Sunday, May 15, 2011

Frugal Kitchen: Barley Soup(vegetarian)

I made this delicious soup last night on the fly. I kind of just threw some things together that I had that needed to be used in the fridge and threw the barley in to bulk it up and make it more hearty. This was my first time cooking with barley as well. I have had barley bread when I made it into a flour but I haven't gotten around to using it as a grain. It turned out pretty good. Here is what I used:

Barley Soup(vegetarian)

2 cups pearl barley(hulled)
4 medium potatoes(yukon gold)
4 carrots(diced)
1/2 onion(chopped)
2 stalks of celery(chopped)
2 cloves of garlic(minced)
vegetable broth or water enough to fill pot
2 tsp thyme(dried)
2 TSP parsley(dried)
1 TSP garlic salt
2 TSP olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes(8oz)
1 can kidney beans(8oz)
1 can chickpeas/ garbanzo beans(8oz)
salt and pepper to taste

First I take all the veggies and  the fresh garlic and saute them at the bottom of the pot with the olive oil till the onions soften and they sweat a little. Then I add in the spices except for salt and pepper(save that for last). Then I add in the tomatoes, and beans and add the stock or water. Let it come to a boil and add the barley. I then covered the pot and simmered on medium low till the barley expand and all the veggies soften. Then I sprinkled in some salt and pepper to taste. I used a large pot so its enough soup for my family of 5 for 2 days.

I also served it with cornbread.


1 1/2 cup cornmeal( fresh mill popcorn makes cornmeal in the wondermill)
1 cup flour( used hard red but any all purpose will work)
1 TSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 TSP sweetener
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter

I mix all dry ingredients first then mix in all the wet. I take the butter and put in the cornbread pan to melt in the oven. I then take and pour the melted butter in the rest of the batter and then put the mix into my pan. I bake on 400 degrees for about 15- 20 minutes.

Birthday Cupcake Fun with my Big Girl!

My big baby turned 7 this past week. I can't believe how time flies right. But we just had a little family dinner and cupcake party. It was a very hot 90 degree weather day so we did all indoor things till the sun went down. Which is why you see the kids riding there bikes in the dark. But its funny cause I had a "You know you are a homeschooler when..." moment on her birthday cause she got a visa gift card from grandma and excitedly proclaimed she wanted to go to Barnes and Nobles! LOL! We are such geeks right! But she found a cute little art set and got a few chapter books for fun reading and got her brother and sister a book as well. My little man of course found a Star Wars easy reader and my baby girl got The Very Hungry Caterpillar. So when we got back to the house I was wiped out cause I am about 32 weeks pregnant now and just going from one chair to the next makes me tired. lol! But my birthday girl wanted baked pasta with red sauce and cheese with salad. This was her request. And by some miracle I manage to get up enough strengh to make her the best Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting ever.

Here is the Cupcake and Frosting recipe:


1 1/2 cup flour( soft white wheat)
1 cup sucunant( cane sugar)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 TSP vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all dry ingredients first. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Bake on 350 degrees for about 25- 30 min.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 8oz pk cream cheese(soften)
1/2 cup butter(soften)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional: food coloring for to add color

whip all ingredients with electric mixer on high till smooth.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Loaf Bread or Bun Recipe!

So as you know I have been enjoying my wondermill for a few months now. Well I am trying things out and building up my recipe arsenal. I have finally came up with a great loaf or Bun recipe. The bread comes out soft and moist. Now keep in mind I am no kneading expert as of yet so I still use my Sunbeam bread maker to mix and kneed. But this is what I use:

Loaf Bread or Bun Recipe

4 cups  Flour( fresh milled hard white or hard red wheat )
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
2 TSP Honey\
1 packet Dry Yeast(not sure of exact amount cause I just buy packets)

Now once the bread is done kneading and rising I pour on the floured counter top and form into my loaf shape or hamburger buns. It makes either 2 loaves of bread or about 9- 12 burger buns. I then place in greased loaf pan or cookie sheet and place a damp cloth on and let it proof for about 20- 30 more minutes while I preheat the oven for 350 degrees. I just bake until golden brown which I think is about 25 mins or so. depends on your oven I guess. Delicious!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Think About it Thursday: Who is the Authority of Your Homeschool!

So it's that time of year when I start to see and hear more and more post about homeschool parents feeling like they are "Falling Behind", "Missing Something", "Failing there Children", and so on and so forth. It seems like right as the year comes to a close  is when the demon of Self Doubt rears his ugly head and even some of us seasoned homeschoolers can't manage to escape his possession. You would think a group of parents who stepped out on faith and took the plunge into the pool of home education have to be some of the most confident parents on the face of the earth. Well that is just not true. We are all human and we are all subject to insecurities. Especially in a culture that is against the family its hard to be Set Apart at times. But this is why I pose the question today to my fellow homeschoolers "Who is the Authority of Your Homeschool?".

 Based off what your answer is should reveal exactly where these emotions of self doubt come from especially if you are unsure of the answer. If you don't rightly know that is okay its never to late to have a Vision/ Mission for your homeschool but I do think that it is imperative that every family have a goal in mind and stay true to that vision throughout there home education journey.Everyone is measuring themselves up to some standards. The question here is "Who's standards are you measuring your family against?".

I am going to give some examples of where I have found most homeschoolers to fit into when it comes to there measurement standards.

  1. Public School Standards- For some families they homeschool only to have there children at home and so there educational standard is measured by what the local Public School is doing cause they are still the authority of education in there home even though the schooling takes place in the home. In this scenario the parents have not fully taken advantage of the freedom of homeschooling to create there own goals and vision. This could be for many reasons from thinking they are not an expert in education so they couldn't possibly make the standards or it could be that its just not of any importance to them they just want to be at home and not have to focus on anything else. The problem with this method that parents run into is that if the "Homeschool" based curriculum they selected for the year is somehow not adding up or covering everything on that local Public Schools scope and sequence than there begins the panic and race to catch up or fill in the gaps to measure up to that Public School Authority. Well I have lots of friends who have taught as PS teachers are still are PS teachers and they always make sure to tell folks that they never finished a textbook or curriculum by the end of the year. That is whey most Public School Text repeat the same info from the year before for the first 3 months of the new school year. Its basically a review of the year before. Think about all the snow days, teacher institute days, holiday breaks, spring breaks and so on that they take during the year yet us homeschoolers feel guilty for taking a day or two off for a personal day or what ever. We just need to put things in perspective.
  2. Academic Standards-  For some of us homeschoolers we are totally engulfed with a educational philosophy or method rather that be Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Unit Study, Unschooling, etc... I  started out homeschooling with a strictly academic vision in mind that eventually evolved into something much more in the end but I think its typical for some parents to start out with purely an academic goal in mind. Having a educational philosophy or method of homeschooling is a positive thing it gives some basic curriculum guidelines to follow usually even a year by year break down. That is great. Usually the problem comes in when you stop looking at the philosophy as just a set of guidelines and start placing it on  a pedestal of must do must follow rigid rules. I think for some parents this starts when we fall victim to "Comparing our Children to Others". You might read an article in a homeschooling magazine or have a friend in a COOP who uses the same homeschool method as you yet you look at there child(who might not even be the same age as your child) and you see how they are covering all these subjects, playing the violin and piano, volunteering at the food pantry, acing the SAT's and can write a college level thesis and you start to go into heart palpitations.Then starts the we need to do Latin, French, play the french horn, do nature study everyday, homeschool 6hrs a day and go do all these other things so we can be just like so and so or else we are not doing it right. You look over at your kids who are playing around with Lego's and army men while you are trying to read aloud your history lesson, he only did a half a math worksheet and you wonder how will I ever get him into college. This is when you start to feel like a failure. It is my hope by illustrating these scenarios you will begin to see how silly we look sometimes. I have to laugh at this cause I have been there.
  3. Mom and Dad's Standards- Now I do admit I love when I see parents who have set down together and come up with a list of reasons and goals as to why they are homeschooling there children. I find this to be the clearest way to understand and define your homeschool goals when you sit down as a couple an establish your homeschool Vision/ Mission. But even with starting out with something this strong I have still seen parents feel like they are not making the mark even when they set the mark. This could stem from setting the mark too high or not realizing that since you are in charge of the standards you can reform and make changes to that vision at anytime. What if you started out with goals when your children were little and as time went on you realized that you had a "Special Learner" who required special attention in academic areas or even social areas. This could change that vision. You may need to adjust that vision to fit the changes of your family. Or sometimes I find that parents who set goals together might begin to feel imaginary pressure  or real pressure from there spouse to measure up to the vision. Like for instance a wife might feel like every time she is not meeting the goals on the list perfectly she is somehow failing her husband and kids. Don't be so hard on yourself. These goals are just an idea of where you want to go not necessarily where you are at. Its just a maker to help lead and guide you not to make you feel inadequate in anyway. And realize when you have aimed too high and feel pressured and sit down again as a couple and make adjustments where they are needed.
  4. God's Standards- The Homeschool Movement in this Country as we know was Pioneered by those looking to raise there children with a God centered education. And the majority of homeschoolers even till this day home educate for this very reason to have God be central in there child's education. I find that when convicted to homeschool for a higher calling its less likely that on a year to year basis that folks go back and forth with the same self doubt trials. But even with God at the centered and scripture leading the way I have seen parents feel the woes of what am I not doing enough of. Once again I think this could be stemming from Comparing oneself to others. Maybe your family has a heart to be mission minded and travel the world spending the Gospel but you haven't quite made it there cause you have a new baby every year and your husband can't find work to save enough for the trip. Well maybe your mission field is your local community or maybe even your own family. Maybe raising Godly children who love the lord and can read his word is enough. Sometimes I think we don't understand when the holy spirit takes over and directs to where we need to be when we need to be. Also since the movement has become so diverse and folks are homeschooling for more than just Spiritual reasons even the most God driven family can get caught up in measuring themselves against the standards I have listed at the top. You might find yourself now questioning whether or not your children know enough of other things outside of biblical training. But maybe we need to learn how to put things in perspective. We need to see that Scripture memorization is :Language Arts, Reading the King James Bible is studying Literature and History, we need to see that observing God's creation in nature is the root of Science, and so on and so forth. Having a child who is strong in faith and can go to God in and his word in time of need goes a much longer way than a child who can recite the capitol cities of Europe. Not saying that these things aren't important but don't worry if these things didn't fall into your agenda. Your child has tools in his tool belt to help fix anything he hasn't been formally trained to do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This Years Homeschool Conference and Used Book Sale Finds!

Well this past weekend was our annual State Homeschool Conference. I truly feel like this year was my best planned year and I came out under budget and with things I am actually going to use. lol! If you have ever gone to a curriculum fair than you know what I mean about getting what you need. I think that a lot of moms have there experience with what I call a case of the "OHHH and AHH's" you see all that shinny new curriculum and gadgets and whatnot and you loose all sense of practical need and budget. lol! But this year with money being the way that is for my family like most other Americans right now I had to go in there with a rock solid game plan. I first made my list of what I needed for this coming year along with a back up choice. I also knew I wanted to spend the bulk of my budget at the Used Book Sale that they have at my Conference on the first day. I actually got my list from Donna Young's website. The form is called Curriculum Fair Battle Plan. Very well titled if I don't say so myself. I totally made out like a bandit in the Used Book Sale Hall. I spent $97 for items that has a retail value over $350.
We are starting formal writing this year, we are going into Earth Science and Astronomy, and we are heading into Asia for History and Geography so I tried to focus on getting this for these areas. Here is the list of what I ended up with:

Learning Resources Base Ten Starter Set
The M&M Math Book
The M&M Counting Book
Addition Facts Songs CD and book
Subtraction Facts Songs CD and book
Singapore Math 2B Home Instructors Guide
Singapore Math 3A Home Instructors Guide
Singapore Math 3B Home Instructors Guide
Singapore Math Intensive Practice 2A

Primary Language Lessons
Writing Strands Evaluating Writing
Writing Strands Level 2
Writing Strands Level 3

The Magic School Bus Out of This World( a book about space rocks)
Usborne Space

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis
Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O'Dell
The Chi- Lin Purse by Linda Fang
The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert Dejong
Daughter of the Mountains by Louise Rankin
Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

On top of what I found at the Conference I was able to gather some literature titles for my two youngest from a local Used Book Sale. I spent about $26 and got at least close to $100 worth of things. Here is a list of what we got there as well:

Wooden Abacus w/ movable addition set
Connect Cubes
Aesop's Fables Coloring Book
Aesop's Fables Storybook
Make Way For Ducklings
The Three Bears
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Story of Ferdinand
The Little Engine that Could
The Big Balloon Race
Wagon Wheels
The Drinking Gourd
Stone Soup

I also wanted to take a moment to count the Blessings that others have given to our homeschool as well this year. With the help of a friend and the Grandparents I was able to get a few more things as well. I got Apologia Astronomy from my friend who also uses a classical model and here kids are on a different cycle than mine so they already finished up with Astronomy for the Grammar Stage they won't be back on  for a few at least 2yrs I think. But she said I am welcome to have it for this year.That really saved me at least close to $90 I think.

And for the Grandparents I made a Amazon Wish List for when they got that grandparent urge to send a gift I told them to peel off this list. And so far Granddad has made a great dent in the list and I think my mom is going to add her gifts after she come back from vacation. I am so happy they are finally coming around to being supportive of our homeschool efforts. So he was able to get quite a few things as well:

First Language Lessons Level 3 Workbook
Ancient India
George Washington Carver
Mae Jameson
Galileo for Kids

Monday, May 9, 2011

Frugal Kitchen: Left Over Oatmeal Bake!

So I was on a hunt for ways to save money in the kitchen and not be wasteful with leftover food. I came across a wonderful blog called New Life On A Homestead. She had a Baked Oatmeal Recipe on her site. I had never heard of baking oatmeal before besides making cookies but I thought it would be a great way to reuse my leftover oatmeal. You know how sometimes you make to much or people don't eat as much as you think they are. So here is how I tweaked the recipe a little.

2 cups left over oatmeal
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 stick melted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup raisins
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 TSP baking powder
1 cup milk( i use Almond milk)
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Bake on 350 degrees till brown on the top.
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