Monday, February 10, 2014

Homeschool Preschool and Learning Projects!

I love teaching my kiddos! I love seeing the little lights go on, the minds wrapping around big concepts, and seeing them use what they have learned. My Boy latches onto certain things and becomes obsessed with learning about them! My Girl at his age loved everything to do with ladybugs so I used ladybug's dot to teach adding and number sequencing. Everything we learned was through ladybugs in someway or another. But in the age of My Boy, his interests are more concretely based. He loves counting numbers and in the past couple months, he has fallen in love with the Alphabet, mostly thanks to Super Why! Here's a small snippet of what we do during the day for his preschool homeschool.

I like to use sticker books because my kids love stickers! Who doesn't? (Confession: I don't like them because them end up on my walls or tile floors sometimes... cursed stickers!) I think it really helps with his gross motor skills, pincher skill, and building vocabulary. This sticker book is all about animals. We work together and its a nice structured time together!

The Dollar Tree has a whole collection of these sticker books/activity books. We finished the Alphabet sticker and decided to move on to the Animal book. The only issues I have with these books is the stickers are quite delicate and hard to get off the sticker sheet and some of the words they choose are odd. See the "U" square in the book. One of the words is "uncle" which is a bizarre choice and slightly confusing.

After the sticker book we move onto the planets of our solar system. He likes looking for letters I pick on the back of the placemat. We haven't gone over the stuff on the back. It is a bit much for him at this time.

He is learning to name all the planets. I put a cheerio on each one and we name them. He is getting very close to knowing them all by sight. I also use flashcards or the planets hanging from the ceiling in their room.

Then its time for some coloring, cleaning and finally baking! Kids love to help bake. We read the recipe together and he helps measure and pour the ingredients in. I love to let him cut the butter up!

Then we watch it mix in the bread maker because I let it do the mixing, kneading, and rising for me. We pop it into the oven after that!


When My Girl gets home from school, we listen to 3 school house rock songs: Nouns, Verbs, and The Preamble. They have the Preamble down by now and its way cute to her them recite it! We do homework, chores, snack, and then move onto My Girls special project: Learning all 50 states. There is a 50 states that rhyme song we use. I'll get more into this activity later. But she's keen to finish it soon so she can move on to learning all the presidents!

If you want your kids to learn the presidents or states or solar system, these placemats are stellar!!! I love them! I found these at K-mart for about 2.50 each and amazon has tons more (periodic table, water cycle, etc.) They are very effective with repetition and I find them using them on their own a lot! All the books with the placemats I found at the dollar tree or in the dollar sections at target.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hot Vanilla

I don't like chocolate.

There I said it. This is no surprise to the people who know me. I don't like soda either. I love water, best drink ever! This really causes me issues with weight loss though as the first recommendation is to cut soda out of your diet and to drink more water.

I am not a sweets fan. I love savory and spicy. Everything I eat either has sriracha or tapatio on it. Drives my husband crazy! But enough tangents.

I was grabbing a cup of coffee at Coffee Bean & Tea after grocery shopping when from the backseat My Girl asked for a hot chocolate. She said please. She had been amazingly helpful and well behaved in the store while I dealt with My Boy's not so good behavior. He is the screamer, egg smashing, 3 year old strapped into the cart yelling, "I'm stuck!" while trying to knock everything of the shelves. Not a pleasure to take shopping. I looked at the kid's menu and right under the hot chocolate was "hot vanilla". I ordered one of each and as soon as I tried it I was in love.

Its creamy, vanilla with almost a toffee flavoring. I found a recipe online because I can't be buying coffees and drinks for a coffee shop daily, who am I? Kim Kardashian? Nope, I got a budget!

It is really easy to make and super cheap. My husband says its like warm vanilla ice cream.

Without further ado,

Hot Vanilla

1 Cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp sugar

Put in a pan and warm up slowly. I stir mine like crazy to give it a whipped sort of consistancy, however it might make no difference to it at all. I just like to keep busy while watching any pot.

Pour in. Top it with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon if you are feeling fancy and enjoy!

Ps. My Girl loves this as a base to hot chocolate... if you still want chocolate. Nothing like a hot drink on a cold day after a long nap!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Free Fire Cider

I don't know how many of you remember, in 2010 the Dervaes Institute (Dervaes Family) registered "urban homesteading" and "urban homestead," and similar phrases as trademarks. They sent "cease and desist" letters out to bloggers, authors, and had several facebook pages removed. I recall the Denver Urban Homesteading being hit pretty hard. The urban homesteading terms trace back long before the Dervaes Institute. From what I understand they are still fighting in court. (Urban homesteading Wiki)

The same thing is happening now to "fire cider". There is a petition to hopefully keep "fire cider" free for everyone. Here is it:

United States Patent and Trademark Office
Shire City Herbals

Fire Cider is a term that has been used by herbalists since the 1970's. This term was originally introduced by Rosemary Gladstar in her copyrighted and published books, blogs and you tube videos. This term is actually Rosemary's intellectual property. Since the introduction, Rosemary has freely shared her recipe with tens of thousands of herbalists. This recipe is sold, reproduced, modified and shared freely. This name has become a household name for a blend of herbs historically used to prevent and support the body during times of colds and flu. Trademarking this term is like trademarking the word pizza! The company trademarking the term is not the only maker of this recipe, did not come up with the name fire cider, and will never be the only one selling it. This is a cultural, historical term that should not be trademarked. Thanks for your time. 
[Your name]<--- then you click here and sign the petition.

Confession time: I had never heard of Fire Cider before the beginning of the week. But I remember being so angry at the urban homesteading trademark One of my close college friends has been posting on facebook about this. I was raised on a prescription bottle house (to each their own) and haven't had a lot of practice with natural remedies beyond what comes in an herbal supplement bottle. So I am glad there is such a storm over the fire cider, not that it is being trademarked (no no that's awful) but that I got to hear about it and am going to try it. I love all the ingredients. I grow most of them myself and I hope you sign the petition and make some of this stuff yourself.

World Fire Cider making day is February 2nd:

Thank you and enjoy your fire cider making... I'll be making my first batch tomorrow.

All these pictures are from the Free Fire Cider facebook page.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

100th post: A look back over the missing months!

Yay! This is my 100th blog post! I took a long break from the blog in October... so here's everything to get you caught up to now-ish in pictures!

It was very busy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Orange Cleanser

I love you using homemade cleaning products!

It makes me feel comfortable with My Girl helping me cleanup around the house. I can't imagine letting her run spray the clorox disinfectant spray and then wipe it off. I don't want her touching that stuff. Its poison. I don't even want that stuff in my house. I usually use white vinegar watered down with a little water. It surely doesn't look or smell like juice. Vinegar is clear and smells like vinegar... I don't think a lot of kids want to drink vinegar with its smell. 

(NOTE: vinegar is still an acid so don't chug a bottle of it or allow your children to.) 

But these modern store bought cleaners look like juice or koolaid. They also smell like it! 

I keep my cleaning supplies locked up and out of my kid's reach, just so everyone is clear on that. But if I don't even want them spraying or around it while I am cleaning, then I probably should find something else. Also vinegar is super cheap. I am super dedicated to saving money! It also is a more green solution to cleaning your house.

But the same of watered down vinegar can wear on you. Its not the clean bleachy smell we were raised to think of as clean. I found an amazing way to tone down the smell of the vinegar and boost the cleaning power of it. Thank you, Pinterest (what did I do before you?) and the idea comes from The Fountain Avenue Kitchen.

Yes, that's an old pickle jar with orange peels chilling in some vinegar. Its so easy! You probably eat oranges and throw (maybe compost) the peels away. Now just chuck them in a jar and pour the vinegar over them. I used a little the other day and just added more vinegar to replace it. It has a nice vinegar citrus smell. If you don't eat oranges, try lemon peels, grapefruit peels, lime peels, I don't see why any citrus rind wouldn't work! Make sure you fill the jar up with the rind. My pickle jar needed about 4 medium sized oranges to fill up. 

Right now, I am working on making a Pre-K homeschool binder for our roadtrip across America this summer. So when I finish I will certainly post it!

Happy cleaning!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Winner, Winner, Eggplant Dinner!

This month was the Scriptfrenzy Challenge. The challenge is simple 30 days and 100 pages. It is put on each year by the Office of Letters and Lights. They are the same amazing people who put on Camp Nanowrimo and Nanowrimo in November. I am a big fan of writing. I used to write tons of stories when I was younger! Then somewhere along the way I got busy and distracted. But I finally decided to make writing a focus in my life again starting with Scriptfrenzy. Though, there is no way I'll let anyone read this screenplay of mine, I really enjoyed the challenge and being able to write freely. I challenged myself and succeeded. It may be a little more difficult in July and August to write 2 novels of 50,000 words each but I will remain committed. This has given me a new confidence in writing. I actually started working on my first kindle book and have a writing buddy, who is starting her first book! If you ever had any interest in writing at all, I strongly recommend you take the time and challenge yourself to write a 50,000 word novel in a month- its free!!!

Well, now we get to the eggplant dinner. I made Eggplant Parmesan last night for dinner. I was talking to my favorite cousin in the whole wide world and told her what I was making for dinner. She told me that I was so lucky that I could get away with that. After some thought, yes, yes, I am. I love eggplant. I have 3 plants in my garden that survived off season and are churning out yummy eggplants with purple plump skin! I would be absolutely heart broken if my Girl and Jorg wouldn't eat them.

This recipe is a little different then the traditional one. I have a rugrat getting into cat food, papers, everything!, and a 3 year old that needs my attention seemingly all the time, especially if I pay attention to her brother. I can't spend all night in the kitchen cutting, breading, frying, draining... etc. I have officially classified that as too much work for me. I used an amazing recipe that I found on the perfect PINTEREST!!! Its where I get most of my dinner ideas! I can't even link it right now because I'll get sucked into the sharing and astounding ideas everyone has!

Instead of breading and frying the eggplant, you mix it with olive oil and sea salt and roast it. Then you assemble it as you normally would and top it off with breadcrumbs for that nice crunch! I wish I had pictures of all this and my sweet cousin even asked me to take a picture for her... unfortunately, I was so hungry and we ate it all as soon as it was done!!! The only picture I managed to take was the roasted eggplant, which is delicious in its own right. Here's the link to the recipe: Eggplant parmesan casserole for two and if you feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen try this recipe, Eggplant Involtini, instead!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Garlic Confit

I am one of those people who doesn't usually salt things. People all have their own salty or not preferences. I would rather they salt their own food rather than me over salt it, as has been the case many times. You can have too much salt... but what about Garlic? After months of diligent and studious research, I found the answer.

And its no. No, you cannot. And no one can tell me otherwise *sticks fingers in my ears* La la la la... I can't hear you and your anti-garlic nonsense! Garlic is the adult me's ketchup, sorta. Cause ketchup is still amazing. Hmm... Garlic ketchup? But that's not what this post is about. Its about a crazy love of garlic and fancy words that make things sound, um fancy, or fan-tacular!

Since I am going to be missing the Gilroy Garlic Festival again, I thought I would pay our friend, Allium (that means garlic), some homage by making GARLIC CONFIT. Now from my understanding, "confit" means "to cook in its own fast and then storing it in its own fat." I am sure garlic has fat but I don't think it will work for this so...

We are going to slow poach the garlic in Olive oil! BTW, if you are ever interested in learning more about Olive Oil, there is a very interesting, captivating, and informative book about it. Its called Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller (Kindle). No really this book is very good and will make you think twice about buying the inexpensive olive oil.

But back to confit-ting some garlic cloves!

   1. 12 heads of garlic
   2. Olive Oil

Nope that's it.

How to confit you some garlic, yo!

Remove the garlic cloves from the head. I don't know any tricks for this. There are probably some out there but I just kinda ripped and torn at the garlic until it was all cloves. It eventually hurt my hands after 12 heads.

Skinning the paper off the garlic. This I know several tricks to do. There's smashing it and pulling it off but that's not really gonna work here because we want the garlic in whole clove floating in the oil not smashed to bits. I have seen people rub the garlic on a silicon sheet and it pops off, could work. For this particular garlic project, I decided to use a quick drop in boiling water and then into the ice bath. This loosens the skin nicely. Then you slice off the root and...

...peel it off. 

Poaching the garlic. Now that they are peeled you put them in a thick bottomed pot and pour Olive Oil over them until its about 1/2" above your garlic. 

 Put your pot over medium heat until tiny bubbles pop up, even a few of them. Now reduce your heat to  low and let cook like this for 60 minutes. The oil should never reach 180 degrees.

Stir occasionally. While doing this you will see a ton of skins come off, no matter how well you cleaned them. Not the paper skin, the other garlic skin. Just skim them off with a sieve or a fork, no problem.

Take off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Now your garlic should be still in clove form, a pale golden color, and when you eat it it should melt like BUD-DAR! 

I canned about 3 pint jars of the garlic confit  and had about 750mL of garlic olive oil to pour back into the bottle it came in! 

SAFETY ALERT: Keep the garlic confit in the refrigerator. You should use your confit within a week or so and then discard. I have heard that you can keep it longer but its best to err on the side of caution. It never lasts long here anyway!

But what do you use garlic confit for? Well, my answer would be anything. Sweet, soft, and mellow garlic!
  1. Spaghetti sauce
  2. Garlic bread
  3. Garlic spread on crackers or bread
  4. Guacamole
  5. Anywhere you use garlic! And if you don't love and use garlic... I think we need to see other blogs. :( Its not you, its garlic.