pinterest-dd591.htm Oak Creek Academy: August 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beautiful Things

"Beautiful Things" by Gungor was running through my head this mornings as I began to make tomato sauce.  I had all these beautiful tomatoes just waiting to be consumed, some how, in some way.  What became of this fuzzy logic is the following:
Began by grabbing a good pot to heat up some olive oil in.
Set the burner to about medium heat and moved on to the next thing.

Started with about a half inch slice of onion and
couple large cloves of garlic.

Also grabbed some of my Rosemary (that had been
drying from one of my 3 bushes) and began to chop away.  Love my
Pampered Chef chopper ~ got through all of that quickly.
These went into the pot, with heated oil.  I then began dicing up the tomatoes.
Some were chunks with a knife, some got diced with the chopper.

Everything in the pot.  Just an occasional stir and let the heat & time
do it's thing.  After awhile, I'll puree a portion of this to get the
seeds and skin blended well.  Let it cool further and then into some
sort of freezer worthy storage container.  I've deliberately not added basil
or oregano yet.  These tend to be more tender herbs and should be added
in the last few minutes of cooking.  They'll get added later, when I am making
a sauce, soup, or stew later.

The one tomato not chopped or diced.  It was probably
the most sandwich worthy one out of the bunch and we're
having sandwiches for dinner.  Yummy!
What has probably helped the tomatoes the most, is that I
compost just about anything that can be composted.  As I tell our
boys, "if it came from the ground, it can be composted", meaning
fruit, veggies, untreated wood shavings, paper w/o to much writing
on it.  Other things, like dairy and bread type products, just don't
decompose easily and tend not to be good for the soil.  I know some
will compost with certain animal waste, but that just seems yucky to me!
I've also heard you can compost newspaper (but not the shiny adds) and
cardboard as well.  Haven't tried those yet.

So, later on today, more tomato will be bagged and frozen for later use in spaghetti or pizza sauce.  May even use some to make home made tomato soup.  Another yummy food!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Court of Honor

Troop 2215 had a Court of Honor (CoH) this evening.  At a CoH, Scouts who have achieved a new rank or who have received new merit badges are recognized.  Thing One was recognized for achieving his Scout rank as well as earning Swimming, First Aid, Canoeing, and Golf merit badges while at camp.

We're proud of our Scout!

Dear Summer . . .

You aren't even gone yet and I miss you already.  I miss the free time, the lazy mornings, the going bare foot, the fireflies.  Do you really need to leave, now that Hurricane Irene has blown the high temperatures out to sea?  These cooler temperatures can stay awhile so that denim shorts and flip flops can stay awhile too.  Although I didn't really like you in July, with the high temperatures and high humidity, could we make up and just stay where we are?  Please? 


Thursday, August 25, 2011

St. Valentine

Do you know the origins of Saint Valentine?  I'll give you a hint ~ it doesn't have anything to do with cupid, pink, hearts, flowers, or chocolate.  Does that surprise you?

From Mystery of History, lesson 12, we learned that Saint Valentine was actually a man who lived in and around Rome in the third century.  He was martyred for being a Christian on February 14, A.D. 269.

In 495, February 14 was declared Saint Valentines Day to replace the pagan festival of Lupercalia on February 15.  This date was a pagan festival of love, cupid, and such we now associate with the 14th.

Well, one activity with this lesson was to research chocolate, which we did.  Of course, all internet roads lead to wikipedia ~ don't they?  We read up on chocolate there (you can to with this link).

To set the "mood" before the kids knew what was going on, we had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.  Yummy!!!
cooking on the iron skillet

Yum! Chocolate Chip Pancakes, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream (home made even)
foil on the inside of the pan; it makes getting the brownies out easier

my helper, Thing One, stirring the batter

everyone needs a Robin side-kick
No cooked brownie pictures, sorry folks!  They're good and we still have some left!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquack in Virginia

Yesterday, the east coast of America experienced an earthquake.  The epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia which is about 80 miles south (and a bit west) of where we live.  It was an odd experience, in that, I didn't feel anything shake at the time.  I was out taking our dog for a walk when it happened.  Things did rumble and you could see windows bowing.  Folks were coming out of their houses saying, "What was that?" (politeness added).  My boys were out of the house, quickly, wondering the same thing.  Thing Two tried holding it together, but when I got closer to home he was crying. 

Turns out to have been somewhere between a 5.8 to 6.0 quake, depending upon the source.  Fortunately, the only damage I've found is a rake knocked over and a light bulb burned out, both of which could have happened w/o the earthquake.  There have been a few after shocks during the course of the evening, but nothing I've been able to perceive thankfully.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Micah 6:8

When God speaks, are you able to hear him?  When He whispers His desires for your life, are you still enough to hear and obey?

There are so many things whirling around us, each and every day.  Things that are our own desires: picking up a book, sewing, playing guitar, pondering new recipes, surfing the net.  Things others need or want us to do or add to our schedule.  Do we pause long enough to allow God to speak His desires for our day?  Do we seek Him each morning, like the manna for the Isrealites?

As we've been working with our oldest to overcome some learning glitches (& other things) many things are being added to our schedule; we've begun school (full force so to speak); we're getting back to a fall schedule with activities at our church, Burke Community Church; adding in more sports (yes, more sports, really only adding swimming as Thing One can use the extra exercise and Thing Two is SO close to being a confident swimmer, we don't want to loose the momentum).  I feel like my schedule is spinning and not mine to control and manipulate.  This morning, while unloading the dishwasher, head spinning, words came flooding into my mind ~ faithfulness, humbliness, daily walk.  No need to be like Samuel when he heard God speak to him and he ran to Eli.  I knew this was God and it was time to search these words.   Micah 6:8 came up, it says:

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does
the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV)

Today, I'll focus on, dwell on how to be just, to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God!

Have a blessed day,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

School is underway . . .

The boys and Charlotte have settled into their favorite spots for when I pull out the books that I read to them.
Thing One seems to enjoy coloring, more than anything else, to keep his hand busy.  Today's art focused on a kids fort with a bunker, no less.  He was proud of his work and asked to take a
photo of it.  

Think it actually took him a couple days to finish it.  He really didn't want to draw or color during non school hours!  LOL funny how any kind of school and kids will avoid a bit of work if they can!

So anyhoot, Thing Two has taken lead from Charlotte and started crawling between the chairs and the wall to get to what he calls his little cave.  Guess he's learning about "man caves" early!  He enjoys this little area and brings all sorts of stuff in there to entertain himself.  The other day it was a deck of cards and he was playing Slap Jack against himself.  I just snickered and rolled my eyes at him.  He was reasonably quiet and listening well enough to answer the questions well.

 A certain somebody trying to be still and have a straight face!

And here is Charlotte's favorite spot, snug up against my legs when I have the Lazy Boy foot rest up.  Doesn't matter if it's stuffy warm or cold in the house she wants to be snug.  I will like this when it starts getting cooler!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Favorit Cake Recipes . . . .

This is what I do while on permanent hold with our health insurance provider, I type out my favorite cake recipes, because I just don't buy boxed cakes anymore.  These are from Better Homes and Gardens, New Cook Book, copyrighted 1996.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/4 milk
  1. Grease and lightly flour two 8 x 1 1/2" or 9 x 1/2 inch round baking pans or grease one 13x9x2 baking pan; set pan(s) aside.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and vanilla; beat till well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute afte reach.  Add dry mixture and milk alternating to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just till combined.  Pour batter into the prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or till a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Cool layer cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Remove layer cakes from pans.  Cool thoroughly on rake.  Or, place 13x9 inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly.  Frost with desired frosting.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/3 cups cold water
  1. Grease and lightly flour two 9x1 1/2 inch round baking bans or grease one 13x9x2 baking pan; set pan(s) aside.  Stir together flour, coco powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and vanilla; beat till well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Add dry mixture and water alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just till combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or till a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Cool layer cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans.  Cool thoroughly on wire racks.  Or, place 13x9 inch cake pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly.  Frost with desired frosting.
Woo Hoo! Typing this out took 20 minutes or so, Cigna should be answering soon.

Friday, August 12, 2011


a beloved word around my house.  The boys LOVE it.  Even though some of the curriculum we use has a bit of science with it, there usually is not enough at all.  Today was another day with the colored water, mixing the primary colors to make secondary colors.  Here's some of the fun from today!
figuring out how to use the bulb pipette

primary colors we mixed up in an earlier science lesson

first color mixed ~ green

Top three are purple, green, orange.
There are some brown and black toward the bottom.
They played for awhile mixing colors.  Always a good time seeing how much of one color changes another. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Free Time

The joys of having "no screen time" is that the boys become more creative in what they do to entertain themselves.  Today led to their stuff animals have a scout cross over.  The puppies were crossing over to the next level (which of course I don't recall now) and all the other stuff animals are families and friends.  Sorry for the grainy look, I took the photos from inside the kitchen with the window and screen down.

Monday, August 8, 2011

School Food

I suppose can be good!  When Thing One was in Public School for K & 1, he loved getting the pizza on Fridays.  There was also the rare occasion, that I'd send him with lunch and he'd still buy lunch anyway.

Anyhoot, last Friday we had a variation of pizza on English Muffins and he even brought it up that public schools had pizza every Friday for lunch and so should we.  That got me asking what they'd want this week for lunch.  So this week, with mostly the kids input the school lunches for the week are:
  • Monday - fruit salad
  • Tuesday - hot dogs
  • Wednesday - peanut butter sandwiches
  • Thursday - grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Friday - pizza
Today, I used the fruit salad to my advantage as I'm trying to add more fruit into what they'll eat whole and from the "tree" or "vine".  In addition to the bananas and apples they had strawberries and pears.  They weren't so sure about it, but I reminded them that you can't base a decision off of one nibble.  It takes several, real sized bites, over several days.  When introducing new foods or for monitoring kind of fun junkie food, I really like using these plates I found at Target awhile back.  They came in two packs for $1.99 and they have three different sized sections.  I can tell the boys that they can have chips but only "this section" full.  It helps with portion control.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back to School!

Wow!  2011/12 school year is upon us.  Tomorrow begins our 4th week of the year!  Things are totally different than I had anticipated when we wrapped up last school year.  We've dropped a couple things to make life a bit easier, but at the same time we're notching up a lot of basics to help the boys "make the grade".  Going basics!

Here's what school looks like for us:
  • Mystery of History Vol 2 by Bright Ideas
  • Big Bag of Science
  • A Child's Geography Vol 1 By Ann Voskamp
  • Literature Unit Studies:  starting in "The Chronicles of Narnia" (everything but the Magicians Nephew which we did last summer), possibly "Farmer Boy" from Little House series, wrap up of a Christmas study we started last year, and FIAR/ByFIAR
  • Nature Studies for both
  • Math-U-See for both, but at different levels
  • Free writing (to get them writing and getting their thoughts on paper, no length required, but just writing from various writing strands)
  • Thing One individual work:  Spelling from Queens Homeschooling Supply, Mad libs, magnetic words, grammar and math games on the Ipod
  • Thing Two individual work:  Language Lessons for the Very Young 1, by Queens Homeschool Supplies and Sequential Spelling Vol 1, grammar and math games on the Ipod
We'll also be adding in Grace Homeschool Co-op in September where they'll be adding in P.E. & Chess for Thing One and Free Play & Science for Thing Two.

Quite a full school year and extra activities aren't even listed!  Where's a yikes smiley when you need it?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Weather so thick . . .

. . . you can cut it with a butter knife.  This afternoon was true Washington D.C. & surrounding suburbs August weather ~ hazy, hot, and humid.  So this afternoon, when it started raining, there was hope for cooler temperatures.  Although the humidity levels have been reduced, temperatures didn't drop much.  Oh well! 

For no other reason, than shear fun, I recorded the rain through the kitchen window.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back to Science!

Boys have been excited for a couple weeks or so ~ you see, we bought a "Big Bag of Science".  They love doing the experiments, learning new things in the world of science, love the mess, and are begging for white lab coats {where do I find those?}

Anyway, yesterday we began with the first experiment ~ fizzing colors.  The gist of the experiment was to learn about chemical reactions with baking soda and citric acid when put into water. 

We started with three test tubes filled with room temperature water, added a yellow tablet to one, red to another, and blue to the third and watched them fix up and dissolve.  Not quite as hands on as the boys would have liked, but there will hopefully be some like that later in the year.  Anyway, we ended up with the test tubes looking like this:

The second experiment will be looking through each of these and then looking through combinations of two and of course all three.  They SHOULD already know the colors that the three primary colors make, but this will be a good review, just in case. 

Now off to feed the minions!  Have a happy weekend everyone!

When life hands you . . . . .

. . .  the wrong box of pudding, {more likely it was mixed in with the vanilla puddings, on the shelf at the store} add it to a smoothie.  Yes, this is a banana cream pudding, but I was already making a banana/strawberry smoothie this morning and wanted to thicken it up some.  This actually worked out really well.  We had enough left over, after three glasses of smoothies, to make 6 pudding/smoothie pops.  Should be another good treat later.

Happy eating!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another Baby Blanket

Some friend's of ours have a new little girl in their life!  So cute, so tiny, so princess girliness (author license to create a new word)!  It was a joy to knit a blanket for this little one, whose life is a miracle ~ wish you could sit and listen to Crystal talking about it.  Awesome story!  Here's the finished product:

 Here's the blanket!  Mostly brown and pink, a bit of green, and a touch of yellow.

Here's a close up of the brown, showing the border.  I knit
six rows, then switch to knitting first and last 5 stitches with
the middle being a stocking stitch.  Love the way it turned out.
I look forward to being able to give them the finished product.  Only a few weeks after the baby shower.  Hopefully I'll be able to catch up with them at church on Sunday.

Happy Knitting,