Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny in her weekly Yarn Along. In her words:

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a single photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

I'm back to reading Simplicity Parenting. You know what they say about old dogs and new tricks. Well I think I may fall into the camp of an old dog when it comes to truly simplifying. Slowly, so slowly we are working on this and seeing benefits. This time I will persevere.

As for knitting I didn't get much done on Rebekah's sweater, only half of the first sleeve. However progress is progress and it is still a little warm for a sweater. I did, however, start and finish another Capucine. This one is headed across the ocean.

Hopefully I will be able to get more done on the little sweater this week. I have a list of Christmas gifts that need to get on the needles lest they wont be finished in time. Why is it that time seem to move so fast anymore. See I really do need to simplify.

Don't forget to stop by the Yarn Along over at Small Things. Of course beware, visiting all the lovely participants is probably where my knitting time disappeared to.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In the kitchen

While we have been busy putting up food for the long New England winter months, we have also been enjoying the bounty of fresh fruits and veggies at meal times as well. A platter of cucumbers, peppers, carrots, celery, pita bread and garlic hummus is the perfect lunch.

The bounty of zucchini has been made into this incredible chocolate zucchini cake as well as this potato & zucchini torte. The chocolate cake was a huge hit with everyone. And that is saying a lot considering we really aren't a cake family. As for the potato torte, I substituted zucchini for the summer yellow squash and thought it worked wonderfully. Most of us loved this, but our picky one didn't. No surprise there. Next time I will make it in my cast iron skillet. I think the bottom will brown nicely if done that way.

Blackberries have found their way into pancakes, yogurt and of course just a handful at a time into the mouth! Sarah has been making these muffins. They are fabulous!. She sprinkles the tops with a little cinnamon sugar before baking. Yummy!

We were blessed to be given about 12 pounds of peaches from a friend. The picked their tree clean before Irene rolled into town. Let me tell you these are the best peaches ever. The juice runs down your chin with every bite. We have been eating them with every meal. I was able to sneak a few to turn into a delicious peach cobbler/crisp desert. Yummy!

What's happening in your kitchen now? I'd love to hear.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bekah's Circle Time

Rebekah is four and a half entering this school year. And the time has come for her to have a special school time of her own. I strongly believe in childhood and not rushing into academics, so I was stuck for a while about what to do for Bekah. Having two older sisters who are studying at the high school and middle school level, Bekah "knew" about school. So of course she wanted to read books without pictures and write essays in her school. How true it is that young children imitate what they see. And while books without pictures and essays are appropriate for the older two, I was not ready for my baby to go there.

Thank goodness for a few good friends and the Internet who opened the door into Waldorf education for me. Waldorf's gentile style that encompasses the whole child - mind body and spirit was just what I was looking for. Waldorf kindergarten is a time for imagination and play, a time to learn the work of the home, a time to develop a personal rhythm while discovering the rhythm of the earth. All the while developing a strong foundation upon which later academic learning will flourish. Beautiful!

So I started reading and researching. Bekah and I visited the local Waldorf school for a peek at a day in kindergarten. I stumbled onto some wonderful Waldorf support groups on yahoo Waldorf inspired blogs and free webinars as well as some curriculum suppliers. I'll be honest, I didn't purchase much but gleaned so much from samples and descriptions and have tucked away tidbits for the future.

So as the start of school grew near I felt sure that I had a plan for Bekah. Now to implement it. And the big question - how would Bekah react to school with no books, no letters, no school like her sisters? Well, I have to tell you it was a HUGE success, not initially mind you! At first she was still looking for the lined paper and big books. But after just a week she was hooked. Every morning after family breakfast the big girls head off to start their independent work and Bekah and I head to the living room for her circle time.

Circle time is 20 minutes of songs, verses, finger plays and movement. We start by lighting our circle time candle. Bekah really loves this part. It makes it special. We then open with a morning song that the two of us made up. We then have a verse to welcome the day. Next a counting song about ladybugs. From there we move on to a rhyme with hand clapping and knee slapping. Lot of great work on patterns and coordination. Then we had a finger play about animals. Some bean bag exercises got us moving. Finally we ended with a verse that had us stretching. Bekah would blow out the candle to end circle time.

By this time Bekah felt like she had had her school time with mom. She would move to the kitchen table where she would work on the task for the day. Monday - coloring in her main lesson book with beeswax crayons. Tuesday - modeling with homemade playdough. Wednesday - wet on wet watercolor painting. Thursday and Friday - Dad is home and Bekah is his shadow and helper. Some days we do these tasks together other days I get her set up and she is content to work independently while I then teach Hannah's lesson.

I have to tell you again how thrilled I am with Bekah's response to circle time. At first she told me it wasn't school. But working on my will as well as hers we stuck with it. Now she asks for circle time. She knows the rhythm. She has everything - candle, verse book, and bean bags - out and waiting for me. the Waldorf approach is meeting her just where she is. She is thriving. She is learning. No worksheets. No watered down over explained lessons. Just organic learning!

We will work on the same circle time verses for the entire month. Each month I will pick verses that I hope will speak to Bekah, that will open her eyes to the world around her. Verses that will introduce rhythm and rhyme. That will develop a love a language and song. Ones that will lay math foundations. And actions that will build inner strength, coordination and balance.

So I have spent the last week reading and selecting verses for September. I put them together in a book, the cover of which in a water color painting that Bekah made. I am trying to have all of the verses and songs memorized as that really is the best way to bring them to a child. However, many of them are new to me. So the book is my little cheat sheet as well as a keep sake. By the end of the month both of us should have the verses and songs memorized!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of August 29th

Menu planning is a foundational and grounding exercise for me. Having a menu plan keeps me sane during our crazy days. Rarely do we come to a meal time and panic. The plan also unites and balances our family as we come together for meals through out our busy days. Sitting down to the table with my family around, lighting a candle and reciting a meal time blessing is one of my favorite times of the day. I look forward to everyone sharing their plans and wishes for the day at breakfast and their accomplishment and highlights at supper.

I also use my menu plan to insure that my family is getting wholesome and nutritious food. When it is all laid out I can see the amounts of fruit and veggies everyone is getting. I also make sure that proteins are balanced. And now I'm checking to make sure we all get a variety of grains. Recently there has been a huge increase in the number of people who are sensitive to wheat and corn. Personally, I feel that much of it is due to the pesticides used and the GMO varieties. I also think it stems from modern day methods of preparing wheat and corn, as well as the gross amount many of us eat. If you read food labels you know it is almost impossible to avoid corn. There are so many fabulously nutritious grains out there. How come we aren't eating them? Well I vow to get more of them into my families diet. For a great post about the daily grain idea check out this post from Becca of CedarRingMama. She has a fabulous menu and some great recipe ideas to incorporate more grains into your families diet.

Monday (rice)
Breakfast: Blackberry Muffins
Lunch: Grilled Cheese and Roasted Tomato Soup
Dinner: Hamburger Stroganoff over Rice and Green Beans

Tuesday (barley)
Breakfast: Cheese Omelets and English Muffins
Lunch: Hummus, Pita Bread and Veggie Sticks
Dinner: Chicken Legs, Orzo with Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes, and Broccoli

Wednesday (millet)
Breakfast: Green Smoothies and Millet Squares with Apple Butter
Lunch: Mac and Cheese with Peas and Apple Slices
Dinner: Smokes Sausage, Baked Beans, Brown Bread and Corn on the Cob

Thursday (rye)
Breakfast: Homemade Yogurt with Maple Almond Granola
Lunch: Rye Crackers with Cheese and Tomato
Dinner: Spaghetti with Sausage, Garlic Bread and Salad

Friday (oats)
Breakfast: Oatmeal Bar with Fruit and Nuts
Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches with Carrot and Celery Sticks
Dinner: Pizza

Saturday (corn)
Breakfast: Pancakes and Bacon
Lunch: Hot Dogs with Kale Chips
Dinner: Chili with Corn Bread

Sunday (wheat)
Breakfast: Cinnamon Toast
Lunch: Zucchini Fritters
Dinner: Steak, Baked Potatoes, Corn on the Cob and 90 Minute Rolls

Looking for some more menu inspiration? head on over to Menu Planning Monday sponsored by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, August 26, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda, aka Soule Mama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.



In gratitude this week for:

  • A bounty of fresh goodies from other's garden.

  • A co-op delivery. Lots of bulk in the shed for winter!

  • Lots of wild blackberries picked before Irene hits.

  • Another fun and fabulous week of school finished!

  • Wishing you all a glorious weekend!

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Preserving the Harvest

    There has been a lot going on in the kitchen. It is just that time of year. The harvest has begun and with it come the preserving and canning. It is wonderful to see the empty pantry shelves being filled with all this summer goodness. Even better is knowing how much we will enjoy this bounty when the New England winter is upon us.

    First up was quarts and quarts of Roasted Tomato Soup. This is a family favorite and I'm not sure I could ever have enough in the pantry. The goal is to have at least on jar per week. So far we put up 15 quarts, a little short. Luckily the tomatoes are just coming in. So I'm sure there will be lots more.

    Dill Pickles is another family favorite that I can't seem to make enough of. I made our favorite recipe and then also made a batch of the Dill Pickles from the Ball Blue Book of Canning. The little jars of dill pickle chips on the end were a last minute addition with the left over cucs and brine. We'll see how they turn out. I've never had good luck with chips staying crisp. And who likes a soggy pickle?

    Three pints of wild blackberry jam! Oh how good these will be on toast of fresh baked bread in front of the wood stove. Almost makes me wish for winter mornings, almost. The blackberries are still coming into it. So I'm sure there will be more in the days to come. Of course we will also freeze some berries for pancakes, muffins and such. We are so blessed to have a couple large wild patches in the forest behind our home.

    There has also been lots of zucchini! We made this chocolate zucchini cake recommended by Suzanne over at Blueberry Cottage. WOW! It was amazing! And the best part everyone liked it. And that is saying a lot since I have a hard time finding deserts that we all like. We will be making this one again. Along with zucchini bread and frittata. Good thing my friends garden is over flowing with zucchini. I'm shredding and freezing as fast as she bring is over.

    Then there are beans becoming dilly beans and three bean salad as well as quite a few bags just slightly blanched and frozen for dinner veggies. And of course we have been making my favorite summer green bean dish. Just realized I have never shared this recipe. I'll have to keep you in suspense a little while longer. Promise I'll take pictures the next time I make it and share. It is so yummy!

    Oh and if you've ever wanted to try your hand at making your own ketchup this is the best! Everyone around here loves this ketchup (scroll down a bit). So much better than anything you can get at the store. So you can bet I'll be making up a bunch of this.

    This time is so busy in the garden and kitchen. I feel like the kitchen is never clean for very long. But truly I enjoy the hours on my feet with the steam from the canner billowing. Come January I be heating water just to get the chill out of the kitchen and eating blackberry jam and tomato soup thankful for the time spent during late summer.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 22nd

    Back to school mean back to some old favorites. While homeschooling three children, getting frugal healthy meals on the table takes some planning. We fall into a nice rhythm that make meal preparation more of a pleasure than a chore. Breakfast stay the same only changing how the eggs are cooked, what kind of muffin, and rotate between pancakes, French toast and waffles. As the weather cools Swiss oats will become hot oatmeal. We all come together for breakfast. So very 40's I know, but I love to start the day together around the table.

    Breakfast: Homemade Yogurt and Maple Almond Granola
    Lunch: Left overs from the weekend
    Dinner: Homemade Personal Pizzas

    Breakfast: Blackberry Muffins
    Lunch: Mac and Cheese with Peas
    Dinner: BLT's, Potato Salad, and Veggie Sticks

    Breakfast: Swiss Oats with Fresh Berries
    Lunch: Tuna Wraps and Apple Slices
    Dinner: Black Bean Burritos and Mexi Corn

    Breakfast: Crepes with Ricotta Cheese Filling and Fruit
    Lunch: Hummus with Pita Bread and Veggie Sticks
    Dinner: Pork Chops with Pesto, Rice and Broccoli

    Breakfast: Fried Egg Sandwiches on English Muffins
    Lunch: Hot Dogs
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza

    Breakfast: Waffles
    Lunch: Grilled Cheese and Fruit
    Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Potato and Squash Torte, and Green Beans

    Breakfast: Cinnamon Toast
    Lunch: Leftovers
    Dinner: Spaghetti, Garlic Bread and Sauteed Zucchini

    So what is your family eating this week? I'd love to hear. And if you are in need of some more inspirations hope on over to Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Yarn Along

    Joining in the fun of the Yarn Along sponsored by Ginny over at Small Things. I'm sharing two of my favorite things - knitting and reading. And of course planning to visit the other yarn along participants as well. There is always so much inspiration being shared.

    First up the knitting. the sweater is coming along, not as quickly as I would like, but none the less coming along. I finished the body and it actually fits! Now all I have is the sleeves. I'm really happy with how this is turning out. I have never had to increase a pattern so I was a bit nervous.

    As for reading, I'm back to some more school stuff for the kids. Making Math Meaningful has been an awesome addition to our bookshelf. Written for teachers and parents it's a whole new approach to math. I'm loving all the tricks, rules and whys. I feel so much more empowered to teach math. I've also been thumbing though the Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book. A neat little book with some interesting snack ideas. We will be trying a few of them, especially the muffins, breads and porridges. My girls are always hungry and I'm always looking for healthy yet frugal snack ideas. Hopefully this book will add a few more to the mix.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    First Day of School

    I can't believe it but we have started school! The girls were excited to begin and didn't have a problem getting a jump on the school year even though most of their friends are still enjoying the rainy summer weather. With Sarah entering her first year of high school and Bekah joining the mix we changed things up this year. All the girls are doing their own thing. It seems strange not to be teaching them together, but it was definitely time to let them go their own ways.

    Sarah is using Oak Meadow for English, History, Biology and a few electives. She is staying with Math U See for Algebra and using Rosetta Stone for Spanish. We're only on day two, but she seems to be thrilled with her classes and choice of curriculum. But boy is the work load different. Her days are long, but she is excited and really linking how things are going so far.

    Hannah is also using Oak Meadow and Math U See. We are also supplementing with a bunch of Earthschooling blocks. We are learning the Choroi flute together as well a incorporating handiwork and home economics. So far so good and with Hannah that is amazing. She keeps telling me she is liking everything, but knows that it can't last as school can't be fun. Her words not mine.

    Rebekah is just so excited to have her own school to do. For her I am putting together a Waldorf inspired kindergarten. We will do this for two years. I am using the wonderful FREE files at the yahoo group Waldorfhomeeducators, Earthschooling, and a lot of my own research. After family breakfast, Rebekah and I have her circle time while the other girls work independently. She really enjoys lighting our circle time candle, singing our morning song, reciting verses and more. Right now we are working on counting with a ladybug poem and rhythm with clapping games. Our circle time also includes some stretching and movement activities. We close with a verse and blow out the candle. Then we head to the table were Rebekah draws in her main lesson book. She chooses something to draw from one of the verses in circle time. Then each day we have a different activity-painting, play dough, baking, etc. The rest of her day is spent in creative play and helping mom around the house. We also try to get outside and explore the amazing world around us.

    Rebekah working with homemade play dough.

    Potato print lady bugs. Five of them just like the poem she is learning.

    Hannah and Bekah working on Hannah's first science project.

    Sarah's first biology lab.

    The only class we are doing together at the moment - Geometry! We had a bunch of fun outside in the rain making circles. And then brought it inside to construct and dissect circles.

    This is the first year I've had to teach all three. And so far so good. I worked hard at establishing a daily and weekly rhythm and it is paying off, at least so far. Of course this could all blow up by the end of the week. However for now all the school work is done, the house is rather tidy with laundry and dishes caught up and all the kids are asleep and it isn't even 9:30! So now I have a little time to knit, read, correct today's lessons and get ready for tomorrow.

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Menu Plan Monday

    It has been a few weeks since I've share our menu plan. I have been planning as meal just wouldn't happen without one, but I have been short on time to share. As summer is winding down and we are getting ready for another school year, I am trying to get back to some sort of routine. So hopefully the menus will be up on a regular basis. Thanks for stopping by.

    Breakfast: Bagels and Cream Cheese
    Lunch: Fruit and Veggie Tray
    Dinner: Mexican Stuffed Peppers

    Breakfast: Poached Eggs on Whole Wheat Toast
    Lunch: Tomato and Cheddar Bites
    Dinner: Pork Chops, Bakes Potatoes and Alyssa's Special Beans

    Breakfast: Swiss Oats with Fruit
    Lunch: Grilled Cheese with Carrot Sticks and Grapes
    Dinner: Chicken with Vegetable Fried Rice

    Breakfast: Sour Cream Coffee Cake
    Lunch: Tuna Melts with Apple Slices
    Dinner: Shepherd's Pie, Garden Salad and 90 Minute Rolls

    Breakfast: Homemade Yogurt and Maple Almond Granola
    Lunch: Hummus, Pita Bread and Veggie Sticks
    Dinner: Pizza

    Breakfast: Pancakes and Sausage
    Lunch: Ham Salad Sandwiches and Watermelon
    Dinner: Spinach Quiche, Home fries and Fruit Salad

    Breakfast: Cinnamon Toast
    Lunch: Leftovers
    Dinner: BLT's with Macaroni Salad

    I'd love to hear what you're eating this week. It is nice to have the family favorite, but I am always looking to try something new. Maybe one of your recipes will become our next family favorite. So if you've got a favorite recipe on your blog I'd love for you to leave a link in the comments.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    {this moment}

    {this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda, aka Soule Mama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.



    In gratitude this week for:

    *A dinner of fresh brook trout

    *Concerts in the park

    *A yarn tasting with friends

    Wishing you all a glorious weekend!

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Yarn Along

    Joining Ginny in her weekly Yarn Along. In her words:

    ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a single photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

    After knitting way too many swatches, did you know I despise knitting swatches? I finally figured out that I couldn't just go up a needle size, but rather had to try and adjust the pattern. so with calculator in hand and a lot of prayer I think I finally figured it out and cast on. So far so good, but as you can see I'm not all that far. A few more rows and I can split for the sleeves and body. Then I will really know if I'm on the right track. So far I love the pattern and the color is perfect for Bekah in the fall.

    As for reading I'm starting What is a Waldorf Kindergarten? Bekah is only 4 and really wants to "do school", but I think a lot of it is just to imitate her older sisters. So I'm trying to meet both our needs. A little "school" for her and a wait till she older for mom. I think developing a Waldorf ish rhythm to our day with morning circle time full of verses, songs, stories and movement along with an afternoon activity should fit the bill. But you all know how best laid plans can take on a life of their own. So we shall see.

    So what are you reading and crafting? I'd love to hear. The weekly Yarn Along has been such an inspiration. I want to thank Ginny for hosting. And really you should stop by if you haven't.