Saturday, July 24, 2010

Strawberry Jam

Gardening has become a great hobby for us.  Each year we expand and try more.  Our second year of gardening we also started canning.  James’ grandmother canned everything.  I don’t remember my grandmothers canning that much, but I’m sure they did.  We want our girls to leave our home knowing how to grow and save their own food.  I am going to share our experience of canning strawberry jam.

We always begin any canning process by sterilizing our jars and lids.  The water needs to reach 180 degrees.


First, wash the strawberries and cut the stems and any bad spots off.  Don’t they look yummy!


Second,  smash the strawberries.  The was James’ job this time.


Next, add one box of Pectin to 4 cups of strawberries.  We also added 1/4 tsp. of butter.  Bring to a rolling boil.


Then add 7 cups of sugar and boil for exactly 1 minute.


Finally fill jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.  The result is yum, yum, yum!


So far this year we have canned 72 quarts of green beans, 24 half pints of strawberry jam, 9 half pints of blackberry jam, 14 quarts of tomato juice, 3 pints of pickles, and 5 pints of banana peppers.  They are beautifully placed at the top of my cabinets.




Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Homeplace

There is a really cool place at Land Between the Lakes called The Homeplace.  I highly recommend visiting there if you are interested in pioneer days.  You can tour all the buildings at your own pace.  There are people their in costume doing activities from that time period.  This is what we were hoping the Laura Ingalls Wilder house would have been like.  The girls were able to play lots of games that children would have played in pioneer days.  Someone actually stays there and lives off of the food from the garden and livestock.  They have pens for pigs, chickens, sheep, cows, oxen and horses.  The buildings on site were living quarters, the kitchen, smoke house, and several barns.  It was a great day of learning and exploring.

104_0693This lady was working on quilt squares.  Lulu really wants to make a quilt.  She was explaining to her how to make a simple nine square quilt pattern.  Another girl was knitting a dishcloth.  The girls were telling her that they know how to knit.

104_0699Lil really liked this doll.  There were cornhusk dolls in on of the rooms as well.  They had clothing that kids could dress them up in.  All three girls had such a great time here.  It was a really nice experience.

104_0702This is the kitchen area.   Lots of cast iron pots.  James wanted to sneak some of the home with us :)


Lil was pretending to knit while she was sitting by the fire.104_0728I cannot remember the actual name of this game.  The girls want James to make them a set though.  Basically you have a hoop, like an embroidery hoop, that is wrapped with ribbons for decoration and two pointed sticks for each person playing.  You cross the sticks inside the hoop and pull your arms apart quickly to send the hoop flying off your sticks to the other person.  The girls practiced this for a really long time.104_0734Lil and James ready to carry water.  Our kids have it so easy today.  These were very heavy empty.104_0737 Lulu and Monkey gave it a try as well.



James would love to live like this.  I really enjoy camping and trying to live more simply, but I don’t think I am ready to live this simple. 


My prairie girls!


Of course Lil had to see what it would be like to be a young lad as well.


I like this picture of James and his dad.  We had a great visit with him and his wife.  The girls stayed with them for a few days after James and I came home.  It was a nice break for all of us but I sure was glad to get them back home.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Trip to Branson, Missouri

Our vacation spot this year was Branson.  We wanted to go somewhere different than the beach.  We stopped by St. Louis on our way.  Our library has a really great section of education DVD’s.  James found one on the building of the St. Louis Arch.  We watched the video with the girls before our trip.  So when we stopped at the arch we all had a greater appreciation of structure.  It is still amazing that no one died while building it. 
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104_0523104_0565 Lil and Monkey enjoyed putting their toes in the Mississippi River.  We read Minn of the Mississippi this year by Holling C. Holling so that made it more special.
Our resort in Branson was nice.  We did a lot of swimming, a little fishing, a little shopping, and lots of relaxing.  It was probably the most restful vacation we have taken.  Our big night out was to the Dixie Stampede Dinner Show.  James and I went to this in Pigeon Forge on our honeymoon.  The girls loved it!
104_0573  104_0586 104_0590 104_0592 104_0638 104_0635
If you know us, you know that the girls and I love Little House on the Prairie.  On our way to James’ dad’s house from Branson we passed Mansfield, Missouri.  This is where Laura and Almanzo lived in their later years of life.  We stopped to tour their house, the rock house Rose had built for them and the museum.  I have to say we were disappointed in the experience.  They were very hands off and I couldn’t take any pictures inside the houses or the museum.  I am pretty sure Laura would not approve.  The girls did not enjoy the house, but did like the museum.  They have many things that Laura and Mary made, i.e. clothing, knitting projects, toys, etc.  Pa’s fiddle is on display and they even take it out once a year to play it.  I am glad we took the time to stop, but do wish the mood would have been more inviting. 
104_0657 104_0670 Overall we had another great vacation.  On our way home we stopped at James’ dad’s house in Western Kentucky.  We had a nice weekend visit with them.  While we were there we went to The Homeplace.  I will share about that in another post.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Roller Coaster is Almost Over

Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxing, right?  This year it has begun with constant scheduling for us.  We went on vacation two weeks ago to Branson, MO.  The weather was great.  The girls had a great time swimming every day.  I have lots of pictures I want to share.  We took them to the Dixie Stampede Dinner Show.  James and I had seen it before on our honeymoon twelve years ago.  (Happy Anniversary Babe!) They loved it!  The preshow was much better this year - a juggling comedian.  He was very talented.  One morning James took the girls fishing.  We stayed right on Table Rock Lake.  

On our way back from Branson, we stopped to visit James' dad and stepmom.  They moved five hours away over two months ago.  All three girls stayed with them from Monday to Thursday.  I cried when we left and missed them the whole time.  It was the first time we had been away from them for that long.  

Now Lulu and I are getting ready to leave again.  We will be heading to Dallas, Texas in a few days for the National Junior Bible Quiz tournament.  James will be staying home with Monkey and Lil.  I am looking forward to some time away with just Lulu, but an really dreading that drive.  I am sure I will have pictures to share when I get back.

Soon after we return we will all be gone again for some camping.  And shortly after that Lulu and Monkey will be going to church camp for a week.  I will have lots of time with Lil, just me and her.  She knows it is coming but I'm sure she doesn't realize that her sisters will be gone all week.  She will really miss them.

Once camp is over I think we get to stay home for awhile.  I'm sure we will have more camping trips, but nothing major.  I have started reorganizing the school room for next year.  I am probably half way finished.  I won't be able to finish it until I get back from Texas.  Once again I will have pictures when it is complete.

So what are your plans for this summer?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nearing the End

Our school year officially ends tomorrow.  It has gone by so quickly.  Looking back I see many things I am glad we did and many things I wish I would have done differently.  Next year we are switching to My Father's World.  I am very excited about getting started on it.  We will be taking a few weeks off and then returning to a very light schedule for the summer.  

As for summer it is starting up with a bang.  We have a trip to Missouri planned, a trip to Texas for the National Junior Bible Quiz tournament, a three day stay for the girls at their Papaw and Nana's house, a camping trip, and a week at church camp for Lulu and Monkey.  I am tired already.  This is how the past two months has been as well.  I am looking forward to the excitement that each one brings though, especially church camp.  The older girls cannot wait.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2010-2011 Curriculum

I went to the Midwest Homeschool Convention (awesome by the way) in April with three wonderful friends.  I purchased all of my curriculum for next year.  It feels really good to know that everything is sitting in the school room just waiting to be explored.

Lulu and Monkey will be doing Exploring Countries and Cultures from My Father's World.  I am very excited to be making this switch.  I love Charlotte Mason's philosophies and unit studies to teach every level together.  I just struggle with finding the time to put it all together myself.  MFW will do this for me.  Bible, Geography, Science, Art, and Music are all taken care of with Exploring Countries and Cultures.   For English we are moving to Rod and Staff.  Lulu will be doing Following the Plan.  Monkey will be doing Beginning Wisely.  Lulu will do Saxon 6/5 for math.  Monkey will switch to Saxon and do Saxon 5/4.  Another new choice for us next year will be All About Spelling.  I've heard so many great things about this program over the past several months.  I started reading up on it.  I looked over everything at the convention and bought the first two levels.  We are going to start this program in a few weeks.  I hope to get my struggling speller on track over the summer.

Lil will be in Kindergarten next year.  She will be doing My Father's World from A to Z.  This is a complete package for kindergarten.  I may add RightStart Mathematics and All About Spelling to her schedule after we get into the year. 

I also am excited to introduce Workboxes next year.  The organization of our day is a constant struggle.  I really hope this system gives our day a boost as it seems to have done for so many other families.  I know that I will not implement the system exactly the way Sue Patrick suggests.  I just don't have the space.  Once I have all the details fixed I will blog about how we plan to implement the boxes in our day.

EXPO 2010

Tonight was our annual EXPO at co-op.  There are several categories in which the students can enter to compete in their age group.  Lulu entered photography, spelling bee, crochet, and Legos.  Monkey entered photography, casseroles, sewing, and painting.  Lil entered photography, printing, and Legos.  The girls did a great job working on their projects.  

Lulu built a farmhouse with Legos.  She had a trundle bed under the big bed.  Her horses had their own barn.

Lulu took this picture at the zoo.  I would love to have it blown up.  It's beautiful.

Monkey did a great job on her painting.  She found a picture from a book of scenes at Red River Gorge.  

Monkey also took her picture at the zoo.  We happened to be in the reptile house during feeding time.  We were able to watch this snake begin to eat the rat.  Rather gross, but rather intriguing.  Her picture was a hit tonight...especially with the boys.

Lil used potatoes to do her printing.  I cut the shapes out for her and she went to town.  I have to admit she gets her systematic side from me.  I probably would have done everything in rows when I was 5 too.

One of Lil's most favorite things is Monster Jam.  She has gotten to go on two dates with her Daddy to see them live.  She was building a garden with her Legos for EXPO.  The older girls and I were in the school room doing our work.  She came into the room to ask for help finding a special Lego piece.  When I went into the living room her garden was gone and she was building trucks.  Too funny!  

Lil took a picture of Daddy's bass guitar for her photography entry.  Last year her picture was of a monster truck.

I am very proud of the hard work the girls put into their projects.  They had a blast.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homemaker in Training

James had a jacket that needed some mending.  He asked Monkey if she thought she could take care of that for him.  Her face beamed as she went and got my sewing basket.  She was proud to be able to help her Daddy.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My New Home

I finally decided to make the switch.  I am in the process of moving my blog material over from Homeschool Blogger.  The past several months I have neglected my blog all together.  I hope to start updating on a regular basis again.  Here is the link to my old blog until I can get all my posts moved: In The Potter's Hand.