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!

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

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!  

  •      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.


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.

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

Monday, February 2

Red Dirt Girl (Emmylou Harris)

It's that time of year again!!!  Time to start planning out our summer garden.  This is an exciting time of year for us....we scour the seed catalogs and look forward to getting back to nature.  We even have kid-sized tools so that they can be involved from start to finish in growing their own food.  

Good planning is essential to a successful vegetable garden. Vegetables have specific requirements, and you must choose your site carefully to ensure a bountiful harvest. We like to start our seeds inside, to give them a leg up once their placed in the ground.  Here are the basics you need to consider before you select your seeds... 

Test Your Soil

Drainage is the soil's ability to absorb moisture and let excess water drain away. You can test soil drainage  by digging a hole a foot deep and a foot across. Fill the holes with water, and time how long it takes the water to drain away; two to three hours after the hole has emptied, refill it, and again time the interval it takes for it to empty. Then calculate the rate of drainage by dividing the total depth of the water (24 inches) by the total number of hours it took for the hole to empty two times.

An average rate of an inch of water lost per hour makes a "well-drained" soil, which is best for vegetable plants. A substantially faster rate is typical of a "sharply drained" soil, one that dries out quickly, and unless enriched with water-retaining compost, is suitable mainly for drought-tolerant plants. A drainage rate markedly slower than an inch per hour indicates poorly drained soil, which will probably drown the roots of most plants. 

Find Out Your Zone

To help you select the plants that prefer your climate, use the "Zones of Hardiness Map" published by the United States Department of Agriculture. This map divides the United States and Canada into 11 zones. Because winter cold is, in most regions, the single greatest threat to plant survival, the zones are divided according to the average monthly temperature they experience locally.

Plant descriptions in catalogs and labels typically refer to these hardiness zones to specify the areas in which any given plant will thrive. Once you have identified the zone in which your garden is located, purchase only plants recommended as reliably hardy there.

Consider Sun and Shade Requirements

In general, plants described as requiring "full sun" (most vegetable plants fall under this category) need at least six hours of exposure to direct sunlight daily. "Part sun" or "semi-shade" plants flourish where periods of direct sunlight alternate with periods of shade, or where the sunlight is filtered by an intermittent canopy of branches or a trellis overhead. "Full shade" describes a spot where direct sunlight never penetrates, due to shadows cast by dense evergreens or solid man-made structures, such as a high wall or porch roof. 

Understand the Difference in Seeds

Open-Pollinated (OP):These plants come from a parent of the same variety and they can, in turn, produce offspring of the same variety. This is called "coming true from seed." The seed from open-pollinated varieties can be collected from the plants you've grown and saved to grow again next year.

Heirloom Vegetables:Heirlooms are open-pollinated varieties that have been cultivated for at least 50 years. They are often more flavorful, colorful, and interesting than hybrids, but they may lack disease-resistance or require staking.

Hybrids:These plants are the result of cross-breeding to produce offspring with certain desirable traits, such as disease-resistance or uniform color or size. Their complicated genetics mean that the seed inside the fruit you grow one season will not produce a plant like its parent. Each year, you will have to buy new seeds of this variety if you want to grow it again.

Learn About Crop Timing

Vegetable crops fall into two categories: 

Cool-Season Crops:Peas, lettuces, radishes, brassicas (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, collards), and spinach germinate and thrive in the lower temperatures of spring and fall and tolerate light frosts. Many cool-season crops can be direct-sown in the garden around before the last frost. 

Warm-Season Crops:Tomatoes, eggplants, summer and winter squash, beans, and corn prefer summer's heat. Plant these only after the soil has warmed. Many warm-season crops require a long growing season and should be started indoors in late winter or early spring or purchased as seedlings ready to be transplanted.

Estimate Mature Size

Before installing any plant in your garden, check the size it will reach at maturity, and make sure the planting spot can accommodate that. You can maximize your growing space by choosing some vertical plants like tomatoes.

Map Out Your Plants

Sketch out your plan on paper. Use graph paper and draw to scale, keeping in mind the mature size and habit of each kind of plant. Site larger plants like corn and tomatoes where they won't cast shade over shorter plants. Choose compact varieties if you have limited space. Start small: You can always dig more beds or enlarge existing ones in subsequent years.

Garden Planning Resources :