Friday, July 29, 2011

Homeschool Workboxes

So I haven't read the book.  I know I am not doing it "right", but I was inspired by all of the workboxes I ran across in Google images when I googled it!  They are wonderful and neat and organized and perfect for those of us who need to know up front what the day holds.

I knew right off that I wanted to try workboxes in our homeschool.  I know they will work well for me.  I think they will work well for Eden.  Each subject in its own little box.  All the supplies right there.  An empty box when you are done.  Yes, please!

I had been on the lookout for some inexpensive drawers or baskets to use, when I came across some of those cardboard magazine files in the dollar bins at Target.  They are pretty and colorful and I think they will work great for our own version of workboxes!

I also found these little standing pockets to hold our subject cards.

How it will work is, each evening I will consult the lesson plans for the next day.  Lets say we have Bible, Language Arts and Journaling on the agenda.

Oh, in case you are wondering, Pick a Stick is our version of activity sticks.  Eden chooses a stick out of the jar and has to do the activity that is written on the stick (10 jumping jacks, jog around the house, swing for 10 minutes, etc.).

I will put the subject cards on my boxes and fill the boxes with all of the supplies needed to do the particular assignment.  When Eden has completed each assignment, she will remove the subject card from the box and replace it in the pocket.

She will be able to clearly see how far she has come during the day, how far she has to go, how much work she needs to finish before she has a play break or a snack!  The day seems manageable.

The boxes are numbered with a velcro square below the number.  The velcro allows the subject cards to be removable.  I laminated them (well, I actually just used clear contact paper) and put the other half of the velcro on them.  I used my label maker <3 to insure that the subjects were easy to read (and just because I love an excuse to use the label maker).

On the flip side of the pockets that hold our subject cards, I made a calendar.  Days of the week and Months of the year are something we will be learning this year.

It has been fun, but quite an overwhelming journey, this preparing for homeschooling.  I hope to write soon about my experience choosing curriculum for this year.  I can't believe I have a Kindergartener!!

I am participating in the Back to School Ideas Link Party at Somewhat Simple!
Somewhat Simple

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

E-Readers and More!

What do you think about e-readers?  You know Kindle and Nook and such.  Our local library system is going to be set up for checking out e-books soon and it got me thinking about them for a second.

I have been really resistant to the idea so far.  I love books.  I am someone you could probably classify as a bibliophile.  The love really goes beyond a love of reading.  I love books!  I love the smell of paper and ink.  I love breaking the binding of a new book.  I love the turning of the pages.  The sound of a crisp page as it passes my fingers.  I could go on and on.

As I considered the e-reader, I thought about how helpful it could be to the homeschool family.  Fewer books to store, fewer books to buy,

Wait a minute!  What!?  One of my big reasons for homeschooling is to justify/conceal my book habit!  So, I guess that means I am officially anti-e-reader!

What do you think?  Books or e-readers?  Both have a place?

Falling asleep with a Nook wouldn't have been quite as good of a photo op.

In other news, we are going to be getting our kitchen cabinets soon!  Bill Vick, Brandon's high school wood shop teacher, will be building them for us.  He did our island last year and we love it.  He will be building them from heart pine (the same as our floor).  I am so excited that we will be able to move our pots and pans out of the rubbermaid bins!  I will finally have a complete kitchen after over a year of living here!

Right Now I Am...

Right now, I am...

:: feeling  like I need a shower and a cup of coffee.

:: enjoying  the momentary peace as my kids are outside (okay, that's over, Eden just bit Theo on the back of the arm. BRB).

:: loving  the produce coming from our garden.

:: appreciating  my husband for going to work every day so I can be at home.

:: remembering  that I really needed to pick up some packing tape at the store last night.

:: thinking  that I might like to see the Harry Potter movie on our date Friday night.

:: hearing  Eden ask if I will tell Daddy about her biting Theo, and if I will let her hide while I tell him.

::smiling  knowing exactly how she feels.

:: telling  Daddy about the bite, I reckon.

:: wondering  if I will ever feel like I have it together.

:: laughing  at the chicken peeking in the dining room window!

:: holding  my breath while Theo sits on the potty!  The potty!

:: giggling  at those horrible "Hail to the V" talking hand that is supposed to be a vulva commercials.  If you haven't seen them Google it, seriously!

:: knowing  that Brandon and I have a date Friday night is seriously getting me through the week.

:: wanting  a personal chef and washer woman.

:: closing  the computer.  Done for the day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fig Newtons

I have been making my own version of fig newtons the past couple of weeks!  We have a lovely crop of figs coming ripe here at Hunter's Grove.  They go bad SO fast that you have to pick and process in the same breath or the figs are good for nothing but the compost pile! I believe that's why all of the recipes I found for figs called for dried figs. Anyway, I didn't have dried figs, I had fresh ones and I had to make up my own recipe for the filling. It has turned out great each time and my husband says they are the best item in my baking repertoire!

It didn't occur to me to take a picture *before* we had eaten a bunch of them...
Full Disclosure: I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants cook/ baker, so this may or may not be exactly what happened in my kitchen.

a bunch of fresh figs (I used 8, but there was more filling than I needed, so I froze the rest)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup honey (the second time I made these I was out of honey and used a few Tbs of blackstrap molasses instead- It was good both ways!)

I used the food processor to chop/mix until it was jam texture.

Cake: (this was a recipe I had for tea cakes)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 ounces butter, softened
1/2 cup + 2 T brown sugar, packed
1 T cream (I have used half and half, too)
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together the brown sugar and butter. Add the cream and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until a soft dough forms (be careful not to over-mix). Turn dough out onto a floured countertop and form a smooth ball. Let chill in fridge for 2-4 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Cut dough ball into 4 sections and keep the part you’re not using in the fridge. On a floured surface, roll out dough into a strip about 4 inches wide. Trim the rough edges and spoon some of your fig puree down the center of the rectangle, being sure to save room around all edges. Fold the outer edges of the rectangle in and pinch together to make a tube. I flattened the pinched part down and turned the tube over so the top of my newtons were pretty and smooth. Repeat with other pieces of dough.
Bake for twenty five minutes, until golden. Let cool before slicing into newtons.

So there you have it! I hope you can locate some fresh figs so you can try it! If not, I am sure you can find some other yummy fruit to fill them with!

Today, I am participating in the Hearth and Soul link-up over at A Moderate Life.

Hearth and Soul Hop at A Moderate Life

Monday, July 25, 2011

Play Dough and a Weekend Trip

We went out of town this weekend.  It was a fun time on a farm in spite of the heat.  North Carolina is having the same extreme heat we are having here in VA.  My dad came and stayed at our house with Amos (our hound who suffers from car sickness) and the chickens.  He called me to say how much he enjoyed the chickens.  They really are so much fun to watch and play with!

Play Dough Rainbow
Anyway, we had the chance to give the homemade play dough a workout.  It held up wonderfully and the 9 kids who were staying at the farm house had fun with it!  I will say that using Kool Aid to color and scent the dough is something I probably won't do again.  The scent turned a bit rancid.

The recipe I used called for:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
2 Tbs oil
Food coloring
I cooked it over med heat until it turned into the right texture.

I have used several different kinds of pans to make the dough and a non-stick surface is absolutely the way to go.  There was very little clean up with non-stick, and I like it when there is very little clean up!

So, about the farm weekend... We stayed in a tiny little farm house in the middle of acres and acres of cotton.  We spent more time inside than we would have liked, but the heat was just too much.  We did manage to get outside long enough to fit in some skeet shooting, blueberry picking and a tractor ride!

Charlie and the Tractor
Tractor Ride

I look like I belong, huh?

Fields of cotton in bloom.  Lovely!

I'm participating in a Monday Link Up over at The Girl Creative!  There is a lot of fun stuff posted over there!  Go check it out!

The Girl Creative

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What I should be doing...

 since we are going away for the weekend is packing, cleaning, writing a list or just about anything but crafting and blogging.  But here I am.  Crafting.  Blogging.

It has been HOT here.  Hot enough that we can't spend much time outside.  Hot enough that we are stuck inside.  Hot enough that it was extremely poor timing to try to drastically cut TV usage this week.  But we are managing.  Mama is still sane, the children are still breathing and we have some fun arts and crafts to show for it!

Eden's Glittery Hands
Theo's Glitter Hands

The kids did handprints in glitter on Monday.  Boy does a little bit of sparkle make them happy!  Me?  Well I am learning to pretend that my floors are diamond-studded since I can't seem to manage getting all of the glitter up.

Homemade Play Dough
I have been making homemade play dough this week, too.  We are headed to the store tonight for some essential supplies so hopefully I can crank out the rest of the rainbow in the morning!  I colored (and scented) the dough with Koolaid!

Paint is always a big hit!
So I stumbled upon a blog that I am now in love with.  I was looking for information on homeschooling Workboxes, so I am not sure how I ended up at Aunt Peaches' site, but what a happy accident!  I just had to make a few coffee filter flowers!

My little bouquet!

3 of the individual flowers.
I soaked the filters in diluted craft paint and rinsed them.  I dried them in the sun and used floral stems and floral tape to secure them.  I think they are precious!  I need more colors of paint!  Must. Make. More.

Somewhat Simple

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Garden Tour

Tuesday July 19th Harvest

The sunflowers were all volunteers!


Did you know that *this* is what a cotton blossom looked like?


Flowers on a hazy day.

More sunflowers!

More pretty sunflowers!

Pumpkin Patch!

Corn and Sunflowers

Chamomile and Basil

Almost ripe.

Mexico Midgets are the best!




Pole beans are growing up my corn stalks.

Volunteer acorn squash in the compost bin.

Crazy-wild volunteer tomatoes in the compost bin.

Is it still "wordless" if your photos have captions? ;)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I feel so nerdy!

Did you notice?  I have a new blog button!  I made it myself!  *Brag, brag, brag*

When I started this whole blogging thing years ago, I was slightly terrified.  I have zero tech savvy.  Brandon is the computer geek in the family.  Not me.  I have gradually learned more and more and actually had fun doing it!

Anyway, if you are interested, grab my button at the bottom of the page.  If you need one for your own blog, go HERE.  These directions are great!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


In the past several weeks I have had the chance to hang out with 4 different people who I have been friends with for many many years, but who I have been separated from by distance.  It amazed me each time how easy it was to pick up where we left off and that 10, 20, 30 years later, this was still someone I would choose to have in my life!

What is it that makes friendship easy?  I used to think it was having things in common, but that is not the case more often than not.  I don't even have much in common with my jr. high self, much less the friends I made then.  There are a few people I know who, on paper, should be perfect for an amazing friendship.  When we get together, though, it doesn't work out that way.  There are also those who I don't really have much in common with at all, but who I mesh with perfectly.  What is that thing that makes it click?  I have heard it referred to as "chemistry".  Can someone tell me what that is?

Fo what it's worth, I do have friends that I choose to love even when it doesn't feel smooth.  As I get older, it has been easier to let go of friendships that are superficial, but those that have been around a while are usually worth working through.  I know some people who have issues that, for them, are friendship deal breakers.  I haven't really encountered any of those, as I know Christ loves us where we are and I am striving to be more like Him.

Tell me, do you have any friends who have been and will be friends for life?  What a blessing!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Woeful Neglect

Wow.  I have really let the summer get away from me.  We have been having a grand time here at Hunter's Grove!

The work on the garden has slowed somewhat as we are now harvesting!  We quickly realized that we need much more space for staples in the garden if we hope to put any up.  We have plenty for eating, but not much to store.

The chickens are getting so big!  They are a lot of fun to watch as they peck around the yard.  No eggs yet, but we could be getting eggs within the next month or so!


So, we have this sofa.  It came with the house.  It is VERY old (like hundreds of years old) and supposedly came from a tavern near Hadensville, VA.  It has been here at Hunter's Grove for quite some time.  I can't get rid of it... but, it is extremely uncomfortable and nobody wants to sit on it.  We made a plan to move it upstairs to our bedroom "reading nook" and had saved some money for purchasing a new sofa.  We chose a nice sofa (not the peacock blue velvet I had in mind, but nice anyway), and planned to purchase it ASAP.  It was on backorder.  Before it was available again, Ali (our 10 year old boxer) was bitten on the face by a copperhead.  2 nights in the animal hospital and the sofa money was gone.  We brought the old sofa back down to the living room.  Booooo!

But then... Mema swoops in to save the day!  She called me and said, "I bought you a sofa from the Echo Shop (a thrift store in her building at Westminster Canturbury) for $50.  I hope you like it."  I wasn't sure what to think.  Anything would be better than what we were sitting on currently, though.  When Brandon brought it home I was thrilled!  There int the back of his truck was a peacock blue velvet sofa!

New sofa!
Now that the sofa is done, we are concentrating all our financial efforts on the kitchen cabinets.  We hoped to be able to install them before Christmas.  Enter, Mema, once again!  She unloaded the dishwasher the last time she was here and was so bothered by the Rubbermaid bins we are using right now instead of cabinets that she Is giving us some $ to complete the cabinet project ASAP!

Theo's therapy is going great!  He is talking up a storm and it is so much fun to watch!  He had a birthday last month.  I can hardly believe he's 2!  The crib is gone and he is in a big boy bed now!  His sleeping is getting better, too!
Theo and Mater!

I have been working overtime on Theo's classic car quilt.  It is looking really good and I am about 1/3 of the way done with quilting it.

Gearing up for Kindergarten in the fall.  We have a designated school area and I have chosen curriculum (except math).  

Okay, I think I am done dumping on you...  I'll try to do better!