Thursday, September 29, 2011

Daily Rhythm

I promised I'd share our daily routine with you.  I know that I love to read how other Moms fit it all in.

Of course, we have to get back into this rhythm.  So, this will be a work in progress.  But, it is a start.

For as long as I can remember, our basic rhythm has been this
  • Wake
  • Morning Routine (dress, make bed, breakfast, clean up, teeth, etc.) 
  • Chores 
  • School (or whatever if we aren't schooling)
  • Snack
  • More of the same (school or whatever)
  • Lunch
  • Free Time
  • Quiet Time
  • Snack
  • Free Time while I make dinner
  • Dinner
  • Evening Routine (teeth, pjs, story, etc.)
  • Bed
I'd like to make a few minor changes. 

For one, I really want to make sure that we get outside each and every day ... ME included.  That is something that has not ever happened.  I tend to spend all of my free time on the computer (shame shame).  The Hippie likes to do things outside, but the Princess doesn't really.  She likes to draw and play with her horses.

I'd like to insert a time where all three of us do something active outside each afternoon.  That will kill two birds with one stone ~ get us outside and get us all some exercise.  I've been trying desperately for years now (and failing, by the way) to figure out how to schedule in exercise for me.  It finally dawned on me that even though these girls are skinny minnies, they still need exercise for health.  And, maybe the reason I have such a hard time scheduling it in my own life is because I never formed the habit as a child.  If we just all do something together, maybe it won't be a perfect work out for me, but at least we'll all be moving and we'll all be outside and we'll all be together.  I'm thinking bike rides, walk to the park, walk to and on the beach, etc.

So, that's my first goal/change.

That means I am most likely going to have to cut our Quiet Time shorter.

Ever since the girls were younger, I have always been a stickler for nap time.  Even when the naps ended, Quiet Time has continued (when we are home) ~ they read books or play quietly in separate rooms.  This is usually when I can get things done on the computer, make phone calls, clean the kitchen, once in a blue moon I might actually turn on the TV or read a book, sometimes fit in a blog post, etc.

I'd love to continue them forever, ensuring a BREAK for me.  I'd love to force myself to blog and then read and relax, NOT do stuff.

But, if I want to ensure that chores get done daily (instead of me breaking myself on Saturday cleaning the entire house at one time) and that we do school daily and that the girls have enough FREE time and that we get outside and that we eat and all of that, I think I'm going to have to shorten the Quiet Time.  Maybe I'll just have to train them to GO have their FREE TIME while I finish whatever I couldn't squeeze in while they were reading.  :)

Anyway, here is the Basic Rhythm I've come up with for our Home Days
  • Momma wake earlier for tea and computer (crucial)
  • Morning Routine
  • CHORES (specific ~ different each day so the whole house is cleaned by the weekend)
  • School Time (snack in there)
  • Free Time while Momma attacks her TO DO List
  • Lunch 
  • Literature Read Aloud
  • Quiet Time
  • Tea for Momma / Snack for them
  • Dinner Prep for Momma / Free Time for Girls
  • Dinner
  • Evening Routine while Momma & Daddy clean kitchen
Like I said, this has been the basic rhythm of our lives for a while.  The hard parts will be:
  • Waking up before the girls
  • Shorter Quiet Time (less break for me)
  • Getting outside daily
The other hard part is that this rhythm can only really happen about twice a week!  

On Tuesdays, we have to be at Theater by 12:30.  That will make for a crazy morning!
On Wednesdays, we have to go to the Library and Handwork and I have to make dinner before!
On Thursdays, we are totally gone for the day for field trips and stuff.

You get the idea.  Nothing is perfect, but having a general rhythm to your days helps immensely.  It helps for the children to know what is next.  It helps for me to know that I can not think about such-n-such right now because I have the time allowed for it later.  If there is an allotted time for paying bills and phone calls, I don't have to let those things get in the way of schooling.  I can put them out of my mind for a while, knowing I'll get to them later. 

How do you fit everything into your day?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Planning the first chunk

Last time I talked about my basic yearly schedule and how I think it will help to keep me on track when the going gets tough.

Now, let me talk about what my plans are for the coming school year (2011/2012), specifically the first six weeks.

The Princess is 7 and will be in 1st grade.
The Hippie is 8 and will be in 3rd grade.

I've been around and around and have ultimately decided to just do most everything together with different expectations depending on their skill levels.

At this point in our journey, their reading levels are miles apart, but their math abilities are fairly close. 

I think it will be easiest on all of us if we just stick together for the most part.  When I try to separate us for certain subjects, the day takes longer and we all end up getting tired of it before we've finished everything.  In an effort to keep our school days short, we're going to stick together.  Each and every subject listed below (other than "reading" and QLL) are going to be done as a family.

In order to fit in our morning routine, chores, plenty of free time and play time and outdoor time and quiet time, my goal is to keep our 'school time' to around 2 hours per day.

Our main school days will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Our Theater Troupe starts at 12:30 on Tuesdays, so we only have time for a small amount of school.  Wednesdays are BUSY BUSY ... we have to fit in school and I need to make dinner before we leave for the library and handwork because we don't get home until dinner time.  Thursdays are our field trip days.  Monday and Friday are our HOME days.

Keep in mind, I am talking about the first six weeks only.

Remember, I'm taking baby steps as I wake up from the snow.

One foot in front of the other. 

Planning one 6 week chunk at a time.

Too much = overwhelm!

I'll reevaluate our schedule after the first 6 weeks, tweaking where I need to.  I will have to change our schedule a bit when I add in more History/Geography and when we finish Arithmetic Village and do something else for math.

One chunk at a time!

So, what do I have planned for the first 6 week chunk (main points)?
  • Begin reading Hurlbut's Story of the Bible (Old Testament this year)
  • Complete Arithmetic Village
  • Delightful Reading Lessons with the Princess
  • Begin Composer Study
  • Begin Picture Study and Artist Study
  • Begin Literature Read Alouds
  • Queen Language Lessons (individual)
  • Weekly baking, painting, games, library, handwork, poetry, HAP, Theater Troupe
  • Get into a groove!!! (most important)
As I said in my previous post, Term 1A is a wash.  So, we'll be starting Term 1B.  That means I have the rest of 2011 to finish it.  I should be able to get us going by then, don't you think?

As for the daily/weekly schedule, here's what I have so far:

Arithmetic Village
Free Time
Literature Read Aloud

Arithmetic Village
Artist Bio Read Aloud
Picture Study
Literature Read Aloud
Theater Troupe

Literature Read Aloud
Outdoor Secrets
Free Time
Handwork Group

Homeschool Adventures Playgroup

Outdoor Secrets
Free Time
Literature Read Aloud

Free Time
Farmer's Market



That's where I am so far.  

When I say "Bible", I simply mean curl up on the couch together and read from Hurlbut's Story of the Bible. 

When I say "Reading", I will do the Delightful Reading lesson with the Princess and the Hippie will read during that time.  

When I say "QLL", each child will work in their own level of Queen Language Lessons.

When I say "Poetry", we'll simply read some poems.

You get the idea.

Baby steps.

One foot in front of the other.

Up next, I'll break down our basic daily routine for you.

So blessed to be a home educator!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Basic Yearly Schedule

As promised, I am going to post some of my plans here as I work through them. 

I know that as a Home-Educating Mother I love to see what others are doing.  So, in case someone reading this blog needed some guidance, I want to show what our plans are.

I started with mapping out a basic school year.  

In two years of home schooling, I've learned that it is best to schedule time off between about Thanksgiving and New Year's.  That is a time of year to enjoy stories and baking and making gifts and decorating the house and tree and planning for the holidays and just enjoying the time together.  

I tried creating a schedule that made the Holidays our "summer".  I thought that we would want to do school when it was 100 degrees outside.  I thought we'd get a lot done in the summer.

That didn't work. 

Turns out, sometimes it is hard to concentrate and get things done in the summer, too.  So, I've also learned that it is best to schedule some time off in the summer.

Time off in the summer and  in November and December?  And  some time off in the fall and spring?  And some room for breaks so as to avoid burn-out?  

How does one fit all that time off into one school year?  

Well, first of all, one must remember that we have 52 weeks to fit a school year into.  Many people consider a school year to be 36 weeks, but of course you can do whatever is right for your family.  30 or 34 weeks would be fine, too.

For my family, I came up with this:

Split the year into 3 terms, 12 weeks each, with at least a week off in there somewhere.  That is 36 weeks of school.  That leaves 16 weeks to take off.

6 weeks of school ~ Term 1A
1 week off 
6 weeks of school ~ Term 1B
6 weeks off (Holidays)
6 weeks of school ~ Term 2A
1 week off
6 weeks of school ~ Term 2B
1 week off 
6 weeks of school ~ Term 3A
1 week off 
6 weeks of school ~ Term 3B
6 weeks off (Summer)

That adds up to 52 weeks ... perfect.

Now, I'm smart enough to realize that even when things look 'perfect' on paper, they rarely work out perfectly in real life.  But, it's a good idea to have a guide.  If something happens and we need to take more time off during a term, maybe we'll take it away from the 6 weeks coming soon.  Or, maybe we'll take it from the upcoming 1 week off.  Or maybe that particular term will only be 10 or 11 weeks instead of 12.  

It doesn't have to be perfect.
We don't have to finish at a certain time.
We don't have to start at a certain time.
It's okay if we continue a subject over to another term.
It is all okay!

What is important (for me) is to have a structured guide.  
I need structure.  
Without it, I get too relaxed.
When I get too relaxed, we end up doing nothing at all.
So, I need the plan.

It's nice to see that we can start in August or so and only need to focus on getting through 6 weeks.  

Then, I can take a week off, the kids can play and I can focus on planning the next 6 weeks. 

And, how awesome to realize that you have from October to January to get only 6 weeks accomplished!!  If the weather is too nice and you want to just play outside for 2 weeks, it's okay.  You have time.

Then, we come back in January and, again only focus on 6 weeks at a time.

I think that will work well for me.  

Instead of feeling like I have to plan the entire year, I can have an outline for the year, but only worry about planning 6 weeks at a time. 


Plus, when we are in the trenches and things get tough or I want to quit, I can push myself, knowing we have a break coming very soon.  "You only have to make it through these 6 weeks.  You can do anything for 6 weeks."

I think it will work. 
I hope it will work.
It will work ... if I make it work.

As I said before, it is up to ME! 
I have the power to make or break this.
The girls totally follow my lead.
If Momma is motivated and doing what she is supposed to do, they follow suit.
If Momma sleeps in and sits at the computer and stays in her pjs and lets things fall apart, they follow suit.

It is all up to ME!

So, there is my yearly plan, yearly outline, basic yearly schedule.  I do realize that this year I have sort of already thrown Term 1A out with the wash, but that is okay!  One step at a time.  One foot in front of the other.

Next I'll share with you what I have planned for these terms.

But, for now, I must get off the computer and start my day.
I must lead by example.
I must plan my first 6 weeks.

So blessed to be a home educator!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Put your big girl panties on and deal with it!

If you read this post, you know that I've been thinking about breaking down my own barriers and becoming the best Mother, Wife, Homemaker and Educator I can be.

I've been thinking about the fact that the only thing holding me back from being the best is me and my habits.

I had a long 'chat' with a fellow Home-educating Momma the other day.  We like to call them 'faculty meetings'.  

She asked me how things were going.  She asked about school.

I admitted that we hadn't been 'doing school'.  

I said "I'm trying to get a handle on things. Life has been so stressful."

I went on to talk about our other issues in life ... mostly related to money.  One thing after another.  That would be a different post all together, but I have no interest in hosting a pity party.  It wasn't the point.

I laid out my excuses:

I have to get up earlier.
My new house is laid out differently.
Everything used to be right by the kitchen table; now, it's spread out.
I'm not organized.
There's no a/c in the 'learning room'.
I don't have any plans. 
I don't know what to teach.  
I don't know what I'm going to do this year.
I needed money and sold curriculum I wish I hadn't.

She said that sometimes it helps to "school those troubles away".  She likes to say that sometimes you have to "put on your big girl panties and just do it."

She got me thinking (and I'm grateful).

As I said in the last post, it's all about ME and MY habits.  

My own habits are holding me back.

I've fallen asleep in the snow

She also made me realize that educating my children is the one thing I do have control of.  While everything else in my life seems to be spinning out of control, I can control that one thing.

And, it would make me feel better if I would.  It is a vicious circle ~ feeling lost and out of control so that you can't figure out how to 'do school', then feeling guilty because you aren't doing what you 'should' be doing, only making things feel even more out of control.

I cannot control my husband's paychecks. 
I cannot control the bills or the problems.
I cannot control my graying hair.
I cannot control my emotional daughter.
I cannot control all these animals.
I cannot control the sibling bickering (though I try).
I cannot control the rising cost of food or gas or soap.
I cannot control the fact that I do not have health insurance.

What I can control is me.

I can control what time I get up in the morning.
I can control whether or not I read aloud to my children.
I can control whether or not I bake with my children.
I can control whether or not I teach my daughter to read.
I can control whether or not I teach my children math.
I can control whether or not I paint with my children.
I can control whether or not we listen to composers and look at art.
I can control whether or not we study nature.

School your troubles away.  When you are busy educating, you are immersed.  The other problems float away, if only for a while. 

Routine can be hard to jump back into after a laid back summer.

But, it is worth it.

There is no better feeling that the way a Home-educating Momma feels at the end of a good, positive and productive "school day".

Just Do It (in the words of Nike).

You will feel better if you do.  More in control.

So, I am starting small.  One foot in front of the other.

I spent the past few days figuring out the "what" ... what I want to cover this year.
I planned the "how" ... how I want to cover it.
I planned the "when" ... the general routine or schedule or rhythm we should follow.

I will spend this coming week getting organized, physically.  Yes, we have a busy week of errands and Theater Troupe and Handwork and a field trip and another dentist appointment, but during our home time I must get our space organized so that we can progress.

Then, we will start our lessons the following week.  We have a field trip Monday the 3rd of October, but we can get going on the 4th.  That's the beauty of home-educating ~ flexibility of schedule.

I came up with a basic yearly schedule I'd like to follow.  It allows for flexibility and freedom, but provides enough structure to keep me in line.  I'm slowly learning that Momma needs structure.  I need to treat my job as a job.  I need to get up and go to work, even when I don't feel like it.  It is my J.O.B. to educate these children and love them and keep this home and it must get done.  Whether I feel like it or not.  I mean, my husband goes to work even when he doesn't feel like it, right?  Who do I think I am?  My job is important and must be done.

I know that I love to read on other Momma's blogs about their schedules and how they fit it all in, so I will certainly share here what I've been working on.  If I can help another Momma to do what God has led her to do, I will be one happy lady. 

Time to put on the Big Girl Panties!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Don't fall asleep in the snow ...

Don't fall asleep in the snow.  Come up from below.

Wake up.  It's a brand new day.  Time to put the Crown on the King and live your life in all its Glory.

One of my favorite musicians is Trevor Hall.  If you've never heard of him, be sure to check him out.  He truly is a beautiful soul.  His lyrics are positive, uplifting and are my soul food.

One of the songs on his most recent album is called Brand New Day.  We all love the song ~ the girls love to sing and dance to it.  I love to sing and dance to it.  But, at a deeper level, the lyrics are just what my soul's been needing. 

In it, he says not to fall asleep in the snow, to come up from below.  

He says to wake up and LIVE your life.  

It's a Brand New Day.

I learned in an interview that the inspiration for the song came when he and his teacher were studying the words of Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda says "Don't fall asleep in the snow."

Trevor and his teacher's interpretation:  "Don't get caught in whatever holds you down or you'll never be able to live freely."


I mean, isn't it true?  Isn't it always US that holds US back? 

Break down your own barriers, whatever they may be and live a righteous life.

For me, in the role that I have chosen, my own personal righteous life means being the best Mother, Wife, Homemaker and Educator that I can be.  

God would not have led me to this life if He did not believe that I could do it.

So, if I struggle with it, it is me that is holding me back.

If I get caught in whatever holds me back (that would be me and my own habits), I will never be able to live freely. 

I love that. 

Knowing that we are what holds us back can be frightening.

But, it can be so freeing at the same time.  Because if it is all up to me, then that means that I have the power to change it.

With God's help, of course.  Like I said, if He led me to this life, He must have faith that I can do it and do it well and if I only ask for His help and guidance, He will most certainly give it to me.  He wants me to succeed.  He has entrusted two beautiful souls to ME, with full expectation that I will lead them to the lives He has planned for them.

Each day is a new beginning.

Each day is a chance to start over and do better.

Each day is an opportunity to ask God to lead us to be who He wants us to be. 

Each day is a Brand New Day!

Wake Up!  Don't Fall Asleep in the Snow!

Live YOUR life.  Who's holding you back?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Outside my window ... gray skies and thunder

I am thinking ... that I am worn out from a full day of dentist appointments and errands.
I am thankful for ... my family, especially my kind, well-mannered and grateful children.

From the learning rooms ... Not much on the home front yet (other than all that Unschooling that's been going on), but looking forward to getting going soon.  As for all the other learning stuff we've got going on this year, we're officially in full swing.  The girls started their Homeschool Theater Troupe this week and also started their Handwork group this week.  Time to start practicing for their skits and knitting away.  

From the kitchen ... Kitchen is pretty bare at the moment, to be honest. 

I am wearing ...Shorts and a t-shirt
I am creating ... a mess.  I've been trying to organize school and life paper junk, but keep not finishing and having to pile it all up in order to make dinner or something.  So, mostly I've just been making it worse.

I am going ... nowhere for the next couple of days (other than the farmer's market).  I need to get things in order to get going with our academic lessons.

I am wondering ... when life is going to settle down and run smoothly.  HA, never, right?

I am reading ... To Kill a Mockingbird and homeschool stuff online.

I am hoping ... to get myself into a routine and get a little better organized.

I am looking forward to ... Fall!

I am hearing ... silence.  And, it is lovely!
Around the house ... chaos, it seems.  Animals and kids and papers and bills and tiny little paychecks, oh my.

I am pondering ...  how to focus on the things I can control instead of the things I can't.

One of my favorite things ... Sundays ~ my hubby is off and football is on!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
  • a major trip to the laundry mat (man, we need to get our washer & dryer)
  • vacuuming and dusting and bathroom cleaning
  • getting organized and ready for school
  • pancakes for dinner on Friday
  • Football on Sunday

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sick, but not stagnant

Well, I went from three posts in one day to nothing all week.

The culprit?  

The sickies.  

First it was Daddy.  Which meant more work for Momma (an extra person to take care of during the day) and more stress from lack of pay (unfortunately, he is in the line of work that means if you're not working, you're not getting paid).

Then it was Momma.  Which really just meant more of the same.  As I explained to the girls, when you have a "job" (you know, the kind where you actually GO to work), if you get sick, you can call into work, stay home and get rest and get better.  When THIS is your "job", there's no such thing.  UGH

Then it was the Hippie.  She hasn't been terribly sick, but she has the most vibrant personality; you know immediately when she is not herself.  For one thing, there is actually a bit of quiet.  :-)

We're still nursing ourselves back to health.  No one is perfect just yet.  But, hopefully we are on the mend.  

This week was supposed to be the start of a lot of our school year's goodies.  Spanish Club was cancelled due to the illness of the leader (must be going around town).  Handwork, though, was not cancelled, so we missed the first one.  Major bummer.  Then, we had to miss our homeschool group's trip to the Museum of Science & History yesterday.  Double bummer.  

Next week starts our Homeschool Theater Troupe and more handwork and more homeschool adventures.  So, we are just hoping to be all better by then.  Keeping our fingers crossed.

So, for the average kid, when they're sick, they don't go to school, which means (to most people) that they don't learn anything (haha ... as if we can't learn anything outside of those four walls).  

For the average homeschooler, when the Momma is sick, they don't "do school", which means (to most homeschoolers) that they don't learn anything (haha again ... as if we can't learn anything without carefully laid out plans and curriculum choices).

So, what about the family that learns through life?  The family that learns organically, naturally, all the time?  What happens in that family when Daddy is sick or Momma is sick or one of the "students" are sick?

A LOT OF LEARNING, that's what. 

Since the sickies entered the household, we've:
  • Learned about worms on Wild Kratt's
  • Added fractions while making breakfast (1/2 + 1/4 = 3/4)
  • Played library
  • Practiced reading (the one who's still learning) by reading the directions on the oatmeal
  • Calculated the amount of protein in breakfast by dividing and multiplying fractions (8 is 1/3 of 24, 1/3 of 6 is 2, then added all the grams of protein)
  • Both girls have made shirts for Daddy's birthday (a tradition we started last year)
  • The Princess painted Daddy a picture for his birthday
  • The Princess has written a "thank you card" a day 
  • The Hippie made Daddy another birthday gift
  • painted the inside of brown paper bags to use for wrapping paper
  • The Hippie has written several chapters in her book "Mermaid Dreams"
  • drawn A LOT
  • worked with Sculpy and then did math to determine how long to bake it (measure its thickness, 15 min per 1/4", so for 3/4" it needs to bake for 45 minutes)
  •  painted some more
  • the Hippie's drawn an illustration for her book
  • the Hippie worked outside, creating what she called a 'dog bowl' ... she stood a gutter up against the roof and attached it to a bucket lid, filled in any holes with weather stripping and said that the rain would travel down the gutter and collect in the lid so that the dogs would always have water
  • read aloud at night
  • the Hippie worked on making a "bomb" with soap and glue and paint and water and whatever she could find (when they girls tried throwing it at the fence, though, it never would explode ... bummer)
  • baked with dirt and paint and glue and leaves outside
  • made a "Springs" with rocks and twigs and leaves and water ... talked about why the water kept disappearing (soaking into the ground) and why that doesn't happen at the real Springs
  • the Princess wants to be able to read SO BAD ... she doesn't want to read the easy readers anymore, she wants to be able to read the chapter books, the real books about horses ... like Black Beauty and the Black Stallion and Misty of Chincoteague and the like 
  • Spurred by the above, she broke out her Bob books and started practicing again, on her own, then sounded out the title to Misty of Chincoteague ... then made the connection that the Misty in that book was the same Misty as the one in the album we have of Marguerite Henry's ... then ran off to draw pictures of Misty and declare that Misty was her new favorite horse
  • we've watched The Summer of the Colt
  • we've watched cooking shows
  • we've played with the kittens 
  • we've made smoothies
  • the Hippie's continued to read about the Titanic and Picasso
  • we all watched an adult documentary on the Titanic today ... it was quite intense, but they wanted to watch it
  • We've talked about getting books published and what exactly publishers do
  • We've talked about what it means to "edit" your book
I could go on and on.  Reading and drawing and playing and creating and painting and cooking and making connections.  All while we were sick.  Awesome!

I just have to share another proud moment in my home.  A morning of proof that the way we are learning is really working! 

This morning, within minutes of waking up, the Hippie runs up to me and says, "Momma, do you know how to say 'omelette' in French?  I do."    "omelette du fromage

"Where'd you learn that?"  

"Dexter's Laboratory" (that's a cartoon that would not be considered the least bit educational for those of you who don't already know that)

Ahhhh ... very interesting.

A few minutes later, the girls are eating breakfast and the Hippie tells me to come see.  She has put salt and pepper on the plate and proceeds to rub a pen on her head to create static electricity and then moves the pen slowly over the plate, watching as the pepper jumps up to stick to the pen.  Apparently the pepper is attracted to the electric charge she has created.  

Then, the connection was made that the pepper was just like the little dirt people in her favorite Swiffer commercials.  "So, how does the Swiffer work, then?" "Static Electricity" 

Aaaahhhhh .... 


No lessons planned.  No schedules adhered to.  No worksheets.  No boredom.

Just sickness and lots of fun learning still going on.

So blessed to be a homeschooler!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just a quick report

I have a ton to do today, so this is just a quick report on my mostly raw food day yesterday.

I felt amazing.  

All day.

I ate my failed spinach smoothie attempt (all raw), salad with some crackers (not raw crackers, but whole grain), my amazing tomato and pesto lunch (all raw), another salad with some pita bread (not raw pita, but whole wheat).  

Then ...

My final salad was very small (finished my veggies off ... heading to the farmer's market and produce department today to restock), so as I was eating it, I was already telling myself that it was "just a snack" and "this isn't enough for dinner, I'll eat something else after I put the girls to bed".  

(In case you're wondering, we do normally have family dinners, but Friday night has become "Pancake Night" around here.  The girls look forward to it every week.  Daddy loves it.  I, though, did not want to end my raw day with pan-fried flour, so I passed.) 

Not sure if I was actually hungry or if I'd just told myself I would be hungry, but I had to eat again.

By this point, my raw options were limited (because of my understocked kitchen).

So, I (sadly) decided on some triscuits (whole wheat) with organic raw sharp cheddar cheese and salsa.

I kid you not, I am not making this up.  I swear.  

Within less than 30 minutes, I got a sinus migraine and eventually a sore throat.

Was it the non-raw food?  Was it the dairy?  Was it the gluten?  

I'll never know.  

But, what I do know is, I felt amazing yesterday... until I ate that.

On a side note ...

I knew today would be difficult (until I made it to the farmer's market and store), but I didn't want to just throw in the towel.

So, last night I put some whole, raw old fashioned oats and some raisins in a bowl with filtered water.  I placed a plate over it and let it set all night.

This morning, it is 100% soaked, plump and fluffy.  The small bit of liquid that remains is creamy.  Like I made my own oat milk (a favorite of mine anyway).  

I just added some Raw Agave, cinnamon and nutmeg and it is DELICIOUS!

So, if you never thought you could eat raw oatmeal ... I'm here to tell you that you CAN!

Wishing you a wonderfully blessed day!  I'm off to clean my house and get ready for my day.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Spinach and Pine Nut Recipes

Three posts in one day?  Must be the raw food day I've been enjoying.  :-)

My mom requested some recipes from me, and I thought it might be easiest to post them here (I know some of my other friends love recipes, too).  I wish I could post pictures, but my camera's USB cord was recently deemed a chew toy by my dogs and I have yet to replace it.  Sorry.  :)

My mom and I were talking about real, whole foods and we got to talking about nuts and seeds. 

I mentioned how much I love pine nuts (they melt in your mouth, really).  She didn't know what to do with them.  I rattled off several things I do with them.  She wants the recipes.  

So, here are a few ...

Easiest Ever Spinach Pesto 

2 Cups Organic Baby Spinach Leaves, packed
1 Lemon (juice and zest)
1/4 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts (buy them raw, toast them to bring out the flavor)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Freshly Ground Pepper

Put your pine nuts in a small dry pan on your stove and turn the heat on low to medium-low.  You just want to bring out their flavors, not burn them.  So, pay attention, if you can smell them, they're good.  Keep moving them around a bit to toast them up evenly.   Again, you're not looking to change their color, just bring out the flavor a bit.

In your food processor, with the S-blade, place the spinach, pine nuts, zest from one whole lemon and juice from 1/2 of the lemon (juice it over a small strainer so as to avoid dropping the seeds in or turn it upside down and catch them in your hand).  Begin to process and add EVOO as it is processing.  I don't have a set amount ... just whatever makes a good consistency and looks good, without becoming too greasy.  I'd guesstimate about 1/4 to 1/3 cup.  Scrape the sides and process some more, until it is well blended.  

In a separate bowl, scrape out the mixture you just processed (please use a spatula and don't waste all that yummy goodness on the sides), add the Parmesan (freshly grated tastes great, but is a bit annoying and time-consuming, so I won't tell anyone if you use store-bought grated Parmesan), sea salt and pepper.  Stir to combine and enjoy.

This is great tossed with whole wheat thin spaghetti (I've stretched it to feed my family of four and I've also served it to just my husband and I with really saucy pasta, so this would be 2 to 4 servings, depending on how much pesto you like), or you could go totally raw (except for that cheese) and eat it this way:

Place a thick slice of home-grown or farmer's market-bought (FRESH) tomato on your plate.  Top with pesto and freshly ground pepper.  Top with another tomato slice, more pesto and more pepper.  Surround it with torn Organic Romaine Lettuce Leaves and serve with a knife and fork.  Looks amazingly gourmet, tastes phenomenal, takes less than five minutes to make and will make you feel wonderful!

Quick Spinach, Avocado & Pine Nuts Salad

Organic Baby Spinach Leaves
Toasted Pine Nuts
Lemon Juice
Sea Salt

No measurements here.  This was just a favorite breakfast (or snack) of mine for a while.  Toast your pine nuts as listed above.  Place some spinach in a bowl, add some diced or sliced avocado, squeeze some lemon juice on top, sprinkle with sea salt and pine nuts.  ENJOY!

Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes & Pine Nuts

4 servings of any short whole wheat pasta (penne, rotini, etc.)
1/4 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts 
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
Red Pepper Flakes
1 Onion, chopped
1 can Organic Diced Tomatoes
Organic Baby Spinach, about 3 cups
1 tsp Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper

Start your water to boil for the pasta (place a lid on the water to get it to a boil faster).  Cook pasta to al dente, according to directions.

Place your raw pine nuts in a dry pan on low to medium-low.  Toast the pine nuts as listed above.  

Mince your garlic.

In a deep skillet, add EVOO, a couple shakes of red pepper flakes (depends on your taste for heat) and minced garlic.  Turn heat to low and let the garlic and red pepper hang out in the oil as it warms gently.  This will release their flavors and sort of infuse the oil.

Chop your onion.

Add onion to the oil and turn the heat up a bit to saute the onion.  When it is sauteed, add in the can of tomatoes and stir.  Cook and stir and add in the spinach in handfuls.  Add sea salt and black pepper and stir to combine.  

Cook and stir just long enough to heat through and wilt your spinach.  

To serve, toss the spinach mixture with pasta and top with toasted pine nuts and freshly grated Parmesan cheese (leave out the parm if you're vegan).  


Hope you enjoy!  These are all SUPER EASY, use only a few of the same ingredients and are simply DELICIOUS!  


Outside my window ... a small taste of fall.  Girls are playing outside, the air is cool, there is no humidity, it is beautiful!

I am thinking ... that I am so happy about the time of year we are beginning.  My absolute favorite time of year is fall.  I love the cool, crisp air.  I love the windows open.  I love football.   I love the holidays.  I love all things about this time of year.  From now until about May will be just amazing!

I am thankful for ... the blessings of God, my family, my health, my home, the opportunity to stay home and care for my family and home.

From the learning rooms ... a ton, as always.  Lots of reading, lots of discussion, living math, etc.  But, requests have been made from a certain little Princess for "school".  She's my angel who LOVES school.  So, we'll be getting back to more of a school rhythm.  All of our activities are getting going, we're getting busy and we'll be doing more "school" on our home days.  Of course, we are learning all the time, though!

From the kitchen ... wanting to go more raw again, trying to figure out where to start.  I think once I get my trusty blender in hand, I will start there.  A beautiful woman suggested that anyone wishing to go raw should start with 30 days of having a minimum of 1 liter of green smoothie per day.  Get your body detoxing for those 30 days and get healthier before going cold turkey and making yourself sick from the toxins.  So, that's the plan.  30 days of green smoothies and more and more raw recipes throughout the day before getting too drastic.

I am wearing ... pjs.  I know, I know.  Shame on me.  I've been busy eating and blogging this morning and have yet to make my bed, brush my teeth or get dressed.  Shame, shame.

I am creating ... We've been working on our hand-made birthday gifts lately.  We have three nephews/cousins, two mothers/grandmothers, a Daddy and an Uncle with September birthdays.  Girls have been busy and so have I!

I am going ... to the Farmer's Market and grocery tomorrow to get some more produce and try to come up with some fun, healthy, raw snack foods for Sundays' games (welcome back NFL football, I have missed you).
I am wondering ... how our family can move more and more in the direction of self-sufficiency.  My husband works entirely too many hours away from the home in order to provide us with the opportunity to homeschool our children.  I've been brainstorming how we can use what we are good at and be creative and make some money doing something wonderful, creative and helpful.

I am reading ... To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I am hoping ... that I can get myself and my home and my life organized and running a bit more smoothly.  I am hoping that by starting with ME, all the rest will fall into place.

I am looking forward to ... football this Sunday!

I am hearing ... Stephen Marley singing "Made in Africa"
Around the house ... I need to determine a good schedule for the chores around here to get this place to be cleaned with a little more regularity and with a few more (little) hands helping.

I am pondering ... peace.  In the world, yes, but what I'm talking about is smooth days, no anxiety, no guilt, happy children, a clean home, simplicity and order at the same time ... without killing me.  Peace, not perfection.

One of my favorite things ... fall.

A few plans for next week:
  • Finish and mail all gifts
  • Gather natural dying materials to dye our wool yarn
  • Spanish Club
  • Start Handwork Wednesdays
  • Museum of Science & History
  • Daddy's birthday
  • Get organized, go through papers, plan chore schedule, start "school"

God really DOES provide ALL that we need!

I'm seriously feeling that urge again lately.  

The one for RAW FOOD.  For green smoothies.  For that feeling of being high as a kite, 100% naturally.  High as a kite on God's Bounty ... 

I miss it.  I miss feeling that tingling in my veins when I drank my Kale Smoothies in the morning.  I miss having the energy to get through the day ... and then some!

I miss feeling totally healthy.  

I never quite stuck with it long enough for the long term effects, but I really, really want to now.  I wan to see if it truly rids me of that general feeling of BLAH.  I want to see if it truly rids me of anxiety and irritability and fatigue and weight gain and hair loss.

I've been feeling awful lately.  

Thinking it was adrenal fatigue or depression or anxiety or thyroid or gluten sensitivity or all of the above and not knowing what to do about it.

Then, I stumbled upon Raw Food again and started reading again and started thinking, "Who knows WHAT it is, but I bet if I change my diet to RAW and really stick with it this time, I bet it could and would fix it." 

So, I'm totally and completely mentally ready.  I wanna really do it up this time.  Go all out.  I'm talking, my goal would be to go 100% raw ... eventually, gradually.  I WANT IT.  I really do.

What's stopping me, you might ask?  

I have NONE of the tools anymore.  No blender.  No dehydrator.  No money to buy them.

I mean, yes, I want a Vitamix for Christmas.  But, I do realize that I am almost 35 years old and no one spends that kind of money on my Christmas presents anymore.  Not when there are plenty of deserving little people to buy for these days.

But, right about now, I'd give my left arm for a blender that would just BLEND.  I want to start somewhere.  And, the easiest place for me to start is with my smoothies.  It sets the tone for the rest of the day.  I remember when I was eating raw before, if I had a raw breakfast, I would crave more raw the rest of the day.  When I ate toast or oatmeal or something cooked for breakfast, I'd crave the carbs and snacks all day.  


I NEED a blender.  

So, maybe I'll pray for a ridiculously cheap blender at the thrift store.  Then, start my major savings plan for the Vitamix.  So I can make raw nut milks and raw cheeses and raw nut butters.  

Oh how I want a Vitamix.

Some women wish for shoes and handbags.  I wish for a Vitamix ... and books.  

Vitamix and books ... that would make me one happy lady!



This blog post started out as a talk about my need to go raw along with a little dose of "woe is me" because I have no blender and no money and waaa waaa waaaa.

Now, I'm going to change gears and talk about how truly amazing it is to be loved by GOD!  He really does provide.  He really does answer when  you ask.  He really does listen to what we need.  Even when you don't stop and fold your hands and say "Dear God, please send me a blender". 

As I was typing up this blog post, I wanted to read something I'd read before about another lady who had all sorts of issues (like me) and who now is on top of the world because she went raw five years ago.  I went to her Facebook page and started scrolling through to find what it was I wanted to read.  I decided to post on her page, asking for suggestions on what to do when you don't have a blender, and do you know what?  This complete stranger, one I'd never spoken to in real life OR on the computer, one who doesn't know me from Adam, sent me a message asking for my address so she could mail me a blender?  

How cool is that? 

A Godsend.  A true blessing.  Obviously an amazing human being.  I will be forever grateful to this woman.  

But, my amazement is at the power of God.

I mean, I knew He was there.  But, sometimes you get reminded in a big way.  Sometimes you realize that there is NO answer other than God to explain a phenomena.

God knew that I was hurting.

God led me to her Facebook page a while back and led me to start reading about the power of raw foods again.

God led me to realizing that if I would just try it again and REALLY do it this time, the beautiful and amazing bounty of food that HE provided us would fix any and all of my ailments.

God knew I needed a blender.  

God knew I couldn't afford even a cheapy at the thrift store.

So, God led me to ask a question of a stranger.

God led her to give with a loving heart.  

In doing so, I am blessed with the tool I need to get started again down the path of health and vitality.  

In doing so, she is blessed with good karma and an amazing feeling of helping others to feel as amazing as she does.  

God really is good!  

Remember that High as a Kite feeling I was describing?  

Well, I'm feeling it.  

Right now.  

Maybe it's my attempt at a mess of a smoothie this morning (baby food makers are not good substitutes for blenders ... I had to munch rather than drink my mix of spinach and fruit and coconut and maca

Or maybe it's the feeling of LIGHT.  Of God's Love.  Of the love of Humanity for its fellow brothers and sisters.  

Or maybe it's both. 

Who knows?  

It doesn't matter, though.  

Life is good.  

God is even better.

God really does provide ALL that we need ... He provided the right foods and He puts people in our paths when we need them most. 

Love and light are beautiful things.

Wishing each of you love and light today and always! 

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