Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Park Day

The weather had been so nice lately that we decided to go to the park for the day and have a basket lunch. So we threw the bikes in the back of the van and hit the road. There was bike riding, playing at the playground, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and bananas, and a nature walk.











Monday, September 22, 2008

Mom's Birthday

This is the table set up for my mom's birthday. I like to use quilts for tablecloths.



Here are some of her presents, lovely soy maple sugar scented candles, Chai Tea, a bouquet of flowers and a picture album with pre-made scrapbook pages. All she'll have to do is stick her own photos in it.


The cake I made was an Ginger Orange cake with orange glaze and starburst candy flowers.



This is mom. She isn't much on having her picture taken. The punch was simply frozen Strawberry Daiquiri mix, mixed with 7up and sliced strawberries in it. Very, Very yummy. It was wonderful good fun.


Pumpkin Carving 2007

 

Here I am with my clan - that's my youngest daughter and her son on the left. If you've been to my other blog you know the rest of my boys. After the Halloween dinner has been eaten, the cake sliced, and the presents opened we all go outside for pumpkin carving.


Baylyn is digging out those seeds.

As usual Collin puts on his yucky face over the slimy old pumpkin guts as he calls it.





Kody is in full concentration for this project.
Last year we purchased star and bat cookie cutters to use on the pumpkins. Joseph is giving it a good bang and punch.

This is my mom wondering if Collin's ever going to get the yucky pumpkin guts out of the Crazy thing.

I'll admit the boys aren't Michelangelo, however they can create a group of unusual, ugly creeps.


Koko is totally unimpressed with the festivities and snoozes on.


Charlie Bug thought it was a howling good time.

Magic Art Turned Into Chemistry


This is what the boys done for extra activities this last week. It was an idea I found at Flipflops & Applesauce. It started out as a craft activity for Joseph and the older boys thought it sounded neat and wanted to try it out.Then it turned into a full blown set of chemistry experiments they tinkered with all week.


It was Puffy Paint that you make, paint a picture and put it in the microwave for a few seconds and presto - you have puffy art! Joseph thought this was magic, however the older boys had to explain it to the bare bones. Bottom line it was simple baking in the microwave.




This lead to the boys pulling a couple of books from our shelves - The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions 1 and 2 by John E. & Danita Thomas. That sent the boys on a scientific adventure - Dryer Lint Clay, Spray Chalk, Applesauce Cinnamon Dough, Peanutty Play Dough, and World's Best Bubbles.

But the favorite was Coffee Dough, it dries to a stone look finish. This turned into and excursion. My hubby drinks coffee but he tossed the grounds out daily. Sw we had to plan to save up the grounds until we had enough - then a light bulb came on! Let's go to Starbucks, they give away free grounds for people to use in their gardens. So we went, we got and we returned home with more grounds than you can imagine.It's sitting outside drying out really good so I can package it up so they will have it to make more coffee dough.



I didn't get pictures of the coffee dough sculptures because my rechargeable batteries are getting me fits - don't want to charge any more :( Any who, Joseph is wanting to try the clothespin dryer sheet butterflies he also saw when we were at Flipflops and Applesauce.





The recipe for Puffy Paint can be found at flipflopsandapplesauce.blogspot.com - a note here if you use this recipe really watch it in the microwave since they tend to work at different levels. It only took ours 15 seconds to puff the paint. Below is the recipe for Coffee Dough.


 

Coffee Dough -1 cup coffee grounds, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup water
  1. Mix coffee grounds., flour, and salt together in a small bowl.
  2. Add water and stir until the mixture turns into a consistently of a stiff dough.
  3. If the clay is to sticky, knead in more flour.
  4. Let the coffee dough air dry or bake them in the oven at 200 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Larger sculptures may take longer to dry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Day It Got Quiet

The other day I was cleaning house and I suddenly noticed that the house was SILENT! You know the quiet when everybody is involved in something and usually with three boys it never turns out good. I began going from room to room - if I call out to them they would all scatter. This is what I found: the three of them were so engrossed in a website I found for them about dinosaurs. I forgot I had left it on earlier before they got up to make notes for our dinosaur study. This occupied them for the entire morning.



Here we are again with the all favorite coffee dough making volcanoes.




Latter in the afternoon Joseph finally got to his gumdrops and toothpicks project he kept yapping about after seeing it on the Flipflops and Applesauce Blog. He's building single story and two story houses.


Be warned if you try this at home - it's sugary good fun but messy. Sticky, sticky, sticky.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Curriculum


This was wrote in my daily journal back in April:
My decision for this year’s curriculum was very difficult. There were so many good options for the boys out there, however, I find most very repetitive of what we have covered and what they have learned on their own. Surprising enough they have taught themselves more than I ever could of covered. I often find things that I decide to cover have very little interest to them so they grasp some of it but very little. When it comes to what they like I watch them drowned themselves in the subject – from reading, watching videos, DVD’s, listening to CDs, Making books, drawing pictures, playing computer, play station, board games and outdoor play.

The problem is that Kody’s intense interest in one thing seems to revolve around one thing what seems forever – the middle ages for a year and a half – of course I under stand that this could turn out to be a life long interest. But I would love for him to find other areas that he is just as passionate about. He has settled into eras of history and major wars and weapons broadly but noting as specific as he did with the middle ages. He has shown a serious interest in cooking in the last year and says he has a desire to perhaps become a chef in the future.

Collin for the most part seems to be coasting on Kody’s coat tails. I mean he does what ever Kody does and nothing really of his own choosing. He soon becomes board with what is being done and walks away. He has an extreme interest in building things, how mechanical things are put together, scrapbooking, and repairing broken things –these are areas that Kody has no interest in. Collin has very little interest in learning how to read, which at his age (10) I believe he should be, however I know every child is different and I could be wrong on this.

Joseph is still too young to truly find his serious interests of life. He is the typical little five years old. Digs in the dirt, collects nature objects, plays with the dog, and picks flowers. He is, however, showing a growing interest over the last couple of years for bugs and birds of any kind. He will find a bug of sorts and simply watch it for a very long time – then tell me what it had done. He will catch one and study it with a hand lens and try to draw and color it exact and when he can’t get it, it upsets him and he asks for help. He is very interested in their detail and colors. He does the same with birds but he’s not so obsessed. He also likes to take flowers apart to see how they are put together. He use to think they were all the same but by taking them apart he has learned that they may be similar but each type is different. All this on his own! He has not had any formal learning except in the area of basic math and some letter sounds.

All the boys are interested in any type of scientific experiment. Their handwriting is somewhat legible but very messy and spelling is horrid. The older two have finally memorized multiplication tables (I know some say this isn’t important to stress, however, I find that as math goes on- to have this in your memory bank as soon as possible makes it much, much easier and less frustrating for the child.) Each child is on above grade level with math but need help to get there with their language skills. This will be a major point in their goals for this year. We all have benefited from a more relaxed method of schooling than the gota’ get this done today that we have followed in the past. Home education is truly a less is more thing – at least for us. The boys retain so much more when given time alone with a subject to let it simmer for awhile. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Hen House and a Surprise!!!


Here's the pictures of what we got when we recycled the old chicken coop and the boys play fort. A new improved hen house (the Buttercup Ladies are styling now) and a sand box for Joseph.


This morning my hubby found this! It is the first egg ever that our hens have laid. About five years ago we had some hen that were old and quit laying after a couple of years. This time we bought younger pullets and have been waiting months for them to start laying. This was really a great big deal around here.


This is our suspected egg layer. However with five we aren't really sure.


The Buttercup Ladies

Halloween Birthday Party 2007




This was a very easy halloween dinner for me to fix last year, very little of it was handmade in the kitchen. Usually I make nearly everything from scratch and to be honest after years of being the holiday “fixer upper” it was beginning to wear thin. I was spending all my time in the kitchen and very little with the family. So this was the first year I opted to find good eats and spend more time having good fun. The menu that I choose was kid friendly and vegetarian (I have included options for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu). This left me time for the all important pumpkin carving we have each year after the birthday cake and present opening. We have two birthdays the fall around Halloween my hubby on the 30th and my youngest boy on the 1st of November. So we always have a birthday/Halloween party and keep the 31st strictly for trick or treating.

Devil dogs – turkey franks or Lightlife Smart Dogs & whole wheat buns
Mystic muck – vegetarian chili
Shredded Mummy Wraps – Bavarian sauerkraut
Marsh Fire Mold – sweet relish
Milk Curds – shredded cheddar or cheddar style soy cheese
Revolting Rot – mustard
Voodoo Sticks – pickled okra
Spell Spheres – dill pickle slices
Enchanted Orbs – black olives
Bewitching Buds – pickled cauliflower
Gruesome Goo – potato Salad
Charmed Chips – tortilla/corn chips
Witchy Blend- salsa
Demon Dip – bean dip
Pond Scum – guacamole
Graveyard Gravel – Chex party mix & Fiddle Faddle mixed together
Dracula Dream Cakes – Crimson Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Moskowitz & Romero
Slime Sipper – 12 oz. frozen limeade concentrate mixed with 2 liter ginger ale and 1 tablespoons of green food coloring

Recipes that I used:
Gruesome Goo (aka. herbed potato salad)
4 medium potatoes (about 2 pounds)
2 Tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & black pepper to taste
6 Tablespoons mayonnaise or soy mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

In a large pot of water, boil the peeled potatoes until they can be pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water, using a potatoes masher, mash toe potatoes to desired consistency. In a separate bowl blend together the chives, dill weed, parsley, garlic powder, salt & pepper, mayonnaise and mustard. Mix the potatoes and the herb mixture together until well blended. Put in the refrigerator for at two hours or longer. Serves 6


My Quickie Guacamole
4 pitted avocados
2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice
½ to ½ cup chunky salsa (I use Pace)
Salt & black Pepper to taste

Scoop the flesh out of the avocados and mash up using a potato masher or fork. Add the lime or lemon juice, slat & pepper and ¼ cup of the salsa, stir to combine. Taste to see if you desire a snappier flavor, if so add another ¼ cup of the salsa, blend well. Serve immediately. Makes about 4 cups


Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes
with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

CUPCAKES~
1 cup soy milk (I use Great Value from Walmart, it has a creamier texture)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons read food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle.
3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and slat into a large mixing bowl and mix.
4. Add the oil, food coloring, vanilla extract,chocolate extract, and almond extract to the curled soy milk. Whisk well to combine. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry, mixing until large lumps disappear.
5. Fill cupcakes liners about two-thirds of the way full as these cupcakes will rise fairly high. Place in a hot oven and bake 18 to 20 minutes until done, but be sure not to over bake. Let cool for a few minuets and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

FROSTING~
1/4 cup margarine, softened (I use Smart Balance Light)
1/4 cup shortening (I use Earth Balance Non-Hydrogenated)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (sift if there are any clumps)
2 1/2 cups powered sugar, sifted
3 Tablespoons soy milk
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Cream together margarine and the shortening until well combined. Add the cocoa power and incorporate well. Add the powered sugar in about 1/2 cup batches and beat well, adding a little splash of soy milk after each addition. When all ingredients have been incorporated, add the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy ( about 3 minutes with a hand mixer, 7 minutes if using a fork). I then put the frosting in a pastry bag with a large star tip and pipe it around the cupcake into a nice swirly pile.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Our Front Porch


Today I thought I would share some photos of my front porch (last week I shared the banner in my bedroom - which is below - on my other blog red slippers which I closed.) Every year I plant new plants in the porch containers so I get a different look each time. This year we have had lots of rain and humidity so they look pretty good.

 
Around the short upper wall of the inside of the porch I have collected and hung different wooden signs.
 

 Last year my hubby brought home the two wooden rockers for our porch.

Every year I plant herbs in this cauldron that we found years ago in a house once rented. I have basil, purple ruffled basil, chives, Italian parsley, garden thyme, tarragon, and sage.


 
Happy red begonias!
 

Rosemary and our little garden fairy.
 
 
I have had this tree for six years. Every spring I put it out on the porch and the first frost I bring it in for the winter.