Wednesday, August 9, 2017

DIY Onion Braid

A garden cart with lots of onions from the garden. It's the best crop I've gotten in awhile.
 Here are some I sorted out to braid.
 A braid I completed earlier
 There were actually two completed prior to this.
But let's get started on the next one. Start with three onions.... 
 ....with long stems.
 Just start braiding the stems as you would braid anything.
 Now you see I've added a smaller onion on the left. Braid as you would a French braid, continuing to add onions as you keep braiding.
Completed braid. That's the hem of my (blue) dress you see there. I just sit on the floor, braiding toward myself. 
 I twist the ends into a "rope" that I can tie into a knot on the end. I doubt that's necessary.
 Three nice braids done. The rest will need to wait, cause I'm going to bed!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Back to School Prep and No Boredom Regimen

A moth found on the patio. What kind is it? It flapped onto an overturned camping chair. Hence the frayed label..
Okay, so I'm a home educator- a tutor if you will. One of those people you hire for your children and which mine are privileged to have at all times. Definition of tutor- a private teacher, typically one who teaches a single student or a very small group. 

So... I'm no smarter than you, I've just decided to give my sons individualized attention rather than putting them on the educational conveyor belt. You can be a home educator though and not be a tutor. This happens when you try to recreate school at home. You just make the children do all the workbooks in every subject. If they can fill in the blanks and pass the tests, you are content.

But have you thought about it that for your child's calling in life he/she may need something outside the books? Gasp!

Your child may not need a diploma? Gasp again! How dare I suggest such a thing?

The Thrifty Couple sent a post out the other day about how to prepare your child to get back into the swing of school. They gave a couple of website suggestions that your child can use to start getting their brains back into school mode. 

My first feeling was horror. You will put children on devices to get them ready to be doing the academics again?! Then I decided to write my own post about how to get children ready to go back to school.

This proves a bit difficult because I have been out of the classroom for so long and my view of education is very different from the classroom. So my advice may or may not fit the child going back into the classroom. I want to think it will apply across the board.

Whatever you do, GET OFF THE SCREENS!!! Yes, I'm yelling. Did you hear me? 

Screens kill. They kill imagination. They kill desire to learn. They kill motivation to work with your hands. They kill ability to relate to people. They might even kill your soul depending where you go.

(So why do I tell you this on a screen? Good question. There is good in everything. Tell me if I'm wrong.)

The children I teach at Kid's Club every Tuesday evening are nearly all from conventional schools. During summer vacation, when I ask, "What did you do today? the response is, "Nothing". Or maybe it's, "I stayed in my room all day". Or, "I was chatting with my online friends". They have nothing profitable to do. And though I call them children, by the standards of a hundred years ago or more they are adults or about to be (ages 11-14). (Read the book Do Hard Things.)

Get your children outside. Give them work to do. Don't do all the work yourself. Work together where you can. When they are old enough to have the skills and have developed physically to where they are capable, give them responsibilities they can claim as their own. 

If you don't have a farm, give your child(ren) the opportunity to stay with friends or family at their farm for a week or two. They will see what work is. (Yes, you may send them my way.)

You have no opportunity to do this? Then find a place to walk; and walk daily: in a park, along a country road, in your back woods, down the sidewalk. Wonder at creation. What kind of tree is that? I wonder what bird made that call? What is that flower? Is this plant edible, I wonder?

Oh! What kind of dog is that barking at us? Is that a Siamese cat on the porch? Why does grass grow in the cracks of the pavement in some places and not in others? Look at those interesting clouds overhead. What kind are they? Will they bring rain?

Ugh! There's a spider! Oh, but what kind is it? (If you haven't jumped on top of the picnic table.) And that butterfly passing by. What lovely colors! Do you know what it is? What does it's caterpillar look like? It's cocoon? Will it migrate?

Alright. You get the idea. Ask lots of questions that will arouse curiosity. Maybe your last stop can be the library where you can check out a bunch of books to help answer these questions.

To pique your own curiosity. Tell me what you see in these photos..
Challenge your children to read lots of good books. Not a bunch of silly stuff. Books that will make them think. Give them a list of different genres to choose from. History. Science. Fiction. Math (story type book). Biography. DIY or craft. Poetry. Have them choose one of each and when they have read them, done a project out of one and can give you a good (oral) report of each book, treat them in some way.

For starters, read Gifted Hands by Ben Carson for some amazing inspiration. Read it aloud as a family. Or read it to yourself. Just read it.

Make sure your children get exercise and sunshine. They need at least 15 minutes of sun a day to build their Vit D levels. Can you find a bicycle for your child to ride? This provides practice in balancing, develops good leg muscles and involuntarily gets them outdoors. But just a good hike is great.

Other options- Take them fishing. Swimming. To the park to swing and slide. Allow them to climb trees. Play basketball (yes, mother, you too!). Pitch a softball for the child to hit with a bat. Or a tennis ball if the harder kind frightens you.

Oh, the list of things to do is endless. And my sons and I would just love to have help with canning green beans or pealing peaches for the freezer, getting corn husked, cooked, and cut off to freeze, making pickles or any of the myriad things that need to be done when you grow your own food. Maybe you can help someone like us, near you.

Otherwise, find a farmers' market, international food store or just the grocery store to take your children to. Find out what the different foods are and try something new. Be sure to ask the vendor at the farmers' market for a recipe. If you've bought something strange and new from the grocery store, try Google for a recipe.

After doing some guided activities together, allow them to do things on their own. Allow them to do dangerous things. Especially boys. They are born to be wild. To conquer. Give them that liberty. Within reason, of course. Having five sons myself, my mantra is, Pray a lot and don't watch.

My friend had a post on her blog this summer about how to keep your children from getting bored. Honestly, that is not a problem at our house and, in my opinion, it is fostered by the conveyor belt schools we send our children to.

Their lives are constantly mapped out for them, nine months of the year. Where is their time to think? To explore? To be?

If they are constantly told what to learn, their imaginations are stifled and they don't learn how to think for themselves. They constantly have to think, "What is the book (or teacher, parent) wanting me to think? How can I get the right answer?" This method of teaching makes good factory workers. Great soldiers. Compliant citizens. But entrepreneurs? Hardly.

Get your children off screens today and out and about doing good. Their minds will develop far better and be more prepared for those academic challenges in a few weeks. 

You can find a couple sheets of "random acts of kindness" ideas in this free download "The Ultimate Homeschool Printable Collection".  Have fun reaching out to others.

And for your information, life around here is not as glamorous as the above picture (walks, etc). That was born out of the necessity to think what could be done if you didn't have our farm workload. 

Life at our house is laundry, dishes, cooking breakfast, cleaning off surfaces, baking, feeding calves, laundry, dishes, cooking lunch, cleaning the toilets, canning, milking the cow, chasing the stray cattle back where they belong, laundry, dishes, cooking supper, cleaning the floors, weeding the garden, feeding the dog and cats, mowing the lawn, laundry, dishes, cooking for the fellowship meal, cleaning the windows, attending meetings, planning menus, shopping, repeat and repeat. 

And me, myself and I find time in between all that to nurture my love of reading and writing. The boys find time to carve, read, play basketball, build log cabins, create hydrocycles (as they call the contraption), go fishing, track deer. Thankfully I don't have to tell them what to do. Beyond the normal work, that is. They don't much like me for that. They'd rather be thinking their own thoughts and doing their own things. Oh, but so would I. All those other things are "necessary evils" that weigh me down. 

And FYI, a commitment to home educating your children will definitely help that summer boredom issue. You don't even get to have a half a thought about the relief you can have by sending them off to school. You are together 24/7/365 and beyond. They and you grow together as God intended. 

Best wishes as you prepare to go back to the academic things in life and work to keep the boredom at bay.

"The more I learn, the more I learn, the more I have to learn."

.. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, ... for God was with him. Acts 10:38

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who... took upon him the form of a servant.Philippians 2:5-7

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How to Blanch Green Beans for the Freezer

An older woman taught me this method some years ago. It makes very tasty beans. And it's quick and easy. (Note the stove clock and you will see how long it took me.)

Today I am blanching whole beans; stem end and bug spots removed. You can do this with snapped beans also.

Put washed beans in a large pot. You don't want them very deep in the pan because you will need to stir them almost constantly. This is a 16 quart kettle.
 Add a shallow layer of water in the bottom of the pan. Just enough to cover the bottom.
 Turn the heat on high.
  As the water begins to boil, stir the beans.
Do you see how a few of them have turned bright green? 
And now they are all bright green.

Dump them out into a pan in a shallow layer to cool.
Once cooled, package and freeze. You can add the water that you cooked them in into the package if you wish.
When you need green beans for a meal, open, cook, season and enjoy.

This works for green peas also.

What garden produce are you currently enjoying?

Are green beans a favorite at your house? Canned or frozen?