Wednesday, June 29, 2011


We still don't do a lot of "formal" schooling, but we have started getting intentional about it.  Goober Gus is playing a computer game right now that's supposed to be helping him with early reading skills.  Not so sure about that, but he's enjoying it and at the very least learning to maneuver sites/games better.  He has to follow directions to play properly, that's always a good thing!  I've noticed Tony taking the time to ask more questions of Gus when they're reading a story or doing something-getting Gus to think more.  I like it!

I'm taking time right now to catch up on email subscriptions to a few homeschool blogs I follow.  There are so many creative and talented people out there!  It inspires me to want to do things with him and have things available for him to choose at will.  Now if I just had a place to put it all I would be more inclined to follow through with those intentions!

Today we played with his Peter Pan Preschool Pack (P4?).  We practiced telling time, patterns, graphing, and using symbols to represent an item.  I really feel like we need more of a daily routine to make the most of our time and learning opportunities,  One of the beauties of home education is that we get to teach so much more than academics.  I want him to develop good habits for self care, home care, pet care, etc; as well as good character traits.  I think I'm teaching myself more than him, but I need it too!

This post is part of the Preschool Corner hosted by Homeschool Creations.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Repurposed Dish Soap

I have about 2 or 3 cups of ultra concentrated dish soap that in addition to being hard to rinse thoroughly, the scent is so strong I'm afraid it would flavor our food if used to actually wash dishes!  I don't want to just throw it away, and our hand soap dispenser in the bathroom is empty, so I searched for a recipe to make hand soap.  The ones I saw started with a bar of soap-I used 1 tablespoon of this in its place.  I added 1 teaspoon of glycerin and about 20 drops each of lemon and orange essential oil.  I mixed it with 6 cups of water and poured it into two dispensers.  I still have a quart of it left.  Eight tablespoons in a cup-is that right?  Or is it 16?  Bare minimum I have enough of this to make 768 ounces of soap!  That's six gallons!  Hmm, might have to see about selling it at the farmer's market...what do you think about that?

Update, as of 9PM the same day.  Even with just 1 tablespoon in 6 cups of water it's WAY too strong still.  The overwhelming scent isn't diluted or masked.  Guess I'll just see if a friend wants the soap!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Day of Rest

Around here we try to dedicate Sundays to resting.  We don't milk the goats and we aim for not doing housework, etc.  Our church has 2 services on Sunday morning, so we have the option of early or late and we let the pace of the morning dictate which.  After church we have something to eat and then generally put in a movie and snooze on the couches.

Today, Goober Gus wanted to try out his new water gun, so Tony had to go buy another one so they were both armed.  I wanted to try out our hammock that's been in storage far too long.  We got it hung and they went to play.  Instead of using the guns however, they went into the creek.

I wanted to zoom in, but my phone camera doesn't have that option.  I fiddled with the color settings instead.  I kinda like the black and white image.

My view while laying in the hammock.

A shot using the "negative" option.

And color.  The spot we chose for the hammock is near the creek and it looked like it would be in the sun come 130 or 2 o'clock, but I checked at 4 and it was still shady.  Nice!

One final note.  I really enjoyed the verses Amy chose for her Sunday Blessing post.  Check it out.

Friday, June 10, 2011

HomeSchool Excitement!

This week was the start of our intentional plans with homeschooling.  I made goals for the summer, I took inventory of learning materials and I made a plan for activities for the week.  We didn't do as much as I planned, but we did more than if there had been no plan.

Last night I finally explored something that has looked intriguing and I just hadn't ever investigated.  They're preschool packs full of fun printable activities with themes that appeal to kids-even to boy kids who would rather run around expending all that energy than to work on learning something from a piece of paper.  Did I mention that they're free?  Jolanthe at HomeSchool Creations creates them and makes them available to download and print at no charge.  Last night I showed him the intro screen and he about fell over in excitement at the Knights and Castles pack.  I printed it just before he went to bed and told him we'd work on it next week.  When's that?  The inevitable question...

I cut all the pages that needed it and inserted those that will be written on into sheet protectors and gathered his King Arthur books, and a few toys I'd tucked away without his knowledge and have it all ready to go.  Don't ya know though, that he just couldn't wait for Monday, so we got the pages out and he made the puppets, and traced the lines on his "treasure map".  That's all, had to save some for next week, right?

Goober Gus with the horse puppet-still wearing the SuperHero stuff from a few months ago.

Quick glance at the practice pages.  He doesn't know that while he's tracing the lines on what he calls the treasure map, he's practicing his writing!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sourdough Week

This week I've been focusing on sourdough courses in my "summer school".  I started the week by making the sponge for bread, but it failed-the sponge that is.  That left me with a lot of starter to be used up so I made crepes Tuesday night.  Had no idea they were so easy to make!  I then made crackers, a new sponge for bread, English muffins and more crackers.  The 2nd sponge still wasn't quite right, but it was bubbly and domed, so I used it.  Made 4 loaves, actually.  20 minutes worth of kneading.  Know what that does to a person not used to using those muscles?  And the crackers-plenty of rolling that dough, have to get it very thin.  So I don't need PE with Goober Gus this week, but will go outside and play with him anyway.

The English muffins were great toasted with homemade apricot jam and strawberry jam.  The crackers are a hit with the boys, that's why I made another batch, and the crepes we good too.  The bread-good flavor, nice texture inside, but they just didn't rise much.  I think that's because the sponge didn't get gloppy, but that's just a guess on my part.

Freshly baked English muffins.

Herbed crackers.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Adventures in Sourdough

As I've mentioned already, I'm taking classes at GNOWFGLINS to learn more about traditional food preparation methods.  I've been eager to explore the sourdough courses, as it seems that process is one that breaks down the phytic acid in grains that can be an anti-nutrient.  That is-phytic acid binds with nutrients while in the digestive tract and keeps them from being absorbed.

I thought I'd start with a loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread.  I watched the video, read the print materials and started on my "sponge" this morning.  For whatever reason, one never formed.  I have a thin paste instead of thick gloppy stuff.  Rather than throw it out-well in our case it gets fed to the chickens-I'm going to try the recipe for sourdough crackers.  We like crackers but the store bought are too full of stuff we're not eating.  So, time to go start the dough for crackers.  It sits for 7-24 hours before baking, so I will be making crackers in the morning.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thinning the Herd

If your family enjoys Veggie Tales as much as mine, the heading should sound familiar.  If not, well it's what we need to do with our dairy goats anyway.  With spring births we are up to a total of 13 goats.  One is our buck and 6 are the new kids born this year.  There are 5 in milk and one "dating" the buck right now.  We hadn't intended to sell any but this year's kids, but with the cost of a bale of hay around $15 we're planning to sell all but 2.  We have Alpines and Nubian/Boer crosses and planned to keep one of each, waiting for freshening to see who was the best producer.  We knew the top of the herd is Annie, our Alpine.  Not only does she consistently produce more, but her teats are actually big enough to handle.  All 4 of the others are tiny and it's a challenge to get them milked. 

After making the decision to sell, I've also come to the conclusion that I don't particularly care for any of the Nubians we have, but enjoy their richer milk, with cream that rises to the top.  I was going to keep the best producer just because, but realized I can sell all but Annie and buy a purebred Nubian and look for teat size FIRST.  I've never done that, just bought thru Craigslist and taken what we get. 

I'm kind of a geek and have counted how many squirts it takes to milk out a goat.  The other day, Annie was roughly 10 squirts to an ounce, whereas the others were about triple that!  Three times the work for the same amount of milk!  So now the task of finding or taking good pictures of each and listing them for sale.  Two are going to be traded for butcher pigs, we just don't know which two yet.  Neighbors have the pigs and want goats, we have the goats and want pigs.  Sounds like a good trade to me!

This week I'm also focusing on courses from GNOWFGLINS.  Goober Gus is at VBS every morning, so I have some uninterrupted time to learn some new kitchen skills.  I'm focusing on sourdough this week and am very intrigued by the notion that the souring process and wild yeasts may actually make the grains used healthier.  Anyone else familiar with this concept?

This blog is part of the Homestead Barn Hop.  Take a look!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer School

I was thinking the other day...this would be a good time to get intentional about homeschooling.  "Is summer really a good time to start?" I asked myself.  Immediately I replied, "why not?"  We seem to be on the counter cultural side anyway, so why not start school when hordes of people have just stopped?  I even signed up for classes.

Last week I filled out some lists I'd won from ListPlanIt.  I made goals for what we'd like to accomplish by the end of August.  I took inventory of educational items we already have.  I made a schedule of activities for this week, I just didn't assign times to most of it.  Goober Gus is registered for VBS this week, so that is a set time, then I made a short list of items to discuss during lunch.  The rest I will need to be intentional about, but it doesn't need to happen all at once or at a certain time.  I may even post our goals and plans on his blog, but that might not be a good use of time.  We'll see.

I, on the other hand, will be taking advantage of the time he's at VBS to work through as many classes at GNOWFGLINS as I can.  First on the list is sourdough bread.  I reactivated my starter last week and it's in the fridge waiting.  I'm going to try completing the video portions of all the sourdough classes this week.  I may not get to try all the recipes, but I'm aiming for one per day.  That ought to give me a good foundation for working with sourdough-or at least that's my hope!