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- A Day at Our House
- Achieving Organization
- Advent and Christmas
- Arts and crafts
- Baby care
- Blogs I Like
- Carnival of Joy
- Charlotte Mason
- Choice Time
- Country Diary
- Daily Life
- Eating Local
- Emergency Preparedness
- Farm Schooling
- Field trips
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- Fun Stuff
- History and Culture
- Home Sweet Home
- How many kids do you have anyway?
- Junior high and high school
- Language arts
- Learning in Review 2010-2011
- Learning in Review 2011-12
- Montessori Method
- Moving to Mississippi
- Nature study
- One of Those Days
- Organization R Us
- Organizationally Challenged
- Our Living and Learning Room
- Out in the Boondocks
- Planning in the Homeschool
- Preschool at Home
- Preserving the Harvest
- Reggio Emilia
- Simple Woman's Daybook
- special diets
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- Sugaring Time
- The joy of boys
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- The week in review
- Those boys
- Tourette Syndrome
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- Unit Studies
- Unschoolers in Disguise?
- Valentine's Day Storm
- Weekly Reviews 2008-09
- Weekly Reviews, 2009-2010
- Work and Family
Not houses this time, fortunately. Just blogs.
From now on I’ll be blogging at And the Kitchen Sink.
No, it’s not a kitchen blog. Instead it’s an “everything”
blog. Everything AND the kitchen sink? Because I am going to write
about food. Not just about food, though.
You can read about some of my reasons for starting a new blog in the post At My Kitchen Sink.
I have also declared this week a Reading Week.
I’ll continue to link new posts here for a while, and eventually I’ll
be trying to import all my Three Plus Two posts to a new Three Plus Two
on Blogger. In the meantime, this blog isn’t going anywhere, so
if you’re coming here looking for a specific post, it will still be
And a note about link sharing and curated content… After reading Lissa’s post on link-sharing, I started using Diigo to share my links. You can follow me on Diigo (I think) or you can see my links in the sidebar list on my new blog.
Oh, and I’m also on Pinterest and Twitter.
Hope to see you at my new places!
How did last week go?
The hardest part about this challenge seems to be… blogging it on Monday!
I have lots of ideas for blog posts that never make it to the
blog. Sometimes (often) it’s due to lack of time, but sometimes…
It’s the lighting.
In real life, a Spanish omelet looks much yummier. Much less… Dayglo.
(And I know what you’re thinking about this huge cooktop, because I
thought it, too, when I first saw the house. But the grill does not
work. I sometimes use it as a prep space by laying a cutting board
there. Back in 1980, though, this thing rocked!)
Anyway, having the menu plan helped keep me on track, but there was
still some unplanned pizza. We were all sick with colds last
week, and one night every time I tried to make dinner the baby pulled
up on my leg and bit me. He was not happy with his sisters or
brothers either. So pizza it was. I just readjusted the
plan and we had almond flour pancakes on Saturday instead of
I didn’t grind up any nuts and seeds for breakfast, and the
chocolate coconut bark was a complete flop. I was trying to use
unsweetened chocolate and then sweeten the whole concoction with honey,
but it just wouldn’t combine. We were left with a much too sweet
layer on the bottom and a bitter layer on top. I tried stirring
my raspberry syrup in, but it didn’t help much. None of that
seemed to matter to my 4 year old, however, as he came back for
The hardboiled eggs were lifesavers — mostly for me as snacks in the afternoon, especially on meatless days.
Menu Plan for Week 2
I’d like to have some grain-free breads made up this week to use for
breakfasts. I also need to make yogurt. And I’ve had one request
for soaked oat porridge, which we’ll have on Weds.
Standard lunch fare. Leftovers. (On Monday I had a decent
salad made from leftover cold chicken sausages, romaine lettuce, and
tomatoes, dressed with oil and apple cider vinegar. Simple, but
Monday: Chicken cacciatore over zucchini, green beans from the garden, fruit
(Ok, so the almond flour I used to coat the chicken pieces turned
mushy and my cast iron skillet was too small to hold everything, which
meant I couldn’t put it in the oven without it bubbling over onto the
oven floor. My small wall oven has no vent and functions mainly as
a steam oven, so when anything bubbles over, even more steam comes out
the top of the door — yes, really. In clouds. I finished
cooking it on the stove. It didn’t look anything like Ree’s, but
it sure tasted good! I’ll have to keep experimenting with the almond
flour. And ask for a cast iron dutch oven for Christmas.)
Tuesday: Crockpot Tacos/Taco salad (for me) using stew meat, with homemade fermented salsa, fruit
Wednesday: Butternut squash soup (enough to freeze
some)/almond flour zucchini bread (to be planned over for breakfast),
fruit… I’ll probably cook some breakfast sausage as a stir-in for the
soup, but I’ll freeze the “planned over” soup without it,
Thursday: Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken (without the rice, using free-range chicken), salad, peas maybe, fruit
Friday: I’m sticking this in as our pizza night, because we are going to be cleaning for family on the weekend!
Saturday: Crockpot roast beef w/carrots and assorted veggies from the garden, potatoes for my dad, fruit
Sunday: We have some important family events going on, so we’ll have a BBQ lunch with family and pick and snack leftovers for dinner
1) ONE HOMESCHOOLING BOOK YOU HAVE ENJOYED
Well, I was going to put a photo of my homeschool book bookcase here
to point out the difficulty I might have with “one” book, but… I
couldn’t get the bookcase to fit in the frame! Actually, that’s probably
not as bad as it sounds, because it’s a tall skinny bookcase, and
there’s not a lot of room to maneuver in the little piece of hallway
where it resides, but still… I’ve collected a lot of books over the
past 10 years. For instance, I have all 3 editions of The Well-Trained Mind. Does that sound nutty? I use it mainly for the resources.
Since I have a hard time following directions, here is a list of some of my favorite homeschooling books:
(I love this book. It is like having a good friend at your
elbow telling you to relax, that it’s going to be okay, really.)
Better Than School: One Family’s Declaration of Independence by Nancy Wallace
The Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell
Hard Times in Paradise by the Colfaxes
How Children Fail by John Holt
Homeschooling Our Children Unschooling Ourselves by Alison McKee
Pretty dang unschooly. With a little classical thrown in for good measure.
2) ONE RESOURCE YOU WOULDN’T BE WITHOUT
Er… one? Well… if I was stranded without all my stuff, what I
would absolutely want most would be a library card. So I guess the
one resource I wouldn’t be without is ACCESS TO BOOKS, and lots of
3) ONE RESOURCE YOU WISH YOU HAD NEVER BOUGHT
Hmmm… Off the top of my head, I would say the IEW writing
curriculum. I don’t know how I thought I could get past my deep
aversion to teaching “dress-ups.
4) ONE RESOURCE YOU ENJOYED LAST YEAR
Gee, that’s tough. There were some good books last year, but I
think one of the “resources” we most enjoyed last year was the Lego unit I blogged about here.
5) ONE RESOURCE YOU WILL BE USING NEXT YEAR
Would that be this year maybe? Because I can’t plan to the end of the week, much less know what we’ll be using next year!
A few resources from this year…
Rosetta Stone French and Japanese
Holling C. Holling books
A really good voice teacher
6) ONE RESOURCE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BUY
Does anybody have a schoolroom/art studio/home library space for sale, cheap?
7) ONE RESOURCE YOU WISH EXISTED
A schoolroom/art studio/home library space you could unfold and attach to your house. Like the TARDIS — bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
(This sounds like a good excuse to stick in a Doctor Who Youtube montage.)
Actually, Doctor Who has led to some good discussions in our house,
so I guess it counts as one of my favorite resources, right? (Just smile
and nod; it’s easier that way.)
8) ONE HOMESCHOOLING CATALOG YOU ENJOY READING
Sonlight (although I don’t like their new catalog as much as I liked the old format) … Emmanuel Books… Montessori Services… (I guess that’s technically not a homeschool catalog, but that’s what I use it for, so I think it counts.)
Ok, so — tag, you’re it! If you haven’t already done the meme and you’d like to, consider yourself tagged!
Keeper of the Home is hosting the “Plan It, Don’t Panic: Meal Planning Challenge”
for the next six weeks to give those of us who need it (ahem) some
accountability in the meal planning process. Lately life has been
so busy that grocery shopping gets smushed into whatever time slot
happens to be available, and meal planning has been rudimentary.
As a result, we’ve been eating way too much pizza, and I end up feeding the kids toast for breakfast every day.
A low point happened at Costco two weeks ago when I bought a giant box
of packaged granola bars to feed the kids snacks in the van on the way
home. Obviously they did not need 60 + granola bars to eat on the
way home, so they ended up gorging on them for breakfasts and snacks, at
which point it became apparent that my boys had eaten 60+ granola bars
in less than a week. (Like — a lot less than a week.) Granted, we were just coming home from vacation, but 60 granola bars??
I signed up with the Plan It, Don’t Panic Challenge as soon as I saw it.
Our vital stats:
- Family of 9
- 6 boys, ages 14-1
- 1 nursing mom
- grain-free diet (at least for some of us)
Since I know that people are curious about the grain-free diet, I
thought I would try to blog this challenge in a little more
detail. I hope to post not only my meal plans, but what we (and
I, the most grain-free of our family) actually ate during the
week. As usual, I’ll be keeping it real. I like Mark
Sisson’s “Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good” and 80 % principles
when it comes to eating a grain-free/paleo/primal diet. I am not
perfect. I have 7 kids. Things are going to fall apart
sometimes. They probably fall apart at your house, too. But
that’s okay. You don’t have to be a superhero to make changes in
the way you eat.
This what I’m hoping to accomplish with this challenge:
- Stop eating so much pizza for dinner just because I haven’t figured out dinner or managed any prep work.
- Make better use of my (minimal) garden produce as well as the store produce
- Start working in more grain-free breakfasts and lunches for the kids.
- Make it a regular habit to have some real snacks on hand that are a
change from the everyday fruit and cheese, which are starting to get a
little boring. In addition, I need snacks that I can eat, with a bit of
protein in the afternoon.
- Start making my own yogurt and kefir again.
- Keep the grocery budget at a decent level. I’m not aiming for
the lowest level, but I do want to keep a top on it by weeding out the
impulse buys (like 60+ granola bars).
So how am I doing this first week?
Thursday night I sat down and got some coupons together. I
don’t spend a lot of time couponing, and am probably one of the more
un-extreme couponers you’ll find, but I do find that coupons help us on
paper and cleaning products and our Whole Foods shopping
especially. I wanted Andy to make a run to Whole Foods after work
on Friday, so I had to get everything together for him. Our
standard Whole Foods run usually includes whole fat yogurt,
unhomogenized whole milk (not raw), good quality heavy cream (minus the
carageenen), and whatever organic fruit is on sale for a good
price. We also stock up on free-range chicken and pastured butter
if we need any (we didn’t this week). This week, in addition to
the dairy, Andy bought a little over 4.5 lbs of plums, some chocolate
for coconut bark, and got a deal on Clif bars by stacking some
manufacturers coupons with Whole Foods coupons. (He’ll take the
Clif bars with him when he travels. No, they aren’t grain-free.)
On Friday night I watched the videos from the Cook More Real Food Challenge
(taking inventories of pantry, freezer, and fridge, and meal planning,
all of which are good), so I was ready to jump in Saturday morning as
long as Katydid and Andy helped by watching Leo, who was sick and
prefers to live outside these days. (Fortunately, they came to my
rescue). I finally got around to cleaning out the fridge, which I
have needed to do for a few weeks now. We recently bought a
second fridge to store veggies and milk and cut down on trips to the
store, but the luxury of space brought with it a disturbing habit on
the part of all of us to disregard all former organizational rules for
using the fridge in the kitchen.
On Saturday afternoon, I finished up the grocery shopping at
Kroger. (Sure seemed like they raised their prices again.
Their “mega-event” didn’t seem so mega to me.)
Stuff in the fridge and freezer I’ll be using in my meal plan this week:
- black bean salad (homemade)
- romaine lettuce
- carrots that are looking a little hairy
- baby carrots in a giant bag from Costco (mainly for lunches)
- shrimp stock (freezer)
- chicken broth (freezer)
- stew meat (from a side of beef, freezer)
- gluten-free chicken sausages (from that Costco trip)
- almond flour (which I buy in bulk from Honeyville Grains)
- raspberry “syrup” — organic frozen raspberries from Costco that had
thawed and refrozen into a giant block, cooked down with honey because I
had to do something with 3 lbs of raspberries at once… a yummy and
sugar-free topping for yogurt and pancakes
Snacks and sweet stuff for the week:
I have the Healthy Snacks to Go e-book
and am excited to try many of Katie’s ideas. But… everybody in
the house (including me) is sick right now with a cold, so we’ll see how
much gets accomplished.
Some simple ideas for this week:
- hardboiled eggs
- chicken broth (good for a cold!)
- apples and bananas with peanut, almond, or sunbutter
- applesauce rollups (from the Healthy Snacks book)
- coconut bark (from Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals)
A Note on the Calendar:
Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are Ember Days
in the Church. We’ll be meatless for those days. Meatless and
grain-free can be difficult, especially when your family doesn’t like
beans or lentils.
I am not awake enough in the morning to cook. What I am aiming
for this week is to grind up some nuts and seeds ahead of time in order
to make grain-free porridge, which
will be a nice change from my regular eggs. (Our chickens are
only beginning to lay, so I’m still buying cage-free eggs from the
store.) Hopefully some of the kids will enjoy it, too.
My goal is to have leftovers. With 6 boys, sometimes you plan
for leftovers and in spite of your best efforts, you realize what you
have left over is crumbs. My own go-to lunch for days when there
are crumbs is a peanut or almond butter/coconut milk smoothie.
In other words, I’m still working on lunch. I’ll be getting up to speed on dinners first.
Sunday — Black bean soup (leftover black bean salad, stew meat from the freezer)
(I did make this and it turned out well, but the little boys
refused to eat it again for lunch on Monday and had cheese sandwiches
Monday — chicken wings with baby carrots, fruit, possibly some bleu cheese dip if I feel up to it
Tuesday — shrimp bisque (I’ll be altering this recipe, since I don’t have cognac or sherry, and I won’t be adding flour) and salad
Wednesday (meatless) — Spanish Omelet (I add some cheese to mine, and of course, I use more eggs!), roasted eggplant from the garden, fruit
Thursday — gluten-free chicken sausages, green beans from the garden, fruit
Friday (meatless) — almond flour pancakes with raspberry “syrup”
Saturday (meatless) — cheese pizza out
Well! I’m not sure how I spun a menu plan into such a long
post, but if you’re still with me, check out all the other menu planners
at Plan It, Don’t Panic! Week One !
As our year goes on, we are settling more and more
into the “relaxed” mode which seems to fit our family pretty well.
A case in point is the last two weeks. We had many committments,
Andy had to be out of town, and then we wanted to make a Labor Day visit
to see Grandma and Grandpa. While I could have seen this as a
“break” and gotten frustrated at not being able to accomplish what I had
planned, instead I viewed it as a less academic period and we got
everything packed, social occasions were attended to, and Katydid taught
a few of our friends how to take care of the chickens while we were
gone. When we came home, we had time to gear back up, go grocery
shopping, and help another homeschooling family move back into area
So this was not really “a break”. It was a time simply less
bookwork-focused. And we managed, as a family, to listen to The Magician’s Nephew, part of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and part of the Focus on the Family dramatization of The Screwtape Letters as well. (Gareth also managed some personal study of the Teaching Company’s Story of Language course, and listened with his father to a CD from The Story of Philosophy, which is what Andy is listening to on his commute these days.)
Other activities from the past week or so:
- Mass, Confession, and a class on the Latin Mass with our homeschool group, followed by lunch and play afterwards
- Voice lessons for Katydid. She started these in August and loves them. We’re both very happy with her teacher.
- Volunteering at an animal shelter for an afternoon with Katydid,
Farmerboy, and a large group of kids. We walked and bathed dogs.
Some of the parents cleaned kennels. On the way home, we had an
interesting discussion about animals and theology, and whether we could
put an animal shelter in our barn. (Ummm… probably not.
Although we are currently a halfway house for our neighbor’s escaped
bunnies, of which they have many. Their escapees hang out with our
chickens. One of them, a big black rabbit, has been christened
“Midnight Ninja”. I’m sure the way he lounges around eating
chicken feed and halfheartedly hopping out of your way is just a clever
A little serendipity, too… When we were visiting the grandparents,
we went to Mass at the little church where I grew up. The regular
priest did not say Mass; instead, a Benedictine monk from St. Bernard Abbey
in Cullman, Alabama said Mass. Everyone was very impressed with
his homily (although I did not hear it myself, since I was walking
around outside with a baby). Later that week, after we were home
again, Andy was watching Life on the Rock
on EWTN with Gareth when we all suddenly realized that they were
featuring the same monks on their show! And one of the brothers
who appeared as a guest was the very priest who had said Mass in our
little church on Sunday. It turns out that he is the vocations
director for the abbey.
So… hmmm… what are the odds?
I have declared war on crepe myrtles. I know they probably don’t deserve it, but I have this thing about plants that everybody has. And down here, everybody has
crepe myrtles. It’s like monoculture landscaping, and it can’t be
good for the bees. Anyway, the thing about crepe myrtles is that
if they are sufficiently ignored for long enough, they will create many,
many volunteer trees, most of them in places they have no business
growing. And the other thing about crepe myrtles is that many
people regard them as bushes and plant them accordingly, smack up next
to the house in the front flower bed. But the crepe myrtle is a tree, and if you ignore it (sufficiently), it will turn into a tree,
and there goes your gutter. Our neighbor has a gorgeous, huge
crepe myrtle in her front yard, but most crepe myrtles are never given
that amount of space or time. Instead, they’re planted in the
wrong places and then cruelly topped. All of which is to say that I
spent a beautiful late summer day wielding a pair of giant pruning
shears against dozens of juvenile crepe myrtles growing in every single
landscaped bed we have. I even bravely made a start on the two
trees in the front of the house that make eerie, creaky noises against
the gutters when the wind blows. Those, I’m afraid, will require a
I’m working on crepe myrtles because my garden is defunct. When
we came home from visiting my parents Labor Day weekend, one of my bean
towers was blown over and the other was leaning drunkenly. It’s
not like I got a lot of beans out of them anyway. Time now to get
another load of dirt for the raised beds and plant some fall crops, like
lettuce and kale.
The blackberry bushes are bearing nicely, especially considering that
this is their first year. I love blackberries. I often
wonder about our big blackberry bush in the garden in New York.
Hurricane Irene devestated Schoharie County,
but our old house was not in the way of the worst floodwaters.
Still, I wonder, did all the water coming down that hill demolish the
orchard? What about the blackberry bush?
This is the risk of planting things. A piece of you stays in the ground, too.
Which is to say, we have been horrified by the news coming out of
upstate New York. Some of Andy’s coworkers lost their homes.
The towns that formed the place we called home for 5 years are some of
them completely obliterated. It’s all very surreal when you’re
this far away and friends send you photos and videos. You just
thank God that there was no loss of human life.
Because I am a worrier, I wondered what Tropical Storm Lee would do
if it dumped 10 inches of rain on my parents’ house. If the power
went out, would we have enough food to feed our big family? Was there
enough Chunky Soup in the pantry?
These are the things that will keep you up at 3 AM when you’re trying
to sleep in the 6 inches of space left on the bed beside the baby.
Fortunately for us, the rain and wind weren’t that bad, although it
was cold for the second week in September — unheard of cold! 60 degrees
and raining! — and a dead tree did fall across the sidewalk. Of course
they had to evacuate again in upstate New York.
On our way home, we drove out of the rain into sunshine. The
rain gauge in our front flower bed held less than a half inch of
rain. The azaelas in back look wilty and parched in spite of the
And the wildfires in Texas… good night. My dad says this is how
they make averages: floods and droughts cancel each other out.
Well, this didn’t start out as the natural disaster Seven Quick
Takes, but I guess it’s been on my mind. I went to Costco the day
after we got back and stocked up on some things we were out of, or
almost out of: canned salmon, olive oil, paprika. (I guess
sometimes I use a lot of paprika.) They had tortellini, which I
should have bought more of in case they don’t have any when I go back,
and I also saw organic strawberry spread, which I haven’t seen in a
year. So I bought 3 jars. If we were to have to eat out of
the pantry now, our meals would consist of nut and seed butters, salmon,
canned beans, tomatoes, pineapple, Goldfish crackers, and strawberry
In case you’re wondering, I am still eating grain-free as much as
possible. In a little over a year, I’ve lost about 50
pounds. 20 pounds was cheating because it was baby weight, but 30
pounds was baby weight x the 6 previous babies. I am getting to
the point where I have been forced to buy new clothes. I miss
bread and my corn allergy annoys the heck out of me because I can’t eat
corn on the cob or Chinese food at a restaurant because there’s
cornstarch in the sauces, but otherwise, I’m ok eating this way.
My kids, however, are not. Having enough meat on hand to fill them
up with a grain-free dinner is a real problem, especially considering
that my 14 month old has begun eating the same amount as the 4 year old
or the 5 year olds. That said, I saw a lot of benefits to the kids
with grain-reduced eating, and I want to reduce the grains they’re
eating again, but I can’t seem to stop feeding them toast for breakfast.