March 31, 2010

Easter Eggs

Today was the big day. The kids really look forward to dying Easter eggs. This year we made our own dye with food coloring instead of buying "the kit". It worked pretty well, except for the purple, which turned out more of a muddy brown.

The pictures look so everyone was getting along in a cooperative fashion. Yep, pictures are nice like that :O)

March 30, 2010

When God Paints a Picture

This was the beautiful display of our Creator's handiwork that I enjoyed today as I sipped my morning coffee.

AHHH ~ life is good; but eternal life is better!

What a blessing to be His. I hope and pray that you are all having a wonderful and meaningful Holy week.

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."
Ephesians 1:7-10

March 26, 2010

Defending His Sister's Honor

As Ashlyn fled up the castle steps, Caleb prepared his crossbow for battle.

Just an average lunch break on the farm :O)

Homemaker Edification

This wonderful little download is sure to put a spring in your domestic step! Be happy and content at home, for it is God's plan.

March 25, 2010

A List of Attainments

This is the list of homemaking skills I decided upon for Allie's high school "Domestic Science" course. We will cover these topics over four years. They are not necessarily in order, although the last two will be reserved for her senior year :O)

Most skills will be taught in the realm of real life. There will of course be special projects to show mastery. I'm sure we will blog these as they come along.

Just in case you are assuming that I have mastered all of these skills (HAH!), I assure you I have not and will be learning more than a thing or two.

A List of Homemaking Skills

Homemade Frozen Yogurt

Making yogurt into a semi-healthy dessert seemed to be the next logical step after learning to make this oh-so-good-for-me dairy product. So after Christie tried it with success, I thought I'd give it a go. It worked beautifully and was very yummy to boot! Now, will the kids ever eat it the regular way again?

The experiment begins.

20 minutes later...WOO HOO!

March 24, 2010

Ashlyn's new friend

She had a very hard time letting him go. It didn't help that her brother fed the other worm to the chickens. ~SIGH~ I guess fishing is out of the question.

March 22, 2010

A Great Family Read

I cannot recommend the book Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends highly enough. We have been using it as our Sunday book, but it is so funny the kids ask me to read it more often. Fair warning: I was laughing so hard last night that the kids couldn't understand a word I was saying. Yes! It's THAT good!

The humor and lessons are best for kids 8 and up.

March 21, 2010

Worth its Weight in Gold

This tool is literaly saving me HOURS of work. My favorite feature is that it adjusts based on what we actually do. For example, if I schedule Allie to read chapter 7 in Oliver Twist on Monday, and she doesn't get to it, the scheduler automatically moves that assignment to the next day. No more scribbling out my plans and recopying everything over and over..... and over. GENIUS!

CM moms...this is worth it!

If you have never tried it, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. You can also watch some videos to give you an idea of how it works.

March 20, 2010

The first day of Spring?

And more snow is on the way.....

March 17, 2010

What is that bright light?

It's the sun!!! It's been so long, I had nearly forgotten.

The kids spent over 2 hours outside this afternoon gathering rocks, jumping in puddles, and getting their bikes ready to roll. Also known as "making more laundry for mom". It was GREAT!

Milo the cat enjoyed following them all around the yard.

Caleb's Pirate Story

For language arts this week, Caleb has been using Karen Andreola's book, Story Starters, to do some creative writing. He had so much fun and really wowed me with his abilities. All of the writing is his. I merely typed it, fixed spelling and punctuation errors, and corrected some "tense" issues.

Caleb age 8
A Continuation of The Prince and the Pirates
March 17, 2010

It had been ten days since Prince Roy had been captured by the pirates and taken aboard their ship. Prince Roy worked in the burning sun along with the other men. One man glanced across at him and then stopped and began to stare. At first the prince ignored him, but then recognized him as one of his father’s servants. Later that day, Piers, who was struggling to free himself, heard wood crackling. “Wildfire!”, he shouted. As Piers got untangled , wood and fire fell through the roof. He ran outside and grabbed his sword and ran towards the palace.

Prince Roy heard a cannon go off and saw another pirate ship in the distance. From his side, a pirate came with an ax, and cut all of the captives free of the oars, chained them together, and led them down below the deck to shoot the cannons. Three pirates showed them how to fire the cannons and gave them swords, but they watched keenly with eagle eyes to make sure the captives wouldn’t try to escape. Through a crack in the side of the ship, Prince Roy saw that it wasn’t a pirate ship that they were firing upon, but one of his father’s ships. The prince told all of the other captives his findings and said, “We will all soon be free!“. They grabbed their swords and began to fight the pirates. They made their way to deck and began to signal the other ship with the enemy flag. The king’s ship ceased fire. When the king saw that his son was safe, he scolded him and begged him to never go out of the palace without at least two guards.

March 16, 2010

Reason number 152...

...for choosing to homeschool God's precious children.

"Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every American school is a school of humanism. What can a theistic Sunday school's meeting for an hour a week and teaching only a fraction of the children do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?" ~Charles F. Potter, in "Humanism: A New Religion"

YIKES! Disturbing stuff. This, and several other humanist quotes on education, are posted over at Jasmine's blog

March 12, 2010

No Knead Bread

OK, I know that this recipe has been floating around the internet for some time, but I just got around to trying it. Of course I couldn't follow the recipe exactly, so this is my variation. I just had to use some whole wheat flour to redeem the nutritional value.

2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 T vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

You will also need a covered pot, 5 qt. or larger, that can go onto a 450 degree oven. I used a Le Creuset(enamel over cast iron) knock-off.

Directions from Steamy Kitchen

1. Mix dough: The night before, combine all ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. It will be a shaggy, doughy mess. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 12-20 hours on countertop.

2. Shape & preheat: The dough will now be wet, sticky and bubbly. With a wet spatula, dump the dough on a floured surface. Fold ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape. You can use your hands if you like, just keep your hands wet so that the dough does not stick. Generously dust a cotton towel (not terrycloth) with flour. Set dough seam side down on top of towel. Fold towel over the dough. Let it nap for 2 hours. When you’ve got about a half hour left, slip your covered pot into the oven and preheat to 450F.

3. Bake: Your dough should have doubled in size. Remove pot from oven. Holding towel, dump wobbly dough into pot. Doesn’t matter which way it lands. Shake to even dough out. Cover. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210F. Remove and let cool on wired rack. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust in 350F oven for 10 minutes. Best way to eat it? Smear a warm slice with some good butter.

MMMMM!!! Panera Bread has nothing on me!

Happy Morning

For 20 months I have been washing dishes the old fashioned way, but no more! My sweet husband installed my new best friend last night. JOY!

March 10, 2010


It doesn't seem so long ago that he was just a baby, but today, our steer Noah is going to market. He is the first beef we have raised for this purpose.

While we are really looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our labor, I can't help but feel a little tug on my heart. He had a great life.....and we praise God for the ability to raise our own food and live this rural dream.

March 08, 2010

Monday Night Baking

Rustic Apple Tart

Laundry Soap for 2 Pennies a Load

I have made powdered laundry soap before, but this liquid gel is even more cost effective. The recipe I followed is here. Another idea is at Christie's blog. I added the teaspoon of lavender ~ heavenly. The gelling was a HUGE hit with the kids.....fascinating!

March 06, 2010


It is Saturday evening. Dinner is finished. Chores are done. What are the "big" kids doing?

Yes! They are reading unassigned books. Ms. Mason would be proud.

I think I can, I think I can

March 05, 2010

Fabric Softener on the Cheap!

To say I *adore* liquid fabric softener would be an understatement. I love the smell and the way it makes my laundry fluffy soft, but I don't love the price. I found a way to make it myself and have had GREAT results. Here is the recipe.

3 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of white vinegar
1 cup of hair condition (I use Suave to make it extra thrifty)

Combine everything and stir gently. If you shake it up too much it gets foamy. I like to store mine in a pretty blue antique Ball canning jar.

I use about 1/3 cup per large load of laundry. My washer has a fabric softener dispenser, but you could also add it at the rinse cycle or put it in one of those balls. Cost: $.04/load compared with $.15/load for the name brand stuff.

Yogurt Perfection

I have been playing with three yogurt recipes/methods for the last 10 days and have finally perfected it for our family. I needed the yogurt to be a bit thicker for my son who has "texture issues" and it had to be easy for me :O)

Well, the crock pot method is definitely the easiest way I found to accomplish yogurt making. Here is what worked best for us.

8 cups of milk (I used skim)
1/3 cup of dry milk
1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup of plain organic Greek style yogurt (I used Stoneyfield Farm)

Pour 8 cups of milk into your crock pot. Add the dry milk powder and the gelatin and mix with a whisk until combined. Put the lid on your crock pot and turn it on low for 2 1/2 hours. When 2 1/2 hours have passed, unplug your crock pot, leave the lid on, and let it cool slightly for 2 hours. After 2 hours, remove 2 cups of the warmish milk mixture and place it in a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup of yogurt starter and whisk gently until combined. Put this mixture back into the crock pot, stir gently to combine, and replace the lid. Now, wrap your crock pot with a big bath towel and leave it alone for 8-10 hours. Voila! You now have yogurt that is ready to be put into containers in your fridge. It will keep about 10 days. Make sure you save 1/2 cup of yogurt to be your starter for next time.

I start my yogurt-making process at about 4:00 in the afternoon, because then it sits wrapped in the towel while I sleep.

Here is the finished product.

I get 5 pints (10 cups) of yogurt from this recipe. We simply flavor it individually with honey, fruit, and/or granola. It is very cost effective. I calculated that it cost $3.00 total to make the first batch, and subsequent batches will only be $2.12 because I will have my own yogurt starter.