Friday, May 25, 2012

Weekly Recap: May 21-25, 2012

We are officially done with this school year! 

Our testing is complete and the forms have been mailed for scoring.  All our books are put away, except for H13's algebra.  We'll be continuing the summer with some art.  You can see our first art study here.  We'll also be reading and listening to books.  We might even do a little math to keep it fresh.  Mostly we'll be having fun. 

I'll do a recap of the entire year later.  For now, here are our highs and lows.

High - Passing all parts of the OGT with accelerated or better.
Low - Geometry!

High -  Algebra was my high because I'm good at it.
Low - Logic was my low because it's hard and I don't understand it.

High - I liked history.  History had a whole lot of battles.
Low - Latin,! I wasn't really liking it because it was really, really hard to learn.

High - I liked my math the most.  Math has been my favorite subject for a long time.
Low - Nothing.  I had an okay year.

High- Completing Latin and all our other subjects.
Low - Not realizing that H13 was struggling so much with logic. 

Art Study: Ghiberti

We got so much done this past school year.  Art was one of the things that we didn't manage to fit into our schedule.  Since the creative stuff is something we enjoy, we are going to do a summer art series.  Nothing heavy here.  We'll be learning a little about the artist and their art and then giving it a try. 

Here's our first art study on Lorenzo Ghiberti

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Munchies: Pizza Dough

There is something about writing a recipe for something I make regularly that is a challenge.  What comes naturally in the kitchen requires thought on paper.  This is the recipe for pizza dough that I make every Saturday evening.  This dough can also be left to rise and used for bread, rolls, cinnamon rolls, etc.  I've done all those things with it and more but most often it's used for pizza.  For me, making it is much easier than writing it down.

3/4 c dry milk
approx 2 c warm water
1 T yeast
2 1/2 T sugar
2 T oil
6 c flour

Put 3/4 c dry milk into a large measuring cup.  Add warm water until level is 2 cups.  I use warm tap water the key is to get the water warm enough to grow the yeast but not so warm as to kill the yeast.  For me, my tap water left to run awhile is perfect temperature.  If the water is warm to the touch but not hot enough to burn it should be about right.  Add 1 T yeast and 2 1/2 T sugar to milk and stir. 

I use yeast in a jar, hence the measurement.  If you are using packages of yeast, just one package will do.  If you are going to use your dough for something besides pizza dough, i.e. if you intend to let your dough rise, this is where you let the yeast mixture rest.  Within 5 minutes or so the yeast mixture should start to increase or bubble a bit.  This is called proofing your yeast.  For pizza that step doesn't matter so much but for rolls or other baked items it matters a great deal.

Measure four cups of flour into a large bowl.  I received a Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas.  My large bowl is now the mixer bowl.  Before it was just a big metal bowl and I did all my mixing by hand.  Either method makes great dough. 

Add 2 T oil to the yeast mixture.  Stir.  Any kind of lightly flavored oil works fine.  I most often use olive oil but have used vegetable and canola oil. 

Pour yeast mixture into large bowl of flour.  Mix well until soft dough forms.  Add flour to dough mixture until dough is no longer sticky.  This will equal about 6 cups of flour.  The texture of this dough seems to vary with the weather.  Sometimes it's still, sometimes very pliable.  Either way it makes delicious pizza.

I use the Pampered Chef large round stones to bake my pizza.  This recipe makes 3 large pizzas if I make thin crust.  Two large pizzas and a 9" round personal pizza if I make thicker crusts.  Top with your favorite toppings and bake in a preheated oven.  I bake it at 350 in my convection oven.  If you have a regular oven boost the temperature to 375.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is the desired doneness.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Weekly Recap: May 14-18, 2012

This week was full of loose ends.  Thankfully, we eliminated many of those with our diligent efforts.  All of our testing is now complete.  We closed the book on many of our subjects.  I finished all the paperwork for reporting on our year and submitting notification for next year. We are almost done with our school year.  Next week will wrap everything up and no one is more excited about that than I am.

In addition to testing this week, H13 and I attended a Y.E.S. field trip at our local community college.  Having a day alone with H13 is such a rare treat. We learned about many interesting careers in the fields of math and science.  This is the first time that H13 expressed even the slightest interest in anything related to math and science so I was thrilled to spend the day with her exploring the possibilities.  She came home talking about attending the local career center to learn more about nursing and maybe pick up her phlebotomist license.  I love it when my children make positive plans for their future.  I especially love it when those plans are within their reach and will help them reach even higher.  I savored every minute of watching my beautiful, intelligent daugther interact with others and share her thoughts and ideas with me.  It was such a pleasure to spend an uninterupted, stress free day with her.

Here are our highs and lows:

High - The language arts test because it was something I understood.
Low - Don't have one!

High - My high is reading about Mr. Tucket.  I liked that it was about cool cowboys.  Rough and tough and all that.
Low - That I'm not finished with school yet.

High - One more week of school and we are done.  I liked that I was learning about time this week in math.
Low - Don't have one.

High - Completing testing and paperwork for notification next school year.
Low - The house isn't nearly but to standard, especially for my husband.  Hopefully, I'll do better with that this summer.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Munchies: Roasted Chicken

Here's the sad thing.  Until six months ago, I had no idea how easy and delicious roasted chicken was.  I had never, ever cooked a whole chicken.  I bought skinless, boneless frozen chicken breasts because I hated handling raw meat.  Then we bought the farm and raised a hundred chickens.  We butchered 96 of those hundred and handling raw meat was no longer an issue.  What to do with lots of frozen, whole chickens became the issue. 

To use chicken in the recipes I'd favored in life before the farm I needed several pounds of chicken breasts.  Our chickens didn't provide breast meat like that so my cooking needed adjustment.  A friend recommended we try beer butt chicken.  I tried it and we loved it.  I brush my constipated chickens with butter, sprinkle them with seasoning and cook them in the oven two or three at a time.  I use the oven rather than the grill mainly because we started cooking chicken this way in December and I'm not wild about manning the grill for an hour in cold weather. 

One day I needed to cook two chickens for dinner and had no beer in cans.  Rather than run out to the store I decided there had to be something else I could make.  There was and it tunred out to be easier than popping the top on a can of beer, roasted chicken

Here's the the happy thing.  Not only is roasting a chicken super easy but it looks very impressive. Plus, I got to learn a new skill, how to truss a chicken. I  love learning new things! I also love it when the food I make looks and tastes great.

For those of you that have been roasting chicken for years, three cheers to you.  For those of you that never purchased a whole chicken before, be brave.  You just might love it. 

The Double Whammy

Today is Mother's Day and my birthday. It really is a double whammy. Many years in the past, I've spent the day feeling irritated and resentful for what these days aren't rather than what they are. I'm thankful that this day has not been a repeat of the past.  I am learning that thankfulness really is a choice. Gratitude comes from a thankful heart not a greedy heart.  No day is perfect but my focus determines the value of the day for me.  I can choose to focus on the lack and complain and whine my way through a day or I can choose to focus on the bounty and feel peace and joy.  It really seems like a no brainer but so often I find my focus slipping.

I struggle with events that are suppose to be for me. I'm the planner in my family so having a holiday that is supposed to for me means that I do the planning or I enjoy a quiet day at home. As a planner and someone that enjoys finding great gifts and planning fun celebrations, it's been a challenge to not feel resentful of the plans that are made or not made.

This Mother's Day/birthday I faced the challenge and found peace in giving thanks for my day. Last weekend, I got an air compresser and nail gun as an early birthday gift. I was able to put my bee hives together and spend a beautiful day with two of my children as they helped me with the nailing and painting.

I had the blessing, earlier this week, of having my parents come for a surprise visit. On Thursday, my children and my husband had beautiful tulips and irises delivered to me. My husband took the day off work on Friday and spent part of the day having maintenance done on my van so I have a safe, dependable vehicle to drive. Yesterday, I got to see my youngest daughter play soccer, have lunch with my family and my parents, see a fun movie, The Avengers, and enjoy Coldstone ice cream.

Today, I was able to worship God with my family and spend a quiet day reading and resting. My husband and children took care of all the cooking. I really haven't done a thing. It's been a cool, rainy day. Perfect for pajamas, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine and a book. I introduced myself to Sherlock Holmes. I ate a delicious steak dinner. Tomorrow, I may get to enjoy a birthday cake made by my children.

This day might not be the day I would have planned for myself. I am blessed beyond measure and so, so thankful.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekly Recap: April 30-May 4, 2012

We are winding down our school year.  It's such a great feeling to finish books and drop subjects from our daily line-up.  This week we completed all our Bible and Latin.  S10 also finished his writing.  We only have two chapters left in history.  We'll complete those next week along with chemistry.  H13 drags her feet a bit more than the others.  As a result, her list of work to be finished is a bit longer.  She'll be working on logic and algebra next week.

The plan is to finish up our academic work next week.  We'll spend the remainder of the month reading, listening to books on dvd, completing our standardized testing and going on field trips.

For our homeschool co-op this session, the children all participated in play performances.  H13 took part in a version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.  S10 and M7 were involved in musical versions of various fairly tales.  The performances of the plays took place on Tuesday and Thursday night this week.  We were very pleased and proud of all our performers.

M7 in her squirrel makeup.
Last but not least, the highs and lows for the week:

High - History.  I enjoyed learning about how American got Texas and California.
Low - Logic.  Traditional Logic is so annoying.

High - I'm finished with everything but math.
Low - I still have to do math.

High - I'm done with everything else.
Low - I'm not done with math.

High - Three play performances + a full week of school work.  We got a lot done this week!
Low - Chemistry.  We are behind on chemistry.  I'm planning to have chemistry as my high next week.