Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract is very simple to make and it exceeds the quality of any commercial variety available. You'll need:
  • a clean glass jar
  • a vanilla bean (these are for sale at almost any grocery store, just ask)
  • plain vodka
Add one bean for every three tablespoons vodka to your glass jar, close the jar, and let stand for at least four weeks, then remove the bean and use:)

Homemade Brown Sugar

There's two things you can't skimp on when your baking and that's your Vanilla extract and your Brown Sugar (there used to be three, but there's some pretty decent butter substitutes out there now a days) You need to have the very best of each, and that means you have to make it yourself :)   Brown sugar is surprisingly simple to put together, and after you get in the habit of preparing it, you'll never go back to store-bought.  It's inexpensive to make and has a much richer taste :)  you'll need:
  •  1 cup regular granulated white sugar
  •  1 tablespoon molasses (2 for a dark brown sugar)
Just mash it together in a bowl with a folk, store in an airtight container until ready to use :)   YES it's really that simple :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Loofah Plants :)

Loofah plant
The baby helps find the gourds:)

The vine climbs trees :)

Mayzi likes to make holiday gifts for family members. We usually make pine cone bird feeders, bake bread and cookies.  But this year this year we planted some Loofah gourd plants to make organic loofah sponges and started collecting glass jars to put homemade sugar scrub in.  

 I wasn't expecting the plants to be as productive as they are, I almost got hysterical when my husband accidentally picked the immature gourds thinking they were squash.  But in the last few weeks my gourds have come back strong! They've taken over the garden and are working their way up the big pines in the tree line. 

 I'm looking forward to seeing how this project turns out.  After the gourds mature, they'll turn brown or yellow.  Then we can harvest, peel and clean them and she'll have lots of loofah sponges to give  :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beer Batter Waffles

Waffles for supper :)  when all the great Autumn brews are available :)  This is my favorite beer waffle recipe:
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs separated (add yolks to batter, and beat whites in separate bowl)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pack yeast
Heat your waffle iron, mix together all ingredients except the egg whites, after your waffle iron is ready, fold beaten egg whites into batter.  Spoon onto your hot iron and remove when the waffle is a nice golden brown color. Enjoy :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Things I learned from my 1 year old today :)

I'm completely amazed by my children, they are far more worldly and knowledgeable then most of the adults I know. This is a list of things I learned from my 1 year old just this morning :)
  • Cozy Coops can be tipped over......
  • those child safety plugs for your outlets are also effective plugs for your nose....
  • cats and dogs will eat avocado if a baby hand feeds it to them.....
  • biting is an acceptable way to resolve an issue....
I can't wait for this afternoon :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Main Street New Hope With The Kids

Let me just start off by saying that Main Street New Hope with kids on a Saturday evening was a poor choice.   It was loud, crowded , smelled bad and there was nothing to do there (according to our 7 year old).   There was a few new shops that caught my eye, and we picked up a few interesting things, but there was also a lot of empty retail space, so I wouldn't consider it a really great shopping destination anymore.  But if your looking for a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, it might be worth the trip.  We had a late dinner at Bitter Bob's, This place had great barbecue, but the sides were nothing to rave about.  We sat outside to eat and they let us buy beer at the bar next door. It's possible that we may have outgrown what this quaint little town has to offer, so I won't be doing that again, and next time we'll just do Peddlers Village and just come over to Main Street to try the Triumph Brewing Company:)

Friday, September 17, 2010

I found a flaw....... The Fast Forward Program

I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that I've in this day and age, I've managed to raise a child that would rather do pretty much anything but play a video game.   But her aversion became something of a problem when she started the Fast Forward Program.  Participation in this program is mandatory for students coming out of traditional public schools.  The Fast Forward Program is a series of video games designed to build cognitive skills of memory, attention, processing rate and sequencing.  It's also is supposed to advance reading skills, vocabulary and comprehension, but what it really seemed to do is bore Mayzi into a zombie like state, that screwed up the rest of our school day, lol  She started this program in first grade and by the end of the year we were struggling to get her to participate.  There wasn't even much I could say except that "it's there, so you have to do it". This program is gruelling for all of us (it's painful to even observe) the games are dull and uninteresting and move waaaay to slow, it's like the mental equivalent of watching a grocery checker continuously scan the same item again and again and again, for a half an hour.  When she saw it on her planner this year I could tell she was disappointed, but she didn't complain, she did it because it was there and didn't make a fuss about it, which means she's got way more sophisticated coping skills than I do because there was just no way I was gonna sit through another year of watching a sad little girl sit in that hot mess and not try to do something about it, lol   So I made a call to her teacher and they fixed it!  overnight! she still has to do the Fast Forward Program, but after politely ;) explaining our issues with it, and reviewing her records,they bumped her ahead a grade level  in the program:)  This change in the variety of games with a more challenging curriculum was all that she needed :)  She's happy, so I'm happy:)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tadpole project: And then there was one :(

One of our tadpoles died during the night.  I'm not sure what went wrong, There's a few reasons why it could have died, It was the bigger of the two tadpoles, so maybe it didn't have enough room in the container, or perhaps it was over fed (that's my best guess). The instructional pamphlet that came with the little guys says the most common cause of death is improper water care.  Soap or lotion residue on your hands or any containers you use can hurt them, I thought I had taken all the proper precautions to avoid contaminating them.  I guess we'll be even more careful next time we change the water, and move the tank out of areas where over spray from cleaners or perfumes can get inside the container.  Wish the lonely tadpole luck :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Crock Pot Beer Chilli :)

You'll need:
  • Bag of dried kidney beans (or two cans rinsed)
  • two packs of powdered taco seasoning
  • 1 pound of any type of ground meat (beef, turkey, tofu, venison)
  • three fresh diced tomatoes (or two cans diced tomatoes)
  • 6 cups of fresh diced vegetables (anything goes) we like zucchini, bell peppers, yellow squash, chili peppers, onion, celery
  • one bottle of beer
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • grated cheddar cheese
Get the meat cooking in the crock pot while you start the beans (prepare those according to quick cook package directions, usually you rinse them, then bring to a boil in a covered sauce pan for a few minutes then shut off the heat and let them sit for an hour)  dice your veggies (I use whatever I have in the garden that day), and set aside. After your ground meat looks cooked through, and your beans, veggies, bottle of beer and the two packs of taco seasoning then stir and let simmer for about 3 hours. Serve topped with grated cheddar cheese :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tadpole Project :)

Science is one of my little students favorite subjects.  There's no end to her curiosity as far as the wonders of nature are concerned, so this fall we ordered some tadpoles to observe and document the change from tadpole to frog.  She started a journal for them immediately, and plans to measure them, and draw a pictures of them daily. We ordered our Live Frog Growing Kit online from a website called Nature Gifts , check out this website, they have an impressive selection of educational products, I can't wait for spring so I can order the Ladybug or Butterfly kit.  We picked a native species of Bullfrog so the frogs could be released as adults next spring.  The kit included everything needed to care for the two tadpoles, and a instruction pamphlet.  Our Tadpoles arrived by priority mail just a few days after the order was placed, and didn't seem stressed by their journey :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Technical difficulties

Zi's school issued desk top tower took a tumble, the printer cable got yanked out, and wouldn't fit back in to the port,  and the sound had been malfunctioning.  I was completely expecting tech support to be a major hassle, but I was wrong.  The man on the phone (Cory) was completely delightful, wasn't even condescending in any way because we knocked it over :)  He scheduled a UPS pick-up, we packed it back up in the packaging it came in, and today we received notification that her new desk top is on the way, all over a holiday weekend and at no expense to us.  Seriously, I've had more problems scheduling a dentist appointment.

Cream Cheese Tofu Tarts :)

You'll  need:
  • 8oz. softened cream cheese
  • half a standard size package of tofu
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding
  • about 8 crushed graham crackers
  • 4 cups of berries (fresh or frozen)
This is a quick and easy no bake dessert, substitute fat free sugar free ingredients if you wish. Spread crushed graham crackers in the bottom of pie pan, or divide in four tart dishes.  Put cream cheese, tofu, milk and pudding mix in food processor and mix well, then scoop mixture into tart dishes, top with fruit and serve :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chick-lets: growing up

Our girls change every day. It's hard to believe that just a few weeks ago they were just tiny little balls of fluff. As they grow their individual personalities become more distinct. The leaders and followers have become easy to point out. It's interesting that just as with humans the leaders are not always the brightest of the flock.

From left to right: Ti-he, Lucy, Lafawndah & Stella

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to school

The start of a new school year is an exciting time for kids, but it's even more exciting if the whole family is involved.  We were very fortunate that our first day went smoothly.  In fact, I didn't even feel a bump in the transition.  Over all I'd say it was pretty seamless for all of us.  One might think that a child enrolled in an online school might miss out on "first day anxiety, and all that excitement", but they don't, it's still there, and it's a gift to be able to share that with them.  It was fun to watch the kids excitedly chat with each other on the side bar in the virtual class room, while the teacher struggles to get their attention..... there are somethings that never change :)