Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lapped Zipper application

So these next few days I will be the supervisor of all types of fair projects.  Miss A is sewing, sewing, sewing.  Mr. C has a model airplane to construct as well as some other crafts and foods to make.  The show animals are also busy with exercise and preparations for the livestock show.  School is still in session as well.  Miss A is not looking forward to her Biology and Latin exams on Friday, but this is real life.  Even when we are busy work/school still has to be done.  Today, just as I've done every year before this one, I vowed to organize the fair projects into our summer vacation.  Maybe this year, I will actually follow through on that plan. ;-)  Today, Miss A is working on a decorative pillow.  Here is a video on how to put in a lapped zipper.  Except for one small step, it appears to be pretty close to the zipper package instructions.

House on Hill Road Zipper Video

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baby Proof Your Homestead!

It's FREE!  It's EASY!  It's a WIN-WIN!  Just place two empty toilet paper tubes on the toddler's hands.  (Just for the record, I found him like this.  A certain 10 year old boy baby proofed him.)

And all is good.  The toddler cannot open drawers as seen in the above photo.  He can't eat Legos off of the floor.  He can't drink carpet cleaner!  It's all good.....until the toddler figures out that he can eat the baby proofers and get free.  A few minutes after this picture he started to chew on them to try and get free.  Double ICK!  So while I don't recommend this baby proofing technique, it did result in about 5 total minutes of peace and quiet at our house...and lots of giggles while I tried to get him to pose for the picture....thus the very blurry photo.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WFMW: Dry Erase and Page Protectors

See more tips at We Are That Family

WFMW:  Dry Erase Pens and Page Protectors

These are two tools that I really could not live without at my little homeschool at the farm.  I used them a little all along in my teaching journey, but after a year of Classical Conversations, I really began to see that the possibilities are endless.  Here is a listing of  ways that I use them.
  1. Trace a map several times for geography study.
  2. Reuse math fact drill sheets.
  3. Reuse any worksheet.
  4. Make chore check lists. The kids mark through when their chores are done.  In the evenings they erase to have a fresh new list for the next day.
  5. Scratch paper for math...somehow they will not complain about working long problems when I do this
  6. As a reward with Crayola Dry Erase Crayons...a very fun art tool
  7. Lay over a page in the child's reader...let them mark vowels and underline phonograms they are learning.  It turns their reader into a fun phonics workbook page.
  8. Handwriting pages for tricky letters that need more than one page to cursive r
  9. Veritas Press Timeline Cards...2 will go in one protector sideways...let kids write dates on the fronts of the page protectors (two dates, one per card).  Set out a few at a time; maybe 6-8 and remove cards.  Then the kids put the cards back into the right protectors that have dates written on them.
  10. Learning states and capitals.   Put in a US map that has the states labelled.  Have the kids write in the capitals.  You can also have kids label rivers, mountains and other features.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Make Your Own Lined Envelopes

Envelope Template Download

Invitation Download

Ballet Birthday E-vite

Miss J is turning 8 next week and she has chosen a Ballerina themed party. We sent e-mail invitations with a ballet theme from punchbowl, but there were a couple of kids that I didn't have an e-mail address for. So I printed out a few and then realized I needed an envelope to put them in. That's me...all ready to paint the Golden Gate Bridge, but not a drop of paint or a brush in sight. Sigh.

What's a girl to do, but get crafty. After all I don't hord craft supplies (well, I pretty much hord most things) for nothing. I sent Miss J to my closet (where shoe shelves conveniently house fabrics, threads, ribbons, and craft supplies) and she came back with some baby girl themed scrapbook papers. I just used the above template and strategically traced it onto the papers so that I didn't get any words like "sweet baby" onto my envelopes. It worked well. And then I put names on them with my sharpie...which is really my favorite writing utensil of all time. The only problem is that you could see the ink on the inside of the envelope. So I took scraps from the papers and lined the inside. It ended up looking very intentional and cute, rather than a big OOPS! To make the lining, I just used the flap portion of the template and cut another piece from a coordinating paper. It didn't line up exactly, but if that is a concern you can trim the flap to make it perfect. I wasn't that concerned so I just left it. Although if I stumble across some decorative edge scissors before tomorrow, I just may add a little pizzazz to the envelope and give it a little trim. If you have time, be sure and check out the page with the ballet invitation printable. It was really the inspiration for the ballet themed party. The lady who designed it has put it out on the web as a free download and it is just so elegant and pretty. We plan to make the matching cup liners and maybe even the popcorn boxes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Works for Me Wednesday- OrGanIzInG with Cozi

One thing that Mrs. P needs more than a Starbucks Caramel Brulee (so sad their season has ended!) is organIzation! This farm is in DIRE need of organization and it just so happens that "getting organized" is one of my New Year's Resolutions....that and learning to say the word no..N-O. I have a hard time with no, thus if I'm not careful I find that we are rarely home because I have said YES to many wonderful things. I realize that part of being organized at home would require actually BEING at home. So after a nice long Christmas break and being home all that time, I realize how much better organized life could be at the farm. I've been reading organizing websites, organizing books and organizing magazines. I even listened to organizing devotionals like Dishes in the Dryer. But what it all comes down to is putting some action to all that knowledge. I have found a wonderful tool. And no, it isn't my home management binder (although I do LOVE it dearly) because I lost it for 3 days and utter chaos resulted in all of my mommy brain being recorded into that one notebook. So now, I'm backing up my written lists, notes, appointments, really everything into an online organizer called Cozi. It organizes my calendar, meals, shopping lists, to do lists and because I signed up for the FlyLady version, it even tells me what to clean and when to clean it. I can even have it text or email reminders to me, Mr. P or anyone else that needs to know what is going on at the Farm. Watch this short video and see if it won't work well for you too!

Gluten Free Ginger Shortbread

This is an easy recipe...I simply substituted Bob's Red Mill gluten free baking mix for the flour.


  • 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (up to 1 T) ground ginger
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour


  1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and ginger. Add flour, salt and baking soda; mix well (dough will be crumbly). Press dough into an ungreased 8-in. round baking pan. Using a fork, prick score lines to form eight wedges. Bake at 325 degrees F for 32-35 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately cut into wedges along score marks. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today's schedule

Why do things all tend to pile up onto the same day?

Today's to do list:

Miss J- eye appointment at 9:15
probably eye glass fitting afterward
Miss J- speech therapy 2:15-2:45
4-H Meeting 6:-7:30

Now throw in a full day of home school between all of those appointments..anyone remember the fun of pre-algebra and 3 digit addition along with Latin, geography, history, phonics, etc???
Also toss in 3 meals and clean up of said meals...I think we may just eat out for dinner.
AND... one of the big kids just fed the baby a piece of peanut butter I'm back to square one. I have to run and give that child another outfit change and wash him up before I have to leave in 20 minutes! And I can almost guarantee you that I will also have to change a diaper after the complete costume change and de-peanutbutter-ification. (It's my blog. I'm allowed to make up new words.) And add to the "House Rules"...Do NOT feed toddlers peanut butter toast when mom has already dressed him for the day!
Folks, it's going to be a busy day around here....wish me luck!

Monday, January 16, 2012

So it's been a poopy day....literally

My day started off in a normal way. I was sitting at the desk, checking my menu to see what was for dinner, Mr C and Baby C were playing, Miss J was next door at Meme's and Miss A was feeding show goats. Soon (we are talking less than 5 minutes) Baby C walks up to me from the kitchen. He has a plastic spray bottle and he is just spraying himself down with carpet cleaner. I grabbed him and he giggled and tried to run away. I see that his entire shirt is wet and he has a fresh floral scent instead of baby breath. Man. He had ingested some of the cleaner. I send Mr. C for a wet wash cloth and look up poison control's phone number because of course, the handy poison control magnet that the pediatrician gave me at the last well baby appointment is no where in sight. Here's the dialog-
Me: My toddler has sprayed his face and ingested carpet cleaner
Health care specialist: What is the brand of cleaner?
Me: it was unlabeled. I bought it in bulk and I can't remember what kind it is. I use it to treat spots on carpet.
Her: Hmmm (I think this means "LOSER!")
Me: I got it a long time ago. He couldn't have eaten much. (translated to---I promise I'm not a loser)
Her: Is there a list of ingredients?
Me: Um no, I mentioned it wasn't labelled.
Her: hmmm (double loser, maybe???)
Me: I know it's like Folex or spot shot or something like that.
Her: What is your name please?
So I tell her my name and the baby's name and age. (so she can make a proper report with CPS---just kidding) And after a bit she tells me to shower him and give him some juice in case the probable alcohol/hydrogen peroxide content of my unlabelled chemicals causes him to have a drop in blood sugar.
Baby C gets stripped and I make fresh juice in the juicer to make up for being the loser mom who let the baby drink carpet cleaner. About the time I had him all clean and Johnson baby bath smelling instead of fresh country floral scent, he poops in the tub. And not just a little. He poops a giant man size poop. He immediately starts screaming because he is afraid of the poop. And honestly, I'm not too thrilled about it either. I wanted to scream and run the other way too. But, what's a mother to do.
After I get the tub cleaned up and baby C all washed and dressed again, he manages to climb onto the bar while I move chemicals to higher cabinets until Mr. C gets home with cabinet locks. Miss J gets him down and in the process he kicks off a cereal bowl. Cereal bowl plus ceramic tile equals lots of sweeping and mopping. I clean that mess up and we go rather eventlessly through the rest of the morning as it's by now about 8:30 am. (Of course in my book, when you have bathed a baby twice, cleaned poop from the bathtub and swept up a broken cereal bowl half full of milk and corn flakes, that's eventful enough for TWO days.) At nap time however, I hear him screaming for all his might. I get into his room and realize he's done it again. Another poopy diaper. At least it wasn't the in the tub this time and to my amazement it isn't even a diaper blowout, although the smell is horrific. He is screaming "Mommmmmmyyyy!" I decided I better change him fast before he grows up with some sort of poop trauma. I change him (3rd times a charm) and rock him back to sleep. I guess all the day's events caught up with him and he just wasn't going to sleep in his crib, because every time I laid him down he popped right up crying. At that point, I just gave up. So Baby C and I snuggled up on the couch and took a much needed nap declaring it a poopy day.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Yesterday I found little strawberry plants at Wal-mart. I have had strawberry plants before, but they only made a few strawberries. Still, we enjoyed them. Then one day I met a man at the farmer's market who was selling strawberry plants. He explained how strawberry plants like sandy soil. So I'm going to add lots of sand to a little skinny flower bed around the bay windows. I planted flower seeds there a week or two ago and they didn't make it. So this will be plan B for that bare little bed. And I feel a little better about this choice, since I know strawberries have grown well before. I have pretty limited gardening experience. Mr. P is the master gardener and canner around here. Hopefully I can get the right soil mix and they will thrive because I would love to can some strawberry syrup. Which brings me to a simple recipe to top your Saturday morning pancake or waffle. It can be made with refined sugar, but I opted not to. If using granulated sugar, the amount is 1/2 c.

In a blender:
2 cups red ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
1/4 c maple syrup
1/2 t vanilla extract

Blend until smooth. This will make a thick strawberry purée or syrup type topping. I think sugar gives a more syrup consistency.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Toddlers terrorizing your home school?

It's been a long time since I've had a toddler in my little school on the farm. In fact, it's been about 7 years as my next youngest will be 8 in a couple of weeks. And the thing about her toddlerhood is that I also had a 3 year I was only actually teaching the oldest, Miss A. Not that it wasn't a challenge, because it certainly was. I have not so fond memories of training the two youngers to stay in their rooms for "quiet time" while I taught MissA to read, and to stay on a blanket for other activities. However, most of the time the two of them played well together. In addition, you can homeschool a first grader and be completely through with all your teaching well before noon. Today, I have an 8th grader, 4th grader, and a 2nd grader....and Baby C, the toddler. He needs a buddy, but not really as he has three older kids who serve his every need and desire. He loves school time. His only issue is why on earth can't he "help" Mr. C with his math, color on Miss J's coloring sheet of Moses and the burning bush, and why oh why is it bad to throw Miss A's 300 Latin flashcards over the stair railing? He especially loves to see it rain Latin. So I'm rolling up my sleeves and trying out some new things..or rather bringing back some old ideas from the deep recesses of my sad middle aged brain. We can't just school while he naps, because of course, he isn't a huge napper and besides, with that many grades, it takes me from early morning until 2 or 3 of no distractions and serious school focus to get everyone taught in a day. If we have toddler terror (quite common), then we will be looking at still having a few things left to read or work on when Mr. P walks in the door from work. So yeah, I have a full time job even though I don't leave my house.

So first things first, I am taking my vitamins and even some spirulina every day so I have more energy. Prayer is another way to help meet all the demands in your day. And I can't speak enough good things about a cup of coffee around 2 in the afternoon! Somehow reading aloud at that time just makes me soooo sleepy. So I've learned to make my coffee and have it before read aloud time.

I need to "blanket train" Baby C. I did this with the other kids and it is invaluable. When I took allergy shots weekly, I always had all 3 kids. All I had to do was tell them to sit in a line and they did. No running about and digging in forbidden drawers, no screaming/yelling, no whining. They sat, "criss cross applesauce" and watched while I got my shot. Maybe they thought if they moved I would have them get shots? Anyway, due to being trained at a young age to stay in a defined area (the blanket), we could later use that training for things like waiting at the doctor, etc.

It is also time to institute the "box time" with Baby C. Basically you have about a dozen plastic shoe boxes with lids. Each box holds an activity. My only dilemma is do I hunt down all the boxes or just make it easy on myself and go by new? I have purchased no less than 50 over the course of teaching, but somehow I never have an empty one about. They always get put to use. They are one of my favorite things ever.

Here is a list of things I will put in Baby C's boxes. 1 activity per box.
stacking cups
snap beads
board books
baby lego (the big kind)
blocks with letters
small balls (we have a variety because he LOVES balls of any kind)
musical instruments (you can find them in a set at wal-mart, teacher's store, etc)
fabric squares made silk, wool, minky, batiste, cotton, linen, metallic, etc...cut with pinking shears
rice and a measuring cup...not for the faint of heart!
pom poms, spoon and plastic cup or small bowl
foam letters
lincoln logs (with older toddlers/preschoolers...presents a choking hazard)
farm animal set
small trucks and cars
his little plastic "laptop"
play dough (we limit this to only being used at the high chair with close supervision)
board books
cotton balls and clothespins or plastic salad tongs (they love to try and grab the cotton balls with them...or if they are really young, they just dump the cotton balls and throw them)
wooden blocks (his cousins made these super cool blocks that are little chunks of tree limbs...they are round and some even still have the bark for tactile discovery...they don't fit in a shoe box, but have their own bigger box)
You can even have one box with a snack (ie, fruit squeezie and cheerios or rice chex)

The blanket training helps immensely in both teaching discipline as well as clean up. Basically you only allow ONE box at a time. You also remove the box and it's contents BEFORE the toddler is bored with it. Since you have one box at a time and they are sitting on a blanket or beach towel, then clean up of little pieces is a breeze. Just pick up all four corners of the blanket/towel and dump back into the box. If some pieces are not on the blanket or towel, then have the toddler pick them up. It only took twice for Mr. C to realize that if he kept his lincoln logs on the blanket then he didn't have to pick up anything. Replace the blanket/towel on the floor and give baby a new box.

Now I would like to add a note about the blanket/towel training. If you do not put a towel/blanket down and your kids are trained to it, then the kids will definitely scatter toys to each and every corner of your room and you'll be picking them up for centuries...don't ask me how I know. Somehow, I missed the transitional training of I'm a big kid and don't need to leave legos/barbie shoes all over the house.

And now that I've reminded myself of how to manage the toddler at school, I will head up to find some boxes and start working on the blanket training with Baby C. Wish me luck!

Blessings in the adventure,
Mrs. P

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Honey Baked Lentils

Here is a tasty, yet frugal and healthy dish to make this winter.

What you need:
9 x13 pan oiled with 2 T. of olive oil
garlic press
sharp knife and chopping board
oven preheated to 350*

Honey Baked Lentils
16 oz. lentils (any color) soaked overnight
1 small onion sliced thinly
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1 t. ground ginger
4 T. honey
2-4 T. soy sauce (depends on your taste buds)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of water (or broth)

Put all the ingredients into the 9 x 13 pan. Stir it around to mix in the seasonings.
Bake uncovered at 350* for 90 minutes. Serve with brown rice if you want a complete protein or add a little cooked chicken. You could also use chicken broth instead of water. You can also add in other vegetables.