A Nutty Week

>> Saturday, July 17, 2010

This week started out great! It was VBS week at our church. Our girls have been so excited, looking forward to this all summer. We got there Monday, and my husband helped with the games, and I helped to corral the preschoolers. I think we had 23 preschoolers on Monday, and when we got home I was exhausted! I came home and took an hour and a half nap. :-) Tuesday was another fun day with 26 preschoolers. But at the closing ceremony I could tell my oldest (Butternut) wasn’t feeling so well. She came home after VBS and took a nap. Which is pretty unusual for either of my girls. Wednesday morning both girls were sick, so I stayed home while my hubby went to VBS. By Wednesday evening my throat was getting a bit sore, but nothing major.

Also on Wednesday, my computer died. That was a bit sad, but strangely enough, it really didn’t seem to bother me. I figured a few days without a computer wouldn’t hurt me. Then Thursday morning the coffee pot died. That was tragic. A computer, I can do without. Coffee… not gonna happen. So I boiled a pot of water on the stove, poured the grinds into the coffee filter inside the filter basket, and slowly poured the water from the tea kettle into the filter basket, while holding it over my mug. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! I declared to my husband that I wasn’t touching anything electronic for the rest of the week.

My husband is so wonderful. After lunch we got online and looked at stores in a nearby town to see what they had for coffee pots. We found one that would work into our budget, and he set out to buy it. And just a few days ago he’d received a coupon for the store, for 20% off. The coffee pot was already on sale, plus it had a mail in rebate. And because he’s so wonderful, he upgraded a bit and got the one with the stainless steel carafe, as my anniversary gift. As it turned out, once he got home and opened it up he saw it had been used. Ick. So back in to town he went… but they made up for it. They gave him some money back, so it ended up costing the same as the original one he was going to get. :-)

Well, Thursday evening I started to get sick. I felt worse than I’ve felt in a very long time. Turns out I have a nasty sinus infection. So I’ve done a lot of sleeping the past couple of days. I guess I really didn’t end up missing my computer. And after a bit of trial and error (and reformatting the hard drive back to factory settings), it’s back to working again.

So that’s been my week in a nutshell. Oh, and speaking of nuts, I’ve got our family profile over there on my side bar. I think I’ll use those nicknames when I’m talking about our kids, just because I’m paranoid about putting their real names here on the internet. That’s probably a bit crazy for someone who met her husband online, but what can I say? I guess I’m a nut that way. :-)

Edit: Ok, now somehow my formatting is not coming through correctly, and all my paragraph breaks disappear when I try to publish my post. Don't tell me I've now broken Blogger... That's gonna drive me crazy if I can't get that figured out. Hopefully it will work for me the next time I try to post... Grrr....


Granola Bars! :-)

>> Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Well, I believe the verdict is in. Although the previous recipe was a bit sweet for my tastes, it does seem to be the one I will go with. When I tried cutting back on the honey the bars were very crumbly. So I guess I'm ready to post the recipe. :-)

A couple of weeks ago I ran across a wonderful find that I included in the bars... mini marshmallows. And not just any mini marshmallows... these were truly miniature! They remind me of the kind you get in packets of hot cocoa mix. I included them in the last batch of granola bars, and although I really liked them, the kids said they couldn't really taste the marshmallows. I suppose that's true... but I really like marshmallows. I'd be happy eating a bowl of these for breakfast. :-) In any case, I probably won't use these too often because the store that sells them is pretty far away. I will include them in this recipe, but if you want to either omit them or use something else (nuts or dried fruit) that would be delicious, as well.

And now, for the recipe! Here is the cast of ingredients. It's all pretty basic, and mostly what I use for our regular granola. And as you can see we go through a lot of oats! :-)

  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 teaspoons mini marshmallows
  • 6 teaspoons mini chocolate chips

This starts out the same as the other granola. Mix oats and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup honey, and vanilla, and mix well. Pour into a non-stick baking pan and bake at 300 for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If you stop at this point you can store in an air tight container and have very simple granola.

To make the bars, let the mixture cool for a few minutes, then pour back into the mixing bowl. While it's cooling, lightly grease a muffin pan.

Measure out 1/4 cup of the granola into a small bowl, and add 1 teaspoon of mini marshmallows, and 1/2 teaspoon mini chocolate chips. Mix well and pour it into a muffin cup.

Repeat this with the remaining granola. You'll probably have a bit of granola left over when all the muffin cups are full, so just put a little extra in each of the muffin cups.

When all the muffin cups are full, firmly pack the granola down into the cups. I've found using a plastic 1/2 cup measuring cup works well for this. I just place the measuring cup on the top of the granola, and press down with as much preasure as I can. When all the granola is packed down, bake at 300 for a final 10 minutes, then allow to completely cool. I usually let mine cool around 3 hours.

When the bars are completely cool, carefully remove them from the
muffin cups. I've found an easy way of doing this is to carefully slide a plastic knife down along the side of the bars. This applies just the right amount of pressure to free the bar from the pan. When I first took mine out of the pan they were very sticky. Almost too sticky. So I put them all on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet and left them in the (cool) oven overnight. This allowed the air to circulate around the bars and really helped with the stickiness.

My family loves these granola bars! And even though they are a bit on the sweet side for my tastes, I do admit they go great with coffee! :-) We all thought they taste very close to the S'mores granola bars you can buy in the grocery store. And although they do have more honey than I'd like, at least they don't have the high fructose corn syrup or preservatives of the store bought ones. I also like the fact that they are round, rather than rectangular. It makes them a bit unique. I also think it helps them hold their shape a bit better, as there are no corners to easily break off.

I store these in an air tight container, but they could also be individually wrapped in plastic wrap. I've also decided I need to get a second cupcake pan so I can make more than 12 at a time. Otherwise I'm making a new batch every 3 days. :-)


Experimenting in the Kitchen

>> Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For the past couple years I've been looking for a simple granola bar recipe. There are oodles of recipes online, but they all have so many ingredients, most of which my children won't eat. :-) I was hoping I could find a recipe to make our granola into bars, but so far, nothing has worked.

Recently I made a mistake when making granola. Usually I half the recipe, but this particular day I decided to make a full batch. Unfortunately, I was still thinking in halves, so even though I used 6 cups of oats, I used half of everything else. The granola turned out pretty tasteless. I hated to waste all those oats, so I figured I might as well experiment with it. I'd try coming up with my own recipe for bars, and if it didn't work, oh well. The oats would have been tossed, anyway.

After a bit of experimenting I came up with something that for the most part, seemed to work! It still needed a bit of tweaking, and that's what I've been working on the past couple weeks. I think I have the recipe just right... I just pulled a batch out of the oven. We'll know tomorrow, when we eat them for breakfast. If this is "the recipe," I'll post it here. If it still needs some tweaking, I'll try to get it just right before posting. When I made them earlier this week my girls and husband loved them, but they were a bit too sweet for my tastes. So I've tried to cut back a bit on the honey, and we'll see if they still hold together. I should know in the morning!


The Visitor

It was late at night and the house was dark and quiet. The girls were asleep, and I was in bed reading a ghost story, when I heard it. It was a horrible sound... the low guttural, muffled meow of my cat. That in itself was very strange... she rarely meows. But when she does, it's not the nice soft meow of most cats. Her meow sounds more like a cow in pain. Only tonight, the meow was even more horrible, compounded by the fact that I was reading a ghost story.

Autumn jumped up on my bed, and I noticed by the dim light of my reading light she had something in her mouth. This was the second strange thing. Our cat has numerous toy mice around the house, but she's never shown an interest in them. This time she was holding one in her mouth. "Whatcha got, kitty?" I asked, calling her forward. She dropped her toy mouse... and in a flash it scurried across the foot of my bed! And to be honest, I'm surprised my scream didn't wake my girls. I don't know who was more scared... me or the mouse!

For a while I just sat in bed shaking, afraid to get out for fear of stepping on the thing. Finally I got up the nerve and quickly made the bed (to be sure there were no little lumps under the covers), then proceeded to turn on all the lights in the house. I'd heard mice usually come out at night, so I figured I'd discourage this critter from running across my path. Then I went through the house and cleaned up all the jackets and blankets left scattered around. I didn't want to give this little guy any convenient hiding places.

Finally in the wee hours of the morning I was able to calm down enough to go back to bed. But before going to bed I told my kitty that the next time she decides to catch a mouse, please dispose of it. And please, please don't bring it onto my bed!

Throughout the night I heard scratching noises in my closet, and the next morning we found a little hole in the wall where the mouse had escaped. We saw it once more that day, then didn't see or hear anything after that. We figured our kitty must have scared the poor little critter away. There was no evidence of a mouse anywhere in the house (fortunately no droppings or food chewed up), so we thought that was the end of it.

Nine Days Later.

Around 2:30 in the morning my husband and I were awakened by our cat making a very loud, horrible sounding meow. She was in our room, and my husband began calling her to us. In my sleep muddled mind I thought, "don't call her, she might have a mouse!" I mentioned this to my husband, and he turned on his flashlight, but didn't see anything. Then he got out of bed and looked on the floor in front of her... and sure enough, there was a mouse on the floor. A very dead mouse. I asked if he was sure it was real, and not one of her toys. He assured me this was real. He left to get a garbage bag to dispose of the pitiful creature, and my cat started batting at it, trying to get it to move! "Autumn, stop!" I didn't want to take any chances that the thing was just in shock, and would regain consciousness and scurry across my floor again. My wonderful husband disposed of the mouse that night, and we haven't seen or heard any more little visitors in our house.

The end.
(At least, I sincerely hope this is the end.)


Rice Crispy "Donuts"

>> Monday, July 12, 2010

This year for Father's Day my girls wanted to make Daddy breakfast in bed. The only trouble was, he was running the sound board at church, and had to be there at 7:00. Which meant they'd have to get up at 5:30 to serve him breakfast. We did a bit of brainstorming, trying to come up with something they could make the day ahead and serve him in bed. Daddy likes donuts, and he also likes rice crispy treats. So we made rice crispy donuts. :-) I mixed up a batch of rice crispy treats, then we formed them around little cups to make the donut shape. Some of them ended up looking a bit more like ant hills than donuts, but it's the thought that counts. :-)

Saturday night I set my oldest daughter's alarm for 5:30. When it went off she woke her little sister, they crept downstairs and got Daddy's donuts (hiding in the entertainment center where he wouldn't find them) and brought them to Daddy. He was quite surprised, but mostly surprised that his girls were able to crawl out of bed so early in the morning!


Our Homeschooling Journey

>> Friday, July 9, 2010

Update - 08-02-11  When I wrote this we were using Sonlight for our homeschooling.  I still love Sonlight and am grateful for the wonderful library we've built up, but this year  we decided it was time for a change.  We are now using My Father's World, and so far we love it!  I'll leave the rest of this post up, until I have a chance to do a full edit and give more of my reasons for switching.  But for now, I'll just leave this edit here.

When I was pregnant with our first daughter, my husband and I knew we wanted to home school. We had both gone through the public school system and turned out alright (smile), but we knew we wanted our children to have the opportunity to learn what we believed (and still do!) was most important, our faith in Jesus.

In the beginning, I knew next to nothing about homeschooling. I had a few friends who had been home schooled, and from what I could tell it seemed like a pretty simple concept. When our daughter started reading at a very early age, we decided we'd go ahead and start preschool early. When she was three I did some research, and decided it should be fairly easy to come up with my own curriculum. I know for some families this works wonderfully. However, ours wasn't one of them. :-)

I also tried a couple of curricula that utilize the library for your main resources. After a few weeks of this, I decided that wasn't going to work for us, either. I needed something simpler, something all laid out for me.

I had heard of Sonlight, but by this point I'd forgotten about it. My Mom-in-law somehow knew of Sonlight, and suggested we take a look at it, again. (Thanks Mom! :-) When our daughter was 5 we ordered the Kindergarten Core, and have not looked back. It's worked wonderfully for us!

The main thing I like about Sonlight is the fact that everything is planned out for me. And you also order all the books, so there's no running to the library only to find out the book you need is unavailable. It is a literature based program, which means lots of reading for my girls. Being as how they both love to read, this works well for us. I don't think it would work quite as well for a child who doesn't enjoy reading.

This year we're starting 4th Grade for my oldest (American History part 2), and First Grade for my youngest (World History part 1). My first grader is very excited to start school! My 4th grader wouldn't mind waiting a few more months. :-) In any case, we plan to start next month. It's not quite soon enough for my youngest daughter, and a bit too soon for my oldest. But it's just about right for me. We always seem to get behind during the school year (last year our water heater broke and flooded our bedroom, so all of our bedroom furniture was in the dining room [aka the school room] and living room for a couple of weeks; later we moved, so there were another couple of weeks without school...), so this year I'm hoping that by starting early we can prevent falling behind too badly. But we'll see how it goes. I guess that's part of the beauty of home schooling... it's so easy to make school revolve around your life, rather than life revolving around school.

One of my goals for this blog is to keep a running list of our favorite books we read in school this year. I don't know if I'll succeed at being faithful to that, but I'll try. Hopefully that can also help me to keep motivated to keep Grandparents updated in what we're studying throughout the year. It's one of my goals, anyway. Usually my goals last a few weeks (or a few days! :-), so we'll see how this one goes.

And that, in a nutshell, is our homeschooling journey! If anyone who reads this has any questions about homeschooling in general, or Sonlight in particular, feel free to ask me any questions!


I've got it!

I've been thinking quite a bit over the past few days about this blog, and what I want to convey in the title. I don't know why it's been such a big deal to me, sometimes I can tend to obsess over the little things. :-) But I wanted the title to reflect what's important in my life. And I wanted it to be able to go with any picture, in case I later decide to change the picture in my header. Finally I decided the title should come from Psalm 139, my favorite chapter of the Bible. You can't go wrong with that chapter. :-) So my new title is taken from Psalm 139:22. Now that I've got the redesign and title completed, I can get back to blogging. Well, unless life interferes with computer time. :-)


Under construction

>> Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Right now my blog is under construction... I'm on the search for a new background design, as well as a new title. I can't really say I'm Dreaming... I realized recently, I'm Living the life God has given me! God has so richly blessed my life, and I want this blog to reflect that. Hopefully it won't take me too long to figure out what I want to do here. :-)


long time no see

>> Monday, July 5, 2010

Wow, so much has happened since I posted, back in February. I'd like to start posting on my blog again, but it's hard to get started after a long break. :-)

I guess the biggest thing that's happened to us is we moved in February! We've moved into a beautiful house! (No more apartment life for us, at least for a while!) We have a back yard with room for the girls to run around, a playhouse, swings and a slide, and room for a future garden. I'm hoping to be able to start the garden next spring. The girls each have their own room, we have a play room, and even a school room! God has blessed us so much with this house!

Along with moving, we are now enjoying small town life. I've missed living in a small town, and now this town is just perfect for raising our girls! We're closer to our church, and we love it! We really feel at home here. Also, there is a nearby church where the girls will attend AWANA in the Fall, and that's a blessing, as well! We no longer need to drive into down town in the early evening amidst all the traffic getting off work... now we can walk! God has really blessed us with this move, in so many ways.

We are excited to start our next school year. In fact, the girls are so excited they wanted to start early! So last night we dove into our handwriting curriculum. This year we will be studying our second year of American History for Fourth Grade, and our first year of World History for First Grade. The girls are so anxious to start (especially our First Grader!) that we will probably go ahead and officially start the year next month. And hopefully with starting in August we'll do better at not falling behind this year. Every year we seem to fall a bit behind during the year, then rush to catch up in May and June. :-) Hopefully this year we can avoid that, but we'll see.

I've got one or two recipes I'd like to post, and a few fun stories about family life. But I'll leave those for another day. Hopefully that will motivate me to update this blog more than every 5 months. :-)


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