Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eating Organic

I am proud to say that I have successful eaten 90% of my meals for the past two weeks as home made, organic healthy meals.
I will admit that we have ordered out twice, and I think I stopped to grab a bite to eat twice when I didn't plan my schedule out well enough.

BUT all my grocery shopping has been done at either Earth Fare, the Fresh Market or Three Rivers are local co op market for at least the past 3-4 weeks.

I have been debating on making the switch for awhile. I made excuses, Number one being the cost. After some debate I decided that if there was one thing I wanted to spend money on, it was good food.

So that helped to spur my decision to start making products and going more waste free. By not buying paper plates, paper towels, laundry detergents, cleaners etc I can budget in good, decent food for not much more extra monthly expense.

I've also found that buying fresh veggies really is cheaper in the long run that the frozen I typically bought anyway. My one main hang up there was it not being as 'convenient'. I solved this problem by peeling, chopping and prepping veggies for the week ahead of time. Then tossing them in either the freezer or crisper.

In the past few months it seems as if most of the meat I was buying at the 'normal' grocery stores were not quality. I would pull it out of the freezer to find odd colored meats, meat that had gone bad or freezer burn quickly. I tried packaging and storing them myself and still had problems. I also only buy hormone and antibiotic free meats anyway and so even at the 'normal' grocery it can be costly. Switching to meats from the Fresh Market or Earth Fare really made sense. I can also buy in proportions I need. I can ask for 3 chicken breasts and a one pound roast instead of trying to figure up how much to get from the prepacked stuff.

I plan meals around leftovers on occasion as well. When we had a lot of leftover chicken, I made chicken noodle soup. When we had a lot of leftover mashed potatoes, I used them in a Sheperd's Pie.

We made a yummy lemon tiramisu and had a lot of leftover ingredients such as the limoncello alchol and cream so I found another recipe that used those ingredients and also fresh blueberries that were on sale at the co op.

I try to buy things in season and on sale when I can. I freeze or put away what I don't need now.

My only 'indulgence' has been the organic healthier versions of things like Mac N Cheese. Lunch time quick fixes. I will often times cook up a box of Kraft Mac N Cheese and some hot dogs and serve it as a quick lunch. So instead I bought some Annie's Pastas (The Peace Pasta is num!) and some turkey dogs.

I started making my own bread.

I also try to make a list and stick to it. It's hard sometimes to walk past the desserts and premade isles without stopping. I do stray from the list when I find good deals and things on sale. I think that's still not recommended though. Oh well. haha

I try to make up meal plans. It's all about looking at the over all whole and trying to find ways to make changes here and there.

I think there's lots of ways to continue to eat healthy but not break the bank. I am still finding ways.

Do you have any tips on eating well but not spending too much?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

So, Here is the 6th Grade

I am mostly laying this out because I need to have it written it. I thought while I was already typing it up, however, I would share our layout for this coming school year.

Daily Schedule:

Full School Days are going to be Monday-Tuesday, Thursday

Wednesday we are doing a co op

Friday will be a half day for quizzes, reviews, and catching up or anything we didn't get through. If we have no quizzes or catching up we will use it as a 'free day' or unschool based, real world learning.

Monday: Class from 10:30-3:10
Tuesday: Class from 10:30-3:10

Wednesday: Co-OP from 9:30-3:10, Gymnastics 4:30-5:30
Thursday: Class from 10:30-3:10

Friday: Half Day, Morning, 10:00-12:00 catch up, quizzes or reviews, 12:00-3:00 Errands, Real Life Learning

Daily Full Day Schedule is Planned to be:

Language Arts/Writing 40 mins 10:30-11:00

Science 45mins 11:00-11:45

Break 15 mins 11:45-12:00

Math 45 mins 12:00-12:45

Lunch 30 mins 12:45-1:15

Spelling 20 mins 1:15-1:35

Social Studies 30 mins 1:35-2:05

Break 15 mins 2:05-2:20

Special class 30 mins 2:20-3:10
Also: Nightly Reading time of Half Hour a day

Total Weekly Hours: 240 (Plus Co-Op, 480, Then Half Day on Occasions)

Special Class Schedule is

Monday-Art/Art History

Tuesday- Health

Thursday- Hybrid Course- Home Ec and Environmental Awareness

Then for socialization:

Wednesday we have co-op.

The Co-op Classes

9:30-11:00 Earth And Space
11:00-11:50 Roots and Shoots
11:50-12:40 Lunch/Recess
12:40-1:30 Writer’s Workshop

1:30-2:20 Taekwondo

2:20-3:10 Medieval History Projects

Also, we have Gymnastics On Wednesday

The Co-Op also organizes hikes, camping trips, meetings, etc.
We also have the Holistic Moms Network meetings are twice a month as well where she will have kids to talk to/play with.

Class Descriptions and Overall Focus:

Earth & Science: (Co-Op) Lapbooking and experiments add hands-on fun and visual appeal to the study of our planet Earth. Students will be covering: the physical features of Earth, lithosphere, earthquakes, mountains, volcano, tsunamis, rocks, fossils, minerals, soil, erosion, caves, glaciers, rivers, lakes, coastlines, deserts, and more. Tectonic plates and the Pangaea Theory will also be discussed. Students will creating their own rock collections and learning to identify different rocks and minerals, as well as comparing within rock types (for example plutonic vs. volcanic igneous rocks).

The second half of the year will primarily be a study of the solar system with a unique and creative scientific approac

Roots and Shoots: (Co-Op) Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute's environmental and humanitarian program for youth (preschool to university). Their mission is to foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place for animals, the environment and the human community.

"Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds of thousands of roots & shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. We CAN change the world." — Dr. Jane Goodall

Writer's Workshop: (Co-Op) Implementing Brave Writer for a language rich lifestyle!

Join us as we implement different aspects of Brave Writer lifestyle for interactive creative writing that incorporates all the senses, hones the power of observation, and explores the use of various literary elements.

We will also be working in regular logic exercises that will encourage strong observational skills and show the importance of careful and specific descriptive language and word choices.

Taekwondo: Students will improve their mental and physical well-being through the art of Taekwondo, the world's most widely practiced martial art. Along with physical techniques, students will learn the tenets of Taekwondo as well as aspects of Korean culture and language. Through in-class accomplishment and advancement, students will develop a greater sense of self-respect and self-discipline, resulting in a healthier mind and body.

Medieval History Projects: This class will offer a comprehensive look at approximately 1000 years of medieval history. Resource and readings suggestions are given for at-home work so that the students can understand and follow the topics and projects presented in class. The course has been created especially for TEE students and uses aspects of Pandia Press's History Odyssey I and II, along with many other art history, science, and hands-on-history projects resources. Because background knowledge learning can be done at home, the students get to enjoy class time for interactive history such as: learning about and listening to Gregorian chants, role playing games to illustrate the Black Plague and how Feudalism worked, creating textile banners inspired by notable works such as the "Bayeux Tapestry" and "The Lady and the Unicorn", and much more!

The students will also create a lapbook as a creative visual log of many highlights of their studies. Topics we plan on covering include: the fall of Rome, rise of the church, Jewish diaspora, Byzantine Empire, the Vikings, the Middle Ages in Europe, Americas, and non-western cultures, Marco Polo, chivalry, the Crusades, the Black Plague, the Magna Carta, Feudalism, medieval arts, science, and literature. Some literature suggestions include: Beowulf, A Door in the Wall, Macbeth, The Trumpeter of Krakow, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, Robin Hood, The Canterbury Tales.

Reading/Language Arts: We are going to cover a few traditional books and tales. Oliver Twist, The Secret Garden, The Yearling and The Diary of Anne Frank will all be independent reading that we will discuss throughout the year.
In the Language Arts based lessons we will cover Types of narration, concepts of speech, sentence structure and proper use of punctuation.
We are going to cover famous speeches such from people such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. During this we will cover how to properly write a speech and how to make outlines for papers.
Next we will cover Intro to Mythology. In which we will cover a few classic love stories. “Apollo and Daphne”, “Romeo and Juliet”, Echo and Narcissus” will be a few we will cover.
We will also cover basics of poetry and study a large collection of poems. How to analyze poetry, types of poetry and critical reading skills.

Science: In Science we are going to focus on Life Sciences. The classification of living things, ecosystems, microbes, will be covered. We will then discuss Climate and Weather which we will tie into Environmental issues and our elective course by discussing types of energy and how to change our habits. We will also cover electricity, sound, and light. We will not fully cover but touch on astronomy which will tie into her Earth and Science class and from there cover a bit of space and space travel.

Mathematics: Review of basic math skills. Continuation of multiplication, division and more complex mathematics. Exponents, Operation of Powers, Integers. Also, adding to knowledge of decimals, fractions and mixed numbers. We will begin on basic geometry skills such as angles, construction and identification of figures. Expand on Algebra skills and cover in more depth a metric units and measurements.

Spelling: One list of words a week. Child will also learn dictionary skills by being responsible for looking up each word and writing definition. She will also need to use it in a sentence. There will be a weekly quiz.

Social Studies: We will cover the basics of map skills. A bit of world geography. Our main focus will be on ancient cultures and world civilization. (The Roman Empire, Greece, Egypt) We will also cover milestones in human achievement world trade and basics of local community.

Hybrid Course: Home Economics and Environmental Concerns: In this class we are going to look at basic home products, decide what is wasteful, what can be recycled, what can be made at home and what we do not even need. First semesters focus will be on sewing. We will make cloth napkins, towels etc. Meanwhile studying the effect all the disposable products has on landfills.
Second semester we will cover and make homemade cleaning products while discussing the effect chemicals have on the Earth. Third semester we will cover herbal medications, what they are, what to take for what and the proper use, and disposal or medications. We will discuss what to put in our bodies and what is healthy and what is not. Last, we will allow the student flexibility and encourage deductive reasoning and understanding to look around and come up with other products used in the home that could be made or is not needed. The student will then have the opportunity to piece together knowledge learned in other subjects to research how to make a product of their choosing, and then make it, and present a ‘speech’.

Health: Focus will, of course, be on the Human Body. But in order to tie into other classes we are going to focus mostly on what to put into our bodies. We will cover food and growth, the importance of exercise, the food pyramid, effects of drugs and alcohol but take a deeper look into it all as well. We will look into why healthy produce is better for you. What’s so bad about processed foods. Why buying organic is nice and a better option. The effects of chemicals in our foods and how to create healthy diets.

Art Appreciation: We will first cover American Realists Painters, move onto Impressionism then Abstractionism and finish up with Nonrepresentational Art. Famous artists we will cover will be Tanner, Homer, Rodin, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Munch, Mondrian, Hopper, Wyeth and Wright.

So, this is our goal! More to come as we go, of course.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Our Hybrid Home Ec/Environmental Concerns Class

With all the fun projects I've found and want to undertake I've decided to turn it into a learning experience for Lil. We had already planned on doing a Home Ec sort of class and an Environmental Issues class.
It works out really well because the co op she is in is doing a class called "Roots & Shoots"
"Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute's environmental and humanitarian program for youth (preschool to university). Their mission is to foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place for animals, the environment and the human community"
So it will tie in nicely with that.
We can tie in several different things as we go along.

I think our plan is going to be this:

First 9 Weeks:
We will concentrate on Waste in the typical house. Paper Plates, Paper Towels, disposable everything and make our own cloth products. Here we will make our own kitchen towels, napkins, maybe even tissues, and even bathroom cloth.
I think we'll discuss a bit about "Mama Cloth" or reusable menstrual solutions and maybe try making some as well. That will fit into her 'Health" class anyway. She's not quite ready for that product, but she will be soon. ;-)

Second 9 Weeks:
I think we will concentrate on the harsh chemicals in most cleaners. So from there we might try to do a few "Safe" experiments, depending on what I feel comfortable with. I am saving all the 'yucky' chemicals I have right now to show her where and how to properly dispose of them. And we will freecycle some too.
We will make our own products. (I'm actually hoping to have some before this, but we'll make more)
We will make laundry detergent, softner, household cleaning products, soaps, shampoos, etc etc

Third 9 Weeks:
We will concentrate on herbal remedies. This one should be rather fun because from there we have some excellent people that can give us great advice and help us stock our natural medicine cabinet.
We will get rid of all our products we don't need anymore. Go through the medicine cabinet which I'm quite sure needs a good purge and dispose of the expired and everything else properly.

Fourth 9 Weeks:
We will concentrate on whatever misc products we want to from there! I'm going to challenge her to look around and products she uses or we use at home and see if there is a home made alternative. I will give her specifics and start her out with lotions, powders and candles. Then we will go from there.

So, in honor of our new class, I will share a few of the 'recipes" I have gathered recently.

Laundry Detergent:

1 Bar Soap; (Ivory, Fels Naptha, Zote, Castile)

1/2 Cup Washing Soda

1/2 Cup Borax

Opt. Essential Oil of your choice

Grate soap into large sauce pan (or shave with knife).
Add 6 Cups water, heat and stir till soap melts.
Add Soda and Borax and dissolve.
Pour 4 Cups Hot Water into 2 Gallon Bucket, add soap mixture and stir.

Add 1 Gallon + 6 Cups water and stir. Let sit 24 hours. It will then start to gel up a bit which is what you want.

Laundry Softener:
Too Easy on this one, Not even a 'recipe'.

Just add 1/4 cup white vinegar. If you want you can try a few drops Essential Oils of your preferred scent.

Bug Repellent:

Mix Equal Parts Witch Hazel and Distilled Water in a spray bottle.
Add in one drop each of citronella and peppermint essential oil per each ounce fluid ounce.


3 oz Honey

4 oz finely ground almonds

2 oz Apple Cider Vinegar
2 oz Distilled Water
6 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Mix all in a bottle and shake well. Use and then when skin is still slightly damp, apply a bit of coconut oil, cosmetic grade sweet almond oil or oil of your choice

All Purpose Cleaning Spray:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup white vinegar

20 drops essential oil of your choice

Mix all in spray bottle

Disinfectant Spray:
16 oz spray bottle, fill half way with water

add in 2 tbs castile soap

30 drops Tea Tree oil

Shake well, fill the rest of the way up with water.

Homemade Toothpaste:

2 tbs Coconut Oil

3 tbs baking soda

20-25 drops peppermint or spearmint oil

Put all ingredients in plastic type bag, mush, cut off a corner and go! Or mix together well and store in a small jar.

Baby Bath Milk
1 cup
powdered milk
¼ cup corn starch
¼ cup finely ground oats
2-3 drops lavender, rose, or chamomile essential oils

Mix ingredients together and put in a shaker style bottle. To use, sprinkle a small amount in warm bath water.

That's all for now, but we'll add some more as we go along.