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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Just Some Other Thoughts

This is in the "Other Thoughts" section of the upcoming Weekly Barden.

After we went to prayer meeting Wednesday night, I changed the focus of my thoughts here. Pastor talked on Philippians 1:9-11. The portion that was really impacting to me was verse 10: 
“That ye may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” (KJV; emphasis mine)
There wasn’t really anything wrong with what I’d wrote before but I could not call it excellent. (I possibly still can’t.) And of course, being human and imperfect, my writing will never be truly excellent. I don’t plan to stop writing just because it doesn’t meet that standard, but there is always room for improvement. 

The thing that really got me was this little train of thought: God doesn’t need to prove why something is wrong; we need to prove how or why it is excellent. If we cannot, then it is not good enough. Does that make sense? 

What does excellent mean in verse 10? In the Strong’s concordance, it is number 1308, diaphero. It is that which is different, set apart, of more value. 

My thoughts in my writing had been around different publications that supposedly are for “Christian” enlightenment. I read a lot of articles, posts, and some print magazines, and am searching for another good print magazine to subscribe. It’s difficult to find something that is excellent. I read things that are by Christians and non-Christians alike; things that are specifically labelled Christian and things that are specifically labelled secular. 

Verse 10 says that ye may approve things that are excellent. It is important (I think) to look back to verse 9, which says Paul prays the Philippians’ love abound in knowledge and judgment. When we reach that point, {is it only when we reach that point?then we will be able to approve things which are excellent.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Living Page- Nature Notebooks and Scrapbooks

Late again to the discussion but I'm sure that's alright. This time the discussion is over pages 17-25 in The Living Page*. If you came here first and haven't been to Wildflowers & Marbles, I would suggest you go there {now or later; not trying to get rid of you *smile*}. She has some printables that are useful with nature study. Lists that are simple, and pretty too.
We all have a need to be trained to see, and to have our eyes opened before we can take in the joy that is meant for us in this beautiful life. ~Charlotte Mason
This entire chapter, Gallery of Forms, is a "catalogue, incomplete to be sure, of the various notebooks that appear in Mason's writings. (p. 17)" I especially like the last sentence in the paragraph where Laurie says there is undoubtedly more to come. I very much hope so! 

And so we start with Nature Notebooks. You can see some of my personal nature notebook pages as I've put them on a page of my blog. 

I found it to be quite interesting, but really not terribly surprising, that Mason was in some way responsible for many of Sir Robert Baden-Powell's ideas for the Boy Scouts. Before Mason though was Gilbert White and his use of nature journals. He's quite famous over in England. I think I've seen them on Gutenberg and they are straightforward, much like the example Laurie gives on page 20. So nature journals needn't be extreme or complicated. This is something that perhaps people get caught up on. There are notebooks that people keep that are quite wonderfully done; illustrated beautifully. It doesn't necessarily have to have illustrations. 
The nature notebook is a dated observation of the progression of the seasons week to week, including drawings, prose, and information gathered on a need to know basis. It can include geology, geography, the course of the sun, behavior of clouds, weather signs and many other observations. (p. 21)
The Scrapbooks/Collections is "less about amassing finds than ensuring this personal connection" (p. 24, emphasis mine)" And Laurie quotes a Parents' Review article, "A Few Words About the P.N.E.U." by M. Reppman, of which I put a small portion here:
Every year, in May, during the annual conference, there is an exhibition of the works made by the young members of the club {the history clubs are talked about more in Jen's post}, which consist in collections of dried plants, drawings of flowers, plants and insects, which are often accompanied by personal descriptions, remarks and observations of the young explorer. (quoted on p. 24, emphasis mine)
Here is a page from both of my kids' nature notebooks. They are different but both perfectly acceptable. 

The next discussion is over pages 26-38, a lot more of the notebooks mentioned in Mason's writings. I'm really interested in "The Enquire Within” or Household Book. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 04.14.14

Got the plan made this afternoon before shopping. 

04.14 Monday
B- Crepes {S} ds had honey on his; dd and I had Greek yogurt and stevia {ours were better *wink*}
L- Leftover enchiladas from Sunday {CO} I had oatmeal with blueberries and cottage cheese {E}
D- Cheeseburger Pie {S} It's in the book under Evening Meals. I changed it some by cutting the recipe in 1/2, and subbing 1/2 of the called for mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. Served with salad for dh and I; corn on the side for the kids.

04.15 Tuesday
B- Light White Blueberry Muffins {S} In the book under "Muffins, Breads, and Pizza Crusts"
L- Lettuce wraps with either turkey or ham, cheese, mayo, mustard {S/FP/E} I might make some Trim Healthy Pan Bread for {E} sandwiches if they want something "more" to their sandwich.
D- Taco Salad {S} the kids and hubby will most likely have corn tortilla chips and cheese with theirs; I just have the salad, meat and Greek yogurt pretending to be sour cream. I might have a couple chips...

My lunch; kids opted for lettuce wraps. 
It was super yummy! I had two of those by the way.
04.16 Wednesday
B- Cereal {kids}/Oatmeal with berries and cottage cheese {E}
L- Quesadillas {S} or {CO} for ds with a regular tortilla
D- All Day Lentil Soup {E} I might make biscuits for the family, which would make this a {CO} for them...will see

04.17 Thursday
B- Super Grains cereal OR Oatmeal with berries and cottage cheese {E}
L- Bean and cheese burritos {CO} I eat just the filling without cheese which usually makes it {E}
D- Italian Style chicken (crockpot) {S} In the book under Evening Meals, Clever Crockpot Meals

04.18 Friday
B- Cereal {kids}/Eggs {S}
L- Salad with meat and cheese {S}
Tea-time: Fox is going to make fudgy brownies- definitely not on-plan! Perhaps some Friday I'll make the Special Agent Brownie Cake.
D- Pizza {CO}

04.19 Saturday
B- Cereal {kids}/Eggs {S}
L- Meat sandwiches {CO} I will make mine with the Trim Healthy Pan Bread for {E} since I don't put on the cheese and can go without mayo every so often.
D- Chicken Alfredo (crockpot) with veggies {E} another "in the book" choice, under Evening Meals, Clever Crockpot Meals
Dessert: Ice Cream! in the book- Tummy Tucking Ice Cream {E/FP}

04.20 Sunday
B- Eggs {S}
Brunch at church- Pastries, bagels, fruit (I can only hope), juice, coffee, etc.
D- Leftovers (there better be some!)

That's the menu for this week. I made sure we had some different things to try. Thankfully we are blessed with plenty of chicken in the freezer; many dinners with chicken. 

We have been trying to curtail our 'junk' eating during the week. The weekend is for that now- but not too much! I'm trying to be flexible with some THM desserts, some off-plan desserts. 

Today I made tea with THM Sweet Blend instead of sugar. It's good...but it'll take some of the family some getting used to *wink* Only 2 TBS and it tastes like sweet tea! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Blog Redecorating Coming Up

In case you happen by and the blog is a mess, it's probably just me redecorating. Sometimes things get messier before their done. 

The plan- change the color scheme and layout. Nothing too drastic. I'm thinking about this first, though, because my computer is being touchy again. I don't want to mess around with the blog and then lose the info I might save on the computer. 

Some redecorating ideas: pale pastel yellow colors (my favorite!); books or pages for backgrounds or 'tabs'; drop down menus for pages rather than across the top; wider screen (but not really sure about that one); less on the sidebar and bottom but more clear affiliate (monetary and/or contributor) buttons so that people know who they are and don't have to guess. 

Guess we'll see how it goes. I've downloaded the current template as it is to my computer and will fiddle around either this blog or a fake blog to make sure I have it right before saving and publishing. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Greenhouse Photos

Garden! In a Greenhouse

This post contains affiliate links*. See Disclosure/Policies

Look what's in our backyard...

A greenhouse*! And it's not going anywhere either. We anchored that thing down good. Hopefully somewhat soon I may be able to share the construction, in stills or maybe a quick video, but for now, here's a photo of the finished greenhouse.

I was able to put the rotating composter* in the greenhouse but I may have to rearrange it as I want to have buckets and totes for plants in the back where it is now. 

We dug two trenches that we then put two boards into and back-filled. These were secured by anchors into the ground. The frame of the greenhouse was very easy to put together. We did it as a family on Sunday afternoon. The only day so far that was nice enough to do outside work. {Although as I typed that, the sun has come out, the rain has stopped and the clouds are far off.}

You can see the board a little closer here {I hope}.

There are shelves inside for the smaller plants and starts. Now I just have to get going on the seedlings! We bought some zucchini, spaghetti squash and kale seeds yesterday, along with some garden soil. I have paper egg carton bottoms for starting them. 

I'm still so excited when I look out the classroom window and see our greenhouse out there! 

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival 04.08.14

It's that time again- Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. I always feel so privileged when my blog hosts the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. The topic this go-round is “Some Unconsidered Aspects of Religious Training,” but any CM related post is always welcome. As I'm fond of doing, I've categorized the submissions but in no way do I mean for them to be read that way. Pick and choose or go in order. Either way: Grab your favorite drink and cozy up to read all these great submissions.

Religious Training
Nebby at Letters from Nebby- "It is our hearts God wants, not our outward obedience only. But He does want our outward obedience as well and I have largely been won over by Charlotte’s emphasis on habit training."

Amy at Crossing the Brandywine"I started searching for how to show my children truth, goodness and beauty. I realized how fundamentally wrong our culture’s education is, indeed our culture itself. Always doing, and, what’s worse, valuing people by what they DO."

Carol at Journey and Destination- "You are not worshiping God as you should if you have departmentalized your life so that some areas worship and other parts do not worship. ~A.W. Tozer"

Patti at School Days Scrapbook- Reading George MacDonald's book, The Baronet's Song, she is reminded "of a quote by Charlotte Mason from Home Education, "The Essence of Christianity is Loyalty to a Person--Christ, our King. Here is a thought to unseal the fountains of love and loyalty, the treasures of faith and imagination, bound up in the child. The very essence of Christianity is personal loyalty, passionate loyalty to our adorable Chief..."

Tammy at Aut-2B-Home in Carolina- "Every family and situation is so unique, I can offer no answers. You probably know a family dealing with autism who never makes it to church but wishes they could. Why not ask them what you can do to help make church work better for their family? Then, see what you can do about making it happen. Even if it doesn't work, they will appreciate that you tried."

Penney at Changed by Love"My overarching philosophy is “Values are caught more than they are taught”, so my first thought about this is that parents model reverence for God, and then children automatically revere and honor God, too. It may not always turn out that way, but I believe this is generally what happens."
Art/Composer Study
Patti at All Things Bright and Beautiful- "Jacob von Rueysdale - Sailboats, Georg Philipp Telemann - Water Music in C; A A Milne - Come Out with Me" {this site automatically plays the music; the player is down at the bottom of the screen. Don't scroll, just look down.}

Barb at Harmony Fine Arts at Home"Intimate Impressionism – Edouard Vuillard"

Cindy at Our Journey Westward- "In this post, I’d like to show you some simple lessons I’ve used with Eli, my seven-year-old. He’s been doing short narrations for quite some time, but as we’ve transitioned into larger selections, he’s struggled a bit with story order. Here are some easy ideas for narration help. They specifically teach the skill of story order."

Rebecca at Down a Rabbit Trail- "When narration is at its best and most effective, it flows naturally. Within a family oriented lifestyle of learning, narration is the art of talking - abundant conversation, open discussion, good spirited debate. Questions are asked, answers found, opinions shared, stories are told, details given, funny moments relayed, perspectives pondered and widened. Informal conversation is the key - hearing it, participating in it, reading it and eventually writing it down."

Blossom at North Laurel Home & School"Often times when narrating, they start with one point {usually around the beginning of what they read but not always} but before they are done, they’ve made the connections in their minds again and cover more of what they’ve read. There are quite a few times when a narration starts with, “that was a difficult passage to narrate on” because..."
Nature Study
Amy at Crossing the Brandywine- "So, it appears nature study is more than drawing pictures of flowers in a nature journal. I realize that the Handbook of Nature Study is an older resource, but it provides a good jumping off point. Plus, the lessons which are done with the children are mostly experiments (or models) and questions to help their observations and to follow those observations to a logical conclusion."

Amy at Fisher Academy- "When just beginning one should spend lots of time (months?!) simply getting outside, with the priority of opening eyes and hearts to nature. After some time (err on the side of too much rather than too little), you and your kids will begin to recognize some birds and plants and whatever other by sight. Next, you'll probably notice those same things in other areas (roadside, friends' houses, etc), and THEN is the time you might look for the names of those new acquaintances in a book or by asking Someone Who Knows."

Celeste at Joyous Lessons- "These rich connections are partly due to the breadth of our studies this year, partly due to our heightened awareness, partly due to our broad approach to geography, and partly just one of the joys of this style of liberal arts education. Thank you, Miss Mason, for living books, the Science of Relations, and "learners awake"!"

Brandy at Afterthoughts- "I want to spend my time becoming a better CM teacher. In the PNEU world, teachers were not curriculum designers, and that was okay. Division of labor is a good thing. Your time might be better spent honing your knowledge of local flora and fauna, making entries in your commonplace book, and all the other disciplines Miss Mason expected from her teachers."

Other CM related submissions
Brandy at Afterthoughts- Free audio download of Brandy's 2013 Bakersfield Home Education Conference talk. 

Barb at Harmony Fine Arts at Home- "Good habits are hard to break so if we teach our children from the start to do their best job at everything they put their hands to, they will be able to achieve so much in life. We must teach them that good habits and perseverance are what make us successful, especially in God’s eyes. Col 3:23"

Anne at Archipelago {AO Advisory's official blog!}- "You might say that some contemporary approaches to education are about picking the chocolate chips out of cookies, examining them, and then trying to put them back in again; CM is more of a whole-cookie approach. It is definitely different from the "industrial model," the "brick in the wall" or piling-up-information model of education. It emphasizes respect for the individual, process over product, context over unconnected facts. It is a way of learning that is both innovative, cutting edge, stretching to the future, and also very much part of the classical tradition, reaching back towards the past."

Thank you for visiting to read the latest Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. Don't forget to submit a post to the next Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival, April 22nd. Submit posts anytime to charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail (dot) com
See the schedule at this link

Monday, April 7, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 04.07.14

Another week with a menu. I had one almost done {uh, not really; there were many meals missing} but Lee set me straight: "What's with all these crossovers!?" Yeah, I had to redo it. She's happier now {*wink*}

04.07 Monday 
B- Coffee cake {made by Fox; um yeah, totally "off plan"}
L- Grocery-shopping-get-fast-food {eh hee hee...we had Subway}
D- Hamburgers, minus the bun, with salad {S}

04.08 Tuesday
B- Super Grains hot cereal {E} I'll have coffee, black with stevia- oh! now that THM is carrying their own, I can actually drink my coffee without 'cream' of any kind *smile*
L- Lettuce wraps with turkey or ham, cheese, mayo, mustard, maybe some tomato {E without the cheese; S with}
D- Fried fish with creamy veggies and cheese rolls {S} all from THM; I'd love to give you page numbers but I have the Kindle version

04.09 Wednesday 
B- Eggs {S} with bulletproof coffee! I've been trying to cut down...
L- Taco salad {CO} 
D- Mac and cheese {CO} I might attempt the Macafoni and Cheese in THM but ...they really like my homemade mac and cheese; it might not be safe to switch it; for me...? not sure what I'll have.

04.10 Thursday
B- Waffles {off plan} Fox is making these and he insists they be 'regular'
L- Quesadillas {S} I'm "planning" on making low-carb tortillas for these but I don't know that either of the kids have ever had one. 
D- Crockpot spaghetti sauce chicken {E} maybe with brown rice on the side?

04.11 Friday
B- THM Pancakes {E}
L- Tea-time: assorted fruit, cottage cheese and tea {E}
D- Homemade pizza! {CO/off plan} I think I might just have one too. It's been a long while since I have. 

04.12 Saturday
B- Cereal {CO}/ Eggs {S}/ Muffin-in-a-mug {S}
L- Tuna tortillas {CO/off plan} haven't decided what I'll have.
D- BBQ {S}/ Chicken soup {S} weather dependent and both of those could end up being E depending on what kind of meat we use...
And we're going to have dessert after dinner. It will be the Basic Cheesecake or Tummy Tucking Ice Cream {both from THM}. I got the idea from a family at church that only has sweets on the weekends. 

04.13 Sunday 
B- Eggs {S}
L- Salad with meat and cheese {S}
D- Enchiladas {CO/off plan} I am not having these; oatmeal for me. Yum.

I am definitely trying to make out menus more diverse. It used to be we had fish, burritos, spaghetti and pizza once a week. So that's 4 dinners always the same every week! Yikes! No wonder hubby vetoed spaghetti... and he's not big on fish either {unless it's tuna tortillas- yum}. And perhaps adding a tradition of a dessert on Saturdays to go with our already established tradition of homemade pizza on Fridays.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Gluten Free Adventures- A Continuous Post

I'll add to this post occasionally. 

04/11/14: Gluten free pizza using Bob's Red Mill GF Pizza Crust mix. 

I followed the instructions for the most part but instead of 2-12 inch pizzas I made 4-6 inch pizzas. I cooked them for a total of 20 minutes, with no toppings. I let them cool completely on a rack and then wrapped three for the freezer and one for the fridge for tonight. 

I topped it with homemade pizza sauce, goat cheese {definitely not a favorite but it'll work} and pepperoni. 

Results: The taste is fine; the texture is a bit tougher than regular pizza but okay. The only problem I had is that my heart rate accelerated after eating and I'm waiting for it to go back to normal. That's a biggie for me. Not sure why that happened. I only bought one package so I think I will see how it goes next Friday to see if it repeats.

03/30/14 (?): Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/4 cup gf flour
1 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
cinnamon, cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 TBS molasses
1/2 cup erythritol
1 egg + 1/3 cup egg white 
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup coconut oil

Preheat oven to 375*F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you use aluminum foil, grease it first.
Mix coconut oil {I melted mine in the microwave}, erythritol, and molasses well. 
Add egg and egg white. Mix. 
Add 1/4 cup almond milk. Mix. 
Add cinnamon, cloves, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well. 
Add in flour gradually, stirring until combined. If it's too dry, add the rest of the almond milk. 
Stir in oats. 
Drop by spoonfuls onto lined cookie sheet. Press into cookie shape as these do not spread as the cook. Makes about 3 dozen.
Cook for 10-12 minutes. Cool for a minute or so on the tray, then transfer to rack to cool completely. 

Result: Super yummy! I ate way too many. I put the leftovers in ziplock baggies in the fridge. After they get cold they are a little crumblier than fresh; still good!


3/21/14: Tonight I want to try to make a gf pizza crust and then use cottage cheese for the cheese. I can tolerate cottage cheese but not regular cheese {go figure}. I really want pizza!

I will use the same gf flour I used in the drop biscuits that turned out so yummy. {Really, I am so making those again!} The crust recipe I normally use is as follows:

2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 TBS oil
1 TBS yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water

Directions: I use hot tap water in my pyrex liquid measuring cup and add the tsp sugar to the water. Next sprinkle the yeast on top. It usually falls into the water and starts to eat the sugar, and within 5 minutes there are bubbles. 

Put all other ingredients in a food processor with the dough blade. When yeast mixture is frothy- it's usually very frothy at just under 10 minutes- add to the flour mix. Pulse processor to get it going, then blend until a ball forms and doesn't stick to the sides. It doesn't take long at all. 

Dump dough unto a lightly floured board. Knead just a few times and then press into a pizza crust shape. Make it the size you want, or split the dough to make individual pizzas. That is usually what I do. 

To make the pizzas, put on a pizza stone or cookie sheet and add toppings. Bake at 450*F for 10-12 minutes. 

For my purpose, I only need 1/2 the recipe. I'll post again later with the result.

Results: Taste was great. The texture was 'wrong'. And I didn't follow the original recipe as written because I've read that it takes more gf flour than regular flour; also, it needed more water. Unfortunately, I added too much water at first. Next time {yep, it was good enough to make again *smile*} I will let the dough attempt to rise before baking; something I don't have to do with regular flour.


3/17/14: I posted my 'drop' biscuits using the diy gf flour I made but I really need something that is a little more THM friendly. Next up is an attempt at Gwen's Easy Bread, but gf with what I have. Having made the Easy Bread before, I know it tastes good {at least I like it}. Here's to a yummy gf easy sourdough bread.

And... it isn't as I'd hoped. Here is the recipe I used {but I cut it down to half a batch}:

2 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup Millet flour
1 cup Brown Rice flour
1 cup Garbanzo bean flour
1 TBS + 1 tsp Glucomannan Powder
2 TBS Instant Rise Yeast
1 TBS salt 

Mix it together. Add:

3 cups warm water
2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar

I mixed it and then let it rise. Then put it in the fridge as per Gwen's recipe. I took it out today and let it 'rise' {it did not} for 20 minutes. Preheated the oven and let it 'rise' 20 minutes more {it still did not}. Then baked for the time called for. It 'rose' about a half inch. Maybe. Photo below.

One thing I am sure of when it comes to gf flours: I do not like garbanzo bean flour. Love garbanzo beans themselves, cooked, canned, etc. Not the flour. Blech!

Result: Nasty. In the trash it went. It was a bit like vomit tasting. LOL. Just being honest here.
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