Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recipe Review Wednesday

Working my way down the page of bar recipes has proven to be fun so far. Today's recipe is:

Caramel Cereal Bars

14 oz. pkg. caramels
1/4 c. milk
4 c. Rice Krispies
1 c. salted peanuts

Melt caramels and milk together on low heat. Remove pan from heat and mix in cereal and peanuts. Grease an 8x8x2-inch pan and press the mixture into the pan. Let set for one hour and cut.

*Melting the caramels took a long time. Amber stirred while I started a load of wash, hung out a load of wash and took down a load of wash from the clotheslines. Just at the end she came running out with the announcement that all the caramels had melted.

These were yummy! Sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy all rolled into one.

Score - 3.1 (Don't know the scale click here)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Looking Out My Kitchen Window

Kindergarten Classifying

Thanks to my mom and all her perusing the Internet for printables, I had a number of printouts with animals. They worked perfectly for animal classification. I cut the pictures apart and then wrote "Mammals" and "Fish" on a large sheet of paper. I had Sam tell me what he knew about each category. I prompted him a little and soon we had a few simple characteristics of each. Then he took the pile of pictures and glue and set to work deciding which category they fit it. This took him a long time due to glue problems; we need more gluesticks.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flowering Trees

Looking in the woods I see clusters of white flowers standing out against the grays and dark browns that the early spring wood brings. At first glance they may seem to be all alike. But after taking a closer look, you'll notice the flowers are actually very different. In Wisconsin we have Cherry trees and Service Berry trees in full bloom right now.

Cherry trees belong to the genus Prunus. I typically see Pin Cherry around here. The bark is very dark gray and smooth. When viewing trees in full bloom from a distance they have a yellowish appearance which I think must be the yellow centers showing forth.

Service Berry/June Berry trees belong to the genus Amelanchier. When viewing from a distance they appear very white, maybe the fact that the petals are droopy, therefore covering the yellow center. If you want to key out your particular tree to the species level you would have to look at the number of lateral veins running through the underside of the leaf. 8-10 pair (Inland Serviceberry); 12-17 pair (Juneberry)

Take a walk outside and look around, you might surprise yourself by seeing something for the first time, something overlooked because it is so common.
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Egg Shells and Coffee Grounds

Chickens can work over kitchen scraps and garden weeds like nobody's business. If the kids don't finish all the food on their plate we usually just say, "Well the chickens have to eat, too." But I don't give them egg shells; I've read that encourages cannibalism, meaning they will eat the eggs they lay. And since we hope to get eggs in return for feed and water, eating the eggs before we get to them kind of defeats the purpose of having chickens in the first place. I also don't give them coffee grounds, although I'm not sure why.

I throw out a lot of egg shells and coffee grounds and it dawned on me there must be a good use for both. So I googled it and here are a couple of interesting links. I was surprised as to all the uses for coffee grounds. My favorites are garden fertilizer and ant repellent.

Coffee Grounds

Egg Shells

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sam's Been Wondering About a Couple Things

Sam: Hey Mom, besides bacon bits what else do kangaroos eat?

Apparently, he knows more about kangaroos than me.

Sam: When I grow up I'm gonna have a girl cow and a bull and they are gonna breed and make baby calves.

Me: So you want to be a dairy farmer?

Sam: No I just want lots of baby calves. They're so cute.

Some time passed.

Sam: I know how foxes breed and I know how chickens breed and I know how dogs breed and I know how horses breed, but I don't know cows breed.

And since it was a statement and not a question.......we just left it at that.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What About Socialization?

We field this question more than any others. Well meaning onlookers are wondering if, as homeschoolers, we ever get out with other people. I'm not sure if they think we hole up, never needing groceries or library books or visits with relatives or animal feed. I do know that many people don't think of that as socialization. For most, childhood socialization means getting together with like aged kids and doing what kids do: talk, laugh, play games, listen to music, eat snacks, ride bikes, etc. Let's just clarify what socialization means. According to my Webster's College Dictionary socialization is 1. a continuing process whereby an individual learns and assimilates the values and behavior patterns appropriate to his or her culture and social position. I interpret that as being able to get along in the world: knowing how to be courteous to the grocery checker, postal clerk and garbage man, understanding the benefit of asking for help at the library, fabric store and county park and most importantly conversing with all age groups in a kindly fashion. Socialization really isn't about friends of the same age hanging out together. The next word in the dictionary is socialize, 4th definition is to associate or mingle sociably with others. This is what I think most people think about when they ask homeschoolers about socialization. Do they have friends? OR Are they social misfits? I have to stop here without really communicating all I think about this issue because I really wanted to say that yes homeschoolers (the ones I know) socialize.

Another mom and I organized St. Francis Nature Club and we met for our first of 6 gatherings at a local county park. We had 10 kids (age 15, 12, 11, 9, 8, 7, 5, 3, 1, 1) at the first gathering and next week another family will be there bringing our total to 16 kids. We had a great time eating lunch, playing all sorts of made up kid games at the playground and then walking, talking and exploring nature together. Our theme was early signs of spring and the kids found things like violets and drew them in their journals, tree buds, shades of green, frogs, dead crayfish parts, a spider web, poison ivy, stinging nettle, wood ticks, ants and clam and snail shells. They played a bit longer, shared what they found and said goodbye until next week. Three full hours of SOCIALIZING and learning of course, but it seems most onlookers aren't concerned with academics. It's all about the socializing.
Flowers: (top) Spring Beauty; (bottom) White Trout Lily

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Small Print Funnies

So we opened up our Bayou Classic Aluminum Stockpot today. Uncle D brought it for us so we could eat good, i.e. unhealthy, during this week's turkey hunt. Tonight we ate Nick's turkey. Oh was it good. Warren cut the breast meat into strips, breaded them with a flour, salt, pepper and chicken seasoning mixture and then deep fried them. Yum!! We did french fries and jalapeno bites, too. Potato salad, Heath Bar cookies, carrot sticks and chips covered the picnic table as well. What's so funny about all this? Back to when we opened the box and pulled out the instructions. This is the first warning, verbatim:

  • Sober adult operation ONLY! Read and understand this manual before using the product. The use of alcohol, prescription or nonprescription drugs may impair your ability to properly assemble or safely operate appliance.

I found this funny because it's just a pot with a basket. Assembly included 3 screws. Really? The use of prescription drugs may impair your ability to use 3 screws to attach the handle to the basket? I'm sure there are surgeons who have taken the occasional antibiotic without impairing their ability to perform surgery. Anyway, I understand they are talking about more serious meds, but still it strikes me as very funny. After reading that I had to continue reading just in case something else caught my eye. And something did, again verbatim under Care and Use for Polished Aluminum Pots:

  • Our motto is: "The uglier the pot, the better it cooks!"

Recipe Review Wednesday

Butterscotch Brownies
1/4 c. shortening, melted
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350. Grease an 8 inch square pan. In saucepan, melt shortening over low heat. Take from heat and stir in brown sugar. Set aside to cool. Stir egg into cooled sugar and shortening mixture. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and add to sugar mixture. Blend well. Then stir in vanilla and nuts. Spread in pan. Bake 25 minutes, only until a toothpick stuck in center comes out clean. Do not over bake. Cool in the pan and cut into squares.

*I did not let the sugar mixture cool before continuing.
*I did not sift the dry ingredients before adding
*I did not add the nuts.
*I baked the brownies for about 22 minutes.

This recipe was not new to me. It actually has my name as the "submitted by" name. I remember my mom making these when I was young and I loved them. We always added nuts - I think pecans, but since I have one child who doesn't like the flavor of cooked nuts I tend to not add nuts to recipes I think he might eat if the nuts are omitted. These scored high; I think because they are crunchy around the edges and chewy in the middle. I think next time I might double the recipe and bake in a 9x13 pan.

Score: 3.4 out of 4.0

Click for more Recipe Review Wednesday posts.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ironing Board Cover

My ironing board was in bad need of a new cover. I've been wanting to make a new one for at least 3 or 4 years. I had a piece of fabric earmarked for just this type of thing and ran across a pattern in a book last summer and then an even better pattern online. Yesterday when everyone was out turkey hunting and Little J was napping I took the time to actually get it done. Here is the finished product. I think it turned out just lovely. I followed the pattern to a "'t" except I didn't add the vintage bit of ribbon and my old cover didn't have velcro straps so I just left it in place and put the new one over.
I also didn't sew the elastic to the ends of the cover. I sewed the ends together and stretched it under the board giving it a very tight fit. If I had to make another, I would actually thread the elastic all the way around the board without leaving the end flap. My ironing board is rounded at the end and so the flap hangs a little funny. Still this was a very easy way to make a cover and using a double layer of fabric will give it many more years of use. When one side gets dingy I can turn it over for a fresh side.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Getting Ready to Garden

With the early spring I've been getting a lot done outside that normally doesn't happen until May. For example, I already have the lawn raked, something I'm usually doing throughout the weeks of turkey season. Warren tilled the garden two or three weeks ago and we're getting ready to plant potatoes already. We're not fools though, we know that we'll have plenty of frosty nights, last night was one of them, but it feels so good to work the soil I just can't resist. Years ago, probably twelve, we planted 25 bareroot strawberry plants. They all died within weeks of planting. This year a friend is cleaning up her strawberry bed and has "as many crowns as we want" to give away. Warren built a strawberry bed last Wednesday and this week it looks like we'll be getting the crowns. I need to add this to my list. We all enjoyed our time outside that night. It was warm and windy.

A pair of curious swans moved in. They hung around for quite some time, but as it was getting dim, I couldn't get a clear picture of them. Of course, Jake (the dog) was going crazy while the swans were swimming around. He kept pacing back and forth at water's edge trying to look tough and territorial, but the swans didn't fall for it.

Turkey Season Update

We're finishing the first week of turkey hunting today. Last week was the youth hunt which could've been called the first week, but it's not. This week is the first week. Warren and Emily as well as a friend had tags for this week, but so far nothing. They're out right now trying like mad to shoot a big one before the day is over. They have time on their side; it's only 5:55 am and they've been out for about an hour now. I'm making cinnamon rolls and one of the hunters brought fixin's for french toast. We'll also have some fruit, juice and coffee when they come in for their mid morning break at 10am or so.

Week 2 of turkey season will bring fun chaos to the house. We'll have 5 relatives staying Tuesday-Sunday for turkey season. One will camp out in the house and the others are staying in the hunting hotel, i.e. camper. They park it out back by the outhouse as a place to sleep and change clothes, otherwise they are either hunting, eating in the house or helping Warren do marsh work. We have a lot of fun with these guys, they love to joke and quiz the kids and make huge breakfasts. They make it pretty easy on me by having a menu and names of who is responsible for what. As long as I keep the coffee brewed (which reminds me I need to bring up the 25 cup pot) and some cookies and chips on the table it'll go well.

Adding to the craziness that comes from turkey season we have school to accomplish, a piano lesson, Little J has a doctor appointment on Wednesday and PT on Thursday, we have our first St. Francis Nature Club gathering on Thursday and First Communion practice on Sunday. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Removing Modeling Clay Residue

I used my Staples reward check to pick up some art supplies including modeling clay. I wasn't aware that clay left behind such a sticky/greasy residue. It was all over the table and so begun my quest to find what would take it off. I won't bore you with the list of things I tried, but I will say that Fantastik Heavy Duty worked.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

English Toast?

I was making a quick supper so we could get outside to rake and build a strawberry bed, when Emily came into the kitchen. Here's our conversation.

Emily: Oh, yum, English toast.

Me: English toast? I think it's called French toast.

Emily: English toast, French toast...I knew it was some kind of language toast.

Me: {lots of laughter}

Recipe Review Wednesday

We have a lot of favorite bar recipes and I make them often. It pleases the family when they find one of their favorites cooling on the counter, but sometimes I get a little bored of the same old, same old. I tend to be a new recipe kinda gal. So in honor of me I grabbed my trusty church cookbook off the shelf opened it to bar recipes and made the first one on the list. While it was baking I thought it would be fun for us to rate each recipe and give it a final score. And I thought wouldn't it be fun to do this each week for as long as I can remember to do it and blog our reactions to the new recipe.

Scoring Ratings

4 points - make again immediately when this pan is empty
3 points - add to the rotation of favorites, I'd be happy to munch on these again
2 points - I'll eat these because they're here, but don't make again
1 point - I guess the chickens need to eat, too

Banana Bars (1.9)
3/4 c. margarine (butter)
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas (2 medium)
1/2 t. salt
4 c. oatmeal (quick oats)
1 c. raisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (left out)
*my changes and notes are in ( )

Cream margarine and sugar. Add egg, banana, and salt; beat until smooth. Stir in oatmeal, raisins and nuts. Grease a 9x12 inch pan (9x13). Press dough into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour (40 minutes).

These browned around the edges very fast in the glass baking dish. They have a consistency of a soft, crumbly cookie and remind me of a granola bar in flavor. I'm sure they would've rated higher if I'd substituted the dried fruit with mini chocolate chips.

Final score: 1.9

Monday, April 12, 2010

Good Shepherd Garden Party

We've talked a lot about Easter actually lasting 50 days and so when I found plans for the Good Shepherd Garden Party I printed out the plans and got to work. Emily and Amber saw the plans on the table and wondered what it was all about. They couldn't wait for the weekend to come so we could start cooking. I had a great time preparing the food with the girl's help. Even Samuel helped out until I asked if he remembered to wash his hands. Of course, he said no and didn't want to wash them so he went back outside until the food was ready. The plans were so thorough we were sitting down to dinner in no time. When dad came in we sat down to eat. He read the verses while the platters were passed and we talked about Jesus being our shepherd watching over his flock. Thank you to Jessica and Charlotte at Catholic Cuisine for hosting the Garden Party.

Although we had fun, the kids didn't really like much of the food. The Shepherd's pies were ok. I burned the bottoms of the shepherds' staffs. The Lamb's Wool punch was too strong and the Sheep cupcakes were way too sweet. That's all according to the kids. They did like the gates and wolf paw cookies. I already printed out the plans for next week and have good intentions to continue on because the laughter throughout the meal was fun. While eating his Sheep in the Sheepfold popcorn he remarked that this Garden Party reminded him of the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with the wide.......variety of foods.

To see how other families enjoyed their Garden Party check out Catholic Cuisine.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Art Journals

At the beginning of this school year I bought the kids each a 5x8 art journal. I found lots of ideas at Art Projects for Kids and added them to my favorites. For a good portion of the year we made an entry each Friday, but then after Christmas we just forgot about the journals until I bought some Crayola Paint in the Brush brushes. I got out Easter cookie cutters, had them trace a few shapes, embellish to make an Eastery picture and then printed out some Easter poems for them to copy in the write spaces. All the kids enjoyed this page and worked diligently. Matter of fact they made more than one page. The next day Sam got out the paint and art journal again asking for the ABC cookie cutters. I helped him trace the letters for his name and then he painted, adding stripes and dots to make it fancy. Again he loved this. The cookie cutters give them just enough of a start and then their creativity kicks in and takes over. This is definitely a project I will remember for a rainy day.

Pure Cuteness

Every time I try to take a photo of Little J he smiles so hard that his whole face crinkles up and his eyes literally close tight. If he sees the camera this is what he does so it's been quite a trick to get a shot of him with his eyes open. He's 20 months today and pulled himself to a stand in the bathtub yesterday. Completely unassisted and uncoerced he just pulled up to a tall kneel and then stood up in one fluid movement. Again we were cheering him on and clapping. I often wonder if he's shaking his head over all this cheering. All I did was stand up, push the baby soap off the tub, smile and then sit down. Quit the hoopla already!

Turkey Time

Turkey hunting season started this weekend with the youth hunt and will continue through May. Each hunter has a week to shoot his turkey. The week runs from Wednesday -Sunday. Then two days off and the next week starts with a new batch of hunters. Emily couldn't hunt because she sprained her wrist babysitting last week, but we still had three hunters here this weekend. Nick shot his first turkey on Saturday afternoon. According to him his heart was pounding like a 5 pound weight in his chest. We are so proud of him and his hunting and gun handling ability.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter 2010

Easter Morning Baskets
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Just Stopping By

It's been a while since I stopped by Camp Homeschool. I forced myself to take a little break from posting until I finished up some unfinished business. Our business board meeting was in January and I'm responsible for typing up the minutes. It's one of those easy jobs that doesn't take that long, but seems impossible to find time for. So this week I told myself no blogging (reading or writing) until I typed up the minutes. I cheated a little and read a couple of blogs - only by accident when I was looking for a couple of school ideas. But I am proud to announce I finished the minutes this morning and can breathe easy again.

My mind is overflowing with things I want to share here, but alas I have turkey hunters in the woods and food to prepare for them. I did notice a few surprise treats on the counter when I got up at 5:21 a.m. Thanks to whomever delivered those. YUM!!

Have a great weekend. It promises to be sunny and springy here.