Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ah . . . the life of a homeschooler

I so love the life we lead, learning and experiencing life on our schedule. I caught a glimpse of Hannah out in the yard strumming away at about 10 in the morning. It brought a smile to me face and I just had to capture the moment. I couldn't imagine the kids stuck in a classroom learning things they could really careless about just to impress someone else. Instead they are learning what they want, what they need on their schedule. Oh the joy of homeschooling.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Canned Tomatoes

Well, I did get to can some tomatoes this year, but no where near what I had hoped for. The spring into summer rains did nothing to help our 20 tomato plants. We ended up with A LOT of blight and therefore not a lot of tomatoes.

But some is better than none, and I am thankful for what I did get. And you can bet that we will be planting tomatoes again next year. I really want to can tomatoes, sauce and salsa.

I have seen a lot of discussion as to whether or not canning is truly a money saving, frugal task. I thought this blog entry did a good job of laying out the cost.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Memory Games

We learned last year the Hannah has some memory recall issues, so we have been playing lots of games to help her improve this skill. One of every one's favorite is the loaded tray game. We load the tray with lots of items from around the house and cover it with a cloth napkin. Then we reveal the tray for two minutes. Once it is covered back up we see how many of the items we can remember. Everyone, even Rebekah has a ton of fun with this. We also play another version where items are removed and we try to figure out what is missing.
The girls thought it was really funny to learn that this was one of the most popular birthday games when I was a kid. Ok so does that date me a little?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Beech Hill Farm and Bison Ranch

Our first field trip of the fall was to the Beech Hill Farm and Bison Ranch in North Waterford, Maine. We had a huge group of about 50 homeschoolers. It was the biggest group the farm had ever had. We started the tour inside the beautiful farm house where the owners talked about the history of their farm as well as that of the Bison. Then we headed outside to see these amazing animals.

Our first stop was to feed Little Warrior. He four months old and already 200 pounds. He was the first of a set of twins born this spring. Bison don't have twins very often and the mother rejected him. So he has had to be bottle bucket fed. He scarfed this gallon of goats milk in no time at all.

In the upper pasture, the children learned how the Native Americans used ALL the parts of the Bison including the dung. The owner of the farm lit some dried white sage and explained how the Native Americans were so grateful for the Bison and said prayers to the Creator giving thanks.

Below you can see some of the kids collecting bison hair. The fibers can be spun into yarn. The bison rub up against this big brush to help remove their heavy winter coats.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Crafty Mouse Pad

After meeting Amanda Blake Soule, better known as Soule Mama, at her book signing in Portland, Sarah and I were both excited to get to work on some of the projects in her book Handmade Home. So after digging through our fabric stash, yard sailing for some vintage fabric, and a quick visit to Jo-Ann's we were ready to get sewing.

The first project - a mouse pad. This was an easy project that went together quickly. It is a great one for using up scraps. I love having a little bit of homemade next to the high tech.

So can you guess whose mouse pad is whose?

Sarah was having so much fun and had a few scraps left over so she decided to make a matching book mark. Very cool! I think the two would make great Christmas gifts or Christmas Craft Fair items. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vanilla Pears - Canned!

We love pears! We love vanilla! So when I stumbled across this recipe I just knew we had to try it. I had never canned pears before, but really how hard could it be, especially when I had three awesome helpers. Rebekah washed and handed me the pears. I pealed, cored, and cut. Sarah cooked. Hannah put lids and rings on the full jars and was in charge of all the timing.

The pears were cooked for a few minutes in a light syrup flavored with whole vanilla beans. I had never used vanilla beans. Boy did it smell divine.

Here are the finished jars. Aren't they beautiful? And of course they are more healthy and frugal than their store bought variety.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Little Bit of Summer Sun

Hannah and Rebekah thought we needed a little bit of the summer sun inside. I fully agree! I love the old bottle they found in the woods. Clean up and re purposing at its best!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Basil and Pesto

The Basil Fairy has struck again. You can imagine my surprise when I went to let the chickens out this morning and found not one, but two large shopping bags overflowing with fresh from the garden basil. By the time I thought to take a picture, Sarah was already making pesto from the first bag. So that's why there is only one bag in the picture.

Sarah and the rest of the family LOVE fresh pesto. So of course she thought the arrival of the Basil Fairy was the coolest. We ran to the store to get pine nuts and cute little jars. Then she was off to the kitchen. It wasn't long before she had nine beautiful jars of fresh pesto. The sweet girl that she is she delivered one jar to the Basil Fairy and the rest to our freezer. I love being able to pull a little bit of summer green out in the middle of winter.


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil and pine nuts. Pulse a few times. Add the garlic and pulse a few more times. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is running. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hats 3 and 4

Sarah's hat was knit form the Hurricane pattern that I used for Rebekah and my hat. It definitely get easier with practice. And my knitting is getting a lot better too. I really feel like I need to make Rebekah another one, because hers has SO many mistakes. Luckily at two she doesn't care. She loves it because mama made it for her. I love knowing her little head and ears will be toasty warm.

Hannah decided she didn't like the wool that these hats were made out of, so she picked out this multi color yarn. I wasn't sure how the Hurricane hat would knit up in this yarn - the stripes of the yarn going one direction and the pattern heading in the opposite. So I got a little crazy and made up my own pattern. It really was quite easy and knit up in a day. She loves it and so do I. I even have enough yarn left to make her a matching scarf. So I think that is the next project.

Doug tried on Sarah's had and said he'd like one in black. That should tell you how well it turned out. So that is on the project list as well. Finally, I found a sweater pattern for Rebekah. I just don't know if I am ready to bite the bullet and try a sweater. I did find a yarn shop not too far away that has classes - what a great birthday present don't you think - hint, hint.

Bread & Butter Pickles

Doug was given a cucumber plant by one of the ladies at work. All I can say is WOW! One plant and we have had TONS of cucumbers. Doug requested bead and butter pickles, so that is what he got. I have never made them before so I turned to the Ball Blue Book of Canning for a recipe.

The pickles smelled so good. And I just love seeing my pantry shelves fill up with all this homemade goodness. I know it will bring a little splash of summer during the cold New Hampshire winter.

The finished product!