What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Monday, August 25, 2014

This Week's Hopefuls


Preserving:

can beans
can peach preserves
can zucchini relish
can B&B pickles
freeze squash
freeze peach wedges
freeze swiss chard
freeze collards
can pickled beets
dry basil
make peppermint extract
make stevia extract
dry lemon balm
infuse oil with calendula
harvest potatoes (?)
harvest onions

Cooking:

make sun-dried tomato and garlic queso blanco cheese
make Tzaziki sauce
make mozzerella cheese
make yogurt
make ice cream (I think this week will be mint. yumo.)
make fresh salsa
make butter
Use up the (several quarts of) buttermilk in fridge.

Computer:
work on calendars
do some homeschool prep- (it is coming! ack!)
order books (see above)
send in Staples Rebates
Review for review crew
Research possible Corynn birthday gift (Elizabeth!  Send me that link please!)

Cleaning:
clean/switch mattresses in boys room.  Add mattress protectors.
change sheets on all beds
clean my bedroom
laundry.  (lots of laundry after a week and a half of rain plus sheet change-overs!)
begin organizing/cleaning the school room- yet again. ugh.  It gets messy even when we aren't 'doing school'.

Crafty:

Begin baby gift for Holly
Finish colored blessing day bonnet.
Block bridal shawl.

Etc.:

In my free time (which is about 10 minutes before going unconscious every evening), I'll be reading...

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare  (Been enjoying this and learning a lot about Shakespeare myself!)
Trim Healthy Mama (I am now in the recipes section-so this is a pretty quick flip at this point)
On Secular Education (in an effort to try to rally myself for what is to come in the next few weeks.)


Two days of pleasure, now it is time to roll up the proverbial sleeves and get back to work.

What are you up to this week?

  Happy Monday!

Review: Ubersmart Math Facts




Summer school.  Every year I intend to have the children work a little bit on the 'tough for them' stuff throughout the summer in order to practice and improve before the new school year begins.  And every year summer gets away from me and the busyness of the season keeps me...well...busy... and those intentions rarely make it to reality.  Not this summer though!  Enter Ubersmart Software and their Ubersmart Math Facts Program.

Corynn still has trouble remembering her multiplication and division math facts and since I know that these facts need to be well memorized as a foundation for all future math work, I realize whether math comes hard for her or not- it just has to be done.  Those facts HAVE to be learned.  She has been using this program several times a week for about 20 minutes a day this summer.  This is something that she can do on her own, without my help, in order to prepare her for this coming years' math work.  Which means-- it is actually happening! (Apparently, I am often the common denominator for things not getting done.  Eek.)


Ubersmart Math Facts is program dedicated to the memorization of Math facts through digital flashcards.  There are several levels of difficulty and several means of practice to accommodate the varying skill levels.   Both addition/subtraction (up to the 9's) and multiplication/division (up to the 20's) facts are available for the needs of your pupil.  And these are given in several different forms.  There are dot cards (like the faces of dominos), keyboard entry and flashcard options for all skill levels as well as different modes~ the learning mode, practice mode, test mode, and competition mode.  Different modes offer both timed and non-timed capabilities.  Parents (and students) are also able to review and assess the child's work/progress through the REPORTS tab.


Ubersmart Math Facts is geared toward children in grades K-6 but is perfectly suited for the older child who struggles with math concepts and facts as well. (Like my Corynn.)  It isn't fluffy and flashy learning with dancing Panda's and singing seesaws.  It is, essentially, flashcards with fringe benefits.  ;-)

The best part about this resource is that it is NOT a subscription, where you pay for one student for a specific amount of time and then must REPURCHASE for any additional students or any additional time.  No.  With Ubersmart Software, you pay a one time payment of $24.95 for the downloadable program and then HAVE IT.  For the school year.  For the summer.  For next school year and NEXT summer.  For child #1 and child #2 and child #3 who is still dribbling in diapers at this point but will need math training eventually.  Eight or more children can use the program at one time!

 In order to use this program, you must have Windows 7, 8, Vista or XP.  No internet is needed to play, but it must be put onto a PC (no Mac or tablet versions are available).  You can access a free 30 day download from their website.  Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

In the Kitchen, In the Garden

Hay Garden

cutting garden and potato patch

pumpkin and sunflower patch



















The squash is coming in so prolifically that my harvest basket has been retired for a bit and replaced, by necessity, with my laundry basket.   These laundry basket hauls of squash and cukes come every two days.  I made large batch of zucchini relish just in time- we finished our last jar of relish just this week!  I think I'll be making a few more batches of it this year.  I've been putting some up in the freezer too.

I canned some pickles- volcano and dill.  And today I should be doing some bread and butters.

The splurge this week was peaches.  They were $25.00 a bushel which has been the cheapest I have found them here.  It has been four years since we've had peaches put up so it was a real luxury.  That first bite (and second and every bite since) has been so amazingly delicious.  So juicy!  So sweet!  Andrew pulled up a chair and helped me with the peaches the other day without me even asking and we sucked every drop of juice from the pits as we cut off the flesh.  Most of the peaches were beautiful but some were bruised (in part due to Judah knocking one box on top of the other box) so I am using the bruised to make peach preserves the old fashioned way...without pectin.  It is an experiment but I am hoping it will work well.

We've been eating them fresh too- or dripping with cream at supper.  Or cooking in oatmeal with fresh whole milk...peaches and cream to start the day. Oh my.

So far this week, I've made butter (2-3 lbs), mozzerella (5 lbs-ish), queso blanco (garlic jalapeno-yum), ricotta, yogurt, yogurt cheese and vanilla ice cream for Sunday's "Ice Cream Sundae" treat. More to come though.

Wednesday and Friday ladies came/are coming over to learn how to make cheese.  I find this funny because I am not exactly an expert at it- but kitchen chores are so much more fun with company- so I'll pretend I know what I am doing and enjoy their company in the meantime.  On Wednesday we made a double batch of mozzerella and queso blanco and we will likely do the same tomorrow.  Then, I really need to begin trying to branch out a bit.  Maybe make some farmhouse cheddar?  I now have homemade mesophilic starter cubes in the freezer awaiting my experimentation.  I've had a lot of company the last few weeks (people almost every day of the week!) and not a thing scheduled for next week.  Maybe then.

I have a ton of collards, swiss chard and kale begging for attention- and broccoli that is getting TOO mature and needs to be used...but these always seem to be taking a back seat to the never-ending squash and cukes. 

 I haven't harvested any stevia, basil, mint or calendula yet either and they are begging for some attention too. I plan to make stevia extract, pesto for the freezer, dry the mint for tea and use the calendula for soap making and for infusing oil to make salves.  Whenever I actually get to it.

The tomatoes are *THIS* close to being ready.  Anxious hands (big and little) keep picking not quite red ones and I say "Wait until they are RED!" but inwardly I know just how they feel.  I have popped a few orange cherry tomatoes in my mouth in desperation.  The plants look terrible but the tomatoes...if ever they finally ripen...will be marvelous this year.

So you see, my brain is constantly going back and forth from what has been done to what is next? and then getting stuck on repeat.  My brain is very full.  And sometime soon I need to get cracking on school plans.  Then, it might explode.

We are eating well these days and I am falling into bed exhausted these nights. 

Praise God for the food.  Praise God for the exhaustion.

(More In the Kitchens here)

Review: Wizzy Gizmo


We are a big audio-book family.  My kids will stop whatever they are doing and stare blankly at the wall when I put in a good audio book for them to listen to.  You know those zoned out zombie children who stare at the television for hours?  My kids are THOSE kids, except with audio books.  Audio drama's captivate them even more!  These can be great to settle kids down at bedtime or quiet time in the afternoons, to listen to while they are doing projects or chores or, as we often do, for listening during car rides. If your children are anything like mine, I am guessing they would love Wizzy Gizmo and their Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything?

WHO IS WIZZY GIZMO?

Wizzy Gizmo is a company dedicated to helping children, parents and families to fulfill the Deuteronomy mandate to “...love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."

They do this by offering wholesome, biblical and entertaining teaching tools for children to listen to while sitting, walking, lying down, rising up or whenever/wherever the fancy strikes.

Wizzy Gizmo also happens to be one of the main character's in the audio drama- a 'mad' scientist, professor and inventor who creates a magnificent machine called Gizmovision which can bring to life any book placed upon it.  Of course, he and the neighborhood children choose the Bible as the book and the very moment of Creation as the time to explore on their first Gizmovision test drive.

Through the use of professional sound effects, entertaining songs and some downright hilarious characters, they explore what it was like In the Beginning.  There is just the right mix of profound and silly to leave kids begging for more (or in our case~ AGAIN!  AGAIN!).  My kids still quote a particularly hilarious moment every now and again which gets everyone around them giggling all over again.

Along with this audiobook, Wizzy Gizmo offers books like Who Created Everything? (Story of Creation and the paperback book version of the audio drama ) and In His Image (Adam and Eve) as well as a Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament Series of Bible flashcards which summarize all the books of the New Testament along with key passages and doctrines.  All of these resources are geared for children from 4-12 years old but may be enjoyed by the whole family.  I must say, I was busting up laughing as often as the children were as we listened to the Who Created Everything?

Wizzy Gizmo's Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything is 36 minutes long with 24 extra minutes of additional song and soundtrack material.  The cost is $14.99 and if you'd like to hear audio snippets to sample what you will hear on the cd's- you can check them out here.



(PS.  As I type this review, my kids have been tucked into bed but not quite settled down to quiet mode yet and what do I hear?  My Judahbear saying "Wizzy Gizmo!  Wizzy Gizmo!"  Now isn't that just too perfect?!?)


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Doodlebug






 








 

 





 





 

I spend almost entire days in the kitchen these days.  I pretend I don't feel the nip in the morning air and I sheepishly close the doors in the evenings- not wanting the house to become too cold.  I spotted my first brazenly orange-tinged trees the other day.  I help Matt split wood when I can and when I can't, I admire him from the kitchen window.  Wood.  For burning this.....no, I can't even say it.

There is such an abundance pouring in of milk and fruit and garden goodness that I am constantly busy.  It is a juggling match to determine which bit is more pressing to do- make cheese? butter? Milk or vegetables? Peaches?  Pickles?  Summer Squash?  It is a glorious, busy, abundant, exhausting time.  

Being stuck indoors with my pressing to-do lists leaves me very little time to go outside and enjoy the beauty and warmth that is already beginning it's descent into the brown, crisp days of  Fall.  I see it coming, I feel it coming- but I don't want to believe that it is coming.  I am not ready.  I haven't soaked up enough sun, admired enough flowers; trekked in the woods and fields, sat in my flower circle reading or painting... not enough.

I've been fiercely protecting my Sabbath from any canning or milk production these last few months~ knowing it is the only teensiest reprieve of my entire week but this past Sunday I decided that within that reprieve- there must be flowers.  Sun.  Walks.  Fresh, warm, golden air touching my skin.  Birdsong.  Ice cream "Sundays".  Quilts in flower circles and bowls of popcorn in the grass.  And, whenever possible- doodlebug rides.

The "Doodlebug" is that odd, Beverly Hillbilliesque ride in the pictures above.  Part car/part tractor/part redneck fourwheeler...it's been around for decades.  Apparently, our (now) elderly next-door neighbor used to drive it around when he was a young man and it somehow made its' way to Matt when he was a teenager and went to live (and stay) at his parents' house until eventually, we wound up buying this place and has made it's way 'home' once again.    The doodlebug starts only when it feels the desire to go explore- not necessarily when we want it to- and it isn't exactly a smooth ride.  But, boy is it fun.

Matt built the box in back and the children just fit inside. 

We are quite a sight (letmetellyou!) coming up the hill to our home and out putzing along the edge of the fields (what the neighbors must think!) but let me tell you, every bit of the ride is worth the embarrassment.  ;-)