This Month's Featured Resources...

Ten Days of RoadschoolingTeaching Kids About HerbsLego St. Patricks Day Mardi Gras

Tuesday, February 24

Coming Clean (Lindsay Lohan)


It's become very trendy to mark everything "organic" these days.  But what's the big deal?  And what's the difference between "100% organic," "made with organic ingredients," and just plain "organic?"

Organic produce is grown without pesticides, radiation, sewage sludge, GMOs, or synthetic fertilizers.   Organic meats are raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, or non-organic feed.

If a boxed meal is "100% organic," then all ingredients are organic.  If it is "made with organic ingredients," then 70-94% of the ingredients are organic.

Buying organic means spending more - but you can pay the farmer now, or pay the doctor later!  It costs more because :
  • Organic farming is more labor intensive.
  • Farmers don't receive federal subsidies.
  • Farms are smaller than conventional farms.
You might find local farms that are growing food organically, but without the label.  Check with the farmers.  Oftentimes, the sheer amount of paperwork required to get the label is too much for smaller farmers.

Take it to the Next Level

Now is the time to start seeds for a garden.  Purchase organic seeds and grow your own food.  You can save the seeds after harvest for next year!  If you have a black thumb, consider joining a food co-op such as Bountiful Baskets.  

For more information on GMOs and organic food, check out Joel Salatin's books.


                  

Sunday, February 22

Some Like it Hot (Janice Hagan)


Do you ever get stuck in a rut?  Same dinner schedule week after week?  We had the great fortune of being handed a new vegetable, called jicama, in our food co-op basket this week.  And then, we were mailed a package of organic soup to sample.  It was like fate was telling us to try something new!
Ingredients
  • 1 jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4" thick fries
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  • Put the jicama strips in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave for 15 minutes, stopping once to stir.
  • In a large bowl, toss the jicama fries with the juice and the spices. Arrange on foil-lined pan, and bake 45 minutes, until browned. Serve immediately.
The jicama fries went really well with our chicken tortilla soup!

Thursday, February 19

I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover (Art Mooney)


Plan a Saint Patrick's Day party as part of your home school!  Here are some crafts to decorate, and a traditional Irish meal that the kids can help make.


Traditional Irish Meal

corned beef
Crockpot Corned Beef Brisket
  • 1 onion
  • carrots (chopped)
  • potatoes (diced)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • garlic clove
  • bay leaf
  • cabbage (chopped)

  1. Place cut vegetables on bottom of crock pot. 
  2. Place corned beef brisket on the top. 
  3. In mixing bowl combine broth and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over top of brisket. 
  4. Add garlic clove and bay leaf. Cook on low 6-8 hours. 
  5. Add cabbage to top of pot half way through cooking time.


Irish Soda Bread
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ¾ cup raisins
  1. In mixing bowl combine flours, baking soda, salt and sugar. 
  2. In separate bowl combine eggs and buttermilk. 
  3. Pour into dry ingredients and blend slightly, you just want the dough moistened so don't beat to long. Stir in raisins. 
  4. On a floured surface knead dough several minutes. 
  5. Place in a round cake pan. With a knife slice an X on the top of the loaf. 
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden.

Crockpot Irish Stew

  • 2-4 lbs. cubed chicken or beef
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 qt broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • carrots (chopped)
  • potatoes (chopped)
  • onions (sliced)
  1. Add ingredients to crock pot or large soup pan making sure liquid covers all meat and vegetables. 
  2. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.

St. Patrick's Day Crafts


Fruit Loops Rainbow


This simple idea for preschoolers and toddlers comes from One Artsy Mama.  Let the kids sort the different colors and glue them to a piece of paper to create their own rainbow.  Using cotton balls, build 'clouds' to hold it up!



Funny Leprechaun

  1. Paint a paper plate peach and let it dry.
  2. Cut out strips of orange paper and glue them all the way around the plate, as the hair and beard.
  3. Cut out two orange eyebrows and glue them on.  Paint or draw the face.
  4. Cut out a little hat from green construction paper.  Add a black hat band and golden buckle, then glue onto the head at an angle.
  5. Leave it to try, punch a hold at the top, and hang up for St. Paddy's Day!

Visit Enchanted Homeschooling Mom for more Irish & St. Patrick's Day activities!

St. Patrick's Day SCHOOL learning unit :
Join us on March 9th as we hop across the pond to visit family in Ireland!!

   

Wednesday, February 18

Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Pat Benetar)



This gladiator costume can be used to play-act history with the Roman Body Armor costume and the Roman Lego Creations.  The book, We Were There with Caesar's Legions, is a great accompanying read-aloud!

Gladiator Costume Tutorial

Supplies :

Directions :
  • Following directions on pattern, cut pieces to fit.  Sew with sewing machine.  Be sure to sew pieces together correctly the first time, as seam-ripping with this material is difficult and leaves large holes!
  • Using velcro, finish belt and helmet straps.  We made two settings for each, so that both boys would be able to use the costume.
  • The pattern called for feathers, but we found these very difficult to use and came up with this idea instead.  It worked well, and was considerably cheaper.  Cut a piece of cardboard to fit within the top helmet pieces.  Glue red yarn pieces across both sides to create the red headdress.  Once glue is dry, carefully stitch piece into leather sides with a large sewing needle.

Metal Helmet with Visor



  • To make a 'metal helmet,' cut cardboard for the headdress and glue pieces of red yarn to both sides.  Allow to dry.  Cover the cardboard with foil.


  • Use copious amounts of tin foil to shape around your head.  If you want a face protector, use strips of tin foil to create front flaps on the helmet.  Tape the headdress piece to the helmet.




  • Using a piece of cardboard, create a visor for the helmet.  Cover with foil.  Use a metal brad on each side to attach the visor to the helmet so that it can be lifted and lowered.


Tuesday, February 17

Easy to Change (Tift Merritt)



Tiny Steps Tuesday : Ease into Fitness

An integral part of being healthy is physical fitness.  But what if you're new to the game?  Starting a fitness routine can be taxing, both physically and mentally, but it'll pay off big in the long term.  Of course, be sure that your doctor is aware and in favor of your plans....

Running is what I know.  It's what I love.  It's been well over two decades since the newbie days, but after taking stock myself, and talking with friends that are newbies themselves, we've come up with seven great tips to help you get started on the right foot!  (pun totally intended)


  1. Equipment : Invest in the right clothing and shoes - this will make your exercise more pleasant and help to prevent injury.  A good sports bra, non-chafing outfit, and comfy shoes will mean the difference between keeping at it for ten minutes or an hour.  Get fitted at a specialty store, so that you know which shoes to buy for your foot type.  You can find good deals at Amazon or RoadRunnerSports.
  2. Set a realistic goal : Maybe you want to run a marathon....eventually.  Start small, with a local 5K.  Sign up for it now and start training!  Work your way up from there...10K, half-marathon, etc.
  3. Pace yourself : Warm up with a jog, and then stretch for a bit to get your muscles ready.  Start running slowly and build up your speed.  If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, stop and go at a slower pace the next time.  You will see improvement if you keep it up!
  4. Food is fuel : You shouldn't starve yourself or stuff yourself.  Eat carbohydrates to give you the energy you need for running, and protein to help rebuild muscle afterward.  Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because you are running, you can eat whatever you like!  Eat healthy foods to fuel your body......you wouldn't put nastiness into your car engine and expect it to run, would you?  A great post-run snack bar is the Luna bar, which is high in protein and comes in several flavors.
  5. Water :  When you sweat, electrolytes are lost - so if you're going to be running a very long time, you might consider a sports drink or Nuun tablets.  However, if you're going less than an hour, water is crucial and generally all your body needs for replenishment.
  6. Find the balance : Build your mileage slowly.  Start with one mile and work your way up.  Sure, you can go brag that you ran ten miles yesterday, but if you can't walk for a week afterwards, you're only hurting yourself.  Also, pushing yourself too hard too soon will lead to injury.  At the same time, do push yourself.  If you don't, you'll never get better.

  7. Keep it moving : When it's scorching hot or polar cold; when the world is covered in mud; or when you're just not in the mood to run - mix it up.  Dance, do yoga, strength train, play active games with the kids....keep your body moving to keep your cardio going!

Related Articles :


Monday, February 16

She's On Fire (Train)



We're deep into cold & flu season, and staying healthy has become a feat!  Today, we're going to bring you two recipes - one for short-term health and one to promote long-term health.

Fire Cider

Fire Cider is a remedy for upper respiratory infections with a deep cough and severe nasal congestion. It is extremely spicy, and I don’t think there will be very many kids who will want to take this remedy. Take a tablespoon full every day - it's a very potent remedy, so go slowly with it.  We mix it up by the half-gallon, but as you can see, currently have an entire gallon of this spicy-goodness brewing on the counter!  
Ingredients:

  •      1 part minced garlic
  •      1 part chopped whole onion
  •      1 part grated horseradish root
  •      1 part chopped & seeded jalapeno
  •      1 part grated ginger root
  •      ¼- ½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  •      Raw apple cider vinegar
Place all of the herbs in a glass jar and cover with apple cider vinegar. Make sure to put plastic between the lid of the jar and the vinegar, or else it will create a slime due to a chemical reaction between the metal and the vinegar. Steep herbs for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily, then strain and keep in a glass jar.

If you don't feel up to making your own, you can always buy a bottle.

Kombucha

When I first read about the panacea of benefits of Kombucha, I was skeptical. How could one beverage do so many things? But then I realized that it’s not like a medicine targeted at curing specific symptoms - it’s more that it promotes health. It gives your body what it needs to heal itself by : 
  • 1) aiding your liver in removing harmful substances, 
  • 2) promoting balance in your digestive system, and 
  • 3) being rich in health-promoting vitamins, enzymes, and acids.  

The general consensus seems to be that with regular, daily consumption, you’ll notice improvement in immune system functioning and energy levels within about a week, the healing of more minor ailments within a month or so, and the healing of more radical illnesses within a year or so.  
Kombucha is the sour-dough bread of drinks....and just as easy to make!  All you need is sugar, a SCOBY, unflavored tea, and a glass fermentation jar.  We saved our GTs kombucha jars (this is a great brand to try, if you're just wanting to ease into the beverage) and use them for re-bottling.

Friday, February 13

Freezer Cooking 101 : How February Freezer Cooking may Save your Homeschool

We're one month into the new semester, and into the trenches of February.  If you don't homeschool, you might not realize that this is one of those times of year that makes you want to throw in the towel.  It's cold out and everyone is beginning to get cabin fever.  Some days, it seems like all the kids do is fight and your house will never recover from the mess!

Not to fear - here are two freezer cooking projects that your kids will get excited about helping you complete.  This is a good chance for them to practice some basic cooking skills with your supervision.  Make enough to have for dinner that night, and freeze the rest for those nights when you're just fed up and do not feel like cooking.

Macaroni & Cheese

Makes (2) 9x13 dishes
Ingredients :

  • 3 lbs whole wheat macaroni
  • 4 small sweet potatoes (baked until mushy)
  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cup pasta water (save after cooking pasta)
  • 1 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 6 cups grated cheese
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Directions :

  • Cook pasta, strain and reserve pasta water.
  • In a blender, mix sweet potato (no skin), milk, pasta water, yogurt, salt, and pepper.  Blend until smooth (to hide the veggies).
  • Pour mixture into a pot on medium, and cook until mixture is simmering.  Turn down to low and mix in cheese.  Stir until mixture is mostly smooth.  (If it seems runny, it's ok.  It will thicken up in the oven.)
  • Add macaroni to sauce and mix well.  Split mixture evenly between the two baking dishes.
  • In a separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, olive oil, and any herbs you might want (eg, italian seasoning).  Sprinkle over top of macaroni and cheese.

To finish :

For the dish that you plan to eat that night :  
  • Bake 20 minutes at 375, until the top is starting to brown.
For the freezer : 
  • Cover unbaked dish tightly and place in freezer.  When you are ready to eat, thaw overnight and bake as directed.


Having pre-cooked taco meat can halve the time of almost any beef recipe.  We use this recipe in casseroles, soups, spaghetti, and for taco night.  It makes eight quart-sized bags.

Spiced Taco Meat

Ingredients :

  • 10 lbs grass-fed beef
  • 2 pkg taco seasoning

Directions:

  • In a very large skillet, brown beef, then add seasonings.
  • Finish cooking the beef, and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • Package in quart-sized bags and freeze.

To reheat :  

  • Thaw in refrigerator and use in recipe as directed.

Thursday, February 12

Something to Talk About (Bonnie Raitt)


A few months ago, we brought you some free, basic speech therapy resources, hoping to help others as we continue our long walk on the path to better speech.  Today we want to bring you some sound-specific activities and a new speech resource that has become the new favorite!  
The speech wheel is a wonderful way to practice history, geography, science, and current events in the framework of speech therapy.  That's not how we started out, but it quickly morphed into a cross-curricular exercise, as my son latched onto it with fervor.
Some days, he'll tell us what's going on in the United States or across the world (thank you, Little Passports, for the awesome maps!!).  Other days, we'll get the weather report.  Here, he is giving us the standard Oklahoma winter-weather report....including sixty degree temperature swings!  He's very loyal about always pretending to be from the same news station, too, ever since he got to meet their helicopter pilot.  LOL


FREE Speech Therapy Resources

video

Wednesday, February 11

Under the Weather (KT Tunstall)

It's hard to believe that only a few weeks ago, we were hanging out on a sunny, warm beach, soaking up the atmosphere....  The gorgeous days were outweighed only by the peaceful, mild nights.

These days, we're battling the roller coaster of an Oklahoma winter, with seventies on one day and snow the next.  It's a different kind of gorgeous, and we've been enjoying running through the freshly fallen snow singing Walking In a Winter Wonderland, followed by a perfect cup of hot chocolate.

We've been using the weather to our advantage for school as well.  For art class, we took the Christmas candies that were leftover and began making sculptures, like this sleigh!


As part of the knot-tying exercises for Boy Scouts, we built a rope bridge in the back yard.  It only spans the creek, but it's just as thrilling to cross!

There's nothing better than getting out as a family and mussing up all that new snow.  We enjoyed a very long (and somewhat vicious toward the end!!!) snowball fight with the boys, and then traipsed around the acreage, enjoying the beauty that God had laid out before us.  Tomorrow it will probably be in the sixties again, but today we will enjoy snow...