Ora et labora
~St. Benedict

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Made-up pumpkin cakes

Blog entry by:  Big T

My little brother really wanted some pancakes, but we discovered that alas, there were no eggs to be found. 

In my brilliance, however, I had the amazing idea of using pumpkin as a substitute.

Fantabulousness ensued...

We added homemade granola.

Awkward photo moment. I couldn't stop laughing.

Our made up on the spot Pumpkin Cake Recipe:

1 Cup Pioneer Brand Pancake & Waffle Mix
3/4 Cup Milk
1.5 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
Butterscotch Chips (as many as you desire)
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
3 Dashes (to taste) Cinnamon
1/2 Can Pumpkin Puree 
1/4 Cup Homemade Granola

Mix everything together, but don't add the granola or butterscotch chips yet. Preheat your pan & lightly spray with cooking spray or drizzle some olive oil onto the surface. Use a tablespoon to form your circular medallion cakes. Sprinkle granola and butterscotch chips onto the top of each little cake. There will be no air bubbles visible, so flip cake when it holds together & lightly brown other side. Be careful and don't burn the scotchy chips. 

No syrup needed, although we added a dollop of real cream! Eat up and enjoy!

Happy customer!

Even Baby T even enjoyed it! We left the granola & chips out of his.

                        Nom Nom, sticky finger licking good!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Homeschoolers are engaging and fun

Sometimes it's hard putting "homeschooling" into words. After all, we do so much! Here's part of our year in a nutshell. Yes, this is only a snippet of what my family is involved in, but it's a pretty good sneak peek into our world.

If you are on the fence about homeschooling, I hope this motivates your family in the right direction. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ear solution for your fur baby

Our mascot/fur baby has another ear infection! We took him into the vet a while back and it was diagnosed as a yeast infection, not mites. He was treated and it eventually cleared, but now it's back.  We really don't know why he's prone to ear infections, perhaps the change of food when we went out of town. 

I looked it up and found out some information regarding the type of yeast, candida. Anyway, a friend of mine said she had a remedy even better than what the vet's office could offer.  She uses it on her Irish Setter and can not say enough positive things about the mixture.

I was more on the cautious side and investigated the recipe she gave me even further.  Apparently, it's been around for a while and originally made by a veterinarian.  Dog owners swear by it and it's safe for felines as well.

Step one is to flood the ear canals with the solution & massage in at base of ear.  Your pet will shake his/her head vigorously, so do it in an area where it's okay for a little splatter mess.

Then you administer 1-2 drop in each ear for 2 weeks.  You can wipe any excess wax that comes out with a piece of toilet paper or cotton. 

At first I was afraid to clean Nico's ears, but after his doctor showed me how, then I didn't feel like I could hurt him.

Their ear canals go down and then back (different from ours), so you can give the outer portion of the ear a good wiping without fear.  I simply hold the scruff on the back of his neck, bend his ear flap back and do what I have to do quickly. Amazingly, he doesn't try to scratch or bite, he just runs off after I let go.

When applying the drops, I quickly release the ear and fold over to shut so I can massage for a few seconds before he shakes...sometimes while he shakes.

And I had an extra pair of hands to help with the first two applications before I got used to the procedure and felt comfortable doing it on my own. Now I can pretty much do it one handed, while my other hand is holding the scruff and keeping him still.  I also find it better to sit on the floor and use my legs to sort of corral him.

I have completed 1 full week of the cycle.  For the first few days I saw a lot of dark waxy debris, but while cleaning his ears today, I noticed he didn't have as much. Once the two weeks are completed, he'll get another good ear inspection and hopefully it will be okay to administer the formula once a month for maintenance and use as a preventative. 

Blue/Purple Power Wash Recipe:

16oz Bottle Witch Hazel
4 Tablespoons Boric Acid Powder (found at local grocery store with medicines)
16 Drops Genetian Violet 1% Solution (Walgreens will order for you at no additional charge & it's inexpensive - I ordered off of Amazon) **Side Note, this solution is a dark purple & stains like a permanent marker in its concentrated form.
1 Dropper (I chose to get a glass amber bottle with dropper)

Mix all the ingredients into the Witch Hazel bottle and shake until everything is dissolved.  Be sure to shake before each use!

Please be careful and don't get into your or your pet's eyes!  

The above notes are what I'm doing with my small pet - upon researching a bit, I chose to amend the recipe to a lower dose and not flood the ears every time.  

The original recipe and treatment can be found at Woodhaven Labs.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Making liquid laundry soap for our family

Our original laundry soap recipe was taken from the
Duggar's favorite recipes page

I use a Fels-Naptha soap bar to treat our stains (especially baby stains) on a regular basis.  Also, it's important to use cold water when pre-treating stains so they don't set in.  Place soiled clothing in sink & rinse with cold water while working soap bar into stain(s). Leave a little bit of the soap on the stain when rinsing and then wring and hang until you are ready to wash.

My Amended Cleaned to a "T" Recipe: 

1.5 bars of Fels-Naptha
1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (must use sodium carbonate, so just adding baking soda won't work)
3/4 Cup Borax
4 Cups hot tap water
5 Gallon Bucket to store detergent
Container to hold detergent you are using (an empty liquid laundry soap container works or a large plastic Arizona tea container does the job)
Essential Oils (Optional)

*All of these ingredients with the exception of a really nice essential oil, are cheap. I paid 99 cents for my Fels-Naptha bar (found in laundry detergent aisle) & $1.99 for the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.

Grate your soap bar into a pot with the 4 cups of hot water.  Stir it until melted and soap is dissolved over medium heat. 

Get your 5 gallon bucket ready by filling it up halfway with hot water & then adding the cooked soap mixture. Add the other ingredients with the exception of the essential oils and stir until everything is dissolved.  Fill the bucket up with some more hot water. 

This is supposed to set over night.  It will thicken and become like a gel with some clumps in it.  The first time I made this, I was unfamiliar with the Fels-Naptha bar & used Ivory (big mistake). My mixture didn't quite thicken as anticipated.

Take your funnel & container that will house your detergent & pour gelled soap in it until it reaches the halfway mark.  Fill the rest with hot water and use your essential oil at this point.  I used doTerra's Lavendar and Lemon oils (about 10 drops each) & then ended up adding Sandalwood oil later, because I thought it was a perfect "natural clean" scent.

The detergent will continue to gel and clump, so it's important to shake before each use. I use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load based on the types of material & how much I'm washing - for instance, I would add more in a jeans load as opposed to a baby clothes load.

Good for cleaning up your family one load at a time, enjoy!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mother's Day Gift

Here is a simple Mama's Day gift that can be made at home!  I used Microsoft Word and just imported some of my favorite pictures. I'll have the boys and my God-daughter fill them out as a little side activity from our normal Friday history reading.

And yep, I made this sheet up and have no qualms about giving it to my children to fill out.  I'll close my eyes of course and place them in an envelope until Sunday. Oh and my God-daughter's will of course go to her sweet mom.  

History has proven that you are
the very best mother for me because you know my heart!
You are special to me because _________________________________

My favorite thing to do with you is _____________________________

I think you are the most _______________ in the whole world!

If you were famous, it would be for ____________________________.

I find comfort in your _____________________________________.

I thank you for _________________________________________.

Your smiles, hugs, and kisses make me feel ________________________.

One day, I’d like to __________________ just like you!

God put us together because __________________________________.

Love Always,

Here is another one set in a slightly different format for grandma: 

An Oma is special, but you are extra
special because you belong to me!

I like seeing you because _____________________________________________.

I love the way you _________________________________________________.

Your ___________________ is great!

I have fun with you by _____________________________________________.

I like when you __________________________________________________.

You are the best at _______________________________________________.

Your secret talent is ______________________________________________.

If you were famous, you’d be famous for __________________________________.

I’d like to _________________ with you one day!

Love Always,

I printed these out using card stock for extra durability. The beauty of this easy, but heartwarming project is you can customize your own with different wording, adding borders, or whatever tugs at those mom heartstrings. BTW, I think this format is great to use on small kids all the way up through teens. My husband is graciously filling out the one from our baby to me, can't wait!

Happy Mother's Day, may we count our blessings!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Some pig!

The boys and I went on a Valentine's date to the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary.  We saw all sorts of beautiful animals, like big cats and monkeys to name a few.  We didn't expect to find a common farm pig among the exotics, but there he was, "Babe."

One of the zoo keepers told us that a girl had raised him for show and when it came time to sell the giant pig for slaughter, she could not do it.  The zoo took this guy in and the girl still visits and brings toys and treats for him.

We learned some interesting facts about pigs that day!  Did you know that pigs are really smart, like as smart as a young child?  Babe had actually been tested and he learned how to use a joystick within a day; treats were his motivation.  The same test had been performed on a dog and it took the canine close to one full year to get it down.

Babe also has to wear sunscreen so he won't burn his delicate pink skin.  And one last interesting fact is that the inside of pigs are very close to our own make-up, strange huh?

Meet sleepy Mr. Babe!

Oxidation with atoms and molecules

Big T is still enjoying the science experiments presented in Apologia's Exploring Creation with Physical Science.

In this experiment, he needed:

9 volt battery
Wire crimpers or scissors              

Small glass
Baking soda
Measuring spoon (1 tsp)
Plastic spoon to stir
2 coated copper wires
Safety glasses
Notebook to record data
Pen or pencil

What he did:

He filled his glass about 3/4 full of water & stirred in 1 teaspoon of baking soda.  The 1 teaspoon of baking soda ended up not being enough, so he added 2 more later.  Next, he took the wire crimpers and stripped off 1/4 inch of the insulation or coating on both ends of the wires. 

Here's the tricky part - He attached one of the stripped ends (can use tape) on one of the battery terminals, then repeated with the second wire & was careful not to let the loose ends touch each other. Then, he placed the loose wires into the water (without touching one another).

Bubbles started forming in the water once the additional baking soda was added.  The book said to leave the wires in the water for 10 minutes and when he did that, the wires turned different colors.

He let the experiment run for a much longer duration, probably about 20 minutes.  He noticed that the water started to turn green as well.