Thursday, December 20, 2012

Make It How You Like It Granola

After hours of searching for the perfect granola recipe, I finally gave up!! Armed with several I liked, I decided to create a new one. I call it Make It How You Like It Granola, because that's just what I did! And, oh how yummy!!! And, for those of you who really don't like to follow a recipe, like me, you will love this. For those of you who need more direction, you will love this! Also, Eli loved helping make this- scooping, pouring, stirring- all the things he's really good at doing :) And, he loves to help eat it!

For the recipe:

First, choose 6 cups of nuts and/or seeds: pecans, pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds) raw sunflower seeds, almonds (whole or slivered), walnuts, flax seeds. For mine, I chose 2 cups of slivered almonds, 2 cups walnuts (which I chopped in my food processor), 1 cup pepitas and 1 cup sunflower seeds. If you choose whole walnuts, almonds, and/or pecans, coarsely chop them in a food processor.

Next, choose 5-7 cups of the following- oats, unsweetened coconut, almond meal, flaxmeal. I choose 2 cups of oats and 3 cups of coconut. If I were choosing 7 cups of almond meal and flaxmeal, I would use whole almonds/flax seeds and chop them finer than coarse but not as fine as fine in a food processor. I like my granola to be a bit chunky.

Add 1 t cinnamon and 1 t salt.

Add the wet ingredients: 1/2 cup raw honey, 3 tsp vanilla, 1 cup oil- I used coconut oil in a liquid state. I'm sure safflower oil would be good too, or any other better grade oil.

Optional 1/2- 1 cup dried fruit- I used cranberries.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix everything together. Spread mixture on baking sheet (either on 2 or do in batches). Bake for 10 mins and stir. Do this 1 or 2 more times. I like to cook mine for 30 min. You're looking for a nice light golden color. It will darken just a little when it cools, it will also dry as it cools. Once cool/dry, store.

                                                                    Before baking

                                                      Packaged for Christmas Presents!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We're still here!

I'm so sorry I haven't updated in awhile!! But seriously, the June/July updates would have read like this:

It's hot.
Yep, still hot.
Garden is baking in the sun.
Still hot.
Had to turn the hose on mist to help keep the chickens cool.
Chickens are miserable.
Hell, I'm miserable.
Eli wants it to snow.
I hate this weather.
Back porch temperature says 108 degrees.
And again today
And again
And again, etc.

August was better. September was nice. And now, in October, it's turned off rainy. We've even had our first frost- VERY early this year!

Yesterday, I made 15 pint jars of pesto. Not too bad since I thought we had lost all of the basil, but the plants made a nice recovery in August.

So, here's to nicer weather and MORE UPDATES TO COME! A little peak for upcoming posts... our turkeys are beautiful!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


This post is inspired by the Play At Home Mom YES YOU CAN photo album on facebook.

YES, you can help Daddy spread dirt and then have some to play with in a bin. YES you can dig for worms. YES you can use your hands, or a scoop, or even dump some in your hair. YES, YES, YES, please explore your world, enjoy and have fun learning!

Toothpaste, Mouthwash and Deodorant

I'm needing to make some toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant and thought I'd write up a quick post with the recipes.

We use the pretty basic recipe floating around out there, with of course our own little twist on it.

2 Tablespoons melted Coconut Oil
1 Tablespoon Xylitol- I prefer xylitol over baking soda. It sweetens it plus is thought to help restore minerals to the teeth! I use the flat blade of our Silver Bullet blender to grind it finer for toothpaste
1 teaspoon Nixall- optional but it makes it even more anti-bacterial
About 10-15 drops of Essential Oil- I use Peppermint Oil- it gives it that minty fresh taste plus is anti-bacterial

Mix everything together. The Coconut Oil will solidify when it cools. I keep mine in a small plastic container.

Okay, so we LOVE Nixall. This is a CLEAN, GREEN disinfectant which is anti- bacterial, fungal, and viral PLUS it's safe enough to drink. It is EPA and FDA approved for many uses. It's more effective than bleach and has killed EVERYTHING it's been tested on, which includes every Level 1 Virus. This has been tested, proved and approved, not just wives tales and maybes. THIS STUFF WORKS!

One of our many uses is a mouthwash. In the 10:1 dilution with 10 parts water to 1 part Nixall, I add Peppermint Oil for that fresh minty taste.

Another one of those basic recipes, with our twist.

4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil- melted
1/8 C. Baking Soda
1/8 C. either Cornstarch or Arrowroot
1t. Nixall (optional)
Essential Oils- optional- I love using Tea Tree Oil and Lavender- I use a total of about 15-20 drops

Mix together. The Coconut Oil will solidify when it cools. I store ours in a plastic container, not a reused deodorant container. During the summer, unless you keep your house really cool, it will get a little mushy. Plus, if you do any traveling, or camping, you really don't want your deodorant to melt all over everything.

Heat Rash
If you suffer from heat rash, like I do so often, you can use, guess what? NIXALL for deodorant! Just spray under your arms and you're good to go. Not only does it get rid of the odor causing bacteria but it also helps with heat rash. I'm telling you, this is our go to product for so many things!

One other note. If you're using identical containers for your deodorant and toothpaste, you might want to label them. Tea Tree Oil/Lavender Deodorant doesn't taste very well. Oops ;)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bug Repellant and Bug Bites

It's that time of year again ~ BUGS!!! Here's what we use for bug repellant and then, if we forget the bug spray, we have the bug bite cream. It is possible to be outside without all the chemicals and toxins!

Bug Repellant

Liquid Soap Nuts- click here for more information on where to order, how to make, etc.
You can add various essential oils for repelling bugs, but liquid soaps nuts work just fine without any EO.  Some EO I like to add include: cedarwood, lemongrass, tea tree oil, catnip, geranium eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint. This isn't a complete list of bug repelling oils. Citronella is one as well, but I really don't like the smell. Neem oil is a great bug repellant, but oh, the smell :( I save that smell for the garden, away from me!

Bug Bite Cream

This is for those times we forget the bug repellant!

Green clay powder
Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix together to create a paste. Dab on bite(s).

Simple and effective itch relief.

Additional Summer Solutions...

Nixall is AMAZING stuff! Click here for more information and ordering.  It's a 10:1 dilution with water (10 parts water: 1 part Nixall) so one quart will make 10 quarts!

Here are just a few uses- focusing on Summer Uses:

Poison Ivy relief- just spray on infected area several times a day. Relieve itching and clears it up fast! Milo got into hemlock and got a really nasty rash which was quite resilient. He used Nixall on it anytime it started to itch. It did take awhile for that rash to clear up, but it did and with minimal itching.

Wound care for scrapes/cuts/burns- including sunburns- Just spray on affected area. Eli is constantly scraping his knees like any active 4 yr old should be in the summer. We just spray him down. It keeps the affected area from becoming infected plus promotes healing. I've personally used it for sunburn relief. It instantly takes out the sting of a burn- sun or let's say, hot broth splashing on your arm. Yes, I did that one too, ended up with a 2nd degree burn OUCH! But with Nixall, it cleared it up within days.

Ticks- The ticks are BAD this year! This isn't a "proven" use for Nixall, but it's what we noticed. When I spray myself down with Nixall, I don't get ticks. When I don't use Nixall, I find ticks on me. Also, when I have a tick, I spray it with Nixall- they have either backed out, or been very easy to remove.

Preservative for Liquid Soap Nuts- with the 10:1 dilution rate using liquid soap nuts, Nixall will act as a preservative, keeping your solution from going bad.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Liquid Soap Nuts Uses

I LOVE using Soap Nuts. They are so many uses- everything from laundry to bug repellant and best of all, NON-TOXIC!  I buy our Soap Nuts from Green Virgin Products.

I make up a gallon at a time since I use it for LOTS of things. It's one of my most important products I have in the house.

Here's my recipe for making liquid Soap Nuts

Take about 30 soapnuts in approx. 4 cups of water- bring to boil, simmer/boil for 30 min., let cool, strain out the nuts. I store mine in an empty gallon vinegar jug. I add a cup of Nixall as a preservative so it doesn't go bad, fill the jug the rest of the way with water. You can Essential Oils- EO-  if you want.

Here's a list of what I use liquid soap nuts for.

Laundry- 1/4 c per load- With the Soap Nuts from Green Virgin Products, you can still use the cold water setting on the washer.  I also add 1/2 c of vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. Clothes won't smell like vinegar, plus in the winter, Vinegar doubles as a static cling remover. For stains and whites, we still use OxyClean.

Bug Spray- straight, can add EO if you want

Garden Bug Repellant- straight or add EO and/or neem oil- I add neem oil

All Purpose Cleaner- 1T per 16 oz. spray bottle, fill with water will work just fine, but here's my recipe for a 16 oz. bottle (the 16 oz. bottles you get in the laundry section work so much better than the 32 oz. bottles, in my opinion- the 32 oz. spray bottle sprayers kept breaking, even the ones from recycling empty commercial cleaner bottles)
1T liquid soap nuts
2 T Vinegar (helps with cutting grease, using for mirrors)- it's diluted enough that you don't smell it
1/4 C Nixall- makes it anti bacterial, viral, fungal, acts as a preservative- this is optional, but this is a serious anti-everything product that I use a lot!
Various EO- I personally love a lavendar herb combination- Lavendar/Lemongrass and Lavendar/Thyme are a couple of my favorites. I even just added a bunch of herbals scents (rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemongrass with Lavendar and it was just divine!)

I use this for cleaning everything, even mirrors. For mirrors, it looks as though it's going to streak, but it's always dried just fine, without streaks.  For sinks, toilets, showers, tubs I sprinkle baking soda/borax combo, spray with solution, wipe down, rinse. I've tried a variety of cleaning solutions and this is my absolute favorite. I noticed an immediate difference in just how clean everything was- it sparkled. Much better than anything else, including commercial cleaners, and at a fraction of the cost.

What's on our Summer Shelves

So finally a post, with pictures, of what's on our summer shelves. Just because it's summer doesn't mean the learning stops! We are doing the Summer Library Reading Program and the summer homeschooling literature/activities guide from Wee Folk Art. Before being introduced to these amazing guides, I had already decided to have a summer unit about ponds, so the Wee Folk Art Puddles and Ponds summer guide really was the perfect fit. It focuses on weather and ponds through children's literature and activities. I'm also supplementing with activities from  With Montessori, we have Practical Life Skills and Sensory items.

First a few items from May, which will probably stay out through the summer.

I bought these puzzles at the Dollar Store- there's also a snail puzzle I don't have in the picture. Eli really loves working these and he's getting better at finding matching pieces.

I have a couple of splurge items- items which I spent more than I should have, but they were just too cute to pass up! I do allow a small amount of splurge items each semester, and these little bees were one of them! They fit perfectly for our Bees Unit and Practical Life Skills.

I would like to insert here information about the Barnes and Noble Educators Discount program. They include Homeschoolers!! I would have the link, but can't find it. It was very easy, they were very polite and very helpful in assisting me in receiving my discount card, which by the way, is 20% off of ALL educational supplies- books and toys. All I had to do was tell them I was a homeschooling mom. Once I received my discount card, I used it to buy these all too cute little bees. **PLEASE NOTE** The little bees didn't come with the pom-pom balls, I added those myself, which I purchased from Wal-Mart in the party supply area.

Speaking of Educators Discounts, JoAnn's has a similar program for 15% off. You do have to show some kind of evidence that you are homeschooling- workbook that your child has worked on, lesson plans, etc. I just happen to have my Wee Folk Art book lists with me in case I find myself in a bookstore. I also had my year overview, which I had just printed out that morning, with me. They accepted it as evidence. The manager was really cool about it. She was homeschooled too and loves it when homeschoolers ask for their discount card.

Next, on our shelves...

These are items I bought from, except for the small brown pitchers in the first picture. Those came from goodwill, on sale for 50 cents.

The crumb brush is the perfect size for smaller hands.

There were several pouring kits to choose from. I decided on this one to help teach pouring and equally dividing between several containers.

This little kit was too cute! I was afraid it would be too easy for Eli, as we've been working with tweezers/tongs for awhile now, but it was a little difficult for him. Not only does it teach fine motor skills with the tweezers, there is the sorting colors aspect as well.

Here's another couple of splurge items- spiral tongs and a little shell scoop. One of the activities I have planned for later in the summer is to have small shells which Eli will scoop, pour and then practice using the crumb brush with. The spiral tongs work very well with the pom-pom balls and placing in the little dish from goodwill which has probably been one of the most used items I have- I think it's a little egg dish?

Dish from goodwill- this was from our December shelves

Here's another Montessori activity- flower arranging. Everything came from the Dollar Store. I had to cut the flowers apart into individual stems.

Still out- folding washcloths

Texture Dominoes.

We also have the Melissa and Doug Shapes clock. We also are doing outside sensory bins. So far, we've done insta-snow and Moon Sand (8 cups flour, 1 cup oil- either baby oil or vegetable oil- we tripled the recipe for the outdoor bin, which is the Step2 raised sandbox). Eli also has a water/sand table, which I just have water in. He has a separate sandbox.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Home Schooling Retrospect and Next Year

First WHAT'S ON OUR SHELVES for the Summer~

Various Practical Life Skills activities, the Wee Folk Art home school guides (see below) and participating in the Library Reading Program. Another fun summer activity has been to designate Friday's as Adventure Day. Yesterday was our first one. We went to the Fountains and it was a HUGE hit! Post coming soon about our Summer Activities including photos. 

This past year, we home schooled Eli. I used the Montessori style, which is a lot of hands on activities, including nomenclature cards. As I'm looking forward to next year, I've been assessing what worked and what didn't. In all honestly, Eli tolerated the nomenclature cards- 3 part cards designed to teach about various topics. They have pictures with words. For example, there were about a dozen springtime cards. The tulip card included 1) a picture of a tulip with the word tulip, 2) just a picture of a tulip, and then 3) the word tulip. What I found was that Eli responded MUCH better by walking across the street, with me, to look at the neighbors springtime flowers, which included tulips. Instead of only seeing a picture of a bud, we watched a little tree in our backyard, almost daily, to see the changes in the growing bud into a leaf. Now, I know nomenclature cards are only a supplement to learning and even Montessori says GET OUTSIDE and do hands-on learning. However, when learning about Africa, it isn't like we can just go outside to do so. I'm now tweaking the home school plan for next year to include a lot more hands on activities and utilizing Google Earth. I have been collecting books to cover our various topics. I'm pulling together a list of activities from which I kept vacillating over the cost, $27 per year. I finally just did it and it is well worth the price! I have Toobs of animals for the different land biomes. I bought Practical Life Skills activities to help teach sorting and pouring. I even splurged on some really cute spiral tongs. I have my list of math manipulatives we need to purchase.

BUT, the most important part being added to home schooling is the beautiful find of the Wee Folk Art Home School Guides- thank you Jessica for sharing! OMG! These guides are amazing and can be easily incorporated whether one is home schooling or not. It is Waldorf based and focuses on literature and creative activities. THIS WAS THE PIECE MISSING FROM OUR HOME SCHOOL! The guides are based on the seasons, which I had already lined out next year's learning accordingly, so they fit perfectly. There's a list of books for each season. It's been a wonderful treasure hunt to find these books used- just buying them off would eliminate half the fun, even though I'm sure I will have to purchase a few that way. Also, our local library has many of the books.

I'm so excited about these guides, we're starting them now. All of the curriculum is spiral learning- meaning I can reuse the same materials each year, just going deeper with each topic, or picking a different aspect to focus on. For example, geography this year, we will focus on biomes and animals for each continent. I'm fairly certain there will be some Putamayo CD's in there as well. And cooking some kind of traditional food, or at least eating at an ethnic restaurant.

So that's what we've been up to, at least on the home schooling front!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pickled Beets

We've had a variety of things going on here at Peace of Earth~ gardening, raising cornish cross meat chickens, and pulling together a home school curriculum for Eli, who will be 4 at the end of August!

In the garden, we have peas and beans coming up. The Brussel Sprouts are looking great, as are the Eggplants. I don't think we've every had eggplant plants look so good! We also have the herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squashes all planted and hoping for some more kale, lettuce and spinach. For some reason, we haven't had much luck with the greens so far this year.

Last night, I pickled 4 pints of beets. Well, really, 3.5. I was hoping for more but at least I had 3- one for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas and one for Easter- and then the half is in the fridge right now. I will do a fall crop and fingers crossed, will have more.

As I was working on the beets last night, I was thinking about my grandmother (who has passed). I also thought about my dad (who passed away this last fall). I learned how to can beets from my dad, who learned from his mother. I could feel both of them with me as I peeled the beets. In case you don't know, canning beets is a lot of work! I now realize just how much love went into each jar from year's past. A dinner at my grandmother's always included a jar of canned/pickled beets.

Here is the recipe passed down to me:

Pick beets- cut tops off, but leave the root (this is very important, according to my dad)
Rinse- I got most of the dirt off, but they will be cooked and peeled, so don't worry about getting them perfectly clean.
Cook- boil like potatoes. They are done when you can put a fork into them, tender, like you would for potatoes.
Rinse- I pour mine into a large colander in the sink and run cold water over them. They are still warm when I peel them.
Peel- The peeling comes right off- I also cut the tops and bottoms.
Fill jars- I do mine in pint jars

At this point, if you're going to follow the directions for canning in the Ball Blue Book and use the hot water method, get your water started, then prepare the following mixture for canning.

Heat together and boil for 10 min. the following:
For 4 pints

2 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Water
2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1t. whole cloves
1t whole allspice
1T Cinnamon

Pour over beets, place lids/rings on jars and then continue with canning directions from your Ball Blue Book. They do have directions for pickled beets, which I did. *Bring water to a simmer, place jars in, bring to a rolling boil and maintain for 30 min. Turn off, let jars cool down in pot (I left mine in for a couple of hours), then place on towels on the counter and cover with a towel. Check for seal within 24 hours. *PLEASE read the directions from the Ball Blue Book!! This is just a brief summary so you know what you're getting yourself into!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Laundry Detergent

I just read an article that Tide is now the new hot item to steal. Seriously? Tide?

This recipe is needed now more than ever, I guess, lol!! 

There are a lot of homemade laundry soap recipes out there. However, I really love soap nuts. They're easy. I also can use them for a variety of cleaning products, not just laundry.

First- buy your bag of soap nuts. I get mine from Green Virgin Products. 

Let's do a little cost comparison-
Tide, 150 oz. 90 loads, from Wal-Mart is $17.97- 20 cents a load
Soap Nuts from GVP, 1 kilo bag, 330 loads, $27.95- .08 cents a load
AND I will have additional Soap Nuts cleaning recipes, so you will have additional savings when you're not buying other commercial cleaners as well.

Next, use your Soap Nuts. They will come with a little drawstring bag. You can put 4-6 in the bag and use them just like that in your laundry. They will last for up to 6 loads of laundry. They work great. But if you want to be daring, make liquid soap nuts. I love the liquid. The little bag would get lost, or come open. Or, I would forget how many loads I had done. Liquid was easier plus I use it in making other cleaning products.

To make a gallon of Soap Nuts concentrate:

Boil 4-6 cups of water. Add about 30 soap nuts (for me, it's about 3 hand fulls). Let simmer for 30 min. Turn off, let cool. Add to gallon container and fill with water. I use empty vinegar bottles.

To use: 1/4 cup per load. If you read about soap nuts, most will say you need to use warm/hot water, but you really can use cold water and they will work just fine. 

What about whites? We use Oxyclean- one of the few commercial products I buy, with soap nuts. I do the prewash soak overnight in Oxyclean, then the regular wash with soap nuts.

What about stains? I use spray Oxyclean pre-treat then wash with soap nuts. Yes, I even have the Tide pen for tough stains and the Clorox bleach pen for let's say blueberry-smoothie-accidently-spilled-on-white-shirt stains. Yes, it's happened. The Clorox pen is great for that stain. I bought those pen things a couple of years ago, so it isn't like I use them often.

What about Fabric Softener? Great question. STOP BUYING FABRIC SOFTENER!! It's full of nasty chemicals, plus it smells horrible. I hate the smell of those dryer sheets. Yuck!
USE VINEGAR in your rinse cycle. Yes, just plain white vinegar- approx. 1/2 cup per load in your rinse cycle. You're clothes won't smell like vinegar.  I will also be doing a tutorial on making wool dryer balls which can be used as a fabric softener/static cling remover as well. But for now, use vinegar.

If you read about liquid soap nuts on-line, they all say that the liquid will go bad after about a week. However, I haven't noticed that to be true. I did take a whiff of some I made up a few weeks ago, and there's a slight smell, but nothing horrid and my clothes definitely don't smell. You can always make up less- standard recipe is 8-10 soap nuts per 6 cups of water. After it's simmered, you're left with about 4 cups of liquid- 1 quart. You can also add a preserver- ascorbic acid or I've used Nixall (in my all purpose cleaner, it acts as a preserving agent as well as a disinfectant) I don't think I'd use Nixall in my laundry soap though. Nixall is hypochlorous acid- is non-toxic, and can be used for a variety of things- but there could possibly be some negative consequences if using it in laundry- highly doubtful, but it could happen. It has plenty of other uses, not to worry. It's a great product. Not only do I recommend it, so does Dr. Norm Shealy. Get some.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why we are Homeschooling

Public Schools teach to the average child and they teach to the test. Eli isn't average. If he were to go to public school, he would be bored. He doesn't do nothing well. It wouldn't be good for anyone involved! I am in no way bashing teachers. I think they do an amazing job with what they're given. I really wish they were allowed to just teach.

I find it sad that children in Kindergarten have to stand in a straight line and are expected to sit, quietly at their desks, which are all in rows. They also learn they must color inside the lines, both literally and metaphorically... conform. He has his whole life to learn this and actually I want him to always feel comfortable thinking outside of the box. It is a skill which will serve him well.

I want Eli to feel free to express himself, to be creative, to explore and learn about his world, to be who and what he needs to be with the support of the adults around him, gently guiding him. Once again, creativity is a great skill to cultivate.

We also don't use the reward/punishment system of discipline, which the school seems to only be able to exist on. He is learning to do what is right, because it is the right thing to do and not because someone is watching over him.

I don't want to protect him from the world (as some homeschoolers do), but rather to give him the confidence- and skills- he will need to navigate the world. I want to nurture the skills we value in adults but so many times discipline out of children. It is my job to raise a contributing citizen of society.

I want to teach him HOW to think, not WHAT to think. This goes back to being creative and being able to apply what he learns. Right now, Eli is really into Math. He loves patterns and shapes. Not only has he learned his shapes, but now, he sees shapes in everything! He is applying what he has learned.

We are teaching using the Montessori philosophy with some Reggio sprinkled in. Both of the philosophy's are not just for teaching, but are LIFE philosophies. One of my favorite Maria Montessori quote is from a student speaking with her who said "teach me so I can do it for myself." That sums it up! We are teaching him to be independent and confident, giving him the skills and tools he needs to navigate his world. The Reggio sprinkling is based on the awesome, awesome blog of Play At Home Moms. LOTS of hands on activities and supplies which the children has access to at all times. In Montessori, they recommend a specific place and specific time for learning. Eli has access to all of his activities at all times, including art supplies. Because he has been shown the proper way to use everything, other than a short coloring on everything in the house phase, he is very respectful of his things. Which leads me to the final point~ Montessori also includes the phrase "quiet and respectful". I don't expect Eli to be a quiet little mouse- that would be impractical for an active 3 yr old boy! But, he isn't a crazy disrespectful preschooler either. He doesn't destroy things. He is very respectful, not only knowing the proper use of things, but he also does it. 

We have an awesome Montessori school in town which is always a consideration. But for now, I am very happy homeschooling him. He is learning and is a happy, outgoing preschooler. It's working for us!

Filling the bird feeder

watching for birds

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What's on Our March Shelves

The big introduction for Eli's Homeschooling is THE CALENDAR. I love this thing. I spent a lot of time on it. I'm really glad he likes it too. My inspiration is from Counting Coconuts, but I tailored it for our needs.

The moon phase cards and the weather tracking cards came from Montessori Print Shop- the weather tracking cards are FREE. I bought the calendar from an educational supply store and made everything else using Print Shop.

Eli enjoying his calendar. Yes, his shirt is wrong side out and backwards. BUT he put it on all by himself. He was so proud and I was proud of him as well.

The other thing I did was to move his larger sensory table outside. The weather is getting warmer, so it will be good out on the back porch for warm weather experiments and such. The table is a Step2 sandbox table, but we use it for all kinds of things. In his room, I put a bookshelf in the corner where the sensory table was. 

For his learning shelves, I bought blue trays at Target. I wish they would have had 6, but they had five so that's what I got. I have one for each of his learning subjects- Math, Language/Reading, Science (it's the one overflowing!), Geography, Practical Life, and then Sensory didn't get a bin. 

We are using the colored Counting Bears to create patterns- he's really into making patterns, so I'm going with it

Number Counting Cards- Index cards with the number 1-10 and then counting chips- actually they're food chips (plastic green circles with an image of a carrot in them) from a casino that were given to us- they work ;)

Opposites- he has a book of opposites and then sorting cards from Montessori Print Shop

Rhyming words- using his Spelling Spinner

Beginning Letter Sounds- simple 3 letter words, sounding out beginning letter and finding the letter that goes

A couple of books that have a lot of rhyming words

We're learning about the weather and seasons. With St. Patrick's Day coming up, we will be making Rainbow Rice, creating a Rainbow Jar (with the rainbow rice) and learning about rainbows. He also has sorting cards for hot/cold weather clothing

Colors- We did this a couple of times last month and he really liked it- White ice cube tray with water in each of the holes. Add primary food color to 3 of the holes. Then he has color cards for the secondary colors- For example, I put a blue dot + red dot = purple dot, so he will take an eyedropper of blue, then red and make purple in another hole. I also found a Blues Clues book about colors.

Baby Animals- names and matching with adults animals

Geography- right now we still have the green playdoh (earth) with the blue bin (water) to make land form shapes. Eli really doesn't like it and gets bored very quickly- I only try every once in awhile, I don't force it. We do have a poster with land forms that he loves. I really need to learn how to use Google Earth. The Montessori At Home ebook suggests using it to look at actual land forms. I think Eli would really get into that.  Can I get it to work on the Kindle I wonder?

Practical Skills
He loves spooning the glass rocks and tonging poms. He's way past learning it, but he likes it so much, I've kept it out. He's also really good with threading- buttons and then the smaller pony beads onto a pipe cleaner. We need to work more on folding washcloths. He's probably getting close for sewing shapes- various shapes with holes, then you string a shoestring through the holes. Other practical skills not in his room are dressing and undressing- he's getting pretty good at it. I'm also moving towards having his snack shelf in the fridge and in a lower cabinet so he can begin making his own snacks.

We have a matching game- cards with pictures of objects and animals and matching them with the silhouette. I have some water beads we need to get out.  I also have a running list of cool things from Play At Home Mom

Frugal Green

I always hear people say it's so expensive to be green. I am so confused by that because we do it because it saves us money!! Then I realized why some think it's so expensive. They haven't discovered the world of DIY.  Have you seen the cost of "green" products! YIKES!! So, I'm starting a Frugal Green section, showing how easy and cheap it is to be GREEN!

Here's a list of home products I make:

Laundry soap
Fabric Softener
All Purpose All Purpose Cleaner- including mirrors/windows
Air Freshener
Lip Balm
Hand salve
Body Wash
Bug Spray
Bug Bite cream- that sounds kind of funny, if the bug spray worked then why would I need the bug bite cream, lol!! The bug spray works WHEN WE REMEMBER TO USE IT!!
and soon, toothpaste- just waiting to finish up the commercial toothpaste we have

It seems as though I make more of our stuff, but that's all I can think of for now.

If you would like to start stocking ingredients for upcoming recipes, I HIGHLY recommend these products:

Soap Nuts from Green Virgin Products- great price, great product. Most of my cleaning products have liquid soap nuts as it's base. You don't buy liquid soap nuts, you buy regular soap nuts and then make the liquid. It's easy, I promise. You just have to be able to boil water.

Nixall- anti everything. great disinfectant.

Baking Soda, Vinegar, Liquid Castille Soap, Borax (optional), Various Essential Oils

I use Emulsifying Wax for my lotion. Some people take issue with emulsifying wax. If you're one who does, then you won't like my lotion recipe. If you don't and want to make awesome lotion for literally pennies for commercial lotion, then I recommend buying Emulsifying Wax from Mountain Rose Herbs. You might want to also pick up some beeswax while you're at it.

Containers: I've tried reusing my old spray bottles, but I think there's a conspiracy for the spring in the sprayer. They always seem to break. It's like they know you're not going to buy the commercial stuff anymore and they don't want to participate. I don't even have luck with the spray bottles in the cleaning section, the empty ones that are supposed to be for cleaning and should last. They don't. The best spray bottles I have found are in the laundry section at Wal-Mart, with the irons and ironing boards (I know, Wal-Mart). They are 16 oz. and work for more than just a couple of spritzes. Also, they're a dollar apiece. We use them for all kinds of things- well, water based things that is.

Healing Honey/Elderberry Syrup Candy

Here is Part 2 of Healing Recipes. I got my inspiration from The Pistachio Project and her Homemade Cough Drop Lollipops. She made homemade cough drops and lollipops using just honey.

Anyone who knows me, knows I just absolutely can NOT follow a recipe exactly as it's written. I have to add this or that or do something different. So here's what I did.
I used 1/2 c of honey like the recipe called for and did all of the heating/stirring, BUT I added these ingredients.
About 26 10 mg of Zinc- I bought the tablets and ground them up in my little Silver Bullet using the flat blade.
1/4 c. of Elderberry Syrup
Juice from 1 lemon


Here's her basic recipe and directions I used:

Cough Drop Lollipops

The good news is that cough drops are incredibly easy to make! I found the original recipe at Little House in the Suburbs and when I saw someone mention lollipops and idea was born. Naturally kids need cough drops too but I don’t like giving my kids itty bitty pieces of hard candy. Cough drop lollipops are a logical solution. Cough drops on a stick.
½ cup to 1 cup honey (honestly any amount would do probably)
Candy thermometer (optional)
Lollipop sticks
Lollipop mold (although if you do not have a mold you could make free form lollipops by pouring the honey over the stick on a non-stick surface)

Pour honey into small saucepan and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and bring honey to a boil. If using candy thermometer, insert in and continue to stir the honey until it has reached a temperature of 300 degrees. Remove from heat and move to test phase. If not using the candy thermometer then continue cooking and occasionally test. Just don’t wait too late to test; testing too early is better then testing too late. 
Pictures of mine~ Everything, including the zinc powder. The powder eventually dissolves.

About 45 min. later- getting very close!
Test –

To make sure your honey has reached the right consistency, place a drop or two of honey into a cup of ice water. If the honey turns and stays hard (like a hard candy) then you are good to go. If it is still soft then you need to keep cooking a bit longer.
Making the Lollipops –

With Molds- Grease lollipop molds and insert sticks so that they are ready in the mold. Pour honey into mold and let cool at room temperature. (No cheating and putting them into the fridge. It won’t work)
Without Molds- Lay lollipop sticks on a greased non-stick surface such as a silicone mat or parchment/wax paper. Carefully pour honey over each stick, creating a free form lollipop.
I'm not a candy maker. I had NO IDEA just how long it would take for this to reach 300 degrees- 45 minutes. So don't start out with a short metal teaspoon like I did. Also, when popping them out of the molds, especially if you make drops (without the sticks), they will fly, be careful. Speaking of molds, make sure you get the ones for hot candy. I bought mine at Hobby Lobby- I bought one for lozenges and one for lollipops. This recipe filled those just fine- I think I had about 6 lollipops and 18 lozenges.

I do have one question for those who are candy makers- okay, actually I have a couple of questions:

1. How do you keep it from scorching once heated but needing to spoon into the molds. I can't keep stirring and pour into molds as the same time. I scorched the 1st batch, so for the second batch, I poured it into a pyrex glass pan. I might as well have just made a brick- it solidified almost immediately. I still got most of it out and into my molds.

2. Once it was cooled and I popped them out of the molds, I stored them on a plate, to which they adhered themselves to, better than any glue I've ever seen. How do you keep candy from getting so sticky?

Overall, they tasted really good, Eli loved them and I found them to be very soothing for my throat. I would make them again because practice makes perfect and these are just too good to not perfect!

Elderberry Syrup

We've been sick and I've been the one who got really, really sick. Two weeks ago, when we all first started coming down with this upper respiratory stuff, I decided to make some Elderberry Syrup. I've been hearing all kinds of wonderful things about it, and I will have to say, IT'S ALL TRUE!!

First, the syrup. There are various versions of this basic recipe floating around out there. It's simple and EASY, oh, and very inexpensive.


3 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Dried Elderberries, or 1 Cup Fresh
1/2 Cup Raw Honey

Bring 3 Cups water to a boil, at Elderberries, simmer. All of the recipes I saw said to simmer until liquid was half. I'm a really bad judge of what half actually looks like in a pot, so I just let it simmer for about 45 min. and called it good. Strain out the berries (I used a small mesh sieve and just poured it into my pint jar. Oh, I forgot to say this earlier, this recipe will make about a pint, so have a jar clean and ready for your syrup) Add 1/2 cup Raw Honey and stir it until it dissolves (I didn't do that with one batch. I ended up with a glob of raw honey at the bottom of the jar). And now, you have Elderberry Syrup for a fraction of the cost as buying it. It cost about $3-4 to make versus $18 to buy, and that's $18 for a small container, not a pint!

Preventative dosage:

Children 1t daily
Adults 1T daily

When your sick dosage:

Children 1t every 3-4 hours
Adults 1T every 3-4 hours

For Eli, I put several t in a glass of watered down apple juice for him to drink on throughout the day. This stuff is good by itself and absolutely awesome in apple juice.

When we get sick, we start with the alternative stuff first. This was the only thing that even remotely came close to helping me feel better.  I continued taking it even after I went to the doctor and got meds (yes, I was that sick- alternative wasn't cutting it, OTC didn't touch it, so off to the doctor I went). This, plus a warm honey/lemon/rum concoction worked better at helping my cough than the cough medicine. I still took my antibiotics but stopped the cough medicine. And yes, I am taking my probiotics ;)

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I've carried quite a bit over from January. I realized that Eli wasn't quite ready for a lot of the printed materials and really needed more hands-on type learning. I think I have a better balance now. We started the pink language series, but he only does one activity during learning time (which is about 3 times a week). He has open access to all materials at all times, so he's in his activity room when we wants, playing/learning with want he wants. I do try to have a sit down time, as I said about 3 times per week. I do this mainly to show him what activities he has. Most of his time is self-directed.

Now to the pictures!

His shelves really needed organizing! I found these cute little bins on clearance at Wal-Mart. I LOVE the striped ones, but after going to 4 different Wal-Marts, I think I bought the last 3 in the area!

I found these great little trays at Target and they are perfect! The activities are 1)Shapes with control card and colored popsicle sticks- it's one of his favorite activties! 2) Pink language series- he has to match the word with the picture. 3) Blue triangles- make different pictures with the triangles- control card shows the different pictures he can make.

New organization bin- I bought this from Lowe's. It stores the Pink Language Series, and other activities.

Here's one row- 1st box is Magnetic/Non-magnetic- 2nd box is Missouri Birds and the 3rd box is Van Gogh

Learning color gradient- I picked up paint chip cards- 2 sets for each color. I cut one apart and left the other as the control card. Eventually, he will be able to put them in order without the control card.

                                           Control Cards

We hung bird feeders right outside his activity room so he can see the Missouri birds he's learning about. We do get a lot of birds, but they apparently didn't want their picture taken, lol!

Eli filling the log bird feeder- Milo made this feeder a couple of years ago. The mix is peanut butter with a high energy bird seed mix- it has dried fruits and nuts in it.

Eli watching for birds to come to the newly filled feeders

 Hammering nails and sorting nuts/washers, plus learning how to turn for putting them on/taking them off

This is another favorite activity. Flower foam, golf tees, marbles and ping pong balls. Eli has to  place the golf tee in the foam straight so the marble or ping pong ball will balance on it. For extra learning, I put numbers on the balls.

His dry erase board- He has a spray bottle to clean off his board. He LOVES his spray bottle. It's empty right now which is why his board isn't clean. He's a little obsessed with cleaning.

Geometry shapes- Melissa and Doug- Eli LOVES this activity!!