Friday, July 27, 2007

Vacation at Home!

This year our family vacation was spent at home. It may sound boring but if your used to a busy life with year round schooling, running kids to lessons and meetings it can be so relaxing to wake up at your leisure in your own bed doing what you like all day. I still cooked and did minimal cleanup but the meals were easy meals and my kids like to cook so we baked too which we don't normally have time to do. My husband and I decided not to tackle any big projects although we did clean out his office in the basement...but that was our choice, not something we had to do. That kind of mindset is very mentally relaxing too. So, if you aren't rich enough to afford the price of gas or plane tickets and hotel rooms I definitely encourage you to consider a vacation at home this year!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Peace Which Passes All Understanding

One of my favorite bloggers and writers is Ann Voskamp. I reviewed her curriculum The Glorious Appearing in December last year. Her blog is like an oasis. Peaceful music plays and the posts are worshipful, insightful and practical.

Today I would like to highlight a particular post on anger management. The posts is for helping children manage their anger, but I believe the information can help anyone. I urge you to check out this post and then look around her blog for others. I'm sure you will want to anyway. It's very praiseworthy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Praiseworthy Recipe: Refrigerator Pickles

A friend was asking what to do with the pickle surplus from her garden. I thought that perhaps others were having the same problem at this time. So I offer a recipe from my childhood. My Great Uncle Red's Refrigerator Pickles. My mother usually had a large gallon jar of these in the refrigerator in the summer and they were so good.

But first, some information on my Great Uncle Red. Red grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family for the time. He grew up without a father and with a preoccupied mother. As I understand it he and his siblings basically cared for themselves. The silver lining to this thundercloud is that Red was a superb cook. His turkey and dressing is legendary in my family. My own personal favorite of his was Blackberry Cobbler. Well, my Great Aunt Jane always made it but it was under his close personal supervision! She always said that she couldn't cook at all when they married and he taught her everything she knew.

There is so much I more I could say about Red. I was fortunate to know him into my adulthood. He is from a generation of men that I'm not sure are even around anymore. He wasn't exactly "warm" but he showed us he loved us by his actions. He made sure all in his family were cared for and provided for.

Well, back to the pickles. Store bought pickles just cannot compare to homemade. And there is nothing like plucking a vegetable from your own garden and eating it. So, if you are like my friend I urge you to use up some of those pickles with this recipe.

Refrigerator Pickles
makes 1 gallon

7 or 8 large cucumbers
6 onions

Slice and layer alternately in a gallon glass jar.

4 cups vinegar
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp turmeric

Mix until dissolved and pour over contents of jar. Let sit for three days in refrigerator before eating.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Paper Crafts at Flickr Monkey!

Flickr Bird
Flickr Bird,
originally uploaded by flickr monkey.
Many of you are trying to find summer activities for children that will keep them occupied and maybe...just maybe even quiet! My children love making paper models. Making models is good for brains and after building several models my daughter started creating her own. There are some good beginner models over at Flickr Monkey. These can be downloaded and printed on regular paper or card stock. You can create mobiles or just playmates. Either way this activity is most praiseworthy!

Praiseworthy Review: Honest Pretzels

My children both love to cook as I do. They started learning early, pulling stools up next to me while I cooked from the time they were toddlers. So I'm always interested in resources that teach them more about cooking. Honest Pretzels is one of three cookbooks written by one of my favorite authors Mollie Katzen. These cookbooks are Pretend Soup (for preschoolers), Salad People (for children 8 and up) and the aforementioned Honest Pretzels (also for 8 and up).

The recipes in this book are in a sort of "story board" fashion. You can see an example of a recipe from Pretend Soup here. The cookbooks are referred to as vegetarian but are not vegan although there are many vegan recipes.

Both my children (9 and 6) love the cookbooks and we all enjoy what has been made from them. My daughter most recently made Button Cupcakes from Honest Pretzels which is a simple vanilla cupcake with a chocolate kiss pushed into the center before baking. Her 6 year old brother helped her with that last part. And they were delicious. As was the Mix in the Pan Chocolate cake she made last week from the same cookbook. So give these books a try. I think you and your children will love them.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
From The Declaration of Independence

To read or hear more check out NPR's page here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Praiseworthy Decor: Chalkboards

I have a large whiteboard in my kitchen. That is the confession of a homeschooler! It's great to hop up and demonstrate a math problem, spell a word out, write a verse to memorize or entertain children. I got my whiteboard through a kind fellow homeschooler on Freecycle. Then I bought a pack of assorted colors of whiteboard markers and we were set!

But, I'll admit I did want a chalkboard. I love the look of a chalkboard and I investigated all kinds of ways to make one. But today I saw what I think is one of the best options. WALLIES® Peel & Stick Chalkboard Removable and repositionable vinyl chalkboard panels. You can get a package of four 9" x 12" panels and chalk included for only 16.99. That's quite a deal! They also come in a variety of colors. If I had one I'd get schoolhouse green. So fun.

Whether you homeschool or not I urge you to consider a whiteboard or chalkboard for your children. Definitely praiseworthy.