you all Christmas break???

Hmm...that list is looking a little scary...especially the part about sorting the girl's clothes. Wish me luck and if I don't come back, then you will know I got lost in the girl's clothes. Seriously, they could clothe a small country of girls!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I won!

I entered the Joyous Home 12 Days of Christmas Give Away and I won a copy of the Joyous Home Journal. I have not yet seen it, but I can tell you that the print magazine is absolutely WONDERFUL! It is a beautiful, full color magazine with great step by step articles on all things lovely. I own about 4 or 5 of them. Go to the Joyous Notions blog to see some great Christmas ideas and join the fun. Today's freebie is lovely recipe cards to print off. Yesterday was delicious candied nuts. Each day is a different and fun way to celebrate the Season of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

DIY Liquid Stevia Drops

UPDATE: I used 1 teaspoon of the powdered green stevia to about 3/4 c. boiling water. It did not work at ALL. It was not even sweet. What a bummer.

Check out this link to directions on how to make your own Liquid Stevia. This stuff is around $14 dollars a bottle where I live. And the good news is I have an entire bag of the green powdered stevia leaves that I can use and an old dropper bottle so this will cost me zero out of pocket! Now let me tell you a secret about the powdered green stuff. First off, I bought a pound of it. It seemed like such a good deal. And I thought it would be good that it wasn't processed. It is just ground up stevia leaves. So let's recap that...bulk purchase meant it was a good price and no processing seemed like a win-win situation. That is until I made cookies from it. I found a recipe online and proceeded headlong into it. The cookies were sweet enough. That wasn't the problem. The fact that they were GREEN was the problem. And as an added bonus, large amounts of stevia tastes a lot like licorice. Eck! I so do NOT like licorice. And even if I did, it would not go well mixed into a chocolate chip cookie. So if this recipe for the liquid stevia works, I will have found a way to redeem the money I wasted on my pound of green stevia. So I will cross my fingers and get this mixed up soon so I can report on how it turns out.

In the event that you already have a bottle of the liquid stevia I'm including a link for a really tasty recipe that uses it. It is even kid friendly. Here is the Spunky Coconut's recipe for Sunbutter Brownies that uses liquid stevia. My kids and I love this recipe. It's a treat, but so good for you since it doesn't have refined sugars and really packs a protein punch with the sunbutter and almond butter. It's one of the few gluten free recipes that my kids will eat. I will add that if I am making it for my kids, then I will use peanut butter in place of the sunbutter.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reddi-Wip Love

So my husband and I have a weakness. We LOVE to put a big shot of reddi-wip on our coffee. However, at the grocery store last week, I forgot to get some. I forgot cheese and olive oil too, but I won't go into that. Let's just say that shopping without a list and with 4 children isn't the optimal way to shop, especially if you are at the new grocery store in town and you still don't have the layout down.

I made coffee last night and was lamenting the fact that I didn't have my spray whipped cream. It's the little treats that I really enjoy in life. I thought for a minute about just whipping some up in the kitchen aid, but I already had the dishwasher running and just am a tad bit allergic to dish washing. ;-) Still, I really wanted to have a little of that whipped cream goodness on my coffee. Then I remembered my blender and the fact that I had about a half gallon of heaving whipping cream in the fridge. So I grabbed the cream and and my blendtec recipe booklet. I don't have an exact price, but I think you can make at least 4 cans worth with one quart of heavy whipping cream. And if memory serves me right, I bought a QUART of heavy cream for about the same price as ONE can of reddi-wip. I suspect, though that one can of reddi-wip does NOT have 2 cups of actual cream in it though, so the savings is most probably even more...maybe even twice as much.

Here's the simple recipe:
2 c. cold whipping cream
3 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla

Pour into the blender and pulse a couple of times to blend the sugar into the cream. Then I hit the pulse button for about 30 seconds and had perfect whipped cream. Do not overblend or you will have butter. And as much as I love butter, it is not too yummy on coffee. I put big dollops of that creamy goodness on each cup of coffee, filled a pint jar to the tippy top, and then fed the rest to kids who came in and begged like little birdies. I think it will still be fluffy for about 3-5 days in the fridge in a jar with a lid. I think it would also work fine to cut the recipe in half if you don't need that much whipping cream at one time.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Jesse Tree

This is about our 4th year to celebrate the coming Christmas season with a Jesse Tree. A few years back I got a Christmas planning notebook and it included the Jesse Tree Devotions by Ann Voskamp. If you haven't read any of her writing, you are really missing out. She is a very gifted writer. I was going to write about it today and when I went to her website to add a link, I found that she has it available for FREE. So how about that. You can join the fun! Go here and grab the book. Print out the ornaments and paste them onto cardstock. Punch a hole and add a little raffia or ribbon. Now you are set to celebrate Christmas while learning all about Jesus. There is an ornament for each day of December leading up to Christmas. Each ornament has a picture depicting a part of the Bible that tells the story of Christ starting with creation. We read the devotions at dinner and then the kids put the ornament onto some garland that I have hung over the windows. We end up with more of a Jesse timeline than a tree. It's one of the traditions we look forward to each year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Garlic Lime Chicken

One of our favorite dinners is the original garlic lime chicken as seen in this video. I usually double or triple the seasonings and keep it on hand so I can make up a batch of garlic lime chicken whenever the mood strikes.

Here is the printed recipe:

Garlic Lime Chicken

(by Leanne Ely...the dinner diva)

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
6 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons lime juice

In a bowl, mix together first 7 ingredients. Evenly sprinkle mixture on both sides of chicken breasts.

In a skillet, heat butter and olive oil together over medium high heat. Sauté chicken until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes on either side. Remove chicken and add lime juice and chicken broth to the pan, whisking up the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking until sauce has reduced slightly. Add chicken back to the pan to thoroughly coat and serve.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Garden #2- Hugelkultur

For our second garden, we will attempt to build a hugelkulture garden. The idea is that the piles of logs provide nutrients, drainage, and moisture to the plants. I say we will attempt it because it is ideally, 6 feet tall. I'm not sure we can come up with that many logs and sticks on our flat, mostly treeless farm. The concept makes a lot of sense though, and with our serious issues with drought, it would be worth the effort to have a garden with little to no need for rain. I guess I'm skeptical that it really will provide all the moisture needed for plants. However, that is the main point of the learn about ecology and botany. The kids have formed a hypothesis about this type of garden. And I will just say that they are much more optimistic than I am. Already, they have beautiful drawings of green lush foliage with deep roots in their sketch books. My favorite quote was when Mr. C first saw this drawing. He immediately said, "Cool! The logs are the food for the plants." We also had a good discussion of our garden as it now stands (in long straight rows) in comparison to these other types of gardening that we are studying. Obviously, we won't be planting much since we are now getting freezing temperatures every night, but I suspect it will take a while to prepare the beds. After all, it is myself and 3 young helpers, plus a very "helpful" toddler. And we only will have about 30 minutes a couple of times a week to work on it during our regular science class during school. And with that, the bell has rung (so to speak) and science class is now over. Time to put away our science sketchbooks and plans until science class tomorrow.

Click the link to read more about HUGELKULTUR. It really is an interesting read. I only wish I had read it before we cleared the fence line and burned piles of trees and shrubs.

Real Life Science project

In order to have a hands on science lesson in ecology and botany, we are creating 2 gardens. The kids watched this first video and are today making a list of supplies needed and drawing sketches of the garden. They are also forming a hypothesis of what will happen in our garden. What information they do know is that the flower beds in front of our house have soil that is completely devoid of nutrients. Only long rooted weeds will grow there. Here are the resources that we have readily available.
*lots of rabbit waste
*paper/newspaper that we can recycle
*lots of decomposed cow manure in the barn
*a friend has mountains of mulch and will allow us to have some
*tools for gardening
Today is a planning/learning day and tomorrow we hope to implement the first part of the plan and lay down a layer of papers and newspapers and cover it with mulch

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Heart is Full

A repost from my homesteading blog on Sept. 5

My Heart is Full

Rocking a sweet baby boy

Soft creaks of the old rocker

Scents of baby soap in his hair

Sweet snuggles and soft skin

Feeling cool breezes drift through open windows

On a fine fall day

Girls giggling in the background

Sweet scents wafting on the breeze

As they make soapballs

Soapballs lined up neatly

Drying in the sunshine and breeze

Whistling of the tea kettle

Cups of hot blueberry tea with honey

Scones with fresh goat cheese and raspberry jam

Crumbs on my new couch

Smiles on all

School books strewn across the kitchen table

Long division, graph paper, maps of Canada,

Mechanical pencils, and big fat pink erasers

A big girl that once was a baby in my arms

So pretty and getting all grown up before my eyes

Sewing machine waiting patiently

Fabric squares being cut

Colorful threads standing in a row

Snaggle tooth grins from a 7 year old girl

Proud of her first sewing project

Excited to sew on the sewing machine

And not by hand because sewing machines are for big girls

Sweet baby boy sleeping in his crib

Tiny eyelashes closed and fluttering

With sweet baby dreams

Arms stretched out for the whole world

Soft blanket tucked in tight

My heart is full.

Flaky Pie Crust from Scratch

Years ago, an elderly lady took several young moms aside and taught us to make a chocolate cream pie. I stared as she whipped out the flakiest pie crust ever. The really amazing thing was that she didn't even roll it out! She just took the wad of pie dough and divided it into two pie plates. She then smashed it all around the pie plate until it looked like she had rolled it out. No messy counters, no dough sticking to the rolling pin. I was in awe. So I will share with you the easiest pie crust recipe. I have adapted it by using butter instead of oil. Because butter makes everything better. Just ask Paula Deen.

Easy Pie Crust
2 c. flour
1 pinch of salt
2/3 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. milk

Stir the flour and salt together until they are well blended. Melt the butter and stir in the milk. Now dump the milk/butter mixture into the flour/salt mixture. Stir this together until it all comes together into a ball of pie dough. I have found that a fork works well for blending the liquid with the flour. You can either put half the dough into a pie plate and press it into place or you can roll it out on waxed paper. Both work equally well, with the rolled dough looking a little neater. This recipe makes 2 crusts.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just some changes....

Well, I have finally realized that one with as many commitments as I have, cannot manage two separate blogs. I'm not really all that good at managing one blog. As seen by sporadic posting on both blogs. I have decided to combine the two blogs into one. I will probably change the name of this one to Handmade at the Farm, since most of my writing is about the things I'm making by hand, whether it's cheese, dresses, quilts, crafts or educated children. ;-) For a while I will leave up the other blog over at homesteadblogger, but will work on adding those posts into this blog as time permits. For those posts you can look over at this link so see the other things I'm up to when I'm not teaching.

Many Blessings,
Mrs. P

A Nursery of His Own

Back in August, I finally moved Baby C into a room of his own. I know that with Miss A, we had a room painted and decked out 3 months before she arrived, but Baby C is child number 4. And momma is getting old and lazy. I did not desire extra exercise in the form of running stairs at 2 am. So I did what any lazy mother would do. I stole the crib from Mimi's house and put one upstairs and my crib downstairs in my own bedroom. So at the ancient age of 1, my sweet baby finally got his own space. And I won't go into how it was my sewing nook, and technically not a real room. It has worked out perfectly for him and everyone else. Mr. C's Lego creations are safe and he doesn't have to endure the fussing and crying that babies are prone too in the middle of the night. Baby C now has a longer lifespan from having his own space that isn't full of choking hazards and pocket knives, tiny model pieces, and various other hazards that 9 year old boys are known to collect. So here is a picture of Baby C's new space.

Thanksgiving Fun on Pinterest!

Oh yes! I am ADDICTED to pinterest. It is my newest way to waste time find creative ideas. And here are a few of my favorites with a Thanksgiving theme...enjoy!!! And let me know if you need an invitation to pinterest. I would be glad to invite you.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Habit Formation

Do you have any dawdlers in your house? I know I do. I've recently been reading about habit formation in some of my books about the Charlotte Mason method of education. I didn't have any particular reason to read those chapters, it was just the chapters I had gotten too. It is one of the aspects of a Charlotte Mason Education that I've read the least on, in fact. So I was reading it and seeing lots of benefits to good training in habit formation. I had no idea that today, I would see the fruit of not spending time in training habit formation.

About an hour ago I went to put the baby down for a nap and gave Mr. C the instructions to take out the trash. Which must sound just like, "play lego games on the computer," because when I came out of the baby's room, there he was happily playing lego games on the computer and there was the trash. It was sitting the trashcan right where it was when I left the room. Just a few minutes ago, I told a certain teen to unload and reload the dishwasher. Apparently that sounds a lot like "Wash your hair and paint your toenails," because when I found her she was about to shampoo her hair and showed me her freshly painted toenails. Just to be fair, I did make a phone call and ask another adult if in fact take out the trash and unload the dishwasher sound anything at ALL like, shampoo hair and play games. It was agreed, that there must not have been a communication problem, but rather a "habit formation" problem.

So the children will be working on "habit formation." A quick google finds that other moms are utilizing Charlotte's approach to habit formation. Check out this article for a quick overview of the method. This quote from the article hooked me in right away! This woman must LIVE at MY house! Or maybe, it's just a universal issue with all kids???? Either way, I'm agreeing with Charlotte. I have NOT trained them in the habits I wish they would perform. And for their sake and mine, I will be training them.

Do you find yourself always telling or asking your children the same things over and over again? I know I do. If I had a nickel for every time I told them to put the milk away, I’d be rich. Charlotte Mason taught us that when you find yourself always telling them to do the same thing, you have not trained them in the habits you wish they would perform. She wrote, “the habits of the child produce the character of the man . . . every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.”

I also have a secret weapon in this training. I have the "Grandma Jane" method of child training. It involves weeding. And fortunately for me, I am weed rich! So in addition to what I've been reading, I think I will add on extra weeding just for some good character building. And if that doesn't work, I can fall back on my own parent's secret weapon...rock picking up. One summer, I spent a large amount of time picking up rocks. (My parents were rock rich instead of weed rich. ) Oh how my mom and dad will laugh when they read this. Because I think more than once I said something along the lines of, "I'll never, never, never make my kids pick up rocks!" and thus the cycle of life continues, one parent following in the footsteps that the said parent SWORE they would never follow. How fun life is. Do you think sometime when I'm old and gray, I'll be giggling as Mr. C, Miss A, Miss J and Baby C are all having their own children weed and pick up rocks? Somehow I think that is exactly what my future holds.


Mrs. P

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Lessons

Today, we are rushing through our book work so that we can attend an Easter Pageant at lunch time. The local university that I graduated from is having it's 72nd annual Easter Pageant and we look forward to it every year. The entire production is acted, planned and directed by the students. It is always a blessing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A fine morning to study wildflowers

In all places then and in all seasons,
Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings,
Teaching us by most persuasive reasons,
How akin they are to human things.

This morning we enjoyed a lovely nature walk. It was just a little cool, maybe the lower 60's or upper 50's and there was absolutely no wind, a most delicious and rare treat at our little home school on the farm. Our goal was to learn to sketch in detail as a scientist might do. So we gathered sketch books, clip boards, pencils, mud boots and jackets, and strapped the baby onto my waist with my moby wrap.

We found many things to explore, but we were all drawn to the wildflowers that are blooming this time of year. We found that our honeybees were also drawn to them as well. They were buzzing happily from flower to flower just as my kids were. We collected several specimens to study. 2 wildflowers that are unidentified as of yet, Colorado Potato Beetle eggs from the garden, Kermes scale from the oak tree, Indian Paintbrush and Bluebonnets - two of our favorite Texas natives.

We originally planned to draw outside, but the large amounts of dew made that a little difficult, so we came inside to finish our sketching and studying. Mr. C plugged in the microscope and they were all delighted to see that what appeared to be eggs in the galls were really, miniature bugs with legs and antennae. In the same way, they were delighted to find pistils in their wildflowers and pictures of the beetle eggs on the internet.

As we finish up our nature study this morning, my breakfast bar is still covered with samples, some neatly cut in half, others in mason jars with water to preserve them so we can enjoy them all day. Our water color pencil colors are working overtime and I'm enjoying hearing their comments and discussion on what they are learning. More than once I've heard the comment, "I'm going to be a scientist when I grow up!"

So I leave with this quote from The Handbook of Nature Study:

"The only right way to begin plant study with young children is through awakening their interest in and love for flowers. Most children love flowers naturally; they enjoy bringing flowers to school, and here, by teaching the recognition of flowers by name, may be begun this delightful study."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beethoven's 5th

I have added a playlist of songs we are currently studying. Just be warned, there is one version of Beethoven's 5th that is...well, rockin'. It will cause your children to jump about like little miniature Eddie Van Halens. It will be necessary to send them out to play afterwards and you may even need to dose them with some strong chamomile tea in order to get them calmed back down for the remainder of their school work. Also, if you happen to have a 7 month old crawling about, he will be greatly entertained by the children's rockin' movements. An added bonus is that if you listen to it enough times, you can count it as PE class as well. ;-)

math fact practice

Timed Math Fact Practice with printable sheets for your records....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Apollo 11 Moon Landing

This week we are learning about the Cold War. After reading pg. 385-389 in Story of the World Vol. 4, I had the kids watch this short video.

Below are some links that you might find helpful if you are studying the Apollo 11 Moon Landing or just a study of the moon.
Facts about the Moon from Enchanted Learning
The First Moon Walk a summary by Scholastic with links to other space missions
First Step on the Moon coloring sheets (I had to select the text and image to print a clean copy)
The coloring sheets are part of a series of coloring sheets that together would make a huge timeline of American History. Here is the link to the original page with all of the coloring sheets.
General Space Crafts and Poems These would be geared to younger children.

Back to Blogging...

Just a note to mention that I have looked through my blog this morning and realize that there are many links that no longer work and I even had a comment from February that needed approval. :-( I'm sorry I have been absent so long. I will work on getting the links all working this week and next. And I've already approved the comment and added a new link for the drawing book in the comment area. I plan to get back to my regular blogging about our school adventures. The wee babe is now 7 months old and is no longer wee. Well at 9 pounds 9 ounces, I guess he wasn't too wee to begin with. He has just started crawling around the house. Boy are we in for trouble! :-) In fact, I am ordering a couple of wide opening gates today! Now that he is past the unpredictable newborn phase, he is now very happy with his new found mobility and has more or less fallen into a predictable schedule that has gotten our Home School on the Farm back into some semblance of "normal."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Conjunction Junction

Anyone remember conjunction junction from their childhood?

Magic "e" - Reading Game

I found this fun game for extra reading practice with the "magic e." It has 3 levels and moves from finding the correct magic e word to using magic e words within a sentence. Fun music and lively colors along with a frog prince theme will make even the most reluctant readers want to play again!

Magic "e" - Reading Game