Thursday, October 25, 2007

101 Ideas to Add Spice to Your Homeschooling Days: from Lunablog

April at Lunablog has posted 101 ideas to help break up the routine in your homeschooling. Here are several of them for you to check out, then you can follow the link over to April's place.

1. Move book-work outside for part of a day: use the great outdoors as your classroom. (Decks, patios, lawns, or even forests are great.)

2. Light a candle, sing a song, recite a special poem or verse, say a prayer, or incorporate some other routine to commemorate the beginning of study time. Focus on making a special environment for your learning experiences.

3. Take a walk in your neighborhood, to get the wigglies out and the blood pumping.

4. Look for exciting and inspirational "Living Books" to replace or supplement dull or uninteresting textbooks. You can do this for topics in many subject areas: Math, Science, History, Geography, Music, Art, etc.

5. Find out about your local economy first-hand. Visit and tour local businesses, factories, farms, etc., to see how different people in your area find employment.

6. Fill a couple of grocery bags with non-perishable goods from your pantry. Let your kids make price tags for the items, and take turns "shopping" and being cashiers. If they are old enough, they can add up totals, make change, and more. This activity can often last for several afternoons!"

101 Ideas to Add Spice to Your Homeschooling Days:

1934 Is Once Again Our Hottest Year

Written By: Dennis Avery
Published In: Heartland Perspectives
Publication Date: October 24, 2007
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

A global warming believer told me, "Of course global warming is dangerous. Every year gets hotter than the year before."

Until recently that is, when NASA's Goddard Institute announced it had to revise its U.S. temperature histories--and the ranking of our country's "recent hottest" years. Why? GISS had shifted the database for its records in 2000 and hadn't fully corrected for the modest differences in the two data sets.

So, 1934 is once again the hottest year since 1880. And 1998 has been relegated to second place, just ahead of 1921. Four of our hottest years now come from the 1930s--and only three from the last decade. Did global warming cause the Great Depression?

All of this emphasizes--no thanks to the Goddard folks--that we're having the most moderate global warming crisis ever. Globally, our thermometer records have inched up a net of just 0.2 degrees C since 1940. We've had no significant warming in the nine years since 1998, and this year's record so far is cooler too.

Since 1910, our temperature has waffled up and down in a pattern strangely similar to the warming and cooling phases of what we now know as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation--that 50- to 60-year cycle in northern Pacific sea temperatures that also governs the salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. The Earth's temperatures warmed strongly from 1916 to 1940, while the PDO was warming. Our temperatures then declined from 1940 to 1975, while the PDO was cooling. From 1976 to 1998, both the temperatures and the PDO warmed.

There's been no warming since the last PDO peak in 1998, and the salmon have had strong runs in the Columbia River.

Global warming alarmists say the sunspot index has now turned down, and they ask why the temperatures haven't. But a good estimate of the lag time between the sunspots shifting and our sea surface temperatures responding is 34 years--according to Charles Perry of the U.S. Geological Survey, writing in Advances in Space Research, Vol. 40, 2007, pp. 353-364.

So far, there is nothing in the thermometer record that is inconsistent with the long, moderate 1,500-year climate cycle, which shifted from the Medieval Warming into the Little Ice Age about 1300, and then into the Modern Warming about 1850.

It looks as if the temperatures aren't heating up nearly as much as the scare rhetoric.

Dennis T. Avery ( is a senior fellow with The Heartland Institute and coauthor of the bestselling book Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years.
The Heartland Institute

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Girl I Used to Be


She came tonight as I sat alone
The girl I used to be.
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye
And questioned reproachfully:

Have you forgotten the many plans
And hopes I had for you?
The great career, the splendid fame,
All the wonderful things to do?

Where is the mansion of stately height
With all its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you
And the jewels in your hair?

And as she spoke, I was very sad,
For I wanted her pleased with me,
This slender girl from the shadowy past,
The girl that I used to be.

So gently rising, I took her hand
And guided her up the stairs
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay,
Innocent, sweet, and fair.

And I told her that these are my only gems,
And precious they are to me;
That silken robes is my motherhood
Of costly simplicity.

And my mansion of stately height is love,
And the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls
For the dear ones who come and go

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest,
She smiled through her tears at me.
And I saw the woman that I am now
Pleased the girl I used to be.

- Author unknown

Graphic from Snapshots of Joy.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Frugal Friday--Did You Know You Can Freeze These?

One day I will get my post completed the night before so it's ready to go on Friday morning--one day I'll be sure to do that.

Here are some freezer pointers for foods you may not have thought of freezing:

Wrap foods with foil or store in airtight containers or zipper bags. Air is the cause of freezer burn. Even bread needs to be double-bagged, as bread wrappers are not airtight.

Dairy products are one thing that you may not realize can be frozen. When you find milk, eggs, butter or cheese at a really good price, you CAN stock up!

Freeze milk in the carton and thaw in refrigerator. Stir or shake before serving. The texture of milk does change with freezing, so you may prefer the thawed product for cooking, though it is perfectly fine to drink it.

Butter can be kept for 6 months in its original wrapper in the freezer. Thaw in fridge before using.

Eggs take a little more preparation. Mix 1 cup of raw eggs with 1 teaspoon salt. Store in an airtight freezer container. When needed, let thaw overnight in refrigerator. For 1 egg, use about 3 tablespoons of mixture.

Beaten eggs, or those separated – yolks from the white, can be frozen and used again within three months.

Grated hard cheeses will last up to six months, but softer cheeses will separate. A good test – if the cheese is something you can leave out at a party and still looks edible at the end of the party, it will probably do well in the freezer. You might want to pack cheese in a zipper-top freezer bag before freezing. Shredded cheese can be added to recipes without thawing.

If you store your brown sugar in the freezer, it will not harden.

Nuts, shelled or unshelled, retain their freshness when kept in the freezer.

Honey will not crystallize if it is stored in the freezer. It does not freeze solid. Let thaw at room temperature.

Keep marshmallows in the freezer to keep them from turning hard.

Lemons, limes, and oranges can be frozen whole. When a recipe calls for juice, just defrost as many as you need in the microwave.

Here's a good one: after using, store your soapy steel wool pad in the freezer and it won't rust. Just remove from the freezer while you're cooking supper and it will be ready to use when you do the dishes.

Store your popcorn in your freezer. Pop while it's still frozen and it will pop lighter with fewer unpopped kernels.

If your freezer is not full, it will run more efficiently if you fill up the empty spaces with jugs of water.

Red, yellow, and green peppers can be frozen as long as you wash them thoroughly, cut off the stems, and remove the seeds and inner membranes. Cut, and then blanch. They?ll have a freezer life of one year.

Whole tomatoes can be frozen, but you won?t be able to eat them raw after freezing ? they collapse completely when thawed! You can, however, use them in cooking for other dishes. They have a freezer life of 10 to 12 months.

Onions can be frozen by laying them out on a small tray (enclosed in a plastic bag) in the freezer until firm. Then transfer them to a freezer container (you may wish to experiment with this first, as you may not like the way the unfrozen onions turn out. They should be usable for cooking purposes). Mushrooms can also be frozen using this open-freeze method. Raw mushrooms have a freezer life of one month, while cooked mushrooms are good for up to three months.

Flavors of spices have a tendency to deteriorate after three to four months in the freezer.

Most herbs can be frozen successfully if you wash and dry them before freezing. You can pack the whole sprigs into freezer containers or chop finely first. Ice cube trays can be used by placing chopped herbs in each section and covering with a little water. Once frozen, you can transfer them to another freezer container.

Alternatively, you can puree fresh herbs with a little olive oil, and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. After frozen, you can transfer the cubes to a freezer bag, labelling what herb is in each bag.

Slice breads, coffee cakes, bagels, baked goods such as brownies or cakes into single serving sizes before freezing. This will enable quicker freezing, thawing and accessibility. Any product with frosting should be placed in the freezer uncovered until the frosting has hardened, then wrapped and completely frozen. This method will prevent the frosting from sticking to the wrapping. Most bread products will last up to six months in the freezer if well wrapped.

Cookies, pancakes, waffles and other moist bread products should each be separated with wax paper or aluminum foil to prevent them from clumping together. These products can then be grouped together in a container or bag. Moist bread products will last up to six months in the freezer if well wrapped.

Diced fruit can be frozen and used in recipes or drinks within a month. The water content does increase when the fruit is thawed and the coloring of the fruit may be depleted. Take this into consideration when using the thawed product.

Products that are delicate or will stick together, such as berries, hors d’oeuvres, shrimp or appetizers are best if frozen on a cookie sheet first and then wrapped in a bag or container. This will maintain the product’s shape.

Tiny portions can be frozen in ice cube trays; orange juice, leftover wine, tomato paste, gravy, coffee or herbs. These cubes can be added to recipes, sauces or broth.

Cooked rice also does well frozen with little if any change in texture on defrosting.

Keep a notebook just for listing freezer items. Cross-out items as they are used. This is very useful when it's time to go shopping or plan a menu. Label everything before freezing!

And just for fun, check out the frozen dessert recipes here.

More Frugal Friday at Crystal's Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Frugal Friday--Time to Eat Healthy

This is taken from an article by Colleen Huber at Dr. Mercola's website, How to Cook Whole Food From Scratch--and Keep Your Day Job!. Dr. Huber's site is Naturopathyworks. These go along well with cook ahead/freezer techniques, and incorporate helps for healthier meals. I hope you find them useful.

Here are several steps you can take to streamline your efforts and maximize the productivity of your kitchen, while keeping your time spent there to a minimum.

Clear enough freezer space--about one cubic foot--to store several pint and quart-size containers of the food you will cook. Then on the weekend, plan all of your meals for the week, and go to the supermarket once to purchase the whole food ingredients in one trip. Consolidating all grocery shopping into one trip already saves time over shopping for a few items everyday.

Plus, with whole foods, you only need to go around the periphery of the supermarket where they are located, rather than taking time to go up and down the interior aisles where the processed foods are.

Once you’ve brought home all the groceries, cook all your meals for the week at the same time. This way, instead of standing at the stovetop each day for each meal, you are there for one longer session during that week, and then you’re done!

The trick is to cook big portions, but freeze in the smaller quantities that you and your family will eat throughout the week. If you cook for a family, a large recipe will probably be good for two dinners (on alternate days) during the week, as well as a lunch or two. If you live alone, you will get at least four meal portions with half of them saved for the following week. At this point you don’t have to spend any more time throughout the week than you would on TV dinners.

A food processor will work well for foods that you want to chop finely. Make freezer bags full of pre-cut vegetables that you can then defrost as needed during the week. One bag might contain pressed garlic with coarsely chopped string beans, which a few days from now you can sauté in coconut oil for a few minutes.

Another bag might contain chopped carrots, onions and tomatoes, along with cabbage that you cut into quarters. Sprinkle some caraway seeds into the bag. When you’re ready to make a meal of it, you can cook it a portion of it in a cup of chicken broth for a delicious meal of balanced nutrients.

Make use of large cooking vessels in order to accomplish the weekend cooking fiesta. A large crockpot really lends itself well to a whole foods diet. Here you don’t need a food processor.

Chop vegetables very coarsely, in much larger chunks than you can get away with in a stovetop meal. This step alone saves a lot of time. Put an organic beef round or two turkey legs or a whole organic chicken on top of the vegetables, add a few cups of water, and/or tomato sauce, perhaps with balsamic vinegar. Sesame oil and tamari may be used instead for marinade. Add whole leaf herbs as you like, and you’re done. After practicing once or twice, you will have a huge crockpot meal thrown together in five to 10 minutes. Set it on "low" in the morning, and you’re done till dinnertime. In cool weather, you could do the same in the regular oven, with a Dutch oven type covered pot in fewer hours.

Now it’s a Tuesday morning, and you’ll need something for dinner. Defrost one of the meals you prepared on the weekend. In the evening when you’re ready to cook it, place it into a serving dish in a toaster oven rather than a microwave. Toaster ovens have several advantages over microwaves. At about $40 they are much cheaper, smaller, and quieter. However, those benefits are far outweighed by the health advantage: microwave rays are unhealthy radiation, and when you microwave in a plastic container, it drives the phthalates of the plastic right into your food, which gives an otherwise excellent meal a toxic twist that you definitely do not need.

Microwave radiation also leaks throughout the whole kitchen from most microwave ovens, which creates an unhealthy atmosphere for adults, children and pets. For re-heating in your toaster oven, you’ll need one or two Pyrex-type serving dishes, about a liter each. Heating leftovers for two or three people in a toaster oven takes 10 to 15 minutes, not very much longer than a microwave.

Also use your toaster oven for breakfast. Take out some of the freezer vegetables you prepared, and sprinkle some cheese, raw is preferable, over top, and heat it up for a healthy whole food breakfast, or break an egg over the vegetables. Neither of these will spike your insulin levels, unlike so many other dishes that we unfortunately have become accustomed to thinking of as breakfast foods.

Use your toaster oven to prepare hot, healthy lunches for yourself and your family. Invest in a good-sized thermos with either glass or stainless steel (not aluminum) interior for each family member. While eating breakfast, heat up leftovers from last night, or a separately defrosted meal in your serving dish in the toaster oven, again for 10 to 15 minutes. Spoon it into each thermos. Then in each lunchbox, add a fork and little containers of nuts or some fresh fruit or some celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber or carrot sticks.

You all will then have lunches that will be wonderfully nutritious, well balanced, and appetizing for every adult and child in your family. When all lunches are prepared together assembly-line style, the process will go faster than if each lunch is made separately. And your savings will begin to be obvious as your restaurant and fast food expenses plummet toward zero.

Take advantage of savings on seasonal produce. Get organic whenever possible. It has been by steadily rising consumer demand that growers have begun to get more and more organic produce into your local stores.

Here is a way to extend the seasonal savings. Fruit preserves can be made unsweetened, and rely only on the natural sweetness of the fruit. Buy a case of about four pounds of berries when in season. Also buy three Granny Smith apples for pectin, which is a natural jelling agent. Peel and core the apples. Cut into about 1/2-inch cubes. Place the apple pieces in a large pot, with about three pounds of washed and stemmed (if necessary) berries. (Keep the other one pound fresh for snacking.)

Simmer the berries and apples on low for about an hour while you are preparing your week’s worth of meals. At the end of an hour, you should have a thin fruit spread. Take a potato masher and mash any remaining chunks of apple and berries as desired. Let it cool. The texture will get a little thicker. Freeze it in pint-size containers. This makes a nice fruit spread that will keep indefinitely. You may be surprised that the berry flavor is plenty sweet enough without added sweetener. You can spread this with a nut butter on slices of apple or pear for breakfast or snacks.

Don’t forget condiments. How often have you bought a bunch of parsley or cilantro with the good intention of using all of it, only to find most of it forgotten and wilted two weeks later, shoved behind other foods?

When it’s still fresh, chop it up finely and store in Ziploc-type bags in the freezer. Then you can access it as needed for the one teaspoonful you may want, without having it wilt away before you get a chance to use it. But if you really want fresh herbs, grow them. My favorite Greek salad dressing calls for mint, oregano and parsley, which fortunately are all easy to grow, so I make sure I always have at least one plant of each growing, and I harvest sprigs each time I make the dressing. The fragrance alone of the just-picked herbs are what make the salad.

For the crockpot, food processor, thermoses and toaster oven recommended above you may spend about $130. In order to recoup that investment, do yourself a huge favor and change your mindset about potable liquids. There is really no good reason to drink anything other than water (R.O filtered or spring water). In fact, when we drink other liquids, we train ourselves to slake our thirst with different tastes than water, which then makes the taste of water seem strange. Since our bodies are 90 percent water, the only thing strange about this is our acquired perception of water as strange.

Leave the heavy and expensive juices, teas, lattes and liquor at the store. Water is the only substance that can quench both the thirst we feel and the dehydration that almost everyone experiences to one degree or another. Drink it as you like it, with ice or without, with lemon or without, but reacquaint yourself with the one beverage that hydrates and moisturizes all the way in to the cellular level and out to the skin: water.

Also check out Eating Healthy and Organic on $7 a Day. Longish, but very informative.

More fun frugality at Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Catapults Invented Before Theory Explained Them | LiveScience

Ancient Greek craftsmen didn't need fancy math to cobble together the first catapult, a new study of ancient texts suggests. Archimedes' laws and theories just helped make the weapon better. The first catapult in Europe flung into action around the fourth century B.C., prior to the invention of mathematical models that revolutionized ancient technologies, said Mark Schiefsky, a Harvard University classics professor who led the study. 'It seems that the early stages of catapult development did not involve any mathematical theory at all,' Schiefsky said. 'We are talking about so-called torsion artillery, basically an extension of the simple bow by means of animal sinews into something like the crossbow.'"

Finish it here: Catapults Invented Before Theory Explained Them | LiveScience

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dominion Family--Mothers and Sons

I absolutely adore this post from Cindy at Dominion Family. If you have sons you'll understand exactly what she's talking about.

Dominion Family--Mothers and Sons

Wordless Wednesday

Getting ready for fall weather (even though it's still hot in Texas).

Wordless Wednesday Hub
More Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Look-y, Look-y! It's a Sale!

Trivium Pursuit is having another scratch and dent sale today and tomorrow. Their wonderful book, Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical STyle, is on sale for $16.20 (usually $27). There's lots of other goodies, too.

Trivium Pursuit

Monday, October 8, 2007

Suspended License

Another cogent article to share with you, this one by Chuck Colson on Hitchen's distortion of Christian history. There's also related audio/video downloads. This is the first part to a series of articles.

Suspended License - Prison Fellowship

15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning -

Here's a great article on a subject near and dear to me--lifelong learning. Number 10 is one of my favorites. It happens to be one of the major benefits of becoming a homeschooling mom. :-)

"10) Find Jobs that Encourage Learning--Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn't have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does. Don't spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn't challenge you."

15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning - :

Columbus Poem at Dominion Family

Cindy at Dominion Family has posted a really nice poem for Columubus Day on her blog, the link to which I'm posting since I have nothing great for Columbus Day myself!

Dominion Family � Have Boys? Need Poem?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Why Do People Get Flu Shots? by Wilton D. Alston

According to Barbara Fisher, who served for ten years on the US National Vaccine Advisory Committee:

"We have bad science and bad medicine translated into law to ensure that vaccine manufacturers make big profits, that career bureaucrats at the Public Health Service meet the mass vaccination goals promised to politicians funding their budgets, and pediatricians have a steady flow of patients…As the drug companies have often stated in meetings I have attended, if a vaccine they produce is not mandated to be used on a mass basis, they do not recoup their R&D costs and do not make the profit they want. In the medical literature official studies of vaccine risk are published purportedly proving there is no cause and effect. What the reader does not know is that often the studies have been designed and conducted by physicians who sit on vaccine policy-making committees at the Centers for Disease Control…some of whom receive money from vaccine manufacturers for their universities and for testifying as expert witnesses in vaccine-injury cases. And others are federal employees with an eye on career advancement within HHS and a future job with a vaccine manufacturer after retirement from public service. Many of these same physicians sit on the peer review boards of the major medical journals such as Pediatrics and JAMA, where they refuse space for studies or letters from the few brave physicians who dare to challenge their assertions that there is no cause and effect."

You must read this article and see the charts!
Why Do People Get Flu Shots? by Wilton D. Alston