Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sight Word Activity

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Headed back into school after being sick is sometimes hard.  Everyone is used to that lazy recovery mode that you settle into when you are feeling cruddy.  So I decided to bring out my creative strong points (ie: my scissors) and see what I could do to help Logan get past the hump of getting back on track with our school work. 

I simply made a page of egg shapes on Word and added in his Dolch sight word list words that he has been working on.  I threw in a small spatula and a couple plates from the play kitchen for good measure.  I would put two down on the table and he would read one, and then pick it up with his spatula and add it to his plate if he got it right.  If he got it wrong he would add it to my plate and it would go to the bottom of the pile. 

It’s amazing what fun can do to your brain when it is trying to learn something!  At some point, he wanted to use the timer to see how fast he could get through his list.  With in a couple days he was getting through all his sight words in under a minute!  

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Monday, January 21, 2013

A few moments from our sick week

We have been sick for the past week.  Really sick.  But the little boys managed to scrape by with nothing but a runny nose!   It was a week of keeping them occupied and unfortunately, by day three our Media-fast had been reduced to not-getting-on-Netflix.  All kids movies in our folders, and all educational movies were free game.  Don had to work, I was dog sick, and so was Cyan.  We did have a few very sweet moments though.  And I wanted to share them:

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We also had moments where Luke got on my phone and took 12 pictures of my calendar on the home page and a few of his feet and the couch for good measure.  We also had moments where Logan was SO bored that he pulled out his own teeth.  (Yes, they were loose already, but two in one day!?)

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The house is a huge mess, but we are well on our way to feeling normal again and thank goodness!

Just in time to celebrate a little boy’s 6th birthday tomorrow!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Overnight Crusty Peasant Bread

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When I first saw the No-kneed Crusty Bread recipe over at Simply So Good I spent an hour looking through all the variations and types I wanted to try and I tweaked the recipe about a gazillion times.  I believe I finally got a consistent perfect loaf!  I think that her base recipe is amazing… and it worked most of the time for me, but whenever I would want to use a whole grain flour it would go dense and flat.  So for us, this is the ‘perfect’ compromise and my own new version of European Peasant Bread.

Overnight Crusty Peasant Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups of unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water

Sift flour, yeast, salt, and sugar together in a very large bowl. 

Add the warm water and mix until it creates a ‘shaggy’ mixture. 

Cover and let sit for 12 - 18 hours. 

Pour out onto a floured surface and shape into a mound.  Let sit while your oven preheats.

Place your Dutch oven in your large oven, lid and all, and preheat your oven to 400*.

After it is preheated (about 30 mins), carefully open the Dutch oven lid and drop the formed loaf inside, returning the lid to the Dutch oven.

Cook for 30 minutes. 

Remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes.

Done! 

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I mix it up right before I go to bed at night and then make it between breakfast and lunch the next day.  Sometimes we eat it right away (with honey!  YUM!) and sometimes we save it for dinner with some homemade soup. 

Add-ins - There are some amazing add-in ideas over at Simply So Good, but for my family, we like things a bit spicy.  Just add these in to your ‘shaggy mixture’ and you’ll have a whole different flavor of yummy crusty bread to enjoy!

Slightly spicy loaf - Add in:

  • 2 Tbs of canned green chilies
  • 2 Tbs salsa
  • 1/2 cup of grated Jalapeno jack cheese

Garlic Loaf (very similar to Costco’s garlic bread) - Add in:

  • One head garlic, full cloves, pealed and cleaned.
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A little bit of food photography

I enjoy photography.  But no more than I can afford on our very limited ‘fun’ budget.  I have a 6 year old camera (but a good DSLR), a hand-me-down lens, no gadgets or timers to speak of, and free software for my limited editing.  A couple of weeks ago my macro lens bit the dust and I cried.  Seriously.  Actual tears.  It was a hand-me-down from my brother but I loved it dearly and I have been nursing it along for years through our entire debt reduction and now that we are less than a year away from being debt free, it dies.  Luckily I had my stock lens.  But anyone who has ever gotten a good lens and had to switch back to stock understands.  It’s a painful move.

Trying hard to be cheerful I started to look up new ways to improve my photography while using the stock lens.  As if the stars were aligned in my favor, this afternoon my friend Val, from Inner Child Fun, sent me this link.  One of the pictures made me gasp:

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I gasped because sitting in my closet is a rather large white canvas that I nearly threw away last week and a box of those exact handyman clips in green that I purchased as a Christmas gift for my children to make forts. 

In 15 seconds (because the closet holding both things is two feet behind me) my ‘late winter food photography’ went from this:

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To this:

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Um… JOY! 

Now I know I will have to get a new lens as soon as it’s possible.  But these new tricks just may save my sanity while I wait.  Not to mention making my blog posts more fun to write and more attractive when finished!

More tips and tricks are found at the source of my inspiration today, Celebrate Creativity blog. 

Happy shooting!

(BTW - those eggs on top were collected today from my chickens.  I am glad they are not as traumatized as we were.  They apparently don’t notice the lack of their coop-mates and have upped production to compensate for their absence.  Silly, forgetful birds.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Handcrafted Holiday - Mason jar lanterns

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Right now is so dark.  It’s dark when you get up, and it’s getting dark by the time you are ready to make dinner.  I decided to invite a bunch of friends over to make lanterns for these dark days and it really brightened things up!  (Pun completely intended.)  It was so much fun I think I should share a little how-to on here so you can make some too!

You need:

  • A mason jar (any size works, but we have found that the smaller ones light up better)
  • Regular school glue
  • tissue paper
  • paint brush
  • stiff gauge wire (I used 10 - 20)
  • beads that will fit on the wire
  • Needle nose pliers

1. First I ripped the tissue paper into small strips.  I painted a portion of the jar with the glue and laid the tissue onto it, painting it down so it was saturated.  This will become hard when it is completely dry.  Slowly cover with tissue, overlapping a bit until you have a tissue layer on the outside of your jar.

Each of the kids followed my lead with that and they started to come up with some of the most beautiful color combinations!  Flower paper laid over pink paper, and red laid over blue to make purple.  Those are the parts that make it look like stained glass!

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2. Once the outside of your jar is covered with paper, paint over any portions that are not saturated.  Be careful!  Your paper may rip.

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3. Let that dry completely.  (We cheated and placed ours in a 150* oven for a half an hour.  It worked like a charm!)

4. When dry and cool, wrap the neck of the jar in wire, keeping it loose.  Wrap a piece of wire up and over the jar to make a handle. 

5. Leave one side unattached and place beads on the wire.

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Everyone loved this part!  The boys even got super creative and it was neat to see all the different patterns that they used.

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6. Secure the second side of the wire to the loop around the jar neck and then tighten the loop so it will not slip off.  That’s it!  You have a lantern!

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These are beautiful and fun.  I used real fire tealights and LED tealights and both lit the lanterns up beautifully! 

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Adventures of city homestead life

We have a raccoon living under our house.  We hear him walking around on the heating ducts each night and none of us want to go down to confront him.  He has never caused trouble.  Not even a big mess in our garden shed, until last week.  Last week during a very nasty wind storm, he decided the broken screen door on our chicken coop was an open invitation for a dinner buffet.  We were heartbroken in the morning, having NEVER had raccoons be an issue to our bitties at all.  We have even had them under the house before and they have just ignored the chickens entirely.  Not this time.  Traumatized by finding two dead and having to put down another due to amazing and gruesome injuries, we have gotten the rude reality that our ‘city coons’ now know exactly what chickens are and they know they are tasty!

This unwelcome guest has to go for good.  We asked our neighbors to use their live trap to catch the little sucker and looked up what was best to bait a trap with.  Each and every site I read said ‘cat food’.  So we hid the trap near the chicken coop and placed some cat food near the back of it. 

This morning we woke up and we had caught something!  But not a raccoon.

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Poor Samson!  He was pretty upset.  But wow… we got a good laugh in the wake of our tragedy.

This afternoon when we got home from church we had caught something!  But again, not a raccoon.

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Silly birds.  Sigh.  So I think we will have to be a little bit more aggressive and focused. 

As for right now, we have fortified the chicken coop with a light and a LOT of chicken wire.  That should keep the raccoon out of there until we can build the new one next month and keep our remaining birds safe. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

A resolution and some boredom busters

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We are going on a 21 day screen fast.  It cannot be a complete screen fast as we all have work on the computer that we need to do, but we are going to be off of screens for entertainment for the rest of the month.  It is part of a fasting effort with my church to discover what God has in store for our lives.  This year, already filled with so much loss, I am ready to connect with my family and not have mindless entertainment between us.  I have planned out some wonderful fun things to do but left lots of time open for crafting and game time.  The kids have pulled out all the games and decided which ones they want to play and I even made up a list of toddler activities that will help us keep the little one occupied while we set ourselves to crafty tasks.  I am excited about what the next few weeks will look like for us!

Did you make a resolution this year?  How are you doing so far?

Do you have any tried and true boredom busters for me?  Please, leave me ideas in the comments!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Spontaneous Gratitude

So far, 2013 is not my friend.  I have lost a dear Aunt, a raccoon got into our chicken coop - killing two chickens and leaving one mortally wounded, and more… just more.

I am searching hard to find things that are going my way.  It’s not hard to find them… just hard to see them.  It’s time for an attitude check.  It’s time for some spontaneous gratitude.

Today, in the midst of the drama and sadness, I am so very grateful for:

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Snowy mornings that are gone by noon.

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Sweet baby faces.

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Boys who want to be just like daddy.

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Kids and their furry friends.

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And babies who are discovering new skills.

The history of Spontaneous Gratitude.

I am quitting my day early today,  for I know, that everything will look better in the morning with these beautiful gifts I have surrounding me.  Blessings to each of you who read this tonight.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The end of an era

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My uncle Fred passed away from cancer this summer.  His beautiful wife, my aunt Barb, passed away suddenly on Wednesday night.  My heart hurts and is a little bit broken right now.  And yet, I look forward to seeing them again, him with his drums, her with her fiddle, and me with a smile.  I love and will miss you guys so very much!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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For the first time in 11 years I had both my husband and my son home on New Years.  It was a wonderful new year indeed!   We made s’mores, watched the ball drop in New York City at 9pm and enjoyed a quiet evening together.  But I had to take pictures! 

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We wish you a wonderful 2013!

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Bless you all and goodnight!