Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Fall!

Fall is by far my favorite season of the year. The air is dry and cool, there is usually always a breeze blowing and the sky is crisp. Add some colorful, crunchy leaves on the ground and I am in heaven. I don't know if its the colors, or the cool air but I just LOVE it.

It has been getting cooler here at night which means the end of my gardening season is close. Hopefully next year I will have some sort of a greenhouse set-up(I found a how-to tutorial on making a greenhouse for $150!) but for now...I need to plan for the end. Potatoes had to come in due to some dadgum bug eating the plants, which leaves greens and tomatoes. I know the greens are fine for a while, but the tomatoes will have to come in. I will probably wait until this weekend to harvest as we are going to have great weather this week and I want the tomaotes to get as close to ripe and as big as possible before I gather. I am done making sauce, so these tomatoes will either be dried or simply cut/frozen for cooking...not sure which yet. A dear friend gave me a great tomato soup recipe so maybe I will just make up a big batch of that to freeze.

Its also time to clean out the other gardens one last time and get things ready for winter...I need to weed the herbs one more time, clean out the Medicine Wheel garden, and once the deck is done, I hope to t least prep the garden that will go in front of it.

Home Improvement 2010 is almost done...I have 2 more painting projects and general putting-of-things-back-together that needs to be done and then maybe I will do a virtual tour, lol :) I will say, Hubby's idea of a copper sink? Best. Idea. Ever. I absolutely LOVE how it looks, love the way its 'aging', and it looks fantastic with the counter.

Our chickens are finally starting to get back to laying...we are getting 5-6 eggs a day now...I am going to start freezing some for when they decide its too cold/hot/windy/sunny/insert chicken excuse here, so at least I have a back-up supply. I have plenty now to give away, and use/freeze. We don't eat eggs ALL that much though I do cook with them. Lilly and Max aren't huge fans of eggs as a meal-food, I don't eat eggs, so that leaves JD and Hubby...and they can't consume 3doz a week! (nor should they) Everyone is still getting along pretty good, though I have seen Sam and FancyPants get all up in each other's faces, it never amounts to much. My FancyPants is a pretty docile boy, and is nice to the girls, protective and generally just a perfect rooster. Sam is...well, Sam and Cookie are my *special* babies...Sam is doing well, and is pretty sweet. Angel Cookie is...such a sad case. We just love her so...Lilly would have her living in the house with us if I let her. Sigh...

Homeschooling has begun. The kids had a week of review, to see where they were at and get them back into the swing of things and then we jumped back in. They are enjoying being back at work learning, and did not forget nearly as much as I thought they might, lol :) Actually, they are doing really well. JD has been AMAZING me with his reading! It has always been a struggle, and we knew to expect this and the woman who was helping me from the Autism Center told me it could be YEARS before he could read a simple book. Well, he not only remembered his sight words from last year, he is easily learning new ones! It still takes him a bit to remember them, and he REALLY has to focus, but he has completely taken to reading! I can see the 'light bulb' has gone on and he is getting the concept. I am SO proud. He has been working on Frog and Toad books, and he is able to read AND understand what he has read. Narration is a big part of Charlotte Mason and I am a huge fan of her style. I have always used narration wih the kids as we do quite a bit of reading (I read, they listen) on various subjects. Since I do not test, nor do we do much written work (yet) the only gage I have for if they are learning/absorbing what I have read is by what they can tell me. Sometimes I will ask them to talk to me about what we just read, other times I will tell them to 'catch me up' on what we last read. For JD, this ability to narrate is a HUGE improvement over last year as it was such a struggle for him to red anything that by the time he got through it, he could not remember the subject matter, and he was spending so much energy on figuring out each word that the meaning fell by the wayside. Not so, anymore! AND he is excited about reading as he has made the connection that reading opens up his world to all sorts of information. :)

Lilly is doing well with her reading as well, but she always has been more at ease with reading. She loves to sound out words, write and talk about books. She is getting more confident with Math, as we are sticking with basics and repitition. Max is working on letters, sounds and basic sight words as he is desperate to read as well ;) He is taking after his big brother with his interest and skill in math, he likes to work in a first grade math book...and I let him. He can do it, so I am certianly not going to hold him back!

This week we added History and Nature Study into our routine and next week we will add Art and handicrafts. I found an awesome art book that will go along with our unit studies of different artists and I am hoping that after soccer is over we can hit the museum some saturday mornings as it is free :) I am also hoping to get to some of the art classes they offer at another local museum. Its a neat program for homeschoolers, once a month. Its a bit of a hike, but I think it will be worth it. Lilly and Max love all things art and crafts, and though JD could care less, I would like him to at least be exposed to it. He does like handicrafts though...he started to learn to knit and he likes to sew, but I think he will continue with his model building that he tried out last year.

I have yogurt brewing, and plans to make my favorite 'Breakfast Cake' shortly. Want the recipe? Its super easy, and you can put whatever you want in it...versatility...gotta love it :)

Breakfast Cake

1c brown sugar
1/2c melted butter or oil of choice
2 eggs
2/3c yogurt
1/2t vanilla extract
1c unbleached white flour
1c whole wheat flour
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
1/2t salt
1/2t cinnamon
1/2t allspice
1/4t nutmeg
1/4t ground ginger
1 1/2c rolled oats
1/2c OJ or milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Beat brown sugar and melted butter together in a large bowl.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Add yogurt and vanilla until well blended.
In separate bowl, whisk together flours, soda, powder, salt and spices until well blended.
Add oats to flour mix and blend well.
Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet.
Mix in OJ/Milk and any optional ingredients you have chosen.
Put batter into a well oiled 9x13 pan and add topping option if you like.
Bake for 25 mins or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
Enjoy! Freezes well, and can also be baked in muffin pans, try 15 mins then start checking for done-ness.

*optional...1/2c raisins OR 1/2c cranberries OR 1/2c chocochips OR 1c chopped fresh fruit or berries, really you can add anything you want to this cake.
**optional topping...once cake is ready for the oven, top with sliced apples on top of which you drizzle 1/2c melted butter mixed with 1/2c brown sugar...mmmm...

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