Archive for December, 2008

Gorgeous Yummy Granola

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! We enjoyed Steve’s homemade apple pie as usual, complete with a birthday candle and the singing of ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’, followed by the reading of Luke 2. It is always a very special morning with our immediate family and my dear Mother-in-Law, who sacrifices sweet sleep to drive to our place very early every year. Later on, we all trek over to my parents’ home to join my parents, my siblings and their spouses for some extended family time.

On Boxing Day, I made some granola from a recipe that my dear friend, Elisa, made for the craft exchange I participated in in November. We are big granola lovers in our home. Many recipes are very similar, but this one was just different enough that I thought it was worth sharing with you. I only very rarely buy cold cereal, as it is way too processed for my liking, but I love the convenience. Granola that has been made ahead is just as convenient, much tastier and very healthy.

Molasses Maple Nutty Granola
(from If Kallimos had a Chef ~~ Debra Stark)

1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup canola oil

4 tsp cinnamon
6 cups oats
1 cup walnut halves
2 cups pecan halves
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
(I have also added sesame seeds)

Preheat oven 300 degrees.

Combine wet ingredients. Combine dry ingredients. Pour wet over dry and mix well. Divide granola between shallow baking pans and bake in a 300 degree oven until roasted and dry, about 1 1/2 hrs. Stir every 15-30 mins. (Mine was ready after about 45 mins.)

Let granola cool completely before storing in air tight containers.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. We love granola with farm fresh milk and home canned fruit. The only easier breakfast to make in the morning is ‘geturoni’, which is another one of my favourites. šŸ˜‰

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Photo courtesy of eĀ³Ā°Ā°Ā°

Awhile ago, I read an excellent article on ‘subscribing’ over on the Simple Mom blog. Up until this point, I had my blogs bookmarked individually. It took a fair bit of time to click on each one, only to find that many hadn’t been updated. (Not many moms have time to blog every day.) Learning to subscribe to my favourite blogs was a real break-through.

Subscribing means that the blogs come to you whenever they are updated, just like getting a letter from a friend. I was concerned that all the updates would come to my e-mail account, cluttering up my inbox, but this is not the case. Using a free ‘reader’ page on the internet, you simply click to subscribe to the blogs you read. When they are updated, they will show up on your ‘reader’ page, all in one organized place. It is a huge time-saver and makes reading blogs much more fun. You can even organize the blogs you have subscribed to by category (ie. inspirational, homeschooling, cooking, crafts), if you like.

Rather than trying to give you all the information on subscribing, I am going to refer you to Simple Mom’s fantastic article. Taking a few minutes to understand RSS subscribing will be well worth it, I promise!

I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas tomorrow!

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Enough Already

Photo courtesy of *Ann Gordon
(This isn’t my kitchen. I was too lazy to take a picture of mine.)

It’s time to get your kitchen counters clean. There is no tidy house fairy that will be visiting your home to do it for you. It is up to you. šŸ˜‰

Now, here is what I want you to do:

  1. Get a nice clean dishcloth, but don’t go putting in a load of laundry or run to the store for a new one or anything. Just do your best.
  2. Next, get it wet. You don’t need to find Grime-O-Remover or Sudsy-Suds or any product; just some nice hot water will do the trick.
  3. Start at one edge of the kitchen and get wiping. If there is something crusty, I find a green scrubbie pad helps (but for heaven’s sake, don’t go buying any in the middle of my lesson!). Otherwise, it is just you and the cloth and some hot water. Please move every single thing out of the way temporarily to another part of the counter and wipe the WHOLE thing. You might have sparkly counters, in which case you can ignore me and this entire bossy post, or your counters might be really cluttered. If so, just move the stuff, wipe the surface down and put the stuff back for now. When you are all done…GOOD FOR YOU!! Isn’t that nice? No crumbs or sticky stuff anywhere.

What you have done is the easy part. The hard part is training yourself to be in the habit of maintaining. Every time you do anything in the kitchen that makes even the smallest mess, grab that cloth, wet it and wipe it up. Every time. EVERY time. Don’t leave the crumbs from toast-making until after breakfast to do a ‘mass clean-up’. Clean people don’t do mass clean-ups. They clean as they work. I know from watching my super-clean friend, Leslie. Wipe it up right away because knowing that your kitchen is tidy will make your breakfast better. šŸ™‚

You can do this. I promise. I used to have a sticky, crumby kitchen counter. It would drive my husband nuts that when I cooked, I made a huge mess in the kitchen. Now, I am so used to cleaning as I go that when it is time to serve dinner, most of the time the kitchen looks very nice. I had prayed that God would give me a vision for homemaking and He helped me to see that doing little things right away makes my job a million times easier. If you have an icky counter, please just try for the Christmas holidays to wipe your counter constantly. You will love it and by the end of the holidays, you should have a well-established habit.

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Because I have to have someone to share them with!

Here are some socks I did for my five-year-old. I did them with Cascade Fixation, which for those of you who don’t know, is a cotton yarn with some elastic in it. I thought I was a wool-only girl, but I just loved this yarn for kids socks. They are probably the best-fitting socks I’ve ever made. I did them toe-up in a basic 2 x 2 rib with a picot bind off.

Here are Steve’s boring work socks all finished. They turned out well – fit great, feel nice and look good. These were a 3 x 1 rib (finished in 1 x 1 rib for 1 1/2 inches or so). I used this pattern, which is my new go-to sock pattern. Sigh. Why don’t guys like lace? I am the model in this pic, so the socks don’t fit as snugly as they do on Steve.

And, some Basic Dude Socks I made for my dad for Christmas. I don’t think he reads my blog. I’ll have to warn my mom not to read this when my dad is in the room! These socks are made with worsted weight yarn (actually, three strands of sock yarn twisted together). They knit up VERY fast. I could get used to this! Again, I’m the sock model here, so they look baggier than they will be on my Dad.

And, that’s it for finished objects. I’ve cast on some little socks for my baby for Christmas, which I think will also work up quickly, seeing as his little feet aren’t very big.

Well, I’m off to knit!

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Probably if you are reading this blog, you have heard this before. I hear this very frequently and it always makes me feel a little sad. I feel especially sad when I hear it from other homeschooling moms or other moms with lots of children. It is my heart’s desire to minister to other moms by being a real person. I’m not going to unload all my baggage or to say anything that might hurt anyone in my life, but I am far from perfect and I do try hard to let that show. We all have struggles. We all have past hurts. We all have hang-ups. AND…we all have dirt in our homes (well, except for my friend Karen B. LOL!!)

You know, this being true, I think people must mean something different when they tell me they don’t know how I do it. I think the real meaning behind this statement is the real reason so many people don’t have more children today. I think what they mean is…

...they don’t know how I can possibly handle all the adorableness that 6 children (that’s SIX BABIES) brings!!! Frankly, I don’t know how I do it, either! I know the Lord says He will only give us what we can handle, but sometimes I think he pushes me right to my limit of daily cuteness. Do you know how adorable is the sound of a crawling baby’s hands slapping on the ceramic tile floor as he comes to find me? It is almost too much for one person to take. I think that is why the Lord has given me 5 other children and a husband – to spread the cuteness around, just so we will all be able to cope.

Next time, someone tells me they don’t know how I do it, I will continue to answer honestly that it is only by the Grace of God. And, I will mean it.

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Good Moms Make Waffles

Photo Courtesy of groovehouse

Hey, I didn’t say how often they make waffles!

Yesterday was one of those days where it was dreadfully snowy outside, several children slept in, and I started knitting and sewing before breakfast, which always leads to my being distracted and no one eating for awhile. Soon enough, it was 11am and everyone was complaining about being hungry. (Kids are so demanding, aren’t they?!)

I decided to pull out the ‘let’s have a special brunch’ card. This works very well for turning the work of two meals into one. And, better yet, the kids think you are great! The only stipulations are: it has to be something out-of-the-ordinary and relatively substantial and you have to offer some kind of half-decent snack in the mid-afternoon.

What could be more special than waffles?

I normally avoid making waffles, save once or twice a year, because I am too lazy to do all the work of beating egg whites and ‘folding’ them in. However, I found the ultimate lazy-mom’s waffle method yesterday. Everyone LOVED them. They were completely whole-grain and extremely easy, but they didn’t taste grainy at all. The recipe is from my MOMYS cookbook. We found this was enough for us with 4 1/2 waffles leftover. So, if Steve had been home and our baby was eating more, I think it would be about right for eight people. I love leftover waffles because they can go in the freezer and then I can knit instead of get the kids something to eat!

Blender Batter Pancakes or Waffles
(submitted to the cookbook by AnnMarie in Florida)
4 c. Buttermilk or Milk with 1T. yogurt (I used lemon juice)
1 c. Whole Millet
1 c. Whole Brown Rice
1 c. Oats (I used steel cut)
1 c. Soft Wheat Berries or other grain
1/3 c. Oil (I used unmelted butter — I’m not a huge fan of seed/vegetable oil)
2 Eggs (I used three)
2 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Salt
1/2 t. Baking Soda

Place milk, oil/butter and grains in blender. Blend at highest speed for 4 minutes. If this is too much for your blender (ours is a Vita-Mix with a 2 litre capacity), reduce recipe. If the mixture does not hold a vortex, add a bit more milk. Cover this and let soak overnight or proceed to next step (I didn’t soak the grains overnight). Add eggs and blend 1 minute. Add baking powder, salt and baking soda and blend briefly to mix in leavenings. Prepare pancakes or waffles from batter.

I used about 3/4 c. batter per waffle in our Belgian waffle maker. I let it cook 3 mins and they turned out perfectly. I served them with home-canned peaches and maple syrup.

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In Volume 6 of Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series, she asserts, There is no education but self-education and only as the young student works with his own mind is anything effected.” (emphasis mine). Over the years, I have mulled this over many times. I’m all for self-education, but to say that there is nothing else? Do I really believe this? What does this look like? As a person raised in a traditional school system, when I hear self-education, it drums up images of struggling through a dreadfully boring correspondence course. This is not what is meant by self-education.

Let’s start with something near and dear to my heart – a baby just learning to walk. To my heartbreak, my sweet little baby boy has decided to try walking at 9 months. He isn’t walking yet, but I’ve caught him taking a step and he stands alone. None of my other children walked this early, but let’s say I had wanted them to. Here’s what I would not have done:

  1. Research walking on the internet and at the library. Find out the most important parts about the history and physiology.
  2. Create a walking textbook (with a dvd, of course!) of just the most important points I discovered above.
  3. Schedule in a structured time for baby’s walking lessons. (Consistency is key!) I want him to be advanced so I will start at 7 months.
  4. Sit baby down and read from textbook. Give baby a quiz afterwards to see what he has remembered. Hubby will do remedial help in the evenings for anything baby was struggling with.
  5. Get baby to memorize ‘steps to walking’ so that he will be fully ready when we start the practice sessions. (See step 6)
  6. Once baby has the steps memorized, schedule in practice times. Again, consistency is key, here. We find that if parents are very diligent about following the steps exactly as outlined, starting at 7 or 8 months, virtually all babies should begin walking anywhere from 9-15 months of age.

HUH?! Ridiculous, when I put it that way, isn’t it? Why? Because the above points do not take into consideration:

  • how a baby learns
  • the baby’s readiness
  • the baby’s motivation

The above method only takes into consideration that which is measurable and practical for the teacher. It also takes all the fun out of it. And, it complicates things way more than necessary. šŸ™‚

When Charlotte said that the only education was self-education, she did not mean that the student did not need a teacher anymore than a baby learning to walk could do without parents. As parents of a learning-to-walk baby, we are there to model walking, to offer little helps and guidance, to provide a safe place for baby to walk, to encourage with our words and facial expressions and to offer guidance and support when baby falls. We cannot, however, walk for the baby.

In Charlotte Mason education, a student learns by experiencing for himself, which is truly the only way we ever learn anything. Without experiencing something for myself, I have nowhere to put the information I hear or read. It just floats around, not hooking onto anything and will soon float right out of my head.

The great thing about a Charlotte Mason education is that a child can experience something for himself by using the wonderful tool of imagination. Our children don’t have to have survived the American Revolution to be able to ‘remember’ vividly what happened. They can experience it by reading the stories of those who did. It is only when they read what happened in story format that they will really remember because it is the story format that allows the child to enter into the place or the event and ‘experience’ it for himself. Once a child enters in, imagining himself a part of the story, he has made it his own and he will remember because he has lived it.

My darling little baby boy will soon be a toddler. He will never forget how to walk because he will have struggled for each step on his own. I can’t do it for him, nor do I want to. Besides, it is so much more fun this way.

Charlotte Mason Basics will be on Christmas Vacation for a few weeks, but I will continue blogging now and then. Merry Christmas!

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