Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lots of food, little money: pasta

I love pasta. Amen.

2 lbs ground beef or 1 lb of beef and 1 lb ground pork
2-3 C bread or cracker crumbs
4 eggs
1/2 C grated Parmesan (Romano is good too)
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic salt

Mix and form into balls. Place on baking sheet and bake at 400 for 20-25 min or until the tops are brown and they looked cooked. Place in sauce and cook until you are hungry. The longer, the better. I like to cook them on high in my crock pots for about 3 hours and then turn to low for another 3 hours. If I am pressed for time, I cook them in a pot on the stove for 2-3 hours.

2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp basil
1 grated carrot
1/2 C finely chopped kale or chard
parsley if you have it
2 tsp minced garlic
tomato sauce (If I have fresh tomato sauce, I use it. However, it seems we canned too much salsa and not enough sauce this year so I used a giant tomato sauce can from Costco.)

Meatballs freeze great and are great eaten on homemade rolls or buns. I like to use leftover sauce for pizza or I freeze it and use it for a quick lunch.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Squash Soup

I found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine.

3 sliced leeks (white part only)
4 chopped carrots
5 Tbsp butter
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cubed (I used pureed winter squash)
6 C chicken broth
3 peeled and sliced zucchinis (I omitted because I didn't have any on hand)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 C half and half (I used whole milk instead of cream)
1/2 C milk

Saute leeks and carrots in butter. Add squash, broth, zucchini, salt, thyme and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30-35 min or until veggies are tender. Puree in blender or food processor. Stir in cream and/or milk and heat through. I like to add cooked barley.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coconut Cream Pie and Crust

Double Pie Crust

2 C flour
1/4 C butter
2 heaping spoonfuls of lard (maybe around 1/4 C)
6 Tbsp cold water

Mix together with your mixer or if you're really motivated do it by hand. Either way, it'll be delicious. You will only use half of this for a coconut cream pie. Save the other half for pot pies. Or roll out, cut up and toss in cinnamon and sugar and bake.

Coconut Cream Pie

3 C milk
1/4 C cornstarch
3/4 C sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 C coconut

In a heavy saucepan, mix together milk, cornstarch and sugar. In a separate container, whisk together 4 egg yolks. Ladle some of the hot milk mixture into the yolks. Add it to the saucepan. Bring to a boil for 2 min. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla and coconut. Pour into pie crust and bake for 35 min. I think my pie was in for 45 min. Cool in the fridge for 3-6 hours and top with whipped cream.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday 11/22

Today we started learning about pictographs, our sense of sight and the continents. Finn's theme this week is G is for gummy bears and gumballs. I have decided to include Finn in all of the stuff for Maeve (if he's interested) and vice versa.

We started off by reviewing all of the letters we've covered so far. We played a game where we said "I went to the grocery store and I bought a ___" We started with the letter a. By the time we got to g, the kids were having fun with the game and said they went to the grocery store to buy a Giganotosaurus (a therapod, by the way).

Then we moved on to our science experiment. We made predictions on what will happen when gummy bears are placed in a cup of water overnight. We measured the length and width of the bears and traced them. Finn predicted the bears will sink. Maeve predicted that they'll get smaller and squishy. I predict the kids will want to eat the gummy bears for breakfast.

I found a site that did a lesson on picture graphs. The kids really liked it and were excited to graph. We made a list of eye colors (Maeve also included red and white, although surprisingly no one in our family has those eye colors) and Maeve put tally marks next to each color to correspond with everyone in our extended family. Tomorrow she will color in the eyes we printed off and graph them on the wall.

We talked about our sense of sight. We collected lots of color samples from Lowe's, grouped them by color and put them in order from darkest to lightest. I was going to have them walk around with their eyes closed, but they were nutso today and I didn't want to add fuel to the fire.

I showed the kids a map of the world. I had Maeve point to the biggest and smallest continents and the continent we live on. We also did the continent clap, which Finnegan loved and asked to do five times.

I am too lazy right now to find links, but if you ask I will post them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This Week's Menu

Monday: Chicken parmesan with rigatoni and steamed broccoli
Tuesday: out
Wednesday: Sweet and sour meatballs with brown rice, snap peas
Thursday: Butternut squash soup with rolls (I will probably be the only one to eat this)
Friday: BBQ pork on homemade buns, green beans, homemade fries
Saturday: pork chops and I'm not sure of sides
Sunday: breakfast, pancakes, hash browns and eggs

Snacks: pumpkin muffins, strawberry scones and oat bars

Sweet and Sour sauce (I always double the sauce, but I never double the sugar)
3/4 C sugar
1/3 C vinegar
2/3 C water
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp ketchup
1/4 C soy sauce
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Meatballs (for 2 lbs of ground beef)
one chopped onion
one sleeve of crackers (I used Ritz because it's what I had)
two eggs
I bake my meatballs for 20 min or so in the oven and then put them into the crock pot with the sauce. I cook them on high for about 3 hours and then set it to low for another 2-3 hours. Cook time depends on how soon I remember I'm making meatballs for dinner.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Week of Nov 15th

I think this is the third or forth week of being very organized and planning out our week before it happens. Maeve has enjoyed more structure, but she wants to do whatever Finn is doing. I'm doing a letter a week with Finnegan and focusing on a weekly theme. This week we're doing F is for fish and Maeve told me that she loves fish and then whined about not doing the same thing. To compromise, I think I'll stick with how I'm doing things for her, but incorporate some of Finn's activities into her work. I also think I'll do structured stuff with them for three weeks out of the month. We are unschoolers at heart and I want to allow plenty of time to explore interests, although this is funny to me because we only "do school" for about an hour and a half a day. The rest of the day is spent exploring, playing, cleaning, cooking and going places. Anyway, overall my new system seems to be working for everyone.

Maeve is a reading fool. She breezed through short vowels "a" and "e" and we're working on "i" this week. She has been taking the time to sound out words and has read several Bob books this week. She is also reading her Progressive Phonics pages. She is gaining confidence in herself and I am proud of her.

Last week in science we covered skin and muscles. We're learning about touch and sight this week. We made these with stuff the kids collected from the yard and watched what happened to our skin when we gave ourselves goosebumps. Maeve also wanted to do a ladybug lapbook and was supposed to work on it during one of her quiet times, but I think it's buried somewhere on her bedroom floor.

Math is not Maeve's strongest subject. She is more concerned about making her numbers look rock stylish than doing any actual work. I've been having her practice writing her numbers and was happy to see that she took the initiative to write several numbers on the marker board. All numbers were written with very fancy scrolls. I love that kid. Maeve is great at graphing, making tally marks, patterning, etc. She is really interested in using a calculator so I think that's going to be how I sneak in addition and subtraction.

Finn is awesome at numbers. He can do addition in his head and can name numbers up to 100. He's on a bowling league and tells me his score after every turn. His brain is wired completely different from Maeve's and it's interesting to see. Maeve is very artsy and concerned about how things look (like her fancy number scrolls), whereas Finn is much more mathematical. Everything he does must be evenly spaced, lined up and perfect. Finn does not like coloring or painting, although he recently painted several salt dough ornaments. Generally, if it involves mess, Maeve is all over it and Finn opts out.

Oren is all over the place. We've started doing most of our work while he's taking his nap and this is working well. Oren accidentally did a somersault off of a stool yesterday and he thought it was awesome and tried to replicate it. Oren dances when I sing him lullabies at night and thoroughly enjoys being a stinker. He tackles his brother, chases his sister and kisses the dog. He wraps his arms around my neck and snuggles into me and for a second it makes me almost forget that he peed all over the books.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Best Caramel Popcorn EVER

14 C popped popcorn (I pop mine in lard on the stove)
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter
1/4 C corn syrup
1/4 C molasses
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger (I omitted this because I'm not a fan of ginger)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix butter, sugar, corn syrup, molasses, salt and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil without stirring for 5 min. I didn't follow this part of the directions. I stirred and let it boil for maybe 3 min. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour over popped pop corn, mix well and spread onto a pan or cooking sheet. I did not grease the cookie sheet. The original directions said to bake for 1 hour and stir every 10 min. The popcorn was taunting me from inside the oven so I baked it for 25 min and stirred it twice. It turned out fine, came right off the pan, and was crunchy and delicious. Store in an air tight container if you don't eat all of it like we did.

I found this recipe in the latest issue of Taste of Home magazine.

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Week in Learning

 This week we learned about the heart and brain. We made blood (I didn't want to use red food coloring so I heated frozen strawberries and strained them) and saw what it looks like when blood goes through a vein or artery. We also took an egg and attempted to protect it like our skull protects our brain. Maeve was super excited about this and sewed a little pouch for her egg. Unfortunately, she found out that a soft layer of fabric isn't enough to protect an egg from injury.

I traced the bodies of the kids and taped the paper to the wall. As we study the various body systems, I'll have the kids fill them in on their bodies.

We also talked about positional and ordinal numbers. Maeve and I made place ribbons and Finn matched the ribbons to the numbers on the card. I wasn't sure if either kid knew all of the ordinal numbers, but they had no problems and said first, second, third, etc without my help. Maeve was most excited about the puffy paint.

This week Maeve also continued to work on the short vowel "a". She was able to read through several pages and read complete sentence on her own so I think we can move on to the next vowel. She was super embarrassed about reading, but I was really proud of her!

We also read books (some online) and the kids played Starfall and Poisson Rouge. Finn loves Poisson Rouge and I like that each game is like its own puzzle. It's really a great website and I highly recommend it for the 3-5 age group.

Learning Space Redo

This space stopped working for us because Oren was constantly in everyone's stuff. He still is, but now I can distract him easier and hold his attention with something else.

I started by taking apart the wooden easel and putting the dry erase and chalk boards from it on the wall. Oren can easily reach both boards and spends a great deal of time markering. His chalk privileges were taken away because he was eating the chalk.

Then I had my dear husband hang two shelves. The shelf just above the marker board holds all of our supplies. I painted tobacco tins with chalkboard paint so that we can easily change out the label if we need to use them for something else. I love chalkboard paint and had to restrain myself from using it on every surface in my house. Maeve and I are constantly using things and misplacing them so I hope this helps us keep tract of our stuff.

My husband also put a shelf that is just as wide but a bit deeper even with the tops of the windows. This shelf will hold all of the various school books that I collect and I'm hoping that one day soon I will have everything organized by subject.

I used the chalk and marker trays of the easel as book holders. My kids like being able to look at their books and even Oren has been interested in reading. I plan to change the books every week and will coordinate them with whatever we are studying. Yes, the walls are still two colors. Someday I will finish painting over the blue. I do love that color of green.

I moved Oren's table and workboxes. He doesn't care about either unless the chairs are pulled out far enough to allow him room to climb on the table.

I organized the closet too, although you aren't lucky enough to see it. The bottom shelf is for Oren  aged learning toys (blocks, ball pounder things, dominos, puzzles), next up is a shelf of games, then preschool/school aged puzzles and manipulatives, then my craft stuff and extra supplies and the top shelf is for adult games.

 Finn's workbox is now next to his work station. He doesn't care. He uses his workboxes to hold important things like golf balls. All of the various papers (construction, white, envelopes, notecards, notebooks) are in the wooden square thing. On top of that is a math activity.

Maeve's work area and my work area are the same. A bit more organized, but the same nonetheless. And if you are wondering, our learning space is never this clean. It will be trashed as soon as everyone is awake and moving tomorrow.