better things to do on a Saturday.

We carved soap today.

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It was fun. Really, really messy, but really, really fun. This is what the babe decided to do with the shavings.

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We used ivory soap, plastic spoons and toothpicks as tools. It was surprisingly easy to carve, we all loved it and provided a great opportunity to talk about 3 dimensional space.

Maybe you noticed the row of creatures above all appear very bear-like. We started out the morning with a brisk hike through the snow at a local state park. We had selected a trail new to us, and about half-way through our hike, we found something which is, to us, undeniably a bear track. Maybe if you squint really hard you can tell its a bear track (or imagine that it is a bear track).

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The day my husband proposed we found a fox hole- not the kind used by soldiers- the kind a real life fox lives in, complete with tracks. He’d planned a very romantic picnic on a hill, and a hike beforehand to set the mood and we’d happened upon the foxhole. It made my day- I thought- until even grander things appeared 🙂 It is still exciting to find signs of rare wildlife, at least to me, and today reminded me of that glorious day we found a fox’s domicile.

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This is a decidedly better way to spend our Saturday.

In case you’re wondering about why we’d carve soap in the first place, “handicrafts” are a valuable part of education. Read more about Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on the subject here.

only so many eggs- a coconut flour muffin recipe

We can only eat so many eggs. Maybe you can relate. If you can, here’s a fast, easy and simple coconut flour muffin recipe.

Cinnamon muffins

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1/2 cup coconut flour, measured by sweeping the cup in the bag and leveling the top with a table knife.

1 TBSP grassfed unflavored gelatin

1 TBSP arrowroot powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp aluminum-free, non-gmo baking powder

1 1/2 tsp organic cinnamon

1/2 cup melted organic or grassfed butter

4 eggs from pastured chickens

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with liners. Mix all ingredients well. Divide between 12 muffin cups. Bake for about 17 minutes, remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Serve!

The gelatin and the arrowroot powder give the coconut flour the structural support to hold the bubbles created by the leavenings. The arrowroot powder absorbs some of the moisture to give a more traditional crumb, the gelatin keeps them from being too crumbly. Neither are absolutely necessary. The arrowroot may easily be omitted it you are sensitive to it. If you need to replace the baking powder, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp of baking powder may be substituted. The gelatin adds some wholesome amino acids, so its worth including if you can. Both the baking powder and the arrowroot powder defy my rule of being required to have nutritional merit to be included in a recipe- they are rare exceptions which are not harmful for us.

Some people say coconut flour is the healthiest flour. I say that the jury is still out and since its quite a new health food fad (its been around for a while, its new as a fad), it may be some time until we hear its down-sides. It is “defatted” after all (who knows how that process damages it), and chances are that that much fiber is going to remain in the intestines, unutilized by the body, and become food for something else, possibly not all “happy” flora. It is almost surely better than white wheat flour, and in my reasoning, preferable to the frequent use of nut flours full of pro-inflammatory fatty acids and oxalates (a few properly prepared nuts, instead of large quantities of nuts in flour form, serve a very different dietary purpose). SO when I do not have time to sourdough freshly ground, sprouted whole wheat, my first preference, I use coconut flour. I do try to balance all flours, starches, disaccharides and such, by not over-using any one. They are all served occasionally and in moderation.

Share your thoughts on baking!

chivalry

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Chivalry = the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.

We were getting out of the car quickly. My husband was unbuckling our then 3 year old son and I was getting our then infant son. “What’s that?”, asked the 3 year old.

“A woman who probably lives in that retirement home over there,” my husband answered after making a quick glance over his shoulder. He pointed to the large building on the other side of the doctor’s office we were heading to.

“What’s she doing?” She was slumped in her wheelchair, walking it backwards, wearily, with a small plastic bag on her lap. She wore her rubber soled house slippers, and her legs were tremendously thin between the tops of them and the bottom of her dress.

“Probably walking home from the drug store.” He pointed to the pharmacy about a block away. My husband started walking briskly towards the office with our tot in his arms. I have to trot to keep up with him when he walks that way, and that day I went behind him with the baby and the diaper bag as we stayed close to the row of parked cars.

“Let’s go help her”, our tot enthusiastically suggested, looking back at her over his father’s shoulder.

“No. We’re late for our appointment.” He screamed and reached over his father towards the old woman in despair.

A few days later, the boys and I were on the way home from playgroup. I was trying to explain why our 3 year old should have made some better choices. Before I knew where the words came from, they seemed to bypass me to where they were going:

“Never miss an opportunity to do what’s right.”

“Then why didn’t we help that old lady in the wheelchair?”, came from the backseat.

Fast forward nearly 4 years. I was watching The Drop Box trailer and the boy is now 7 years old, and he’s sitting on the arm of the chair next to me. The Drop Box is a documentary about a Pastor in Seoul who installed a drop box for unwanted babies in the wall of his home.

“Do people bring ALL the unwanted babies to his box?” he interrupted.

“No.” I was trying to watch.

“Why not?”

“Maybe they don’t know about it…”

“Doesn’t he put up signs?”

Now, I’m getting frustrated. I really wanted to watch the trailer. “I don’t know.”

“Does he go out and look for all the babies that people don’t bring to him?”

“No,” I said; the trailer was over now.

“Why doesn’t he go looking for them?”

“He has to take care of the babies people bring him.”

“Somebody else could care for those while he went out. He has to go look for the rest.” He was becoming very pale.

“No. He can’t; he can’t save them all. He has to focus on what he can do.” I heard myself actually saying that. What is there to say? It is very complicated.

“He HAS to try!”

Before his words left the air, I remembered “Does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” (Matthew 18:12b)

Suddenly, a thread was pulled in the cloth of my time, and in the gathers, that first moment came immediately next to this one. I could hear in my mind a voice saying,

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2)

“Which of these three [priest, Levite, Samaritan], do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy [the Samaritan].” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”” (Luke 10:36-37)

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40).

The way he sees it, there is no inconvenience too great when someone is in need. Indeed, someone in need is worth the sacrifice required to help them. His young faith sees this very clearly, very simply. He is but a child, and his heart longs to help those weaker.

Chivalry is not dead.

lions on leashes

This is the leash my second son instructed me to fashion for his lion.

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My children are always salvaging small bits of leftover string- leftover anything, really- and I’d like to think they are developing the habit thrift. Then, however, I must pretend I am unbothered by the random pieces of anything left all over everything. Yet, I realize my tiny men are practicing their mighty skills of ingenuity and leadership within the confines and limited resources of childhood, very much like lions on leashes.

” Children are born persons.” -Charlotte Mason, 20 Principles found in the preface of Volume 6.

in curry sauce

Upon my quest for making wholesome food for my family, I devised this recipe for making a tasty curry sauce. The way I see it, every ingredient included must have nutritional value in its own right, not be present merely for taste value.

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3 sweet potatoes, roasted

1 large onion, thinly sliced (preferably organic)

3 TBSP coconut oil

1/4 cup organic raisins

2 tsp of organic curry powder

3/4 tsp organic cinnamon

real salt to taste

black pepper to taste

2 cups of homemade chicken bone broth, warm

2 cups of roasted (or otherwise cooked) grass-fed chicken, chopped to bite-sized pieces

Instructions: Saute the onions in the coconut oil with salt and pepper until carmalization begins (works best on a low-medium temp). Add spices to bloom. Place peeled sweet potatoes, raisins and bone broth in a blender or food processor and operate until they are smooth. Add this puree to the sauteed onions, and then add the chicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve!

Serving: We eat our chicken curry sauce with this brown rice, soaked in this method, and cooked in more of my homemade chicken bone broth. If you need or prefer a grain free option, try serving it with cauliflower “rice”.

Economy: A really nice way to do this is to roast a chicken and start the carcass for broth on day 1, eating the roasted chicken with other roasted sides, then using the leftover chicken in recipes with the completed bone broth on days 2 and 3, and possibly day 4; its even possible to roast ingredients for subsequent recipes on day 1 along with the chicken. I have found a local source of grass-fed chickens and a 7lb bird is the most economical grass-fed meat for my family of 5 since it provides a huge pot of broth and 3-4 meals of meat.

For the Baby: In order to serve this to my baby, who just had her 1st birthday, I put 1/4 cup of the curry sauce with chicken in a regular mouth jelly jar, attached the blender base/blade assembly and pulsed on a low speed in my Oster blender until it was just perfect. This blender is ideal for this purpose because the blade assembly is “regular mouth” size and fits on canning jars. Our babe does not receive the rice, since babies don’t make significant quantities of the enzymes necessary to digest grains until closer to 16-18 months (read more about this in The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care). Undigested particles remaining in the intestines may encourage bad bacteria and yeast to become part of the gut flora- which would not be a very good way to begin one’s lifelong health.

Happy Eating with your family 🙂

IMG_2315Mmmm.

…an Adventure was going to happen…

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As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an Adventure was going to happen and he brushed the honey off his nose with the back of his paw, and spruced himself up as well as he could, so as to look Ready for Anything. -A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, page 111

Our homeschool uses some Charlotte Mason (CM) principles.

While I am far from a CM expert, I summarize Miss Mason’s streamlined educational process as 1) connecting children as directly as possible to ideas themselves, 2) utilizing great attention to move ideas into long term memory and 3) connections between ideas are created by the student, not teacher or textbook, developing the strength of the mind. The methodology designed by Miss Mason is generally very child friendly, and generally Biblically sound.

I say “generally”, because there are a few points of divergence between Miss Mason’s curriculum methods and my own ideology. A very presumptuous and bold ascertation, I am sure anyone who has any knowledge of the modern CM movement is thinking. More on my points of divergence at a later time, and rest assured, I will try to defend my position 😉

Now, on to our Adventure. (Since that I just brushed the honey off of my nose…you might want to put on your Big Boots).

When delving into any great adventure, it seems useful to lay out the goals of the said adventure upon the very beginning. Well, I figured the same was true for our homeschool. As such, I decided to corner Hubby during a long car ride home from another state in order to hash out the objectives of our homeschool- which really turned out to be our goals for parenting our children. This was not a light undertaking- good thing the children slept through it, (too much cake, doughnuts and swimming at Grandma’s).

Here’s what we came up with:

1) to instill a thorough, working knowledge of the Word of God into our children’s minds Deut 6:7-9 We would be much happier if God’s Word made it into their hearts, but that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. I will content myself with my job of, “You shall teach them diligently to your children” and pray without ceasing for each of them. As we see this goal, it requires apologetics. It needs a thorough knowledge of history to understand the context of Scripture and to see God’s working throughout all time. It takes intricate language skills to read Scripture properly and to present it to the world. It demands in-depth mathematics and science to apply God’s Word in the real world (and if you don’t believe that examine the ministry Answers in Genesis!).

2) to develop a great sense of modesty Phil 2:3-5. This concerns humility in how one sees and presents oneself; propriety, really, but not in clothing specifically, but in speech, conduct and thought. See a sampling of my thoughts on modesty here  This goal encompasses the basis for work ethic, relationships, moral standards, chivalry, financial integrity, stewardship and so much more!

Upon looking at these goals, we realize they are just our means to providing the necessary instruction and discipline for our children to live out the words of Jesus  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37+39).

In the future, as if that isn’t vague at all, I will explain why a CM education supplies the path towards our goals in most, but not all, cases.

shelf building as a love language

This is a cartoon I drew after I asked my husband to build a wall of bookshelves. It is part of the stick figure comic strip running in my head. Now we have 2 walls of bookshelves. Let it be known that I rarely wear skirts, but I am so unartistic that I know of no other way to distinguish a female figure.

My husband says my love language is “shelf building”. Good thing he’s good at building shelves, particularly for books! Because we can never have enough…