Thursday, March 29, 2012

End of March Garden Update

We have been busy busy working in the yard.  My dear hubby was out past dark last night digging holes for our pear trees (there will be pics of those in the next garden update).  Over the past few week he has also finished building the rest of our raised garden beds and I have most of them planted.  I am very excited to see so much green in our garden already!  We have the following plants planted already (most of these are heirloom seeds from Baker Creek):
Radish White Hailstone
Radish Saxa II
Beet Bulls Blood
Detroit Dark Red Beets
Lettuce Black Seeded Simpson
Amsterdam Prickly Seeded Spinach
Calabrese Green Sprouting Broccoli
Sweet Basil
Common Thyme
Wild Zaatar Oregano
Clemson Spineless Okra
Old Homestead Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean
Sugar Snap Peas
Mideast Prolific Cucumber
Sagami Hanjiro Cucumber
Red Wonder Wild Strawberry
Onion Flat of Italy
Apple Mint
Yukon Gold Potatoes

I am hoping to get our transplants in soon, including:
Orange Bell Pepper
California Wonder Pepper
Chadwick Cherry Tomato
Pink Icicle Tomato
Ground Cherry
Florida Market Eggplant

With the exception of the Red Wonder Wild Strawberry, everything we planted has at least sprouted!  The kale from last year has started to flower.  The girls love picking and eating the buds - delicious!  They taste a lot like broccoli.

This is our first year planting potatoes.  If you are new to potatoes as well, there is an excellent video over at Deep Roots at Home.  We started with some organic Yukon Gold potatoes that I had in the pantry that had sprouted.  We just got these in the ground, so we'll see what happens!
Praying that the LORD blesses the work of our hands!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tot School Tuesday: LH2H Unit 4

The main themes for this week were Isaac and his sons, the letter "Dd",  and the number "4".  Here are some of our highlights straight out of the Little Hands to Heaven program:

Bible Activity: Rebekah said she would marry Isaac.  Look through a magazine and cut out four women to paste onto the Number Four page.
LH2H has an activity similar to this each week.  This is the first week that "M" actually found the photos herself and she did some of the cutting herself.  "Boo" is now able to do almost all of the gluing herself. 

Letter Activity: Tiptoe on the large "D", saying the sound as you go.

Letter Activity: Glue dried macaroni to the letter "D"


Painting with Balloons:
One of the Dramatic Play's in LH2H is to inflate a balloon to be "wrestled back and forth" to represent Jacob wrestling with the angel.  When we were done with this activity we decided to use our balloons to paint.

Texture Painting:
I mixed salt into brown and green paint and the girls each painted a textured desert scene to go along with the Fingerplay (One Dusty Camel).

Jacob's Ladder Craft: Idea and printable from Christian Crafts


Nesting Monkeys:
"M" especially loved these and was so proud of her monkey family.

Clay Cacti:
I put together a tray of chunks of brown clay, toothpicks, and photos of cacti.

Montessori Activity: Spooning Rice

Cutting Practice:
I picked up some free paint chips the last time we were at Lowe's.  "M" practiced cutting along the white lines between colors.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Homemaking Monday: Fermented Veggies Take 1

About 5 years ago I became very sick.  I was reacting to everything I tried to eat, was exhausted, and just did not feel well.  I had made several trips to the ER and visited a few specialists.  Some thought it was psychological.  Others just would say something is wrong but I don't know what.  I finally found one doctor, thanks to a family member who had similar problems, who took the time to listen to me and he empowered me to let my body heal itself.  I was diagnosed with a couple of autoimmune diseases and a long list of food allergies, but essentially it was all caused by a toxic overload in my body.  After several weeks of doing a fresh fruit and veggie juice fast, I was able to slowly introduce "real" food.  That was the beginning of my "real food" diet.  Since then I have tried to avoid all toxic chemical soups (AKA processed/boxed foods) that our society tries to pass off as food.  I have enjoyed relatively good health since changing the way I eat and view food.  However, I know that I still suffer from some vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and these deficiencies seem to be even more evident in our children.  Despite eating healthy, whole foods, "M" seems to be sick often, have brittle bones and soft teeth, and is slow to heal.  Between my concerns for her health and our desire to live more off the land, I have spent lots of time researching health, nutrition, and the foods we eat.  The more I research, the more I realize how much I do not know and how much knowledge has been lost over the past few generations!  I most recently picked up the book "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon.  I thought I knew almost everything there was to know about eating until I read this book.  I was beyond overwhelmed after reading just a few pages.  Culture your own dairy products?  Ferment vegetables and fruits?  How do you even do that?!?  I was fascinated by the information though, and felt like it could be the key to some of our problems.  Sally writes on page 89, "The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels.  These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine."  A way to preserve food while making it healthier for us?  Sounds great to me!  But, how exactly do you ferment veggies?  It's definitely not something I learned from my mom or grandma.  The only way to learn was to give it a try, and so I did.  I decided to make the Ginger Carrots in her book because she says it is a great introduction to fermented veggies.  The recipe seemed simple enough:
*4 cups grated carrots, tightly packed
*1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
*1 TBSP sea salt
*4 TBSP whey
In a bowl, mix all ingredients and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices.  Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouthed mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices cover the carrots.  The top of the carrots should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and leave at room temperature about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

So, first I had to make whey (something I had never done before).  She tells you several ways to make it, but I chose to start with Stoneyfield Organic Plain Yogurt.  I placed a coffee filter in a strainer with the yogurt on top and a bowl below and let it sit for several hours.  What dripped into the bowl was whey, and what was left on top was cream cheese.  I mixed a little salt into the cream cheese and we ate that with some crackers and vegetables - delicious!  The extra whey I stored in the fridge.  Maybe next time I'll be brave enough to start with raw milk.

Following the rest of the directions was pretty easy.  I had no clue what to expect (nor did the rest of the family), but we were pleasantly surprised and have enjoyed adding these carrots to our dinner meals.

I tried a different fermented carrots recipe, but I failed.  After a couple of days on the counter there was definitely some mold growing.  I will continue to try and will share any successful attempts.  Do you ferment fruits or vegetables?  What are your favorites?  We have lot of radishes growing in the garden and I am hoping to make radish relish later this spring.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tot School Tuesday: Little Hands to Heaven Unit 3

We are chugging right along with our Little Hands to Heaven and loving every minute of school time.  This week we focused on the letter "Cc", number 3, and Abraham and Sarah.  Here are some of our highlights of the week:

 We prepared a "picnic" and acted out Genesis 18:1-15, where Abraham is visited by three men sent from God to tell him that he and his wife Sarah will have a baby.

We also worked on the spelling of their names.  I had several activities planned around this, including matching the letters of their name with alphabet magnets, tracing their name with puffy paint, and finger painting over their name that I had spelled out with painter's tape (which I removed once the paint dried).

I added several printables from "Answers for Preschoolers" and other resources to compliment our main learning themes of the week:

I also added a few crafts, including making a sheep from card stock, cotton balls, and clothespins (relating to Genesis 13 where Abram and Lot separate).

We really enjoyed some of the items on our shelves this week, and it led to lots of creative play:


 "Getting strong like Daddy"

(I found these for $1 for a huge bag at a small shop in VT.  I couldn't pass up the deal and I'm glad I did not.  Great for lacing, patterns, sorting, etc.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekends are for Campfires

Fridays and Saturdays are always busy in our home.  On Friday I usually try to do as much indoor cleaning as I can to get ready for the weekend, and weather permitting we spend most of our Saturdays outside working in the garden and catching up on outdoor chores.  You can often find hubby in the garage building something with "M" (lately it has been more garden boxes for me!), while "Boo" and I hang laundry and work around the yard.  While we work the hardest (labor-wise) on Saturday, we all really love this day of the week.  We're often able to check several things off of our to-do-lists and can see the fruit of our labor.  And best of all, by the time Saturday night rolls around, we are all ready to kick back, relax, and have some fun.  Lately, the weather has been absolutely beautiful so we have been able to spend our Saturday nights outside gathered around a "campfire".  Such a joy!

Last week our nephew was able to join us for the fun!

Our neighbor's dog even stopped by to say hello.

How do you like to spend your weekends?