Tag Archives: how-to

Our Go-To Lunch

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When we want something quick, and nutritious, that’s more than a sandwich, here’s what we do:

 

One can corn
One can diced tomatoes
One can black beans
Drain the corn and beans, dump them in a bowl and dump in the tomatoes with the liquid. Snip in some fresh cilantro, or add a teaspoon or so of dried cilantro, then sprinkle some fajita seasoning over it. Stir and microwave for three minutes, or warm-up in a sauce pan on your stovetop.
Serve as is, as a dip for tortilla chips, or add things like shredded cheese salsa and sour cream on top of  lettuce for a fuller meal.
This is yummy, and filling, and easy to make even for my young children. Then they feel so proud and helpful, as they provided lunch for the family!

Our Go-To Lunch

Standard

When we want something quick, and nutritious, that’s more than a sandwich, here’s what we do:

 

One can corn
One can diced tomatoes
One can black beans
Drain the corn and beans, dump them in a bowl and dump in the tomatoes with the liquid. Snip in some fresh cilantro, or add a teaspoon or so of dried cilantro, then sprinkle some fajita seasoning over it. Stir and microwave for three minutes, or warm-up in a sauce pan on your stovetop.
Serve as is, as a dip for tortilla chips, or add things like shredded cheese salsa and sour cream on top of  lettuce for a fuller meal.
This is yummy, and filling, and easy to make even for my young children. Then they feel so proud and helpful, as they provided lunch for the family!

Cake Pops!

Standard

Having 7 children makes it easy for each of them to have “their day”, when we do special projects together, talk about things that are on their mind, and just generally connect. I also call it “tomato staking“.

(Not sure how I’ll do things once #8 shows up. I’ve got a little while to figure something out though)

Today was Noah’s day, and we decided to make cake pops. We’ve tried it once before, and while they were yummy, they were ugly. We learned a few things though, and were pretty sure we could correct the mistakes of the last effort.

Sure enough, these (A:) stayed together, (B:) didn’t fall off the stick when dipped, and (C:) hardened properly. Success! Read the rest of this entry

Cake Pops!

Standard
Having 7 children makes it easy for each of them to have “their day”, when we do special projects together, talk about things that are on their mind, and just generally connect. I also call it “tomato staking“.
(Not sure how I’ll do things once #8 shows up. I’ve got a little while to figure something out though)
Today was Noah’s day, and we decided to make cake pops. We’ve tried it once before, and while they were yummy, they were ugly. We learned a few things though, and were pretty sure we could correct the mistakes of the last effort.
Sure enough, these (A:) stayed together, (B:) didn’t fall off the stick when dipped, and (C:) hardened properly. Success!

Unfortunately, we were so focused on making these things happen correctly, I didn’t take pictures of the process. Next time?
I did get my hands out of the mess once Noah started dipping them, and take a few pictures of him doing that.

0image

The chocolate that we used for most of them has a tiny amount of milk in it, so we made several for Oksana with a certain brand of chocolate chips, melted. They didn’t “gloss” or get hard like the dipping chocolate, but I haven’t heard her complain! We put different sprinkles on those, so that it’s easy to tell at a glance which she can have.
Making them was fairly easy, once we worked out the few kinks that don’t work. This morning, before I woke the children, I baked a cake. (I used a red velvet mix- yumm yumm). Once it had cooled for about 20 minutes on racks, I put it in the freezer.
After breakfast and chores, Noah got it out of the freezer and crumbled it all up into crumbs. (I poked my finger smack into the center of one of the cakes to make sure it was cold all the way through. Yup, it was.)
Into the crumbs, we stirred and mashed and smooshed approximately 1/3 of a tub of storebought (chocolate fudge) icing. It can take more or less, depending on your cake, so it’s a thing that many do “by feel”. The most helpful advice I got was to keep adding small amounts until the crumbs begin to “clump” and clean the bowl.
The fun (or messy, depending on your perspective) part is making the balls. A few things that helped this time around were remembering to make them quite a bit smaller than I wanted the finished cake pop to be, and popping them into the freezer for 20 minutes once all the balls were on a cookie sheet. We also tried to make them a lot firmer, or “tighter” than our first go-around.
We did a few more chores for the 20 minutes, then out came the chilled cake balls. I melted just a bit of the dipping chocolate, added a bit of coconut oil to thin it to the right consistency (that was another problem we had on the first ones we tried, the dipping chocolate was just too thick, and tore the cake balls up). We “poked” a lollipop stick a good 2/3 of the way into each cake ball, after dipping the stick into the chocolate. That helped to “glue” them  in.

1image

Then, yep, back to the freezer for 20 minutes, and then out for dipping and sprinkles. Someone threw away my big chunk of styrofoam for stabbing the sucker sticks into while the coating hardens, so we made do with a cooling rack.
We dipped enough for each child to have one, and for the neighbor’s family, and learned not to put the sprinkles on right away but to wait till the chocolate is about half set. The plan was to dip them all right away, but I’m learning to never fully expect things to go as scheduled, so we did all the “other things” that came up, and dipped them after supper.
They are disappearing fast, and now that we’ve ironed out most of our difficulties in making them, I think they’ll probably be a rather regular treat around here. The children all like them immensely, and with all the steps involved, everyone can get their hands in on the process. With the “freezer breaks”, it’s a job that can be done in chunks and squeezed in around regular chores. It’s also motivation to get the chores done (“wash those dishes so you have help dip cake pops”) ! I like them because (A:) they’re good, and (B:) they’re smaller portions of sugar and junk getting into the children than with a piece of cake or even a cupcake, but they’re still happy. Everyone wins. :0)

Image

  

2image

Cake Pops!

Standard
Having 7 children makes it easy for each of them to have “their day”, when we do special projects together, talk about things that are on their mind, and just generally connect. I also call it “tomato staking”.
(Not sure how I’ll do things once #8 shows up. I’ve got a little while to figure something out though)
Today was Noah’s day, and we decided to make cake pops. We’ve tried it once before, and while they were yummy, they were ugly. We learned a few things though, and were pretty sure we could correct the mistakes of the last effort.
Sure enough, these (A:) stayed together, (B:) didn’t fall off the stick when dipped, and (C:) hardened properly. Success!

Unfortunately, we were so focused on making these things happen correctly, I didn’t take pictures of the process. Next time?
I did get my hands out of the mess once Noah started dipping them, and take a few pictures of him doing that.

0image

The chocolate that we used for most of them has a tiny amount of milk in it, so we made several for Oksana with a certain brand of chocolate chips, melted. They didn’t “gloss” or get hard like the dipping chocolate, but I haven’t heard her complain! We put different sprinkles on those, so that it’s easy to tell at a glance which she can have.
Making them was fairly easy, once we worked out the few kinks that don’t work. This morning, before I woke the children, I baked a cake. (I used a red velvet mix- yumm yumm). Once it had cooled for about 20 minutes on racks, I put it in the freezer.
After breakfast and chores, Noah got it out of the freezer and crumbled it all up into crumbs. (I poked my finger smack into the center of one of the cakes to make sure it was cold all the way through. Yup, it was.)
Into the crumbs, we stirred and mashed and smooshed approximately 1/3 of a tub of storebought (chocolate fudge) icing. It can take more or less, depending on your cake, so it’s a thing that many do “by feel”. The most helpful advice I got was to keep adding small amounts until the crumbs begin to “clump” and clean the bowl.
The fun (or messy, depending on your perspective) part is making the balls. A few things that helped this time around were remembering to make them quite a bit smaller than I wanted the finished cake pop to be, and popping them into the freezer for 20 minutes once all the balls were on a cookie sheet. We also tried to make them a lot firmer, or “tighter” than our first go-around.
We did a few more chores for the 20 minutes, then out came the chilled cake balls. I melted just a bit of the dipping chocolate, added a bit of coconut oil to thin it to the right consistency (that was another problem we had on the first ones we tried, the dipping chocolate was just too thick, and tore the cake balls up). We “poked” a lollipop stick a good 2/3 of the way into each cake ball, after dipping the stick into the chocolate. That helped to “glue” them  in.

1image

Then, yep, back to the freezer for 20 minutes, and then out for dipping and sprinkles. Someone threw away my big chunk of styrofoam for stabbing the sucker sticks into while the coating hardens, so we made do with a cooling rack.
We dipped enough for each child to have one, and for the neighbor’s family, and learned not to put the sprinkles on right away but to wait till the chocolate is about half set. The plan was to dip them all right away, but I’m learning to never fully expect things to go as scheduled, so we did all the “other things” that came up, and dipped them after supper.
They are disappearing fast, and now that we’ve ironed out most of our difficulties in making them, I think they’ll probably be a rather regular treat around here. The children all like them immensely, and with all the steps involved, everyone can get their hands in on the process. With the “freezer breaks”, it’s a job that can be done in chunks and squeezed in around regular chores. It’s also motivation to get the chores done (“wash those dishes so you have help dip cake pops”) ! I like them because (A:) they’re good, and (B:) they’re smaller portions of sugar and junk getting into the children than with a piece of cake or even a cupcake, but they’re still happy. Everyone wins. :0)

Image

  

2image

Free online tools that make homeschooling easier (for us)

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For me, actually.
These are record-keeping, lesson-planning, sanity-saving free downloads that I use every school day. I’ve used them for several years now, and they’ve served me well. I thought I’d share them for anyone that might be interested.
For planning lessons, as well as keeping track of what we’ve done, grades, time spent, and making report cards, transcripts, reading logs, and several other details, as well as a daily school journal, I use Homeschool Tracker Basic. I use the basic version, although a paid upgrade is available is available that has more features and functions. The paid version has more bells and whistles, mostly things that are “convenient”, but the basic version is fully functional and has everything I need. There is no “trial period” that expires, forcing you to pay to upgrade.
The second tool I use is so that I can print the Teacher’s Planner/Assignment List that Homeschool Tracker generates for me straight to a PDF, rather that use up paper and ink. When I print a week’s Planner for 6 students, it’s usually between 10-15 pages, and I’m just too cheap to use that much ink and paper for something that I’m going to mark on and throw away in a few days. So I use PDF995. They have a whole suite of free downloads for creating, editing, and securing PDFs, but all I use is the printer driver. It is a two part download, and once you install both parts, you have a virtual printer on your computer. When you print something, use the ctrl+P way to start the print job, and you will have a choice of which printer to use. Choose PDF995, and click “print”. Instead of paper and ink, you will get a PDF, with options to name and save it wherever you like. I usually name my planner “school” and the beginning and ending dates of the planner’s reach, and save it on my desktop.
The third tool is so that I can “mark” on the planner to keep track of where we are and make changes or add post-its, all the things I would do with a sharpie, highlighter, and real post-its if I had printed a paper planner. There are a few free downloads for this type of program out there, and like a nerd, I tried out all I could get my hands on. My favorite, hands down, is PDF Xchange. If you follow that link, the “Try This Product for Free” download button is what I’m talking about. I use this to view the PDF planner generated by PDF995, and then I can mark to my heart’s content so that when, next week I sit down to make another planner with Homeschool Tracker, I know what to repeat, what got done, and what notes I want to make about the assignments, etc.
Everyone has their own setup that makes sense for them, but this is what Works For Me. :0)

Free online tools that make homeschooling easier (for us)

Standard
For me, actually.
These are record-keeping, lesson-planning, sanity-saving free downloads that I use every school day. I’ve used them for several years now, and they’ve served me well. I thought I’d share them for anyone that might be interested.

For planning lessons, as well as keeping track of what we’ve done, grades, time spent, and making report cards, transcripts, reading logs, and several other details, as well as a daily school journal, I use Homeschool Tracker Basic. I use the basic version, although a paid upgrade is available is available that has more features and functions. The paid version has more bells and whistles, mostly things that are “convenient”, but the basic version is fully functional and has everything I need. There is no “trial period” that expires, forcing you to pay to upgrade.
The second tool I use is so that I can print the Teacher’s Planner/Assignment List that Homeschool Tracker generates for me straight to a PDF, rather that use up paper and ink. When I print a week’s Planner for 6 students, it’s usually between 10-15 pages, and I’m just too cheap to use that much ink and paper for something that I’m going to mark on and throw away in a few days. So I use PDF995. They have a whole suite of free downloads for creating, editing, and securing PDFs, but all I use is the printer driver. It is a two part download, and once you install both parts, you have a virtual printer on your computer. When you print something, use the ctrl+P way to start the print job, and you will have a choice of which printer to use. Choose PDF995, and click “print”. Instead of paper and ink, you will get a PDF, with options to name and save it wherever you like. I usually name my planner “school” and the beginning and ending dates of the planner’s reach, and save it on my desktop.
The third tool is so that I can “mark” on the planner to keep track of where we are and make changes or add post-its, all the things I would do with a sharpie, highlighter, and real post-its if I had printed a paper planner. There are a few free downloads for this type of program out there, and like a nerd, I tried out all I could get my hands on. My favorite, hands down, is PDF Xchange. If you follow that link, the “Try This Product for Free” download button is what I’m talking about. I use this to view the PDF planner generated by PDF995, and then I can mark to my heart’s content so that when, next week I sit down to make another planner with Homeschool Tracker, I know what to repeat, what got done, and what notes I want to make about the assignments, etc.
Everyone has their own setup that makes sense for them, but this is what Works For Me. :0)