Monday, August 23, 2010

Lego's - Day 3

Today is day 3 of our lego fun. The kids are having the best time with this lapbook, and I am absolutely thrilled that I decided to kick off our school year with this one! Here is what we did today.

Today, we did quite a few things online. We read online about the two things that make Legos "stick" together - interference fit and friction. Then the kids headed to the table to write the definitions in their lapbooks.

Next, we watched videos and looked at pictures of things that Lego artists and Lego designers have created. Who knew you could actually make MONEY playing with Legos. These Lego artists make a LOT of money for their art, and Lego actually will HIRE people to design really cool, amazing things with Legos! Amazing! The kids really enjoyed looking at the different pieces.

Britches and Little Man spent some time on their writing. Today's quote was: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein. We talked for awhile about what that means. If we had no imagination and only relied on the things we know, where would the world be today? It's kind of like the saying, "We've always done it that way before." If you only create according to the things already done that you "know" about and never use your imagination, you are bound to stay in the same place and never move forward. OK, that's another blog altogether! Moving on...

Each day, the kids have had a building challenge. Today's challenge was to build a mosaic. First, we went back to the computer to see someone make a Lego mosaic. Then the kids had to create their own. They asked me what they should build, and I told them, "Be creative. Build whatever YOU come up with! This is your project." So they did! And here are their finished projects.

Britches made a house.

Little Man had to explain his to me. (Truthfully, I couldn't see ANYTHING in this!) He said it was a mosaic of the outside. The white in the corner is a cloud, and the yellow in the right corner is the sun. The yellow at the bottom is on top of some green, and these make a flower. And the green and brown on the right side are a tree. The blue in the background is the sky. I thought that was pretty creative!

That was all we did today. Day 4 will be our last day, and the kids are already sad about the lesson ending. But there will be much more fun to come on day 4, and they are going to really enjoy it! Remember to go check out the Lego lapbook for your children, and while you're there, check out the rest of Ami's blog. Lots of really great stuff over there!

Make it Yourself Monday - Gumbo!

For the last several weeks, I have been thinking about making a big pot of gumbo. It has been over a year since I've made a pot, and I had a real hankerin' for some! Well, when I make gumbo, it makes a LOT of gumbo! So I decided to invite friends over to share supper with us! It was a really fun evening, and we all ended the night STUFFED!

A few people mentioned that they would like my recipe, so I thought I'd share it here for everyone. This is my grandmother's recipe, and it is a true Louisiana dish! It doesn't even compare to gumbo served at a restaurant, if you can even find it on a menu. So give it a try. And remember, it makes a HUGE pot, so plan to invite company!

Chicken and Seafood Gumbo

1 large chicken, cooked and deboned
1 can crab meat
1 pkg. shrimp
1 lb. sausage, cut in chunks
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped green peppers
2 cups chopped celery
4 cloves garlic or garlic salt
2 cans okra
2 large cans tomatoes
2 Tbsp. crab boil (opt.)
2-3 Tbs. gumbo file
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
5-6 bay leaves
Black pepper, cayenne, and salt to taste

1 cup flour
1 cup oil

Place chicken in large pot and cover with water to boil. Add salt and black pepper. If garlic salt is used, it can also be added to chicken. Cook until done enough to debone. Save the broth. Cool chicken, debone, and set aside. 

Saute onions, green peppers, celery, green onions, and garlic (if used), and set aside. 

Make roux with flour and oil. Cook it in a skillet, stirring constantly, until nice and brown. This is where the color comes for your gumbo! Add roux to hot broth and be sure lumps are beaten smooth. 

Place everything in a large pot and simmer together for 1-2 hours. Your taste may vary, so add or take away any seasoning or meat to suit your taste. 

To vary your gumbo, try these different mixes:
Plain chicken gumbo
Chicken and seafood gumbo
Chicken and smoked sausage gumbo
Rabbit gumbo
Any other meat or meat combinations

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does! And don't forget, if you want to get in on the fun of "Make it Yourself Monday," simply leave me a comment on my blog, be sure to leave a link back to your blog showing what you made yourself, and post a link back to my blog. I would love to see some things you make yourself instead of heading out to the store or restaurant to buy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lego's - Day 2

Today was day 2 of our Lego lapbook. So I realize some of you are thinking right now that you can't be doing school if you're just playing with Legos. I beg to differ! My kids are having so much fun building and constructing and learning all about the history and business of Lego.

Each day of this lapbook study, the kids have a challenge - something to build with their Legos. Today's challenge was to build a ship any way you want. The only rules I gave them - it couldn't be tiny, but had to be at least 6" long, and they had to be creative! Here is what they came up with . 

My Little Man came up with this really cool ship, complete with an anchor! 

Britches made a bigger ship, complete with rooms in the hull for the captain to sleep. Notice him lying on his side in his bed?

Little Sister made 3 different ships, mainly because she was really getting into the fact that I was taking pictures and wanted me to keep taking them of her and her creations! (What can I say, she IS my daughter!)

Even Baby Girl got in on the fun and was working on some fine motor skills as she tried to put the Legos together. You never can start them too young!

Next, we worked on their writing by copying a quote from Albert Einstein. 

This year, Britches is working on making her cursive writing better. 

And Little Man is perfecting his print. 

We headed to the computer to watch a few videos about Legos, one of which showed the manufacturing process. The kids liked the video so much, they watched it again!

After the video, they headed back to the table to work in their lapbook recounting the manufacturing process. 

And since everyone else was getting their pictures taken, Baby Girl needed hers taken. She was amazed by the little red light on my camera and kept giving me funny looks trying to figure out what it was. But she really got a kick out of seeing herself on the camera. Got to love a digital camera!! 

And that was day 2 of our Lego lapbook. I do hope, if you homeschool or if you don't, that you will check out this amazing lapbook to do with your kids. It will be well worth your time!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Make it Yourself Monday - Fried Catfish

Today is Make it Yourself Monday!! What is Make it Yourself Monday, you ask?? Well.... Make it Yourself Monday is a time set aside for me to make something instead of running to town to buy it. After you try out my make-it-yourself idea, go make something yourself. Blog about your make-it-yourself project. Leave a comment on my blog with a link to yours, and be sure to link back to my blog from yours. Simple as that!

For the last several weeks, I have really been craving some good fried fish from one of our local restaurants, Catfish King. But, they are WAY across town, AND they are expensive. I suppose they are no more expensive than any other restaurant, but when you're talking about paying for 6 people (yes, Baby Girl eats as much as the other kids, and Little Man eats as much as an adult!), you're talking about a LOT of money. On average, when we all go out to eat, we spend AT LEAST $50 or more. So, even though I have been really wanting some fried catfish, I have not wanted to drive or spend the money.

I got to work pulling out all my ingredients and getting the oil hot! What I ended up with is this:

I started by mixing up some hot-water cornbread and frying it. Then, Brient put in some breaded okra to fry. (I had to start over with my oil at that point, because it had too much cornmeal in the skillet and was starting to burn!) Next I dropped in the fish. All this time, I had a pan full of frozen french fries in the oven baking, which is much healthier than fried, although who's really keeping up with that considering all the other fried foods I made! I heated up some pinto beans I had cooked a few days earlier, pulled out my own homegrown, homemade green tomato relish, and washed up a few cherry tomatoes straight from my garden. YUM!

Everyone at the table, including Baby Girl, said it was so delicious! Baby Girl kept saying, "Nummy, nummy, nummy." Everyone kept thanking me for cooking! (You'd think I never cook anything for them!) It was all a big hit! And I didn't have to drive to get it, didn't have to sit in a restaurant waiting on food, and spent a fraction of what I would have paid for that meal. It was delicious!

The First Day of School

Generally, we don't start school until September 1, mainly just because of the fact that I CAN! However, this year, I just couldn't wait any longer! My friend, Kayla, sent me a link to an AMAZING lapbook that I just HAD to do with my kids! It's all about LEGO's! What a perfect way to start back to school - fun, no pressure learning. So today, we started our first day of school. Man, this is what homeschooling is all about!

Our day started out with dumping ALL the Legos onto the table. 

We first learned all about the inventor of Lego and the country from which he came (Denmark). The kids then made Lego flags of Denmark.
We watched a video about the capital of Denmark. And then, the kids spent several hours creating different things with Legos, such as robots and a Lego magic trick. 
This is Little Man's robot.

His robot transformed. 

This is Little Man's personal Transformer mini-bot.

Here you have Britches' Lego magic trick. She built this from a plan on the Lego website, but she had to make some modifications, because it didn't work exactly right. Also, she didn't have the exact Lego pieces that she needed, so she improvised. You put a dime into the slot at the top, turn the wheel, and the dime "disappears." Actually, it falls through the hole and into your hand!

This is Little Sister's car that she built!

So that was our first day of school! Lots of fun, and no pressure! Tomorrow, we will do more Lego "stuff." This lapbook lesson lasts for four days, so we'll be through by the end of the week. So far, they are having a BLAST with this one! 

If you'd like to do this really fun lesson with your kids, check out Walking By The Way to find out all the great stuff you can do with Legos!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Homemade Granola

Last Christmas, my sweet mama bought me a new cookbook. This isn't just any cookbook. It's a "Daily Harvest Bakery and Deli" cookbook. Daily Harvest is a local bakery and deli that prides itself on using fresh ground wheat, all natural sweeteners, and lots of other "good for you" things. But since they are all the way in town, and I live in the country, I am not able to just run up there for a nice, hot, fresh loaf of jalapeno cheese bread whenever I want it. I can't just swing in for a refreshing glass of wheat grass juice. I'm not able to stop by for a freshly made chocolate haystack cookie. But, I have the next best thing! I can make my own whenever I want. Now, I will admit that I don't have a grain mill, so I don't grind my own flour. But I do try to use all the same healthy ingredients that Teresa (the owner of Daily Harvest) uses, and all the recipes I have tried so far are WONDERFUL!

Today, I needed to make another batch of homemade granola, because that is what we eat many mornings for breakfast. I love the fact that the kids pick my healthy, homemade granola over the packaged sugary cereals! Several people have asked for the recipe, so I thought I would share. It's the only recipe I'm posting on my blog, though. You'll just have to go out and get your own copy of Teresa's book if you want to try the other recipes! And I assure you, you WILL want to try more!!

Just know, I did make some changes to the original recipe found in the book. I don't always keep things, like walnuts, and my kids like different fruits. Also, I like to change what I put in my granola, so we don't get tired of the same kind. Sometimes I make it like this, and sometimes I add cocoa powder to make dark chocolate granola. Play around with this recipe, and see how many different types of granola you can make!

Homemade Granola:

2 sticks butter
1 Tbsp. cinnamon (or more if you want a stronger spice taste!)
1 C. honey or agave nectar
8 C. rolled oats
2 C. pecan halves
1 C. coconut
1 C. dried cranberries
1/2 C. ground flax seed

Boil butter, cinnamon, and honey/agave nectar for 3 min. Pour over oats and stir well to coat. Add all other ingredients, and stir well. Pour into a large pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Bake for 5 minute intervals, stirring after each interval. When your oats are golden brown and not soft and wet looking when you stir it, it's ready!

If you choose to make chocolate granola, add 3/4 C. cocoa powder to the butter, cinnamon, and honey/agave nectar mix and let it boil with the mix. It makes a delicious chocolate sauce to go on your granola.

Here is a picture of our finished granola. All I need to do now is let it cool, and then I can put it in my Rubbermaid reusable cereal box. 

After you try this recipe, go and get your own Daily Harvest Cookbook! You'll be glad you did!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Make it Yourself Monday - Baby Wipes

Yay hooray! Today is "Make it Yourself Monday"!! I have been waiting all week to share this one with you! Several of my friends are having babies or have recently had babies. So this is a perfect thing to tell you about today!

When I was pregnant with my first little one, a friend gave us a gift at one of our showers that was quite unusual to us. We were presented with homemade baby wipes, a container to keep them in, and all the supplies and the recipe to make more. We sort of wondered about them for a little while. But let me tell you, those baby wipes work better than any store bought wipes you can find, and they are far cheaper! So we have made these baby wipes ever since for each of our 4 babies. They are so good, in fact, that Brient has made them for himself to keep in his work truck to wash his hands before he eats when he's out in the middle of nowhere with no running water. They are great! Here's how to make them.

First, you start with a 10 cup round Rubbermaid container. I wrote the recipe on the side of my container, because I kept forgetting the amounts of each of the ingredients. You need:
2 3/4 cups of hot water
1 Tbsp. baby oil
2 Tbsp. baby bath

Generally, I use baby oil, but since I am out right now, I substituted olive oil. It is a very good oil for your skin. 

I also added a few drops of tea tree essential oil. Tea tree oil is antibacterial. Germs and infection can't survive when washed with tea tree oil. So this makes a perfect addition to help ward off diaper rash. It's not necessary to add this, though. You could also add any other essential oil for a nice scent. 

You need a roll of Bounty Select-A-Size paper towels and a good, sharp knife.

Cut the roll in half.

Pull the core out of the center.

Add the ingredients to your round container, and put the paper towel half in on top. 

Make sure the lid is on good and tight, and flip it upside down. This helps all the liquid to soak into all of the paper towel roll more quickly.

Once all the liquid is absorbed into the paper towels, you are ready to begin using them. You pull the wipes from the center of the roll. 

These wipes last for a very long time - much longer than a package of commercial wipes - and they are a fraction of the cost! These are so gentle on baby's bottom, mine have rarely ever had a diaper rash. I have always kept packaged wipes on hand for travel, as this container is rather big and bulky. But when I use the packaged wipes, my little ones nearly always end up with a rash. 

These are fantastic. I hope you'll give them a try. And if you don't have a baby, think about giving them as a gift to someone! This was one of the best baby gifts I ever received!

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~Dr. Suess