Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent list 2014

And here it is!  What we do for school electives all December.  Our advent activities are the most serious of traditions.  My kids wait for this moment for weeks and honestly I do too!  We have a ton of family filled fun each year and as the years pass I realize more and more how fast all of this time with my family goes.  My oldest is 18 this year and although he is still living at home, he graduates this year and is planning on going into the military.  I have made this list especially set up so that he can do things with us (his girlfriend too, when possible). 

I hope everyone takes the time to set up a crafty, fun-filled, family tradition like this!  These are memories that we will take with us for a lifetime.

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Links where applicable to give the most inspiration possible!

Nov 30th: Advent Sunday (today) set up Advent Sunday candle wreath with the first of the 4 Sundays.

  1. Christmas Movie & Caramel Popcorn
  2. Peg Doll Nativity Calendar
  3. Giant Paper Snowflakes
  4. Special Chocolate
  5. Journey to Bethlehem
  6. Breakfast with Santa (gingerbread party evening)
  7. St Nicholas Day Camp Out in the School Room
  8. Get Tree with Daddy
  9. Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt
  10. Clothes Pin Stars
  11. Paper Chains
  12. Waldorf Paper Stars
  13. St Lucia Day! (Baking bread)
  14. Paradosi Ballet doing “Commissioned”
  15. Fantasy Lights
  16. Twig Winter Lanterns
  17. Special Chocolate
  18. Gifts for the Birds
  19. Chocolate Dipping Day!
  20. Make Cookies for Neighbors
  21. Dreidel with friends (Hanukkah)
  22. Lets go find some snow!
  23. Seeing Scuba Santa at the Zoo
  24. Christmas Movies with the family
  25. Open Your Stocking!

That’s it!  We are looking at a fun-filled month!

Need more inspiration?  Here are the lists for the last 5 years:

Advent 2009

Advent 2010

Advent 2011 (Around the World for Advent year)

Advent 2012

Advent 2013


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gluten Free, low carb, REAL FOOD feast!

Ok, so I am trying something new.  And by new, I mean, I have been doing this pretty regularly since March 3rd.  It is November and we fell off the wagon this summer, and of course, dealt with the health issues that came with it.  The bloating, joint pain, lack of energy, etc.  So last month, I started it back up again.  Hence – NEW.  But really, I have been learning this for the past 8 months.  I have figured out our likes and dislikes, I have figured out where we need to be hardcore and where we can bend the rules a little, and I am enjoying the process of making food OH SO MUCH MORE now that I don’t hurt after every bite I eat.

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This new food philosophy is loosely based on Trim Healthy Mama book by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison.  I have gained much understanding about sugar cycles and the way my system deals with sugar.  So, soon, there will be more information on sugar… but for now, on to the feast!

I hope you enjoy this feast as much as I loved making it.  For weeks we have had all of our snacks with Thanksgiving day feast foods so I could get all of these just right.  I learned cauliflower does not belong in stuffing (even if it is gluten free) and there is no getting around mashed potatoes if I don’t want my daughter to revolt in protest and that sometimes, you just have to use some honey.  But for the most part, this feast is all whole and beautifully good for you foods and not a can of Cream of Mushroom in site!  Enjoy!

Turkey - simple recipe.  Turkey with butter and fresh herbs.   I rinse and dry my turkey.  Then I mix a stick of  salted butter with chopped thyme, sage, rosemary, and chives.  I stick the herbed butter under the turkey skin in as many places as I can reach.  I oil and salt the skin on the outside with olive oil and pink salt and preheat my oven to 475*… yes… that hot.  And I put the turkey in for 20 minutes.  After that I turn the temperature down to 250* and cook until the thigh meat is 165*.  Best turkey ever!  Be prepared with a turkey baster, because you are going to have more drippings than you know what to do with to make the best gravy ever!

Gluten Free Gravy -  This requires a special ingredient…  Glucomannan powder is the thickener in this stuff.  When your gravy is seasoned as you want it (I use the drippings almost exclusively for this.  They have enough flavor (and butter!) to make an amazing gravy.  Salt to taste.) add tiny shakes of glucomannan powder and mix until combined… then wait a little while.  It thickens as it cooks and it takes a minute to reach it’s full thickness.  Do that repeatedly until you have the consistency you want.  It is added in tiny amounts so your gravy doesn’t turn gelatinous, but it’s perfect to add to your thanksgiving feast!

Mashed Potatoes – Potatoes spike your blood sugar.  They just do.  And I feel better when I don’t eat them much.  But, it’s Thanksgiving.  And my daughter would rebel if I didn’t have mashed potatoes.  My recipe is simple; sour cream, Lawry's Seasoned Salt, and butter.  In amounts that make it taste amazing.  Which usually means a lot of everything. 

Cheddar Biscuits – I made these last night and was SO tired that I forgot to take a picture… but dang.  They were amazing.  (Adapted from this recipe.)

  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 3 Tbs melted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of onion powder
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Sift coconut flour into a bowl and mix in all ingredients except cheese until smooth.  Then fold cheese in, careful not to over mix.  Drop biscuit batter spoonful's onto parchment paper and bake at 350* for 15 minutes.  Take out and serve right away.

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Pumpkin Custard Cups – OMGosh.  These are like crustless pumpkin pie.  I plan on topping them with whipping cream and 85% dark chocolate shavings on top of each ramekin cup.  12 packets Truvia, blended until powder, in a high-speed blender.  Then add 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Place in ramekins (fills 4 small ones) and preheat the oven to 350*.  Place ramekins in a larger shallow baking dish and pour boiling water on the outside of the ramekins about halfway up.  Bake for 45 minutes or until they are firm (shake the pan gently to test).

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(Recipe above – tripled, and put in a lightly greased tart pan.  Turned out great!)

For whipping cream - pint of heavy cream whipped and added in 1 heaping Tbs of sugar and a dash of vanilla.  Yes I am using real sugar.  But it is less than a teaspoon per serving.  I just don’t like the flavor of stevia sweetened whipping cream.


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Paleo Cranberry Sauce – This one took a while.  So enjoy it! 

  • 1 can of apple juice concentrate
  • 1 bag of frozen cherries (the small, 6-8oz bag)
  • 1/2 a bag of cranberries (or 6 oz)
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • 3 Tbs honey (if needed)

Defrost apple juice concentrate in a sauce pan, place cranberries and ginger and boil on medium until cranberries ‘pop’.  Add in the bag of frozen cherries and remove the piece of ginger.  Use a potato masher to mash the cherries and cranberries together boil until slightly thick.  Remove from heat when mashed thoroughly and add in honey if needed.  It will thicken as it cools. 


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For stuffing, I just used gluten free bread in place of my regular cornbread and then followed my old stand-by recipe.  Link here.


Monday, November 10, 2014

B is for Bat week

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B is for Bat week was simple because that week also contained Halloween!  It was the perfect easy unit study for Halloween week. 

First, I don’t just have a preschooler, but they are the easiest to write about.  I also have a second grader and an eighth grader and a senior as well!  But I notice that preschool gets front and center on my posts a lot because preschool is so easy to write about!  It’s much harder to talk about teaching my 7 year old to write in cursive or my 8th grader to write a 5 page essay.  Plus, I don’t get to be as creative!  I have to, like, follow rules and junk. lol…

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I use a metaphor for early education like a garage that is empty, and your job is to fill it with lots of boxes that have labels on them and very little IN them.  Each time you sit down with your preschooler to learn/play/read a new subject or unit study, you are giving them a new box.  You don’t have to fill it, or even put anything into it right away.  You just have to give them a space in their brain to categorize more information later.  Kinda like an empty box in a clean garage.  Then, as you collect information to share with them and they get older and have more experiences, you put more and more into that box.  Before you know it (seriously… it’s like a flash) they know more than you do and they are explaining to YOU why bats do not actually hibernate or why alligators only hatch one gender of egg at one time. 

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My preschooler, Luke, right now is obsessed with knowing the names of things.  It can not just be a bird, it is a Harpy Eagle or a Chestnut Chickadee.  And the bat study was no exception.  Stellaluna wasn’t just a ‘bat’.  She was a ‘fruit bat’.  It will not be long before he is teaching me instead of the other way around.  But for this precious time, I get to keep giving him boxes and little trinkets to add to them. 

Ok, so Bat Week! 

First, it was Halloween week… so it was CRAZY EASY to find bat items for this study.  Snack was bat pretzels or bat fruit snacks.

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Magnet board was a bat house:

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And I didn’t even have to cut out the bats, they were in a fall felt die-cut package from Michael’s Crafts store.  All I did was add magnets on the back.  I also added magnets to some craft sticks I had on hand and then we looked at pictures of a bat house and created one on the magnet board.  He decided that it needed to be warm, so he covered it with leaves and spent quite a bit of time letting the bats fly in and out of the bat house. It was cute to have him put all the bats upside-down until they were flying.  Then they were right side up!  So cute to watch their brains picking up all that information.

We had a conversation about what bats eat as well.  Stellaluna was a fruit bat, but the little brown bats we have around here (that we see quite often) eat bugs!  And thank goodness (because I am not a fan or mosquitos)!  So we used our bug math manipulatives and I printed out some free bug sorting cards from Pre Kinders.

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They have sorting by type of bug and sorting by color.  This was fun for Luke and he has done it several times this week.

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I had some fun with the chalkboard work this week.  I wish there were more fingerplays about bats, but as it stands, it took forever to find a bat poem appropriate for preschool and I had to change it a lot.

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The book basket reflected the theme once again.  This doesn’t have all the books we used in the picture, but you get the idea.  The library has been VERY helpful for these studies.  I always get simple books for Luke and then some for the older kids as well. 

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The art project this week was a bat silhouette picture.  He used a pencil to put dots all over the sheet, but after a while he felt that was taking too long.  So he just used his fingers.

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It turned out pretty cute!  Smile

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This week was less theme activities than most weeks because Halloween was Friday, but we had a great time learning about bats!

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