Sunday, March 27, 2016

Pumpkin Honey Chocolate Chip Muffins....(a recipe)

Last week I shared the recipe for Cranberry Blueberry Cake Muffins.  They're like cake, but in the shape of a muffin so they can be called a muffin, eaten for breakfast, taste like cake and yet, no quilt because you did not just have cake for breakfast.  It was a muffin and no one can tell me otherwise.

I have another muffin recipe to share.  This one is pumpkin-y moist and loaded with mini chocolate chips.  I tend to make these in the fall because pumpkin is just so fallish, however, I had a can of pumpkin taking up space in the pantry and ALL the kids love these muffins so I checked my honey supply, cranked up the oven, and set to mixing.

If I have enough honey, I always double this, that way I can use the full can of pumpkin and everyone gets their fill of these tasty muffins.

Pumpkin Honey Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. honey
1 egg
1 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips (I like using minis because they disperse in the batter nicely.  Feel free to use regular chips, but maybe use a few more.)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (I skip these, because not everyone likes nuts.)

Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl.  In mixer bowl, beat butter until light in color; add honey, egg, and pumpkin.  Beat until thoroughly blended.  Gradually add in flour mixture; stir just until mixed.  Stir in chips and nuts.  Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 17-22 minutes.  I use dark muffin pans so they bake fast.  If using light colored pans, they'll need to bake longer.  Toothpick should come out clean or the top should spring back when gently poked.  Cool for a few minutes before removing from pan.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2016

7 Quick Takes Friday

Take 1

Day in and Day out, life happens around here.  It seems - at a lightning pace.  Our 4th hunter education graduate gets a .22 rifle.  

Take 2

A little afternoon shooting.  This was taken before our March snowstorm.  Oh, how I love the look of dry ground.

Take 3

Even Amber pulled out her .22 and joined the guys, shooting at water bottles and an impact target.

Take 4

I asked Peter if he wanted to go outside and play or sit on the saddle with the ipod all afternoon.  His answer:  sit on the saddo with the ipod all afternoon.  The joy of having sisters with horses....(and ipods)

Take 5

And then it snowed.....in March.  It's not that we don't expect snow in March.  It's just not very welcome after all the previous snow has melted and an Easter Egg Hunt is scheduled for the weekend.  The sun's been working overtime trying to melt it all, but that means mud. 

Take 6

Daughters who bake bread are awesome!

Take 7

This little cutie patootie thinks she's the boss.  Of everything.  Warren and I know we are the adults.  We know we're the parents.  We know we can't let her continue bossing everyone around, but man is it difficult putting a stop to it.  

For more quick takes

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How to Preschool at Home....(start in the laundry room)

Preschool.  It's a big step for both kids and parents.  We've chosen to keep our kids at home for preschool.  It kind of makes sense considering we homeschool.  Lot's of reasons might have you thinking about preschool at home.  Distance, cost, impressionable minds, time.  Whatever your reason for keeping your kiddos home for preschool, rest assured, you can provide an excellent repertoire of preschool skills.  And I believe it can all begin in the laundry room.

Yes, you read that right.  Preschool in the laundry room.  Let me explain.

Moms spend a lot of time in the laundry room.  Instead of pushing the youngsters away to play so the work can be done quickly and efficiently (sounds nice, doesn't it?), why not include them.  Laundry becomes a time of teaching and learning, rather than just another mom chore.  The laundry folding may take longer, but for good reason.

What can be learned in the laundry room?

--matching socks
As I pull clothes from the dryer to fold, I let all the socks fall to the floor.  Maria lines them up waiting for its match.  Then she pushes one sock inside the other and hands them to me.  I always ask, "Who wears these?"  Then I place them on the right pile. (skill learned = matching)

--naming items 
For young beginners this is a great way to start incorporating preschool into the task of laundry.  Maria loves to reach into the dryer, grab something and then tell me what it is.  She'll say things like, this is a sock, this is a underwear, this is a hoodie, this is a pants.  It's so cute, especially as she starts using the correct subject/verb agreement (skill learned = vocabulary)

--identify owner of laundry
This is a favorite of Maria's.  We call it the "Who wears this?" game.  As I fold and she looks on, I say "Who wears this?"  She looks at each item and then yells out the rightful owner.  It's amazing how observant a two year old can be.  She knows everyone's socks and underwear and shirts and pants.  Sometimes she even catches me as I place socks on the wrong pile.  "No, mom, those are Joseph's." (skill learned = observation/memory)

--name colors
Another obvious preschool skill is learning colors.  This can be as complicated or simple as you want to make it.  Socks can be grouped by colors:  white, black, multi.  Clothes come in so many shades of colors, so it's very easy to expand on the simple sort.  Try lining up all the blue clothes from light to dark.  Or how about naming the colors of the clothes like a box of crayons.  light pink=carnation pink, dark blue=midnight blue, bright green=leprechaun green.  Older preschool age children love this and can get very creative in their color naming. (skill learned = colors, adjectives)

--practice math concepts
I like to incorporate math into folding towels and washcloths.  The simplest is to count the towels and washcloths, separately.  Which is more?  Or spread out a bath towel, hand towel and washcloth.  Let your child put them order from big to small.  How about geometry?  How many hand towels does it take to fully cover a bath towel?  Separate into squares and rectangles.  Joe, Peter, and Maria all love to fold washcloths.  Kitchen washcloths are folded in half.  Bathroom washcloths are folded in fourths.  Fractions don't have to be scary. (skill learned = counting, size relationships, fractions)

--caring for your home
A favorite job is always cleaning out the lint catcher.  I like to remind my kids that a job worth doing is a job worth doing well.  And doing it well means completing the task including the cleanup.

Preschool can be done at home without any extra materials, extra cost, or extra driving.  I've found that including my kids into my daily tasks I can provide them with opportunities to learn all the necessary preschool skills.  Laundry takes longer this way, but that's ok because soon enough they'll be on a plane to Ecuador and I'll be left to do laundry alone.  That last sentence doesn't make sense to you?  Emily is in Ecuador (that's 3,155 miles from here) and I'm feeling a bit like:

Where did the time go?

Wasn't she just 3 years old and folding washcloths and matching socks along side me?
Hold those little ones tight
And teach them skills so one day they can take flight.

You might like

Linking up with
Homemaking LInkup

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cranberry Blueberry Cake Muffins....(a recipe)

We are a muffin family.  But, not all muffins were created equal.  My family will attest to that.  In a house this full, we're bound to have differences when choosing the perfect muffin.  I, for one, want the chunkiest, nuttiest, fruitiest, full of whole grain goodness muffin I can get.  Others, not so much.  They prefer something more......boring, plain, simple.

The muffin recipe I'm sharing with you today is quite simple in it's ingredients, yet can be dressed up any way you'd like.  By varying the fruit used, you can create your perfect muffin--if you like fruity muffins, which I absolutely do.

Muffins can be a bit finicky.  Most muffin recipes call for mixing the dry ingredients and wet ingredients, separately, then adding the dry to the wet and mixing JUST until moistened.  Over mixing causes peaked, tough muffins.  This cake muffin recipe can't be messed up because it requires mixing until smooth, with no lumps.  And the muffins still turn out moist and tender.

Cranberry Blueberry Cake Muffins

2-3 cups fresh or frozen berries (I used 1 cup of each, frozen)
3 large eggs
1 cup oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Place eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, and buttermilk in bowl.  Beat until smooth.  Add flour, powder, soda, and salt and mix well until smooth.  Stir in fruit.  Spray or line 24 muffins cups,  Scoop batter into muffins cups.  Bake at 350 F for 18-22 minutes until light golden and tops spring back when touched.  Makes 24 muffins.  You might notice that I use whole cranberries.  Save yourself time; even if a recipe calls for sliced or chopped cranberries, give whole cranberries a try.  We love the tartness of biting into a whole cranberry.

You might like

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day -- It's a Shamrock -- It's the Trinity -- It's a Craft

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Jessica at Shower of Roses shared a fantastic craft for St. Patrick's Day.  The story of St. Patrick includes a story about him picking a shamrock and using it to explain the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland.  On this day it's fun to celebrate with Lucky Charms cereal and green beer (not at the same time, of course), but it's also a great day to reinforce the Glory Be to the Father prayer.

Using Jessica's tutorial and printable, we made the Holy Trinity craft and talked about St. Patrick's life -- the snakes, shamrocks, pirates, pagans, conversions, Holy Trinity, red hair, leprechauns, pots of gold.  You see we often get carried away and end up on some Irish tangent that pertains nothing to St. Patrick's life.

I'll cut the rambling and show you our craft.

A book we don't own, but have checked out from the library so many times, it seems like we own it.

Green Beer?  Nay? Yea?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Homeschooling --- All About Reading --- Down Syndrome (how it all works)

I shared a few pointers in the past about how I began teaching Joe to read.  That post has been read by many, many people.  That tells me it's an important topic, most likely in the Down syndrome community.  I also shared pictures of a reading lesson.  During that lesson we were specifically using a Fluency sheet - one of the All About Reading tactics.  As I said in that post, I break the lessons down into smaller mini-lessons and we review, review, review.  I'm not too concerned about moving through the material quickly; rather my desire is to give Joe a solid footing so, eventually, he can read independently.  Short lessons are making that attainable.

Another reading tactic AAR uses is the flip book.  Basically, it's a consonant/vowel/consonant booklet where each section can be flipped up to make a variety of real and nonsense words.  Joe's lesson for today included reading practice with the flip book and then we moved on to a few flashcards.  This was the perfect length lesson for one day (approx. 15 minutes).

Watch this video clip to see how we use the flip book.

A few things to keep in mind while watching:

  1. This is only a snippet of the 9 minute lesson.
  2. Reading is important, but recognizing nonsense words is important, too.  I point out nonsense words to Joe.

After working through the flip book, we moved onto word cards.  Flashcards don't have to be drudgery.  I like to add sentence recitation to our lesson.  People with Down syndrome tend to have a harder time speaking clearly.  I've found that Joseph likes to abbreviate all his sentences.  Rather than saying, "Put water in the pot."  He'd rather just say, "water, pot."  So to help him form and say entire sentences I provide practice while reading the word cards/flash cards.  I have a couple of video clips of us working through word cards.  

Things to watch for:

  1. Reading is only half the battle, comprehension is the other half.  If at all possible I like to "define" the word for Joe.  You'll see us act out a word, use a word in a sentence, and often we sign words as well.
  2. Joseph likes to "get distracted".  If I made a big deal of these distracted moments, we'd get nothing done.  You'll see me remind him to sit on his handslook at the wordsput his hands in his lap, and stay with me.  I try to remain calm and keep things moving.  Any break in activity is creating a chance for him to "get distracted".
  3. And lastly, life doesn't stop for filming.  You might hear normal large family activity in the background.  Sorry.

So there's how we use All About Reading for Homeschooling Joseph.  I love the versatility of the program and how easily it can be adapted to the amount of time we have available for a lesson.  

Looking to get started?  Here's a free activity book from All About Reading.  Download now for a peek into the program.
 *affiliate link

Linking up with

You might like:
Signs of Reading Readiness for Homeschoolers

All About Reading Level 1 Review and Tips on YouTube

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Homeschool Toolbox

For those homeschoolers following a traditional school schedule, there's only 10 weeks left.  Yeah!!  

Where, oh where did those last 26 weeks go?  

Here in Wisconsin the sun's out, temps are rising, my mind is making garden plans, kids just want to be outside.......and the homeschool supply closet

IS. A. MESS.  

Ice cube trays, ratchet straps, and stray puzzle pieces have found their way into the nooks and crannies.  And who has time to reorganize when making a beeline for the finish?  Not me.  I usually wait until June or July or August or the day before the start of the new school year to organize the closets again.  

But this spring, I was really getting annoyed that I couldn't find all the needed preschool/1st grade supplies.  So I bought a cleaning supply tote and turned it into my homeschool toolbox.  And as long as I keep it out of reach from the shortest people in the house, all my supplies are in one place and ready to tackle the day with Joseph, Peter, and Maria.

Here's what in the toolbox

Assorted pens and pencils
Glue and Glue sticks
Tiny stickers
Small pad of paper
Mother Goose Time song lyrics on rings

I think it's obvious why I have the standard art supplies, but what about the adding machine tape?  I've found that a long strip of adding machine tape taped to the table and a sheet of tiny stickers will keep most toddlers happy for quite a while.  Throw in some washable glitter glue pens and you've just bought yourself even more time.  This "quiet" time allows me to work with Joseph on his writing and tracing without too many distractions.  Same with the Go Fish cards.  My toddlers enjoy grouping them by color or simply lining them up on a sunny spot on the table.  Again keeps their little hands and mind busy so I can give special attention to Joseph, yet allows them to be right where we are.

I chose this tote because it can be hung over the back of our chairs, keeping it close, but not too accessible to little fingers.
This little bit of spring organizing is giving me a much needed umph for finishing the year with the littles on a strong note.

Was this tip helpful?  Please pin.  Thanks.

You might like

*contains affiliate links -- if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase (any purchase), I will receive a small commission.  We really appreciate the added income.  Thank You!

Linking up with

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bacon Wrapped Venison Mini Roasts

Venison (whitetail deer) is the red meat of choice in our house.  

Everyone hunts.  
Everyone guts.  
Everyone butchers.  
Everyone wraps.  
Some cook.  
All eat.

We use venison like most people use beef, substituting it in for any recipe.
Today I'm sharing one of our favorites.  This is one of those meals that no matter who asks, "What's for dinner?", I'll be met with "Awesome" once I give them the answer.

How we cut the meat
Warren cuts the back strap from the deer, lays it out on the cutting board, and then slices it every 2 inches into chunks.  We then wrap them, 11 to a pack.  

How we prepare the mini roasts
One thick cut package of bacon has 11 slices-- check your brand.  Wrapping the bacon around the mini roast, I secure it with a toothpick.

How we grill the bacon wrapped mini roasts
Warren typically grills these and has gotten it down to perfection.  Over medium heat, grill for about 15 minutes.  Bacon should be crisp tender and meat juices should be clear.  He's found the trick is to place these on the grill between the drip shields.  That way when the bacon fat drips it doesn't cause a flare up.  Flare ups are bad, trust me; I've served my share of blackened bacon wrapped mini roasts.  The venison is still good, but the bacon, not so much.  Once done, let set for a few minutes before serving--that way the juices can be reabsorbed into the meat and doesn't all run out when sliced.

How we serve the mini roasts
I serve Sweet Baby Ray's on the side, but really, I think the best is to slice and eat as is.  I usually serve fried mashed potatoes or potato wedges and a big salad or fresh fruit.  There's no wrong way to serve up BACON WRAPPED VENISON MINI ROASTS

You might like

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Log Cutting in the Winter....(and a birthday)

It's not often I get to publicly express my love and honor for this man.  I suppose if I looked back, I might find something in the March archives of years past.  Birthdays are a good time to really let someone know how much you care.

I don't think there's ever been a year without a baby or toddler helping blow out the candles.  Soon enough though, the littlest one grows up.  Warren always says, "Someone has to be the baby."  I just love these two pictures......the lopsided cake, only 12 birthday candles, frosting that doesn't quite cover.  It sums up our life - we might not look like we have it all together, but somehow it all works.

The little kids like to pick out some kind of candy for a gift.  Maria picked out gum and tic tacs.
And Peter picked out a chewy mix from Fleet Farm.

The older kids know how much Dad loves the story behind the Edmund Fitzgerald, so this book should be a good read for him.
 And now on to the log cutting.  I don't know who said winter is a slow time for cranberry growers.  I do know they don't know my husband.  Yes, the cranberry vines are locked in ice, but that doesn't mean hibernation for the farmers.  Along with flooding, sanding, building kitchen cabinet doors, nutrient management plan writing, yearly budget hashing, taxes, equipment upgrades/repairs......the list could go on, Warren did some selective log cutting on the property.  The pile is really impressive if you're into that sort of thing - log gazing.  Of course, I had to pull the camera out for a little documentation.
Of course he uses a STIHL, but not this one.

This monster is 3 feet in diameter.

A pile of mostly red oak.
And that's a wrap on Warren's whereabouts.

You might like
Police Reports (when Warren's shirt was eaten by a bear)
He Makes Me Laugh (when he was funny in the AM)
So Perfectly Me, So Perfectly You (when our horoscopes told the truth)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Right Family

I'm popping in at the end of the weekend to remind you all that your family is perfect for you.  And my family is perfect for me.  Where did that come from?  Last weekend Warren and I attended an evening for couples hosted by our deanery.  Fr. Martin was the guest speaker and he gave an encouraging talk that spanned the ages.  Newly married couples, as well as us, ah, longer married couples were given the message that God doesn't make mistakes.  Every family pulls it together enough for the public, but we really need to remember that all families are dealing with issues.  Fr. Martin reminded us that depression, cancer, wayward children, addiction, job loss......every family has something behind the closed door.  But, God puts us in the family that's perfect for us.

We are a family.  We have issues.  We love each other.  We tolerate each other.  We like each other.  We annoy each other.  We have fun with each other.  This is my family.  I love them!

This showed up on my camera card.  Sam must have gotten ahold of the camera.

Hanging out with Grandma at the hotel.
They're all mine.

You've got your family.
Thank God for all the crazy, maddening, sweet, and stupid things they do.

You might like
Sometimes I Get Lucky

Linking up with
Homemaking LInkup

Friday, March 4, 2016

EXTREMELY small Batch Maple Syrup Making

I shared a picture from last week's tap setting, and now I have the rest of the story.

Sam has been learning all he can about maple syrup making in Wisconsin so he can write the winning essay for the Ag in the Classroom essay contest.  I don't know of any better way to learn than to jump in and learn as we go.  Here's a picture diary of the process.

Drilling for the first tap.

Setting the tap.

We're in business!

Running to the next Maple tree.

Little brothers helping?  getting in the way?

Now we wait for the first few drops of spring tonic.
Our sap running weather was very short and we only put out two taps, so not much sap before the cold weather set in again.  We got 2.5 gallons of sap and did a quick calculation:

                                                                1 gallon syrup            x
                                                               -------------------   =  ---------------
                                                               40 gallons sap          2.5 gallons sap

                                                                                         x  =  .0625 gallons

One more proportion to convert gallons to cups and we should yield a whopping 1 cup of pure maple syrup.  Let's see what happened.

We strained out bits of bark from the sap.

We assessed the strainings and felt slightly guilty for using a $1.59 filter for this tiny amount of sap.

This is a costly way of cooking down sap, but for our first time and such a small amount of  sap, and I couldn't spend a lot of time outside boiling with Sam, it worked best to have him close to the house in case he had questions or needed me.

Once it started boiling, Sam was sure it would only take a few minutes.  He was in for a surprise when after 30 minutes he was still hunched over the pot.  He must have realized he was going to be there a while because at one point I looked out and saw him dragging a lawn chair to his watch spot.  He stirred and checked the thermometer and stirred some more.  It cooked down so low that the thermometer wouldn't even reach.  Even funnier is we didn't even have enough syrup to check it's density using the hydrometer.  Finally it was time to finish it in the house in a wee sized kettle.
 And here you have it!  Our first taste of our own maple syrup.  Almost 1 full cup.

And for the record, it tasted so good on homemade waffles this morning.
Daytime temps are moderating again; the buckets are out again!

Linking up with
Homestead Blog Hop - Every Tuesday! | Real food recipes, live stock, crafts, DIY, how-to’s, gardening, homeschooling, natural home and health, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, natural remedies, essential oils, and more! |Featured post: DIY Seed Tape | Whole-Fed Homestead