Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Experimenting in the Kitchen

I've been trying a few recipes in the kitchen adding a new favourite and discovering a few 'don't repeats.'

Seed & Nut Balls - A huge favourite that we are making just about daily are these Jewel Bliss Balls, full of goodness with almonds, chia seeds, pepitas and sunflower seeds as well as yummies of dates and dried apricots. I suspect the ultimate yummy is the choc chips we have substituted for cocoa nibs, perhaps not so healthy. Totally happy to know we are eating all the goodness of seeds and nuts. Thanks to Marijke for the pin

Seed & Nut Bars - Thinking more seeds I trialed a different seed recipe, a basic Homemade Kind Bar, the honey was too sweet and whilst it was eaten I won't repeat the recipe. 

Lemon Slices - With our lemon tree groaning under the weight of its fruit:) I went in search of gluten free lemon slices. 
I first made a creamy lemon slice, the base was so so, the top was yummy but a whole lot of work. This recipe took three major steps, the base, the filling and the top. I knew before I even ate it I wouldn't be making it again, I need something reasonably quick for my lifestyle. 
Searching for a two step recipe I next tried Healthier Lemon Bars, much easier to make, the base was okay and the top was quite gnawish. I decided it was so nice I scrapped the top off the base and ate alone, I', planning to make again and eliminate the base, I can't see why you can't just eat the lemon curd without a base. 

Grain Free Bread - I've been buying gluten free bread but it is expensive, I'd also prefer we were eating grain free so searching for a delicious grain free bread, which I thought I might have found it with this Almond and Linseed Bread. The texture was great, the loaf rose well and it tasted okay but there was an 'odd' taste that wasn't really appealing, perhaps the linseed, whilst we ate the first slice hot from the oven, the loaf still languishes in the fridge, not a repeat. 

Can you suggest a terrific grain free bread? 
Have you discovered any new family favourites lately?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Designing My Kitchen - Wanna Help?

The pace is picking up once again on our building work, with the laundry now demolished and the last of the verandah work commencing in preparation for re-roofing the 'old house,' it's time to make several major decisions. Building is like that, there is always a flow on effect, one job leads to another, one decision means several others now have to be made.

Once the verandah is completed, load bearing posts will be erected in preparation for the roof trusses. As the 'old house' walls are lower than the 'new house' we need to 'build up' the walls, while doing that we will replace old windows with new, thus we now need to make decisions regards the layout of the 'old house.' Once the new trusses and iron are on, none of the internal walls will be load bearing, essentially this means if we so desired we could gut the entire 'old house', rather exciting, yet it means it's crunch time decision time.

Our plans include enlarging the study, opening the library entrance and moving the 'position' of the learning room, we'll also add a huge window, translating to more light and warmth.
I now have to design my kitchen and I'd love your assistance!
Already we are making a major 'modification' to our original plans, ones that have been submitted and approved. A benefit of living in an incomplete house is you sometimes realise what looked feasible on paper doesn't work in reality.  Our error is our dining room is too small for our family size. Since we first planned our dining room we have welcomed new children and we've begun to experience the impact of grown children on our seating arrangements. Although our grown children have left home, they return for week long visits, when that occurs we need to butt two tables together, when our daughter moved home we added half a table permanently. Our foreseeable future includes further children leaving home, yet then returning with girlfriends and boyfriends, future spouses and grandchildren,  our needs will only continue to be ever changing, our priority is to provide a space that can be adaptable to the moment.  Fortunately we can 'grow' our dining room by encroaching on our planned kitchen area.  After adjusting my vision I realised I can still have a large kitchen if I move it 'sideways' though this means decreasing the size of our learning area, upon reflection I realised this would be okay, though I remain a tad concerned regards potential lack of windows.

The picture above shows you the current dining and potential kitchen area. The dining in the foreground will stay but continues till a little past the 'bend in the wall.' The kitchen will then begin and continue through to the 'chair in the distance. The study is beyond the open door in the far distance, it will come out to the chair. The pool table sits where the bench will go and there will be an open passage way between the bench and the glass doors. The wall beyond the pool table with the corkboard and blacking currently attached will be removed so the kitchen and walkway can continue through.

Last year Anna Maria (then 21) and Einstein (then 17) catered for 35 people at our annual homeschool camp.  After working in their industrial kitchen Anna Maria was keen for us to adapt several ideas into our plans, features that would make cooking for a large family easier, these are included in the list below.  PC has been toying with the idea of building the cabinets himself, I have every faith he is capable, however we're thinking the Bunning's flat packs will be an affordable possibility.

I'd love your assistance with designing my kitchen to meet the needs of a large, ever expanding family. The kitchen space is 7m by 3m (24ft by 9ft10),  I may decrease the length and  increase the width a little.

Thus far I have on my wish list:
  • A Deep Sink with possibly a second sink on the opposite bench
  • Flexible Swivel Sprayer Tap
  • Hot Plate - laid into the bench next to the stove top
  • Walk in Pantry
  • An Island Bench (I'm not sold on that yet as I don't think the space warrants it)
  • Plenty of Drawers - maybe all drawers? 
  • One Bench on Industrial Wheels - planning to move the bench against the wall when large crowds visit, making the dining room larger and using the bench as a servery. 
Any suggestions for layout? Bench top material?
If you could design the kitchen of your choice what are your must haves? 

ETA: Our oven has just died (right in the middle of baking dinner for 20 people!) We need to buy a new one asap.
Looking at 90cm freestanding electric oven with gas burners,
What would you suggest for a large family? 
Also as our appliances are white what colour would you buy? 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Demolishing the Old Laundry

Finally the big day for which we'd been long working towards arrived, the day to pull down our old laundry, this will be replaced with a verandah, thus wrapping our verandah from one end of the house to the other.

There were many eager hands to help with the demolition

even the youngest two insisted on being given loads of timber to carry. 

We began ripping off strips and weather boards on the outside,

internally the linings and plumbing hardware were removed,

windows were gently taken out with the intent to recycle for another project.

Once the inside was gutted the pace picked up, 

impressed that the children were still going strong at the day's end

"Room with a View," it's very exciting imagining the light potential here, the back wall will eventually be removed and the sun will pour into these currently cold rooms

all the timber has been gathered into a pile, we're planning on a massive bonfire when our 'City boys' are next home. 

The verandah is to continue from the deck and conclude at the end of the house, narrowing at the final part. The large hot water tank will be replaced with a smaller one and moved flush against the bedroom which juts out a little. We've left the old roof overhanging for now to provide shade as we lay the decking. Once the verandah is laid and supporting beams erected, we can then begin plans to re-roof the 'old' section of the house. 

*Sharing over at The Builders Wife

Friday, 14 August 2015

This Week in Learning: August 14th, 2015

Continuing to be excited about the learning that is happening this Term.  Solid, consistent progress, lessons not only about King Alfred and Japan's closure to the West but lessons about diligence and time management. A friend and I were chatting yesterday, we're both long term home-educators with graduates and several children still to educate, we shared how when we were young and dewy-eyed we wanted our children to love learning, well we still do, truth is though, these days we'd settle for application. Actually a whole series in the making there once I've formulated my thoughts.

Speech Therapy
I suspect the speech therapist twigged that I was not being consistent with homework here, ouch, so being quite the experienced teacher she devised a little chart for us. Five days work laid out in a grid, three small, achievable tasks for each day, as each is completed we place a sticker.  This I can do, I have too or the teacher will know I haven't, the stickers remember! Have cheated a little and older siblings have begged some days to do Bass' speech lesson with him, go for it!

Last fortnight I received comments from you that this is an area many struggle with, and that you have several children in therapy, hugs of support and encouragement to you all. {{}}

  • Sacramental Preparation for Confirmation and First Confession/Holy Communion for JJ and Jem respectively is still a major focus. Finally finished the Sacrament of Confirmation workbook with Jack Jack, hooray!!  And My Jesus and I with Jem, hooray!!!  
  • Read My Confession - Daniel Lord
  • Jack Jack nailed memorising the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit with the help of a youtube, corny actions for each Gift but highly effective, alas I can't find the link to share. 
  • Jem has been struggling to remember his Act of Contrition, found Raising Little Saints printable, which alas is no longer available to print but I was able to copy and paste and with difficulty make some changes, as our Act is slightly different, so changed some words, added some clipart and he'd mostly 'had it' by recitation 3. 
  • Jem is most likely making his First Confession this weekend, asking for prayers please, he is one nervous boy, mostly over his struggle to remember the Act of Contrition. 
  • Jelly Bean read Stories to Learn By -  Msgr John Koenig, a collection of stories imparting values and virtues in a natural manner. She has totally amazed me with how quickly her reading skill is progressing. 
  • Princess read a couple of chapters of Introduction to Catholicism and completed the answers.
  • Princess also read a chapter of Where is That in the Bible? - Patrick Madrid
  • Michelangelo completed a chapter of Understanding the Scriptures and read several sections of Beginning Apologetics Set and read referenced source material. 
  • The children all worked rather hard on the maths lessons(Maths Online) this past fortnight and consequently pushed through some 'barriers' and started having 'some wins'. Application can bring its own pleasure in learning, enjoyment of learning doesn't always equate with fun but with achievement. 
JB and the boys enjoyed an afternoon of nature journal-ling, spontaneously organised and enacted by themselves. I love it when learning like this happens. 

Michelangelo read and pondered several sections of Critical Thinking 

Princess increased her Spanish fluencey to 46%, She continues to enjoy Spanish and her father continues to share that love with her:) 

Creative Arts
  • Princess attended our local homeschool handcraft day and taught one of the younger girls how to finger knit. 
  • Extra curricula of three dance classes for Princess and soccer games for Jelly Bean, Jack Jack and Jem still continuing. 
Continued with 'handwriting on the board' wherein the children gather with me, I demonstrate and they copy. The older boys and JB are focusing on cursive, Jem is working on his printing. Had a frustrating session with him in which he won't take correction as to where he should start his letters. He was determined to begin his Rs at the bottom of the line, not at the top and wouldn't budge.

  • Princess continuing with 20 words weekly from 'Spelling for Secondary Students' spelling very well. 
  • Spelling Wisdom with our teens went well the first week, however we were slack the second. Resolving to focus on Language Arts with our teens first before I work with the younger children in future. 
  • JB and JJ began using Spelling Wisdom for their dictation lessons too. They were rather nervous believing it too hard, which it isn't at this stage, a little way in it does get much harder, so we shall see. 

  • JB and JJ - using Marist Brothers Grade 5, we focused on comprehension passages, which are a real challenge and pronouns, their person, number and gender. 
  • Teens - synonyms and pairing nouns with their synonyms in the first week, using Ridout, in the second week we failed to do grammar, hence part of my resolve undertake Language Arts with our teens first.  
Composition/Creative Writing
  • JB and JJ are weekly writing creative essays, each child brainstorms with me, I write on the board as they dictate and then they copy. Long gone are the days I believed in inventive spelling, what a disaster that was.  
  • Michelangelo and Princess - Precis Writing - Ronald Lane worked on note taking. 
  • Princess used Story Starters to write and essay titled, A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed. 
Poetry/Short Stories
A Child's Book of Verse daily with the younger children. 
Princess and Michelangelo continuing to read daily from Four Corners.
Michelangelo finished reading short stories from O'Henry.

  • JJ read a couple of books to me(see below) sadly however he isn't yet keen on reading, he only lacks practise and then he'll be off 'flying'. Consistency and perseverance is the key. 
  • Jem completed AAR Level 1! We are now revising the cards, I was slack throughout the program and wasn't always diligent in this area, Jem is very proud of the amount of cards he knows and he has every right to be proud. 
  • Jem is still keen to 'read' and we found a couple of books for him to have a 'go at', most impressed (see below) 

Family Read Alouds
John of Sydney Cove - Doris Chadwick -  With JB and younger boys. As always with Chadwick's series we are immensely enjoying this peek into Australian history in storybook form.
All The Green Year - Continuing to read to our older two, really enjoying this time with them and I believe they are enjoying it too.

Science Read Aloud
Under 11s
Seals and Walruses - Louis Darling
Ponny the Penguin - Veronica Basser
Up, Down and Around - Katherine Ayers (pic bk)

Geography Picture Books
Mbobo Tree - Glenda Millard (Africa) - 4 Star
The Twelve Dancing Princesses - illust - Rachel Isadora (Africa) - 3 Star
The Wonderful Journey - Paul Geraghty (Africa sort of) - 2 Star
The Third Gift - Linda Sue Park (Middle East) - 5 Star
The Dance of a Thousand Stars - Julia Hubery (Middle East) - 4 Star
Ahmed and the Feather Girl - Jane Ray (Middle East) - 3.5 Star
Olivia Goes to Venice - Ian Falconer (Venice) - 1 Star
Mr Chicken Goes to Paris - Leigh Hobbs (Paris) - 0 Star

Michelangelo Read:
Wisdom of Fr Brown - GK Chesterton (1/2)
The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane
I Marched with Hannibal - Hans Baumann
The High Deeds of Finn Mac Cool - Rosemary Sutcliffe (most)
Science Matters (several chapters)
A Writer's World: Travels 19-50-2000 by Jan Morris (several chapters)

Princess Read: 
Castaways of the Flying Dutchman - Brian Jacques
Ties That Bind, Ties That Break - Lensey Namioka

Jelly Bean Read:
White Sails to China - Clyde Robert Bulla
Three Dollar Mule - Clyde Robert Bulla
Little Obie and the Flood - Martin Waddell
Carlos the Street Boy Who Found a Home(Brazil)
Chayna The Girl No One Wanted( Bangladesh) 
Stories to Learn By -  Msgr John Koenig
Whitefoot: The Story of a Woodmouse - Robert McClung
Tiger Tales - DK Reader (1/2 book)
Egg to Chick - Millicent Selsam
The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railway - Monjo
Trail of Tears - Joseph Bruchac (1/2 book)

Jack Jack Read:
Penny and Her Song - Kevin Henkes
Penny and Her Doll - Kevin Henkes
Fred and Ted's Road Trip - Peter Eastman

Jem Read:
I Love to Dance - Anna Walker
"Only Joking Laughed the Lobster - Colin West

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Ponny the Penguin

How can it be six months since I last shared a book review! Rest assured that we love books as much as ever, so many books I've intended on sharing but alas when you don't 'seize the moment' the momentum is lost.  Trying also to 'tone it down' a little for my readers who weren't keen on too many book reviews.

Today I'd love to share Ponny the Penguin by Veronica Basser with you, Ponny has long been a part of our family culture. I first read this gem to our adult children over a decade ago, enjoyed it with our 'middle set' several years later and now have delighted in introducing Ponny to another three of our children this week. I daresay I'll be reading it for a fourth time to our youngest ones in a few years time.

Ponny the Penguin is an absolute treasure, a jewel among 'living books.'  Ponny is an Adelie penguin from the Antarctica, we follow Ponny from her birth, through her childhood to her own 'marriage' to the birth of her own 'child', the full circle.  Along the way we learn a great deal about Adelie penguins;  their parenting practices, how and what they hunt and how they feed their young, about their environment, the dangers they face from sea lions and killer whales, their migration patterns, their 'marriage' and nesting habits and more.

Basser has woven an incredible amount of information into a fascinating tale written in story form.
"Ponny grew podgier and podgier every day. She also grew hungrier and hungrier. It was not that she was just a little glutton, but she was growing so fast she needed lots of food. Long before Mr Penguin reached the nest he could hear her calling out "Hurry up, daddy, I'm hungry!" Sometimes when she had eaten what he had brought, she would ask, "Is that all, daddy?"
and another
Ponny became a wonderful swimmer, and when she was in the water her friends, who used to tease her about being fat, watched her speed with envy. It was just because she was so fat that she was such a good swimmer, for the oil from all the food she had eaten formed a layer of blubber underneath her feathers and helped to make her light and buoyant in the water. 

Appealing, humorous and informative, the perfect combination and on our children's list of 'must have' books. Ponny was written in 1948, so I'm not certain about copyright, sadly I also haven't been able to source any 2nd hand copies online, however next time you are at a used booksale be sure to keep your eye out and if so lucky as to spy one, grab it with glee.