Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rosemary Garlic Cottage Fries

Rosemary Garlic Cottage Fries
3-4 leftover baked potatoe, diced
2 inch sprig of rosemary, diced fine
2-3 crushed cloves of garlic
2-3 T. olive oil (or your choice of oil/fat)
Cast Iron Skillet
Heat oil in the cast iron skillet on a medium to high setting.  (This is a number 7 on my cook top)  Now add the diced baked potatoes.  I leave the skins on and spread them out in one layer in the skillet.  Fry until one side browns.  Add crushed garlic and finely diced rosemary to the skillet.  Stir all well and continue to cook until the potatoes are evenly browned.  Now give them a generous sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I spent some time today looking at these ADORABLE newborn diapers!  I really like the way they are designed.  It looks like it is the best of both worlds in that you have an "all in one" type diaper, but due to how it's put together it will still wash well and dry fast.  Of course, I'm no cloth expert as I have only used cloth diapers sporadically.  However, the color choices are just too adorable!

OK...back to teaching math and writing...and I better check on the 8 year old that is SEWING on the machine while I'm distracted looking at diapers.  I wonder what she is up to!  And I also need to check on the teen who is sick with a flu type bug....and get the toddler down for a nap...Really, what AM I doing on the computer?!?!

Have a blessed day,
Mrs. P

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's a Handmade Christmas at the Farm!

Miss J and I have been itching to do some crafting, so I've deemed it a handmade Christmas here at our farm.  Mr. C and Baby C will also be crafting and Miss A may or may not craft handmade gifts.  Her high school load has been pretty hefty and she doesn't have nearly as much time for the fun stuff as she used to have.  She is currently up to her eyeballs in silk dupioni finishing a Shakespeare era gown for her final project in her Shakespeare class.  I'll post pics when she finishes it.  Right now, the pics wouldn't be much as she is sewing miles of boning into the bodice.  So back to my original thought... I'll be adding handmade Christmas gifts, pictures, and links to instructions as we make them and maybe you will make a few handmade gifts for your Christmas as well.  The first thing we are making is using a tutorial called, Hot Dog! It's a pillowcase.  It is a super easy method for making a very neat pillow case.  Join us tomorrow as we post pics of Miss J making her pair of pillowcases.  And if you are family and happen to open up some pillowcases (or other crafty goodness), pretend you've never seen such craftiness before.  ;-)

Mrs. P

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

FYI...Don't Search "maternity" on Pinterest

One cute top found on pinterest whose only flaw is the plunging neckline...and that it would only fit until you are about 7 months pregnant.  :-)

Just so you know and are warned.  If you search "maternity" on pinterest you will NOT get a collection of fashionable maternity clothes.  You will instead get artsy photos of every naked pregnant woman out on the internet.  And sometimes they were so thoughtful as to include their naked husband in the photo as well.  ?!?!?!  Seriously?  I wouldn't pose nude when I'm not pregnant and let me just say that regardless of how all those naked preggos feel, their pregnant tummy doesn't really improve their nude photos.  So all of that to say, if you are searching for "not ugly" maternity clothes, just skip the internet all together - better to prevent the trauma I've just experienced - and head to a maternity store and actually try on some clothes.  Because truly, until you try it on, you can't tell anything.  I have a certain maternity sweater that was absolutely adorable on the JC Penney website.  However, in reality, it's pretty much hideous...couple that with the enormous prices on maternity clothes and it's a situation that I just don't care to repeat.  I did clarify my search and put maternity fashion, but it also yielded very little that a mom my age would actually consider wearing, much less purchasing.

Also, another FYI...since I'm sharing and all...don't take your 14 year old with you and then certainly don't add in a toddler with a poopy pull-up and your diaper bag is in the car.  (I thought I'd just run in really quickly and grab a top and a pair of pants.)  Regardless of how many times you explain it, the 14 year old will never understand that as a 40 year old, you will not and should not wear maternity fashions designed with the 20 year old in mind.  In other words, I didn't do skin tight with plunging necklines at 20, so I probably should not start now!  Although it might detract from my graying hair.  And the poopy toddler will just smell worse by the minute, as well as begin to get fussy.  He won't care that the maternity store only has ONE check out and the line is 4 people long with a super chatty sales person.  In fact, he will just start announcing that he has pooped his pants and needs a new pull-up.  His volume may even increase the longer you stand in line.  And you may or may not take turns standing in the mall area with the other children, who have located "dipping dots" and trading spots in line with your husband just hoping that you can somehow get out of the maternity store in one piece, without anymore of a scene than has already happened.   Because let me just say that 20 something, 10 week pregnant girls and their hubbies can surely give some looks!  And then the checker may want you to come and choose a "free" top because you bought 2 and one more is free!  But, the poopy toddler and middle kids in the mall asking if they can have dipping dots is about to put you over the edge.  So you glance around to see if there is anything that might work, while the toddler escapes.  After you chase him and catch him under a rack, the sales clerk comes to say that she made a mistake and you really don't get a free top. And then you will say thank you and get to the car hoping that you bought things that will work out after the 15 minute speech on the non-return-ability of maternity clothes by the friendly sales clerk.  And at this point, you just really have forgotten all about ugly maternity and decide that ugly will be ok as long as it fits, because fashion just isn't worth the shopping trip you just barely survived.

Just thought I'd share in case there are other 40 year olds out there pregnant with #5 and looking for some sort of modest, yet un-hideous maternity fashion.

Mrs. P

Monday, November 19, 2012

Morning Reading

Deep Roots at Home

I spent some time enjoying this blog this morning.  The first thing to catch my attention is that the author has been married for 38 years, which is quite a feat in today's society.  She also had a recipe for Starbucks Pumpkin Scones, which look delightful.  Anyway, I read several encouraging things and enjoyed the look and feel of her blog so much that I am certain to make visits to it a regular thing.  Who couldn't use a dose of positive, warm blogginess?  It's perfect with a cup of hot apple cider or herbal tea!

Mrs. P                                                            

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Library Day

Library Day

Our Wednesdays are pretty set as far as schedules go.   We rise early to complete barn chores and household tasks and then we are out the door by 8:45 to go to our local library.  I live in a tiny town of 1,500 people.  Actually, I live in the country near a tiny town.  One huge blessing of this town is the local library.  I found it when Mr. C was about 2 and Miss J was just a tiny baby.  I've volunteered as the story time leader, served on the board for a VERY short time, and now utilize it solely as a patron at this busy season of life.  Toddler C is now enjoying the weekly story time and even Miss A enjoys the uninterrupted quiet at the table in the back while she works on Latin or Algebra in peace.  We usually pair this trip with a run through the local grocery store for milk and bananas or a run through the bank to deposit 4-H money.  There is also a little hardware store there and I am thinking I might can get supplies for science labs there, instead of having to drive 30 milks to the nearest Wal-Mart.  Our goal on Library day is to be home by 11:00, when we have lunch and then get right to work on the remaining school work of the day...that is, after, I pry the new library books from their hands and put old yucky math workbooks in their place.  They don't like this part of the day.  School work is followed by an early supper and then AWANA at church and Youth Group for Miss A. 

So my Wednesday Morning Chores are a little different since we are gone most of the morning.
  1. Pick up living room
  2. Put dinner in the crockpot  (Tonight it is Crockpot Sticky Drumsticks)
  3. Sometimes, I put lunch in the crockpot too.  (Today is leftover chicken tortilla soup)
  4. Find library books to return, sometimes often a difficult feat!  Oh the places, I find library books!
  5. Make sure all kids are dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, beds made, etc
  6. Pack a bag for Toddler C
  7. Make a list of anything else needed to be done in town (bank deposit, milk, etc)
  8. Normal Morning Chores (barn, rabbits, tortoise, cat, etc)
And looking at that list reminds me to get my franny moving.  I have lots still to do!

Mrs. P

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday is Kitchen Day

Cooking Baking Day by Janet Kruskamp

Today I'm having a "kitchen day."  That means that I started off my morning with one of my largest pots and filled it with 2 frozen whole chickens.  I will debone them once they are cooked and then return the carcass along with onion, celery, and carrots to make chicken broth.  I will sneak the carrots in, so that a certain 10 year old boy doesn't notice, and then I will peel 3 or 4 of the biggest carrots for the remaining kids who think they are God's gift of a perfect snack.  Mr. C is VIOLENTLY opposed to carrots in all forms, even if strained out.  Somehow I must have gone wrong with him.  Every meal, he asks the same question.  "Are we having meat?"  Should I pray he doesn't someday marry a vegetarian?  Or should I pray he does?  Anyway...  I'm hoping these will make lunch and dinner more simplified with the often used ingredients all ready and waiting in my freezer.  I'm also going to make a half batch of this bread recipe from Passionate Homemaking.  I will be honest here and say that it has been many, many moons since I baked a batch of fresh bread.  While I work in the kitchen, I have the big kids working on school at the kitchen table.  The littlest is riding his tiny bicycle around the loop that runs through the kitchen, dining room, and living room.  Every so often he stops to "help" me and usually I can find something for him to stir. I also have a leg of lamb thawing for dinner.  This will be a first and at the price of lamb, I really, really hope I don't mess it up!  In fact, Mr. P has commented on the leg of lamb in the freezer ever since we bought it.  He texts me recipes and says, "don't mess up that lamb."  He is mess.  I resolved the other night that if he said anything else, I just might reply that maybe HE should cook the lamb.  If time permits, I also plan to wash a shelf or two in the fridge and clean out a drawer or cabinet.  My hope is that by Christmas I will have a kitchen in much better shape than it is today.  For now, I'm planning on one kitchen day a week, but closer to the holidays I may end up with 2-3 days per week, especially after we are finished with Classical Conversations on December 7.

So do you have a baking or kitchen day?  What sorts of things do you like to keep stocked in the pantry and freezer?

Mrs. P

Saturday, November 10, 2012

6 Week Bran Muffins

These muffins will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.  Just scoop out what is needed each day and refrigerate the rest.  You will need a large container that holds 2+ quarts of batter with a lid.  I use my dough rising bowl and lid that I got from King Arthur, but in the past I used a half gallon pitcher with a lid.

6 Week Bran Muffins
5 c. flour
5 t. baking soda
2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
3 c. sugar
1 box of Raisin Bran Cereal (Mueslix may also be used)
4 eggs
1 c. oil
1 quart of buttermilk

Combine first 6 ingredients.  Mix eggs, oil, and buttermilk together and add to dry ingredients.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350*.

Refrigerate unused muffin batter.  Do not stir down batter; just dip out what you need into muffin tins.  Will keep up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I need a BELL!!!

With baby #5 on the way and "baby" #4 now two and into everything, I've been looking at large family blogs.  Specifically how do they..... feed that many kids lunch, wash that much laundry, keep the house from looking like a tornado struck, get everyone's school work complete....etc.  And today I was looking for lunch recipes to feed a crowd and found this post on having a bell.  The only thing is that I DO live in the country and so I guess I need TWO bells.  One to hang on my porch and another for inside the house.  I know it seems that I could surely just run upstairs and find whatever child is missing, but I'm super busy on pinterest, lazy, you fill in the blank   usually in the middle of something and need a smallish helper in a quick manner.  Poop explosion and wipes are in another room, kind of busy.  (Sadly, my pinterest time has been really cut short due to the massive amounts of school, laundry, food, etc.)  Of course, then my bell would probably be sitting next to the wipes, but still I like the idea of a bell.  I had one when I taught public school and I loved it.  Does that make me weird?  Yeah, but that isn't the only thing that contributes to my weirdness.  So now I better run and switch out the laundry and start lunch for a crowd.  Mr. P and the kidlets will be hungry when they come in from the barn after washing and shearing almost a dozen goats and lambs for the upcoming show.

Mrs. P

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Today is my Monday...

We came home from a camping trip yesterday.  And with camping for 6 days, comes mountains of campfire scented, s'mores filled, laundry.  I started on it right away yesterday and this morning the last load is in the washer.  I also emptied the car and even got it vacuumed out.  I managed to get all of the coats back on hangers and I just delegated a certain 10 year old to deliver each of the TEN pairs of shoes that were in said laundry to bedrooms.  I put beans on to soak for tomorrow and thawed hamburger for tacos and tonight's dinner.  But there is still much to do.  It looks like our RV exploded in my house.  I have to somehow convince the children to sit by my side and complete 2-3 days of math, science, history, reading, spelling, writing, and copywork.  I have to come up with a "humorous interepretation" for the two middle children's presentation at classical conversations tomorrow.  I have to edit the oldest child's essay on "courage"... after I get her to write it, of course.  I have to prepare to teach my Challenge 1 class tomorrow...including LATIN.  I have to remember to take the littlest to the potty every hour and keep him nearby always so that I can train him and not have to clean up in his aftermath...and so on and so on.  So instead of sitting and thinking on all that is yet to be done, I will just "do the next thing."  I'll print out a pretty to do list and write down everything I get done as I finish it.  (sort of a to do list, but reversed?)  And then when the day ends, I will look at it and remind myself that my Thursday was still productive even if my house still looks somewhat like an RV exploded in it.  And I'll remind myself that bad company corrupts good character and tell Thursday that is what she gets for hanging our with the likes of "Monday."  We all know Monday's reputation!  And I'll sip blueberry tea with lots of honey and I'll try and not forget to hug the littles and remember they are just as frustrated with having to endure a MonThursday as I am and I'll encourage them instead of yell at them...well, that's how I'm envisioning it anyway.  So here's to a happy MonThursday to you all.  And just maybe you will have a regular Thursday instead, which is normally a very nice day on it's own.

Many Blessings,
Mrs. P

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mommy's Kitchen

Mommy's Kitchen

Going to try this recipe tonight!  How much simpler could Brownies be?  Several recipes I have tried from this website were wonderful, so browse and see if you don't find something new to cook tonight.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Easy Breakfast...

So breakfast was inspired by my toddler bringing me a tub of brown cow yogurt and saying "Ogurt!"  So we had a yogurt bar for breakfast.  It's so easy and 3 out of 4 kids liked it.  The one who didn't really doesn't like any dairy products except for goat's milk.  So he had oatmeal instead.

So to set up our bar, we put out the following on the bar and then everyone helped themselves.

Brown Cow Yogurt (I know, sad that I have all sorts of fresh milk and no homemade in the house)

homemade peach jam

Just put the yogurt in your bowl (or parfait glass) and top or layer with various fruits, nuts, granolas, etc.  It's fast, easy and yummy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Daily To Do list printables...Large Family Logistics style

I found these neat printables for your daily to do list.  I really like that they incorporate the reminders from the Large Family Logistics Yahoo Group. (She now has written a book about her way of keeping home.)

You can find out more about Large Family Logistics at her website or in her book.  My take on her style of home management is that she has applied the FlyLady principles to a large Christian homeschooling family.

 She even has reminders for things like:

  • lay out church clothes 
  • Phonics time since in large families it seems someone is always in the process of learning to read
  • Bible study, praying for your husband, etc
  • find Bibles and shoes
  • clip fingernails of little ones
  • scrub an area of your bathroom while bathing a little one
  • loads (haha) of laundry tips and tricks
  • load up crockpots (yes, plural) Saturday night for Sunday lunch
While I only have 4 children (trust me, in home schooling circles, 4 is a small family), I find that all of her reminders, tips, etc really and truly apply to my home centered life.  She also has a farm, like me and cooks mostly from scratch.  I love that she has little menu plans for lunch.  Seriously, there are days that coming up with a lunch plan is a major issue around here.  As a former teacher, I remember that the little kids at school have the option of a hot lunch every single day and try to at least have hot lunches for them some times.  However, I can never seem to come up with hot lunch ideas that don't also make a huge mess in the kitchen, so that's when I look at her menu plan.  They are all easy, minimum mess dishes.  She also has a crockpot lunch menu that works well too.  Anyway, that's enough about why I love her website and have read it for years.  This past month I stumbled across the Desiring Virtue website and the owner has created the most lovely daily printable to do lists utilizing all of the LFL reminders.  

So I just really wanted to share the printable with you, but I guess I got off on a rabbit trail and turned it into a whole informercial.  Anyway, check out some of these neat internet resources.  Now I better get off the computer and actually put some action to my daily plans.  

Many blessings,
Mrs. P

Friday, July 13, 2012

I can wish can't I???

Some things are getting done, and many, many more are not done.  I'll cross off as I do a few things because unlike my home making binder or a to to list, I won't lose this list.  This week, I hope to focus on our over-abundance of clothes.  I finally have accepted that with 8 years difference between my boys that hand-me downs are not going to work.  Even things like Levi jeans change styles in 8 years.  So that is going to free up some MAJOR space in my boys' closet and will be freeing to me to quit trying to keep it all organized!

So here is my "wish list" of things to accomplish before school starts in August.

Organize my daughter's American Girl Doll Collection.
Clean out the freezers.
Organize my sewing supplies.
Move furniture around and set up my office/school space in the upstairs loft area.
Get Baby C to sleep ALL night long without his 3:30 am songs to Momma from his gated room.
Get Baby C the remaining 10% potty trained.
Repot my house plants.
Finish weeding my flower beds. (actually hubby took the weed eater to them, can I take credit for that???)
Mulch my flower beds in hopes of keeping the weeds at bay in the future.
Have my bedroom carpet cleaned.
Clean my ceiling fans.
Clean my barn!
Redo my stone walkway onto the porch.
Finish the first 5 lessons of Henle Latin. (1 down and 4 to go...read the first 10 lessons of another text for reference sake)
Create Study sheets for weekly Algebra 1 lessons.
Create school supply lists, calendar, etc for Challenge 1 classes.
Spot clean sofas.
Cover my old sofa upstairs with the cool red duck cloth I've had for 3 years now!
Sew the patterns and fabric that I bought a month or so ago.
Wash my windows.
Scrub my porches.
Clean out my shed.
Clean out the children's clothes and hand me downs.
Be consistent about not eating things I'm allergic to.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

what's for supper?

A Family Favorite...or so Southern Living 2006 Annual Recipes says

I had a roast thawed for dinner and planned to make stew, but stew in July isn't all that appealing, even if we have been having record cool temps and rain.  So I grabbed a cookbook from my vast collection and chose page 133 of the 2006 Southern Living Annual Recipe book.  I had all of the ingredients and I knew I could convert the main dish to the pressure cooker.  So here are the recipes and the menu along with my modifications.

Weekday Supper Menu

serves 6

Easy Shredded Beef Over Rice
Seasoned Green Beans
Texas Toast or hot dinner rolls
Warm Cookie Sundaes
(flip to page 141) Key Lime Pie

It turns out their "shredded beef" is really just Ropa Viejo.  To pressure cook yours, bring up to pressure.  Reduce heat and cook under pressure for 1 hour.  Let the cooker pressure release naturally.  It seems like it would be a good candidate for the crockpot as well.

Easy Shredded Beef Over Rice
Prep: 20 minutes  Cook: 4 hours
1 (4-lb.) roast, boneless top chuck
2 t. fajita seasoning
2 T. vegetable oil
2 cans of Ro-tel brand tomatoes with green chilies
1 can of water
4 c. hot cooked rice
2 T. chopped fresh parsley (I skipped this, and think cilantro would be better anyway)

Rub both sides of the roast evenly with fajita seasoning.
Cook roast in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until browned on all sides.
Combine tomatoes and water; pour over roast in Dutch oven.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 4 hours or until roast is tender.  Remove roast, and shred using 2 forks.
Skim fat from tomato liquid in Dutch oven, and discard.  Stir shredded beef into tomato liquid.
Combine rice and parsley.  Serve beef mixture over rice.

Seasoned Green Beans
Prep: 15 minutes   Cook: 10 minutes

6 c. water
1 T. Greek Seasoning
1 1/2 lb. thin fresh green beans, trimmed
1 T. butter
1/2 t. Greek Seasoning

Bring 6 cups water and 1 T. Greek seasoning to a boil in a Dutch oven over high heat; add green beans.  Cook 6 minutes or until beans are crips-tender; remove beans, draining well.  Wipe Dutch oven dry with paper towels.
Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add green beans and 1/2 t. Greek seasoning, tossing to coat; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
*I just did the last steps to home canned green beans from my pantry.

Key Lime Pie
Prep: 10 minutes  Bake: 12 minutes

1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c. egg substitute
2. t. grated lime rind
1/2 c. fresh lime juice
1 (6oz) reduced-fat ready-made graham cracker crust
1 (8-oz.) container fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Garnishes: lime wedges, lime curls

Process first 4 ingredients in a blender until smooth.  (I used the extra large smoothie setting on my Blend Tec)  Pour mixture into a piecrust.
Bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes or until golden.  Let pie cool completely, and top with whipped topping.  Garnish, if desired.
* I used real eggs (4 small ones), regular sweetened condensed milk, and real whipping cream sweetened with a little sugar.  

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up! (REPOST)

     After last week, I'm  considering wearing a life alert button.  Even though I'm in my late 30's (well really just mere inches away from 40, but who's counting!) a recent fall showed me that I very well might need one.  You know that someone who lives alone would be the candidate for this, but did you know moms with little children might be as well?  I think they need a new commercial with a mom who has fallen in the dark in the upstairs loft.  And then the video could pan to the husband asleep downstairs with his loud fan in his face, up to the son who is also sleeping soundly with the fan in his face and then back to the mom, laying on the floor writhing in pain, and back to the girls room, where despite a puppy barking and cat pacing, both girls are sleeping soundly.  Yes, that is a whole new market that those life alert people haven't even considered.  And I am here to tell you that this can and did actually happen!

had the baby in baby boot camp
 have been transitioning the baby to his upstairs room from my bedroom.  In order to keep from going up and down the stairs a half dozen or so times a night, I was just sleeping on the couch upstairs.  I do know my limitations enough to know that I can't traverse the stairs in the dark half asleep, without some sort of accident.  I am just a wee bit accident prone, after all.  What I didn't know is that I am equally unsafe on level ground.  The first three nights of baby boot camp the transition went well.  When the baby got up, I would switch on the night light, attend to him and put him peacefully back to bed.  It was the 4th night that did me in.  The baby had actually slept until 3:30.  He slept from 9 pm until 3:30 and that meant that I had also slept more than 3 hours straight.  This was huge.  The baby had a series of ear infections back about 2 months ago and since that time, his sleeping schedule has been deathly less than desirable, thus the baby boot camp transition.  So I don't know if in my state of deep REM sleep, which I had not experienced in quite some time, or just through general stupidity (I don't claim to be overly smart) I decided I could navigate upstairs without the night light.  Very quickly I found out that I could not.  There is nothing quite so bad as knowing that you are falling and there is no way to stop the process.  And unlike when other people explain something as being over in an instant.  This fall was not that way.  It was in slow motion.  First I hit the childcraft encyclopedia and stumbled, only to find the file box with my knee.  At which point, it was all over for me.  I had no way to recover at that point.  I just did the best I could to protect the baby, who was completely safe and survived without a scratch even though I was holding him the entire time.  He only woke briefly to let me know he didn't appreciate our detour on the way to his bed.
     At this point, the puppy is barking like crazy and I'm wailing...just a little...ok a lot.  I kept thinking, my toe is really hurting badly.  I expected with the noise of my fall, the puppy barking, the baby crying, and my wailing that someone would get up and check on me.  Um.  NO.  Not one single human in my house came to my rescue.  The cat did come to investigate, but even the puppy quit barking and went back to sleep.  I called my son for about 5 minutes, before I realized that I would have better luck waking the dead.  Then I called Miss A.  And finally from the dark, I hear, "Yes, ma'am."  I told her to come quickly that I was hurt.  When she walks in she says, "I wondered what that noise was?" Really???  She heard the crash, yet lay silently in her bed???? So I had her turn on the night light so I could see my toe.  Sadly, the toe nail was half on and half off.  I sent her to get Mr. P and very quickly he came upstairs.  And truly, his rising from a deep sleep this quickly was nothing more than miraculous intervention from the Lord.  He does not wake in the night for anything.  So after commenting on my housekeeping and offering me a set of pliers, 
I threw the childcraft encyclopedia at him
 went downstairs to wait until daylight and figure out what to do about my poor toe.
     It turns out that the toe nail had to be removed and I have the utmost respect for podiatrists now.  Especially podiatrists that will come into their office to do such a task on Father's Day afternoon.  May God  bless that doctor!  The rest of my leg is nice shades of black, blue, and green and the toe is still pretty sore.  I guard it with my life, due to certain small people in my home who are determined to step on the poor nailess toe.  And I never ever will sleep without a night light on.  And as soon as my toe can handle wearing anything more than a flip flop, I intend to sleep in tennis shoes for ultimate toe nail protection.  And I might be looking into getting a life alert....just in case...


Sunday, July 8, 2012

How to Potty Train to at least 90%!

Let me just start by saying that if there is one thing I'm the least talented at, it would be potty training.  Now I have many things I do poorly and many things I have learned the hard way, but my abilities in the potty training area rival them all.  With my first, my husband was actually concerned she might have to wear pull ups to kindergarten.  The next two didn't train any better.  

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Apparently, in the first 3 potty training situations, I was insane.  There I said it, but just because I called myself insane doesn't mean that you get to.  You know the saying.  I can talk about my momma, but don't you dare say something ugly about her.  Same goes for me.  So anyway, I did the whole "pull up" thing the first three times.  Can I just say that I really was insane to think that switching to a pull up would in some magical way make the baby learn to use the potty.  Guess what?  A pull up is really a diaper that is marketed to moms who are afraid of poop.Yep.  It's a DIAPER.  Calling it a pull up doesn't make it underwear.  The poor child has absolutely no consequence to doing his business in a pull up.  Sure, they say they have "cool sensations" and other stuff like that, but really it makes to no difference to the baby.  They have spent the last 2 years sitting in their diaper doing their business so a cool sensation, while different, isn't all that effective at "training" the child.  In fact, I realize that it's up to mom to do the training.  So now that I've thoroughly gotten on my soap box about using pull ups to prolong an already dreadful task, let's get on to how I trained my boy to 90% success in a few short days!

Mr. P was headed out of state for 2 weeks of training so I took the opportunity to go into die hard potty training mode.  Due to on and off cloth diaper use with this baby and the lack of televised commercials touting the pull up propaganda, I decided to just go with underwear.  I started to buy the thin regular underwear, but decided I wan't that brave and bought the actual training pants.  They are a little thicker in the middle.  I actually planned on sewing them, but realized that I have not had time for sewing in years, so reality set in and I spent the $8+ per 3 pair at Wal-Mart.  I bought a dozen pair and started on a Sunday afternoon.  I only went to church during the first two weeks and he only wore underwear during the day and cloth diapers at naps and bedtime.  I wanted him to be fully aware of when he was doing his business.  

The first day:

In hindsight, if I had started in the morning, I would have needed 2 dozen pairs of training pants.  Or been on top of things and laundered halfway through the day.  As it is, he started to wear his underwear after lunch, wore a cloth diaper to nap in and then wore his underwear to evening services.  I went to the nursery with him and took him to the potty about every 10-15 minutes consistently.  To help with tantrums, I gave him 1 m&m for going without a fit and another if he was able to pee.  He almost never peed in the toilet this day.  He peed on me at least twice during this time.  By bedtime, all dozen underwear were wet or dirty and I threw them in to soak and wash while I rocked him to sleep.  

The second day:

I followed the same procedure gradually being able to take him about every 20 minutes.  There were many accidents and he was not yet telling me that he needed to go.  However, when he did wet he screamed, "WET!!!!"  He was in shock at how he went from dry and cozy to wet and miserable in a matter of seconds.  Another thing I did was only put a t-shirt and his underwear on.  I saw no need in washing a dozen pair of shorts, socks and shoes along with the underwear.  By the end of day two I saw that I still had 6 clean and dry pair of underwear.  I was SHOCKED!  That was a 50% improvement in 1 day. 

The third day.

By the third day he was starting to get the hang of things.  He didn't have any complaints about sitting on the potty. I weaned him down to 1 m&m per visit because now I just had to remind him to tee tee in the potty and he would go.  I also only took him about every hour.  He liked me clapping and saying good job, because on this day, when he went he would say, "Good Job Mommy!"  By bed time he only had wet his pants 3-4 times.  Seriously.

Days 4- now.

By day 4 he started to tell us he needed to potty and now he almost always tells me when he needs to go.  He either say "potty" or "baffroom."  The one place he is still having trouble is with #2.  In the last week he has only had one tee tee accident, but still is having several poop accidents.  He will start to go and sometimes make it.  Other times, he doesn't completely go in the potty resulting in an accident after he has gone to the potty.  I assume it will just be a matter of time before he gets the timing down on this one.  I also have been using pull ups while we are in town, so I"m going to blame his continued problems with understanding this on the evil pull ups.  ;-)  

So there you have it.  My last child is 90% potty trained and while those first 3 days were pretty hectic, it is way better than the 2 years that I drug out the potty training with the other 3 children.  I started potty training him less than a month ago and he is where the other kids were about a year into the process.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vacation Bible School

Next week, our church will be hosting VBS and I will be teaching the 2nd grade class with Miss J.  I thought I would repost this post from last year's VBS experience.  By the end of the that weekend, every single person in our house had the virus, including Mr. P.  It was a horrific time!  Needless to say, I hope we don't repeat it this year!

The V in VBS Ain't for Vomit!!!

This week we have been enjoying Vacation Bible School at our church.  Since it's 13 miles from my house, I volunteered to help in the nursery so I wouldn't have to make 2 trips each day.  It all started nicely, but then on Tuesday, it happened.  A baby in the nursery vomited.  The lead nursery worker was holding an infant and saying how sweet he was to cuddle with her when BAM...he vomited all OVER her.  I ran and grabbed a can of Lysol in one hand and Clorox anywhere in the other.  The teen worker grabbed paper towels.  We cleaned her up as best we could so she could go home and change.  I then started the sanitation effort.  I say effort, because despite anything I do at this point, the babies are all exposed as are all the nursery workers.  And despite my efforts it is nearly impossible to sanitize an entire nursery, while tending to the remaining 5 babies and toddlers.  I sprayed the carpet with Lysol, put the 9 month old and my 11 month old into exersaucers so they couldn't escape and crawl into the "germ zone."  I got the other babies in another part of the room with toys and then filled the sink with hot soapy water.  I sprayed Lysol on everything in the room just for good measure.  I scrubbed toys. Do you know how long it takes to wash baby Legos, Fisher Price farm and Noah's ark??? Literally hundreds of small toy parts were washed and then sprayed down with disinfectant again.  The next day at VBS we sent another kid home in the kindergarten room.  Of course, that wasn't in my room, I was focused on the toddler that bit 4 times and sort of forgot all about the vomiting.  It seems that toddlers who are at VBS all week and not getting the amount of sleep they need become cannibals.  ;-) Those not protecting the babies from the biter, were very aware that we had another case of the virus.  Craft time was backed up 10 minutes while they cleaned vomit from the floor.  On the way home from VBS, I asked my kids what they learned at VBS and they told me that you can put cat litter on puke and sweep it up.  Not exactly what I had hoped they would learn.  Yesterday, the lead nursery worker's daughter vomited from her classroom all they way to the bathroom.  That took about 30 minutes to clean since it was on carpet.  I know this because my dear Father in Law cleaned it up.  I'm pretty sure that he received sainthood with this task.  Thankfully, the church has a massive steam cleaner that helped in the sanitation effort.  We wished the lead nursery worker luck as she left to take her daughter home.  I got new helpers and we had a pretty good rest of the day in the nursery.  All the babies managed to sleep good the night before and not one child hit or bit.  Around 11:00 the children's pastor brought me bottles of Germ X.  Nothing says love like a free bottle of Germ X.  Wal-Mart was probably concerned when our pastor came and bought them out of Germ X on a quiet Thursday morning.    Around 11:00, the napping babies wake up and are ready for lunch, diaper changes etc.  We all noticed right away that my baby was awake, but quiet.  He didn't smile.  He sat off by himself.  He didn't even play with the balls, his favorite toy ever!  We knew something was up.  We all sat and stared at him waiting for him to spew.  After all, it's apparent that this virus is spreading rapidly and it had begun in this nursery.  The rest of the time at VBS he wasn't his normal self, but no spewing happened.  He did finally play a little and even smile a bit.  We decided that maybe he just didn't get his full morning nap.    After his afternoon nap, he was his normal smiley self.  I thought to myself, "Oh Good!  We escaped the tummy bug"..UNTIL 4 am.  And at 4 am, he finally spewed.  I was awakened from a dead sleep with the nearly silent vomit of a sleeping baby.  A sleeping baby in my bed, of course.  I flew into action.  I turned on the lights and screamed, "We have vomiting!!!"  Mr. P flew out of bed, grabbed towels and washcloths.  He is amazingly quick and agile at 4 am.  Just remember, though,the key word is "vomit."  Any other word you say at 4 am will only result in further snoring on his part.  I got the baby cleaned up and was rocking him.  Mr. P was attempting to go back to sleep.  I looked at my poor sick Baby C.  Kind of like a cat hacking up a hairball, his little tummy was visibly lurching.  His face was pale and grimaced.  He would fall asleep, only to wake with this petrified look on his sweet baby face.  Around 5 am the last of his stage 3 Gerber Nutritious Dinner came up.  ( I kid you not, Gerber actually prints nutritious dinner on the jar!)  After that he slept until about 8:15.  So far we have only had one instant of dry heaving, but no more puke yet.  I'm taking full advantage of the lull to wash bedding and get it back on the beds before the next wave hits.  Miss A is headed to a youth conference tonight so we are praying that she doesn't come down with the virus while she is there.  Mr. P is on call in case I come down with it or the other kids come down with it while they are at VBS this morning.  My morning plans include getting the bedding back in his crib and my bed and if time permits, a bleach dip for the entire household.  What do your morning plans include this lovely Friday morn? Does anyone have hints on how to dip my entire household in bleach in  record time?
Mrs. P

Friday, July 6, 2012

Top 10 things that occupy my time....

I know that all 2 or 3 ... heck, who am I kidding...I think the one person who reads this blog  (Thanks Daddy!), might be wondering what I've been up to lately since I obviously haven't been writing...so here is my list, Top 10 style.

10. Packing clothes for various youth camps, business trips, 4-H camps, and preteen camps.
9.  Washing mountains of laundry from said travels.
8.  Potty Training Baby C to about 90% (more on that in a later post...with my track record, 90% ROCKS!)
7.  Training to be a Classical Conversations Challenge 1 Tutor and/or having information meetings
6.  Reading Challenge 1 literature, the Core, Teaching the Trivium and Henle Latin. Hint: don't read Latin just before bed ;-)
5.  Making Paleo diet food or other "healthy" treats and then throwing them away
4.  Did I mention laundry? and ironing? and dishes? and mopping? well, not mopping, but I should have been
3.  Picking up legos.
2.  Weeding my overgrown flower beds.
1.  Cleaning a dumped container of _______ off of ___________.  If you guess coffee, ovaltine, shampoo (x4), toothpaste or sunscreen off of floor, counter, new ottoman, or carpet, then you get BONUS points!

So what kinds of adventure is your summer bringing?

Mrs. P

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

iDad and other fun Father's Day Crafts on the net

Image from Charlotte's Fancy.
Make your own iDad card with this tutorial!

Image from mylastbite.com
Or how about a bouquet of BACON roses?!?!?!  There are several tutorials for this craft.  To make the roses above click here.

Image from ourbestbites.com
This bacon bouquet is a little more involved, but super cute and YUMMY!  Perfect for the pork loving father in your life.  Click here for the tutorial

Image from Pinterest.
Here's a cute card to make from the children!  I snagged the photo from pinterest.  It seems that the one minute craft website is down, otherwise I would like to it directly.  I think I can actually get all of my kids shoes on this size I have such variety in ages.

image from Pinterest.
And, being a homeschool parent, there is a certain joy in turning ALL things into an educational experience.  So download this free project and get those kids writing about Super Dad!

And of course, Pinterest is the source of all things craftsy so click here to see a sampling of Father's Day crafts and ideas. 

Happy Father's Day crafting!
Mrs. P

Monday, June 4, 2012

How to learn those pesky math facts.

Drill, Drill, Drill.


End of story.

No really, that is the best way to learn them.  And if you are like me, then this isn't such good news.  I couldn't keep up with a stack of math flash cards if my life depended on it!  I mean, my toddler thinks it is great fun to see the math facts "rain" down on the bottom floor from our school loft.  Imagine hundreds of math facts and/or Latin flash cards raining down.  Not that I've actually witnessed this...at least I'm not admitting it.  So although, in theory, flash cards should be do-able.  And, in theory, it shouldn't be hard.  Somehow it IS hard to keep up the drill work involved in memorizing math facts.  So let me just say that when I heard about and used www.xtramath.com on the internet I sang praises!  I danced in the moonlight without coercion from flying insect!  I signed all of my kids up and set them straight to work on drill work.  And then I threw away the random and stray math flash cards that survived the rain. And then I ate chocolate, because all celebrations should include chocolate.

10 Great things about XtraMath:

  1. It's FREE
  2. It's EASY
  3. I don't have to keep up with which kid knows the 2's, 5's and 10's and which kid needs to practice their 4's!  This is HUGE!!!
  4. It's on the computer so I can't lose it!
  5. No papers to keep up with or print out!
  6. No more index cards all over my house!
  7. The kids don't even hate it!
  8. It only takes 5 minutes a day!
  9. You can see progress on a special "teacher" page.
  10. You can play several times a day, if needed.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cheese Making for the Beginner

At the farm these days, my milk pail overflows.  So I spent some time this week making some cheese.  It’s a good way to preserve the excess milk.  I also freeze extra (goat) milk  and I have a recipe for canning milk.  However, I have not canned milk.  yet.  It’s likely that I’ll can some milk one of these days.  Oh…that reminds me that I have a recipe for sweetened condensed milk.  Yes, that may be my next canning project. OK..back to the matter at hand, cheese.
Cheese is a rather simple way to preserve your milk for a little bit.  So when the milk pail overflows at your house, try this recipe.  It is easy, requires very few ingredients, and your friends will think your are an artisan cheese maker when they have a bite.  The best part is you don't even have to milk an animal.  Just grab some whole milk from your local supermarket.

You take little balls of this delectable cheese and layer them in a jar with herbs and seasoning.  Then you pour olive oil over it all.  The olive oil helps preserve the cheese and seals out air.  The flavor is amazing, especially if you are patient enough to wait a week or so to let the flavors meld together.  So here’s your supply list. 
Labaneh (a yogurt cream cheese)
You will need:
1 gallon of milk ( can be any kind, store bought, fresh, skim, whole)
1/2 c. cultured yogurt (like Brown Cow or Dannon, plain, unflavored)
fresh basil leaves
sundried tomatoes
fresh cloves of garlic
olive oil
pint jar
butter muslin (or a square of fine weave fabric like batiste or muslin)
gallon glass jar
heating pad
How to make Yogurt:
Add 1/2 c. of yogurt to your glass jar.  Heat your milk to between 110-114 degrees.  Stir milk into yogurt.  Incubate for 6-8 hours at 90-110 degrees.  To keep this temp, put your gallon jar in a cooler with a heating pad set on low. Or do as I do and use fresh, strained milk straight from the barn.  It's the perfect temperature.  Then I incubate it in my Excalibur dehydrator.  It makes perfect yogurt every time.  After the yogurt is thickened, chill in the fridge overnight.  It will thicken more in the fridge.  If you are using goat’s milk, you may want to add 1/2 c. of dry milk to the milk and yogurt when you are starting out.  This will thicken it slightly.  As a general rule, goat milk doesn’t thicken like store bought yogurt.  If you want to cheat, then just buy the biggest containers of plain yogurt you can find (to equal 1 gallon of yogurt) at the supermarket and proceed as follows. 

How to make the Lebanah:
Strain the yogurt in a cheesecloth for several hours.  The easiest way to do this is to line your colander with cheesecloth.  It will need a very fine weave and usually is sold as "butter muslin" rather than cheese cloth.  To sterilize the cloth, iron with a hot iron.  When the yogurt is poured into the muslin in the colander, tie the four corners together.  You can then hang it on a cabinet door or hook with a bowl underneath to catch the whey as it drips.

Once the yogurt has been strained, scoop little balls of the yogurt cheese with a spoon or cookie scoop.  Put them in a quart mason jar.  As you add little balls of cheese add in layers of herbs and spices as desired.  A nice combination is fresh basil, sun dried tomatoes, peppercorns, and garlic cloves.  When the jar is full, pour olive oil over the top.  Let this sit in the fridge several days to a week for the herbs to season the cheese.  To eat, serve the little cheese balls on a plate with crackers or veggies.

I learned to make this cheese in a Cheese Making class at Homestead Heritage.  You can see the lebanah in the photo above taken from the cover of the How to Make Soft Cheese book published at Homestead Heritage.  Here is a link for more information on the class that I took.  It was worth every penny.

Mrs. P

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Home Economics Resources (repost)

Training Daughters to be Keepers at Home

Training Our Daughters to Be Keepers at Home
by Ann Ward
Not everyone celebrates the year their daughter is in sixth grade, but I did.  I’ve been looking at this marvelous 7 year curriculum and waiting for Miss A to get old enough to justify the expense.  Well, now that she is in 6th grade, she has just 7 years before finishing high school.  Oh my!  How can it be?  Time really does fly.  So in my rainbow resource box I found this book just for me Miss A.  Here are the topics that I Miss A will learn about this year.
Year 1
Godly Womanhood (utilizing The King’s Daughter’s and Other Stories for Girls; circa 1910)
Sewing I
Cooking & Baking I (utilizing Sue Gregg’s Lunches & Snacks cookbook)
Gardening I (utilizing Square Foot Gardening, Weeds: A Golden Guide, Weeds and What They Tell)
Knitting I (I may substitute smocking since she wants to learn and I am knitting challenged)
Greeting Card Making I (utilizing various books from the library)

Before Miss A was old enough for this curriculum, I still taught some home economics skills.  I especially loved the books by the Pearables titled Home Ec for Home Schoolers.  I have all three levels and Miss J is thrilled to be old enough for level 1 this year. 
Level 1 Skills:
for a detailed list see the link below. (my linky thing doesn’t work so you’ll have to copy and paste it.)

Mrs. P

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Middle School Nutrition Unit-USDA

[Photo Source]

Summer time is a great time to get in some short units on all those things you want to teach, but they just get pushed aside because they are last on your priority list.  I was looking up some menu planning forms for my oldest so that she could work on finishing up her Home Economics curriculum for this year.  She still hasn't completed the cooking unit.  During the search I came across this free resource from the USDA.  It looks like you can get a kit to teach in a classroom setting, but they have also provided downloads of all of the workbooks as well as the little mini-magazine on Food and Nutrition.  This would be a great resource for the 4-H student who has a project area of food and nutrition.  It would also work well in a homeschool co-op setting.   It is geared to 7th and 8th grade students, but after looking through the magazine, I think it would be suitable for kids in 5th grade and up.  For our house, we will use it as a short unit to supplement her lessons in Training Daughter's to be Keepers at Home.  And I might read select portions aloud for certain children that think Little Debbie's snacks are deserving of their own food group!

Oh and about that menu planning form....here is a link to 11 different forms free on Money Saving Mom. 

Happy Teaching,
Mrs. P

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Spiders and Snakes, Give me a break! (repost)

This isn’t the actual snake skin I found in the feed room, but you get the idea.  The one I found was about 3 and a half feet long.  Long enough to freak me out and impress Mr. P.  Now I know what happened to the mouse problem we had.  I was complaining about the little mice, but now I think I preferred the mice.  At least I saw them and was creeped out.  Seeing a skin and no snake really is MUCH worse.  Who knows which feed sack he’s hiding behind?  or even worse, which feed sack he is IN.  Miss A pointed out that it might be a mother snake.  Oh! Please let it not be a mother snake.  I can’t even let my brain think that for one minute.
And with snake season comes spider season.  The spiders return every summer and take their posts in the barn to help with the fly population.  I’m thankful they eat flies, but still I get all worked up if I walk into their webs when I enter the barn.  ("All worked up" =  the dance I do when taking laundry down under the guard light. )   I have no less than two dozen spiders that look just like the fellow above, on fly patrol.  After the last couple of weeks, we seem to have come to an understanding and they are no longer making their webs directly across my walkway (since I knock down their webs every, single day).  Instead they have moved their webs above my head.  I could squish them, but I really like that they eat flies and they don’t jump, so I let them live.  Any spider that jumps at me is dead.  I cannot deal with jumping insects.  So if you visit the barn at our farm, just don’t look up….unless of course you really like the haunted house look or just love spiders. 
I will say that Mr. C loves to come to the barn at sunrise or even the porch for that matter.  We say we are watching the spiders go to bed, because after a long night of eating they all fix their ragged webs and go to the edge of the web like they are tucking themselves in.  It truly is amazing to watch as long as no spider jumps AND I do not touch any webs.  He also thought the snake skin was the coolest ever and immediately went on a snake hunt.  Me, on the other hand, I just pray daily that I don’t find a snake IN a feed sack.  It just might cause irreversible mental trauma.  (I mean worse than the mental issues I already have with spiders, snakes and bugs.)  Maybe I should teach Mr. C to milk the goats and cow and he can do chores with the snakes and spiders!  Except for the chore part, he’d have a blast. 
Your insectandsnake-aphobic dairy maid,
Mrs. P

Friday, May 25, 2012

Never Do Laundry Under the Guard Light (repost)

(image from allposters.com)

Never Do Laundry Under the Guard Light
Ways to Entertain Your Neighbors on a Summer’s Eve
As I said in a previous post, we are up to our eyeballs in green beans, carrots, turnips and a cow with mastitis.  I still did some laundry today because it just isn’t worth it to get behind, especially when you have three children who aren’t afraid to get dirty.  So I did a couple of loads today between other tasks.  Well tonight, while the beans were in the pressure canner, Mr P asked if I had taken the clothes off the line.  I remembered that, in fact, I had not.  So I headed outside with a laundry basket in order to quickly gather the clothes off the line.  It is a warm  night with a slight breeze and the moon is just a sliver so it is pretty dark.  Never fear though, we have a guard light.  A tall light on a utility pole that comes on at dark and turns off at day break.  It is quite near my laundry line so this alleviated my fears of stepping on one of the friendly rattlesnakes that like to live here. 
At the clothes line I realized that snakes are my least fear.  There were small bugs on the clothespins.  Oh wait, they were FLYING bugs.  I really, really hate flying bugs.  I hate them so much that I generally scream like a little girl when they fly near me.  Really, just ask my friend Cathy who got quite a giggle one day when I tried to get away from honey bees on a field trip.  By the way, bugs that sting scare me even more than plain ol’ flying bugs. 
So I bravely tap the clothes pin, shoulders tense and legs ready to run the other way, and the bugs fly off.  "Good," I thought.  But then I realized the laundry was literally covered with these small black flying bugs.  I didn’t know what kind they were so I assumed that they sting and are possibly even venomous.  Better safe than sorry, I always say.  Well, not really, but when it comes to bugs and snakes, this is definitely my motto.  
After a few good shakes, carefully aimed away from my body, I folded the first t-shirt and put it in the basket.  Good, one shirt done only a couple dozen more to go.  The next thing I knew I was dodging flying bugs who were aiming for my hair and shirt.  Apparently the smell of sweat and garden attracted these critters.
I managed to get several more t-shirts folded when I decided to pretend I’m Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.  Why? Because I’m trying to overcome my fear of the flying, possibly stinging and venomous bugs, of course.  That’s why.  And the best way I can think of is to pretend or think about something else.  Pride and Prejudice is the first thing that pops in my mind.  There is a scene in the movie where Elizabeth is taking laundry from a line in the rain.  I was actually wishing it was raining so the bugs would be hidden. 
While I was distracted with thoughts of Pride and Prejudice, I was hit by another bug, in the hair.  Yikes.  I did a really big little, "all shook up" Elvis Presley dance, but to no avail.  The "bug" was still there.  I began to squeal and beat myself silly whack my head with my free hand and continued doing so until I realize that the "bug" is really a bobby pin.  Smooth move, I thought.  Then I realized that the neighbors were enjoying an evening on their front porch and thanks to the guard light’s illumination, I must have been giving them quite a show. 
Well, the last couple of garments came down uneventfully.  So once again I realized that I really must get over my fear of bugs and even then I don’t plan on doing laundry under the guard light ever again.  Next time I forget to bring the laundry in, I’ll send Mr. P.  He isn’t afraid of anything.

Mrs. P

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Miss Cluck Cluck

Miss Cluck Cluck, our porch chicken
Do you have your own porch chicken?  I highly recommend having one.  They strut their stuff in their fancy bloomers, clucking so gently to add to your porch sitting experience.  They will scratch up your flower beds, keep grasshoppers at bay (thus saving your rose bushes) and eat any stray rabbit feed, if you happen to have rabbits on the porch like I do.  The only problem is that they also leave deposits on your lovely porch, which require lots of daily clean up.
I didn’t set out to get a chicken for my porch.  I mean who would do that, unless it was a resin chicken from Hobby Lobby.  But Grandad has this chicken, (we refer to her as Bloomer Girl) who is timid and afraid of his rooster.  One day, she ran to our house to escape the rooster and she found her oasis, which we refer to as the porch.  So now, regardless of where the other chickens are, she has chosen me and lives on my porch.  We realized a few weeks ago that she isn’t even going to roost in the hen house at night.  We caught her going under our trailer at dusk.  So now we know she isn’t only a porch chicken by day, but by night as well.  I would shoo her away and try to force her back into her flock (well, actually I did try, but it didn’t work), but she is just too cute.  I’m telling you, that fluffy yellow bloomer bottom is just too much!  So since, I can’t seem to get rid of her anyway, I’ll just keep her and try to look on the positive side of things.  Like the fact that organic grasshopper control couldn’t be any cuter!  :-)
So if you don’t mind the daily porch clean up, I highly recommend a porch chicken.  :-b

Mrs. P

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just like Hershey's Syrup

Just like Hershey’s Syrup

3/4 cup dutch cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the cocoa, sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy saucepan.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Once it boils, remove it from heat and allow it to cool.  After it is cool, add the vanilla.  Store in the fridge.  Will keep for weeks.
 Notes from me:

This does store very well in the fridge.  My children couldn’t tell the difference, except that it was stored in a pint canning jar rather than a plastic brown bottle.  And to be honest, it’s much easier to get a spoon in the canning jar.  
Mrs. P

Friday, May 18, 2012

Learning to Sew the Classical Way

Adventures Among the Thimble People

I purchased this lovely "living book" from my favorite quilt and heirloom shop a couple of years ago.  I have since also purchased the Mary Marie doll and also the sewing bird.  This reprint of a 1913 book tells the story of Miss Mary Frances as she learns to sew while at her grandmother’s house.  In her grandmother’s upstairs room, Mary Frances meets the Thimble People (sewing tools that come to life and talk to her) and throughout the book learns basic hand sewing and more.  By the end of the book, Mary Marie (her dolly) has an entire wardrobe of lovely Edwardian doll clothes.  The reprint has the original patterns and they are just as lovely today as they were then.  My own daughter has made a couple of them and so have I.  While this book was intended to teach a young girl to sew, some of the sewing terms and stitches may not be familiar to a modern seamstress.   However, a girl who learns all of the stitches and techniques in this book will be quite a seamstress. I realized after reading it that it teaches sewing in a classical way.  First Mary Frances learns the "grammar" of sewing.  She learns each stitch in isolation on her sampler while learning the vocabulary specific to hand sewing.  Later in the book, she uses that grammar to sew the dolly wardrobe and then after completing this book, Mary Frances is ready to sew other things.  It really is a delightful book.  To me it qualifies as a "living" book and is definitely twaddle free.

Mrs. P

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What's for dinner?

Mom, what's for dinnnnnneerrrr???
Ahhh...the joy of hearing these words at 5:30 in the evening.  And worse yet, it when you have absolutely no plan.  Your day has been chaos since you woke and dinner was on the back burner of your mind.   Unfortunately dinner still has to be served, whether it's in the form of take out pizza or roast beef and potatoes.  I have been using the Saving Dinner menu mailer for the past 2-3 months and it has been really nice.  It doesn't cook dinner for you, but it sure makes it easy.  I don't use it exactly as it's scheduled, but instead use it for those busy seasons where I just don't seem to have time for elaborate menu planning, shopping and cooking.  Basically, if I see that I have a busy week coming, I will print out the menu plan of my choice (after being on the mailer for a few months, I have quite the stockpile in  my computer).  I can then easily shop for the week's groceries and just pull out the menu planner at dinner time.  We have liked almost everything I've made and nothing has been complicated.  Another bonus is that she uses real food, so it's easy to adapt for allergies.  In fact, she even has adaptations for things like gluten free, kosher, vegetarian, etc.    So there's my plug for that menu mailer. 

I also recently found another menu plan.  It's called 5 Dinners in One Hour.  I signed up for her free menu mailer and recently she sent me another free meal plan.  I had not used the first one, so this morning I printed both plans out and put them into my household notebook.  I will be using the plan next week to see how it works.  She does utilize some convenience foods, such as bisquick, but I will use the plan as directed this week to see how I feel about the plan in general and to see if my family likes her recipes.  I have to say that the pictures on her blog sure do look yummy.  The idea of making all of the week's meals and having them ready to go in the fridge in just one hour a week sure is appealing.  I'll try to get my Miss A to take some photos, because I tell you if this works it could be revolutionary!  I'm just imagining the time I would save with all of the prep and cleaning in that one day a week.  I could probably sew again...well, in reality, I would probably have more time to study Latin and prep for my class this fall.  But whatever, even Latin is better than doing dishes!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Etiquette Training

images from Tanner’s Manners

Recently as I was sitting at my dinner table and 5 out of 6 members were texting or playing some sort of game on their technology of choice, I decided to investigate modern etiquette.  (By the way, I was one of the texters, just for full disclosure!)  I wondered if modern etiquette has kept up with the fast pace of technology.  So I started to search the internet for information on modern etiquette.  You see I have a lot of etiquette books, but they are all older…many of them even in the early 1900′s.  I absolutely LOVE to read them.  However, it seemed when I read through them that they weren’t really going to be a lot help in teaching my own children etiquette, specifically etiquette related to computers and technology.  As much as I love to read those early etiquette books, they just don’t reflect our current culture.  For example, I would love to have calling cards and a butler at my door to receive them from friends who call when I am not home.  Reality is that I don’t have a butler, my friends don’t have calling cards, and in our busy world, no one just drops in for a visit.  We schedule things.  We schedule everything.  We have a variety of calendars to prove it…smart phone calendars, pocket calendars, large family wall calendars and even online calendars.  So as I need to brush up on etiquette myself, I decided to do what any good homeschool mom would do.  I started planning the unit on etiquette.  So for a few weeks this summer when it’s too hot to do anything else anyway, my little farm children will be learning etiquette.   So I’m adding a few links here on this post in case you need to brush up on your etiquette, which I’m sure you won’t Dear Reader. (did I sound like Miss Manners???) and also links to some things that I will be using in my etiquette unit.  I think this might even make a nice class in a coop setting.

Links to Good Etiquette
What does etiquette mean? (a video on the Emily Post website, geared to children)
Got a question?  Ask Miss Manners
The Etiquette Website with ALL the answers…Emily Post
And what about that dinner where 5 out of 6 people were texting or using technology?  Modern etiquette says that texting and technology are NOT good  table manners.
Once you get all those iPods, smart phones, iPads, and laptops pried from your children’s grubby little paws, have them set the table family style, using this video: How to Set the Family Dinner Table.
Check out “Tech Etiquette” for all of the rules regarding how to have good manners while online or using technology.
Check out this link for more etiquette rules for home and family life, many of which are geared to children, just perfect for our homeschool unit study.
I will use at least one book in this unit.  I purchased it a few years back and highly recommend it. I also plan to see if my local library has other books on etiquette for children.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Life:Beautiful Magazine

     I saw this magazine in the checkout at Fred's Super Dollar.  It is really unlike any magazine I have seen on the checkout stand.  It is a Christian magazine.  From first glance, it appears to have a schedule of Bible reading for spring as well as ways to beautify your home and surroundings.  The photos reminded me of Real Simple or Martha Stewart's magazine.  It has recipes, tips, and faith and Christ is tied into it all.  It appears it has been published since 2007, but and it comes out 4 times a year, but honestly I have never seen it before this weekend.  I will admit that I went ahead and purchased it for a Mother's Day gift for myself, but saved reading it until Mother's Day.  If I don't see the summer issue on checkout stands here, I guess I will just have to get a subscription.  Have I mentioned that I love magazines???

Mrs. P