This Month's Featured Resources...


ChristmasHistory BundleChristmas Latin Latin Calendar

Saturday, August 16

Mambo Italiano (Rosemary Clooney)

I have a confession to make : I hate tomatoes.  Ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato soup - those are acceptable, but not straight tomatoes.  However, our garden did not get the memo, and it produces about four times more tomatoes than anything else.  They're coming in quickly, and it'd be a shame to let this great homegrown food go to waste...
So here is last night's pick.  My bicycle basket was so full that the bike tipped over!!  The boys got everything washed and prepped for preservation.  It's too humid this week for canning - so we're going to pull out the dehydrator...
After getting everything washed, dried, and prepped, I sent the boys out with leftover pieces to add to our compost pile.  If you don't have your own little bucket for compost, you're missing out on an opportunity to create rich, nourishing soil for free.  Rather than toss that leftover produce into the trash, use it to generate humus for next year's garden.  For more information on this, allow me to recommend the free unit and book Magic School Bus: The Giant Germ .
We had so MANY trays of tomatoes, that I had to climb up on the stool to continue working!!  After getting the tomatoes laid out for "sun" drying, I sprinkled a combination of herbs on top.  Don't use too much...after they've dried, a small amount of herbs packs a big punch!
We had two extra trays, and some mangoes that needed to be dealt with, so I went ahead and dried them.  Also, we cut huge handfuls of mint and basil from the herb garden to dry.  Those will be used for cooking and making tea.
The kitchen was already a mess, and we were having sweet-tooth cravings, so the kids got creative in the kitchen.  We took cocoa krispies and some marshmallows that were leftover from making s'mores to make chocolate krispie treats.  My oldest got the idea to add mint extract (half a bottle...but who's keeping track here?) to make them "super-minty."  They were!  BUT, they were delicious.  It was like having a crunchy peppermint pattie - I highly recommend making these!  Sad to say, the pan did not last very long with all of us picking at it...
The next day, we took all of the trays off the dehydrator and had a gallon of sun-dried tomatoes, a jar of mangoes, bags full of mint and basil, and a little bit of peppermint-patty treats left.
We have also been experimenting with Kool-Aid for the kids.  This idea came from the book The Art of Fermentation, and turned out pretty well.  We soaked raspberries in water with a cup of honey, and left it sitting out for three days.  Then we strained the raspberries and put it in the fridge to stop / slow fermentation.  I put it into the regular Kool-Aid pitcher to keep them from whining about something new...and they seem to like it!
Now I have a bunch of onions....but those preserve fairly well in a cool, dry place!
 

Referenced in this post :

Monday, August 11

Evening Kitchen (Band of Horses)

We're in the calm before the storm - the lull that comes just before another long trip.  Relaxation and peace are my top priorities this week...

There's nothing like a little family time on a hot, humid summer evening.  To kick off our new home economics unit (and because we needed dinner), I let the boys go to the Build-A-Menu site and pick out a recipe for the evening.  The only rule was that I wasn't going shopping...
We ended up having chicken parmesean, completely made by the oldest, and the youngest helped clean up the kitchen.  Like the Wonder Pets used to chant from my living room - "what's gonna work?  Teeeeeeeeeam-work!"  House rule is that if you cook, the other cleans.  It only seems fair.  (Boy I wish that were enforceable with hubbies...)
After cleaning up the kitchen, we checked on the turtle and took a long walk around the property together, singing silly songs from long ago, like Raffi's "Down by the Bay ," and coming up with new, funnier, rhymes.  We walked until the mosquitoes won their battle, and then retreated.
While little one and I had been cleaning the kitchen, the chef created some wire sculptures from bread ties.  Here is his "Super Vir."  I love how he takes that Latin and just applies it to....everything.  (ah, funny story - Grandpa had hurt his mouth last week.  You need to know that the Latin word for mouth is 'os.'  He asked "what happened to Grandpa's OS?" pretty loudly in a restaurant.  only, os came out a little...differently.   You do the math; and remember, loud question - crowded restaurant.)
We crawled up on the hammock out back and read together for a while.  Since we are starting a mini-unit on the Civil War, we were reading We Were There at the Battle of Gettysburg .  I love the older children's books - with so few pictures, they're very visual and encourage imagination. 
The sun finally set - isn't it amazing to think that, when you watch a sunset, you're doing a somersault backwards into space at a thousand miles per hour???
How does your family spend a relaxing evening together?

Thursday, August 7

Secondhand News (Fleetwood Mac)

If you saw my post on Money Saving Mom, then you know I'm a believer in garage sales - GO GREEN!  (Go cheap...go green...in this case, it works out the same.)  Each year, our local town sponsors a city-wide garage sale in honor of my birthday!  Ok, not really, but it does coincide nicely...  Anywhere from 70-100 garage sales take place within two square miles.
This year, we accepted the challenge!  For the first time, we hit every. single. sale....including four or five that weren't advertised.  My goal?  Christmas presents, mostly.  We have been in the market for a sofa, but my expectations here were low.  My mother-in-law and I made a plan, then hit the ground running at 6:30 AM and didn't make it home until just after lunch.   
Many of the streets were so congested, that it was easier to just park and walk to ten or twelve sites before driving to another spot.


We took the opportunity to catch up with neighbors...enjoying both the company and a moment of shade!  We filled the car long before running out of money (and I only brought $50 total for the day).  This is what our plan looked like by the end of the morning.
So what can you score for $34 on city-wide garage sale day???  Here are some photos of the piles...
Our treasures included :
  • several books for mom
  • several books for the boys
  • a box of Legos, Lego building plates, & container (Christmas)
  • Pampered Chef casserole stoneware (Christmas)
  • several homeschool workbooks & curricula (all unused)
  • several books from my friend's wishlist for her new curriculum
  • art supplies & poster board
  • Top Gun Blu-ray (Christmas)
  • wooden building toys (Christmas)
  • glass, gallon-sized jug for making kombucha
  • pants, shorts, and jeans for my youngest
  • two cute dresses for myself
  • Air Force scarves with little airplanes (for my little pilot) (Christmas)
  • a new & in-the-box blender and food processor (Christmas)
  • vintage travel pennants, like the kind my son uses to decorate his room
  • a large floor rug with new, in-the-bag non-skid pad to go underneath
  • a yoga mat, DVD, and set of yoga cards (Christmas)
  • ...and an elliptical trainer
  • no luck on the sofa 
 
I think it's important for kids to learn money management and about spending wisely.  I would rather have my children make $5 mistakes than $50,000 mistakes.  Garage sales are one of the ways that I try to reinforce these concepts.
The boys each started out with $3 to spend, and were allowed to choose whatever they wanted.  Any leftover would go into the Sea Cow fund.  The ground rules were that when the money ran out, they couldn't get anything else, and they had to use their manners and treat others as they would want to be treated.
 
One picked out 3-D puzzles of a lighthouse and St. Basil's Cathedral.  They were marked at $2, but he negotiated down to fifty cents, since the lady wasn't sure if all of the pieces were there.  He decided to apply the other $2.50 to his Lego fund. 

The other chose a Victrola-shaped pencil sharpener and a non-functional CD radio.  The Victrola was marked a quarter and the radio at $5, but he explained his plight to the seller and she allowed him to have it for $2.75. 

Wednesday, August 6

Walk on the Ocean (Toad the Wet Sprocket)

We re-visited Blackbeard (one of their favorite ocean topics) while bridging into another aspect of the ocean...marine biology.  During this second Blackbeard study, we searched for buried treasure and re-enacted the downfall of Blackbeard by the British Naval officer, Robert Maynard.  See...those Revolutionary War costumes are still useful!
 
Blackbeard rose again, however, to begin reading to Maynard about Shipwrecks and sunken treasures.  We learned about underwater archaeology and how artifacts are affected by where they sink.  (See video below)
Once we got piracy out of our systems, we switched gears to marine biology.  For this unit, we read Seabird, Pagoo , and Magic School Bus - Food Chain Frenzy.  We completed their respective lapbooks and made lots of ocean art!
My older son created a food chain for both land and sea.  I particularly liked the double-arrow, where the humans eat the sharks...and the sharks eat the humans.
Here is the underwater archaeology video about resurrecting the Queen Anne's Revenge. 
Marine Biology unit :
My airplane lover discovered in one of his books that there is a light craft called the Seabird.  Here is a video we looked up to learn more about that plane.  It has great visuals!