A homeschooling blog we created to share our stories and adventures as we live and learn as a family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

happy thanksgiving

We spent the afternoon preparing for the great feast and counting our many blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

birds of a feather

We have had a rough week here in the GB household. J has been sick now for a week with a terrible cold and cough that keeps her up most of the night. K has recovered from a 24 hour stomach bug only to catch J's cold. Hubby and I are fully exhausted after staying up most nights with the girls, and only D seems his usually bouncy, cheerful self. At least one of us is healthy and well-rested.

Despite her cold, J has been learning about birds the past few weeks. We've talked and read about how they fly and find their way during migration, what they eat and how they care for their babies. I am always amazed by the knowledge of animals that my children have, but especially of birds. They know the names of so many different birds, I can't keep up with them. Both D and J love to draw birds and even K will come running to tell me there is a downy woodpecker or northern cardinal at the birdfeeder. D can often be found pouring over his audubon field guide to birds of North America, and John James Audubon is one of his personal heroes.

This week we matched different feathers to a picture of the bird they belong to. I ordered the feather kit from http://nature-watch.com/. I love their nature science materials and we have used many of their kits over the years. Last year when we learned about owls I brought out the owl dissection pellets. D took one look and the mass of fur and bones that had been regurgitated by an owl and yelled "awesome" while J scrunched up her nose in disgust and said, "I am not touching that". I'm glad the feather kit was greeted with greater enthusiasm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

hand trees

I love Modge Podge. I can't knit, sew, crochet, embroider, paint, or draw particularly well, but give me a can of gloopy, gooey glue and I am all over it. I saw this beautiful craft posted first on facebook (thanks Erica!) and decided it was right up our alley. You can find all the details at

I decided to make ours using fall colors to decorate our mantle for Thanksgiving. I love the way they came out, and my three did them all on their own (aside from K who needed help arranging her leaves). We used fabric remnants and inexpensive fabric squares that I bought at a fabric store, and modge-podged them to canvas. I initially thought I would cover the canvas with darker fabric, but liked the contrast of the bright leaves on the white canvas so didn't end up covering it after all. I did all the tracing and cutting. The kids did all the modge-podging. I love that each tree is unique and look forward to decorating our mantle with their trees for years to come. Happy Fall!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

fiesta masks

The kids made some paper mache fiesta masks to wrap up our study of South America. This was a fun, messy project that they enjoyed very much - the mixing, smearing, and painting were all very toddler-friendly and K jumped right in. J was a bit grossed out by the slimy paper mache feeling and refused to touch it, but she was able to use a paint stick to spread hers around. D tried to make his mask as ridiculous looking as possible and I love how it turned out. They are a colorful addition to our school/play room!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

tricks and treats...well, just the treats really.

I had hoped to post this by Halloween, but we had a whirlwind of a weekend so I am a bit late, which seems to be my m.o lately, but oh well. We've been baking all sorts of yummy autumn-inspired foods the past few weeks, including our family favs, pumpkin bread, sweet potato and mushroom lasagne, and apple crisp. For Halloween we decided to bake another of our all-time favorites, with a slight twist. I've been a vegetarian for more than twenty years, and have tried to go vegan several times with less than stellar results. But the more I read and learn about the dairy industry, the less compelled I feel to eat their products. So I decided that this time around I would give up dairy in small increments, and really commit myself to finding substitutes that I can fully enjoy, especially in baking, because I truly believe that life is too short to live without chocolate chip cookies and macaroni and cheese! Finding yummy alternatives to cheese and baked goods has been a challenge for me in the past, but I'm finding that I'm having greater success this time around. There is so much information out there on the blogosphere now, which I never had in my past vegan endeavours.

My favorite vegan blog thus far is veganyumyum.com. Her recipes are delicious, fun, and quirky, but not so weird that I have to go on a specialty-store scavenger hunt to find the ingredients. She has a post for vegan gingerbread cake with "cream cheese" frosting, but I decided to go with my favorite gingerbread recipe and make some vegan adjustments. It is definitely inspired by vegan yum yum's recipe, however. I used her recipe for vegan cream cheese frosting and it was delicious. I definitely recommend checking out her blog for tasty veg-inspired recipes.

Here is the recipe for vegan gingerbread cake, adapted from "Deceptively Delicious"

Earth Balance vegan margarine
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Ener-G egg replacer, pre-mixed
1 cup pureed carrot (I'm not going to even suggest that I steamed and pureed my own carrots. I used jarred baby food, organic, of course)
1/2 cup plain soy yogurt
1/4 cup molasses
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. grated orange zest (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8x8 baking dishes with Earth Balance margarine and line the bottom with parchment paper. Flour the pans.

Mix the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside

In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, oil, and pre-mixed egg replacer until smooth. Beat in the carrot puree, soy yogurt, molasses, vanilla, and optional orange zest. Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top. bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Once cool, frost one cake with vegan cream cheese frosting, and stack the other cake on top, then frost the top of the other cake. You can keep it whole or cut it into small squares.

Here is the recipe for vegan cream cheese frosting from veganyumyum.com:
8oz. tofutti cream cheese
1/4 Earth Balance margarine
1 lb. confectioners sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat all the ingredients with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Enjoy!