Monday, August 30, 2010

and there was light (and it smelled good)

We made beeswax candles this weekend. I am all set for a romantic evening and/or power outage.


The wax is from a local beekeeper. We also filtered it ourselves (not this weekend). That was an exercise in patience, for sure. If you know an easy way to filter wax (and really, anything would be easier than any of the methods I tried), please let me know.

In any event, enough time had passed since the trauma of the filtering. I was ready to do this, thinking there must be a catch. There isn’t. I got the metal votive molds and wicks from A.C. Moore, using a 40 percent off coupon. (I didn’t want to invest much in case this was a bust.) I melted the wax in a double boiler, placed the wick in the mold and poured in the wax. At this point, I freaked out thinking that maybe I should have sprayed the mold with Pam or something. I then realized, well, it’s wax.

Our candles are all natural, nothing but beeswax. They have a faint scent of honey.

Candle-making inspiration here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

pen nerds, unite

We received some Frixion erasable pens and highlighters to try out. I am a bit of a pen nerd. These work really well – surprisingly well, actually. The boy demonstrates (video taken via Blackberry, hence the low light):


These have been on sale lately in the school supply section at Publix. Visit to download a $1.00 coupon. I found a three-pack of highlighters at Walgreens for $1.05. Less than $.02 per highlighter? I’ll take that.


Pilot and SheSpeaks sent us products to review. Opinions are my own.

Friday, August 20, 2010

this moment

Participating in Amanda’s this moment project:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual - capturing a moment from the week.


First day of school…

Thursday, August 19, 2010

the youngest

The boy turned 12 while he was at Boy Scout Camp. Dad was there, too, but that means both of my children celebrated their birthdays away from home this year. That’s what happens when you have summer birthdays, I suppose. We celebrated when he came home and like his sister, he requested Molten Chocolate Lava Cake and fresh whipped cream in lieu of the traditional cake. My husband has a birthday next month and he has already requested the same thing.




Friday, August 13, 2010

this moment

Participating in Amanda’s this moment project:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual - capturing a moment from the week.


The butterflies will flutter by far too soon.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

and now it’s a food blog…


Those peppers I showed you ended up in the freezer. I washed all the bells, cored them and cut them in strips. I spread them on cookie sheets and tray froze (?) them, before bagging them for the deep freeze. They went from field to freezer in just a few hours. I am looking for a feasible alternative to freezer bags. I want to avoid plastic, but I also want my food to be safely stored through the winter. I am open to suggestions.

The hot peppers went straight in the bag. I didn’t even wash them. I will use them in salsa and such, so as I pull them out one by one I will rinse them well and just cut them up for use then. I have done this many times before with great results.


The okra was a bit of a pain, but it will be worth it. I am probably the only one who will eat it. More for me. I rinsed the okra well and trimmed the stem end. This involves cutting off the stem but not opening up the seed pod. This skill is easily mastered after the first 150 pieces or so. (No joke.) I blanched the okra and cooled it in an ice bath, following these instructions. I bagged it and will enjoy its southern yumminess this winter (or sooner).


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

know thy farmer

I love that we live in an area where we can still buy direct from the farm. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it is worth it. I recently trekked out to Barefoot Organic Farm and came home with 42 pounds of tomatoes (mostly Romas), four pounds of okra, eight pounds of peppers (bell – mostly red, some purple and green, and Hungarian Wax), as well as four dozen fresh-from-the-free-range-chicken eggs. Farmer Kathy raises chickens and turkeys as meat birds. I haven’t bought those, but if you eat meat and you are local, give her a try. Her birds live out in the fresh air and sunshine, eating bugs and such the way God intended. They are not the grotesque, sickly birds from Food, Inc. I can’t think about those poor birds…

Anyway, back to the veggies:


I picked a peck of peppers just beyond that barn. Maybe it wasn’t a peck. If you zoom in, you can actually see one of the egg layers scratching around back there. Cool.


Future site of the okra field:


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

homemade granola

Yum. Seriously. This is what I have been munching on for breakfast recently. I adapted this recipe from The Kitchen Sink Recipes where you will find many more delicious treats.


3 1/2 cups of oats

1/4 cup of sweetener (I have used brown sugar, organic cane sugar, molasses, maple syrup and/or honey)

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (don’t be grossed out – it’s good for you and your granola will not taste like olives)


I always add flax seed, 1/2 cup or so. I pulse it a few times in a coffee grinder (not the one we use for coffee). You can also crush it a little with a mortar and pestle or whiz it in the food processor. Don’t fully grind it. Just break it open so the good omega fatty acids can be absorbed by your body rather than, ahem, just passing through.


I always add cinnamon and ginger and a dash of sea salt. If you can get those from cute Ikea spice jars, all the better.


I also add a combination of other things depending on what I have on hand. Add according to your taste. You may need to adjust the sweetener and oil depending on what you add (more dry goods may require a little more oil). I have added up to 1/2 cup each of unsweetened coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels and/or chopped pecans. Sometimes I add a little vanilla. You can’t mess this up (unless you burn it!) so put in what appeals to you. I spread this in a foil-lined pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for an additional 6 – 10 minutes. Watch it closely. It will burn if you aren’t careful.


After cooking, you could certainly add some dried fruit. I don’t, but only because I have these babies in the freezer:


This baby loves blueberries more than almost anything.


Monday, August 9, 2010

vintage treats

As part of Heather’s Vintage Swap, sweet Chris (love her name, by the way) sent this to my doorstep today:


It is filled with delightful treats!

savoring (and saving) summer

My canner has been getting a workout lately – peach jam, blueberry jam, peach chutney, tomato sauce (20 pints!) and green tomato relish.

Green tomato relish just tastes like summer.



I don’t recommend canning on a hot plate, but I have a ceramic cooktop – no canners allowed. Contrary to what I have read online, this hot plate has no trouble heating the water to boiling and maintaining that temperature. I bought this one for $10 (?) or so several years ago and it works like a charm. This is a pint canner. My quart canner is simply too large for this, but I am holding on to it for when I get my snazzy gas cooktop (several house projects and years from now).


Are you canning this season?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

getting ready

The first day of regular school (as opposed to occasional school we do in the summer) is Aug. 16. I have much to do. Some tips on some of the resources we are this year:

  • As we enter U.S. history, we are using America: The Last Best Hope. There is a corresponding web site – the Roadmap – that is available by subscription. I had heard from others that you could only buy a subscription to the site if you bought the book from them. Too bad for me, because I had already bought a used copy of the book. I  called Houghton Mifflin and asked and they were more than happy to sign me right up. No problems at all.
  • We are also anxiously awaiting our free DVDs of The Story of Us from the History Channel. Kudos to the History Channel for inviting homeschools to participate in the DVD giveaway.
  • We are doing Algebra 1 this year (and yes, I mean “we”) and we are using the cheap equivalent of Chalkdust. I bought the Larson Algebra book used (dirt cheap) and got the Dana Moseley DVDs from Amazon. Many hundreds of dollars worth of math for less than $50. The book and set cover Algebra 1 and 2.
  • I think I posted this one already, but to supplement our science we are are using Hakim’s The Story of Science. I think it will be an interesting look at what lead to many discoveries.
  • I downloaded the free version of Homeschool Tracker. So far, so good. I will have to see if it works well for us once we are in daily lessons.
  • Nolan is taking physical science through the Virtual Homeschool Group this year. The awesome Debra will be teaching the class one day per week and we are so excited. The other days will be done in our regular homeschool mode. If you aren’t familiar with VHSG, do check it out. (It’s free!)
  • Also free, because free is my favorite – Microsoft Dreamspark available through the Homeschool Buyers’ Co-op. My husband, the computer genius, tells me the software Nolan can use through this program is the same stuff developers use. This is a terrific program – Microsoft is trying to encourage the next generation of developers to get started and build their skills early. Nolan is very keen on anything electronic. He did a short HTML course last year and loved it so I think this will be a huge asset – and free.

if you use workboxes…

After my very pleasant experience with CSN stores, I will soon be reviewing another product that is distinctly homeschool related. I hope to follow that with a giveaway of that same item. You won’t want to miss this one – especially if you use workboxes in your homeschool. (Hint. Hint.) CSN stocks pretty much anything you could want – no joke. They have math manipulatives, recessed lighting, bird baths (including a heated bird bath for winter – wish I had outlets in a convenient spot or anywhere outside), and Amy Butler (!) travel bags made from organic cotton. (I just found those and I really love Amy Butler fabric.) I keep comparing their prices and find them to be very reasonable, often the best deal with free shipping.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

inching along


Can you identify that worm? It’s very odd and loves purple coneflowers.

Anywho, it’s time for the monthly link-o-rama. Thank you for indulging me as I promote the work that pays me, as opposed to the work that doesn’t pay me. ;)

  • Tips for getting the kids ready to go back to school. Because it’s coming faster than you think.
  • A delightful preschool program: Epworth Early Intervention Center.
  • The SC Volunteer Guardian ad Litem program needs you! (If you aren’t in SC, check with your state’s CASA program.) (Also, here.)
  • I would really like to ask God what He was thinking when he made certain animals. Bats, for instance. (Also, here.)
  • Did you know that today’s children make up the first generation of Americans who will (probably) have a shorter life expectancy than their parents? BlueCross BlueShield is trying to help pediatricians change that. (Also, here.)
  • If you are in Upstate SC and can pick up a print copy (or have access to the paywall site at, I have stories in the August issue of Upstate Parent as well. I had the distinct privilege of profiling a retiring principal who absolutely gets it right. Read about Brodie Bricker here.