Thursday, January 31, 2008

NATURAL flavor enhancers - real spices and herbs.

Yesterday, I researched and wrote a lengthy post about the dangers of the chemical additive-MSG. If you did like I did and rummaged through your whole house on a MSG witch hunt and got discouraged with every additive find, I thought I'd encourage you with a recipe that I have been using for some time that is a wonderful flavor boost-naturally. It is a spice mix that I mix myself from bulk organic herbs that I get from Azure Standard or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Believe me, you will get rave reviews whatever you add it to and on how great a cook you are becoming!

To mix a large amount (which I do regularly because I use it so much) in a bowl or large spice container mix

6 T (Tablespoon) Celtic salt(regular sea salt is fine but not as healthy for you (future post)
6 T sweet Paprika
6 T dried oregano leaves
6 T dried thyme leaves
3 T garlic powder
3 T onion powder
3 T black pepper
3 T turmeric powder (Excellent anti cancer properties)
3 T chilli powder
a little cayenne powder depending on how hot you like it.(Maybe a 1/4-1/2 of a teaspoon)
Shake all this together and store in an airtight container. This does tend to clump together over time (moisture in the Celtic salt) so if it does it is helpful to shake the bottle well and maybe stir it with a fork before use.

Add to soups and stews, scrambled eggs, and just about any meat dish:

I chop up our organic red meat into strips, coat with seasoning mix and fry till cooked. I then use this in stir fries and crock pot fare.

Also adding liberally to the crock pot when you do a roast along with a can of Thai organic coconut milk is very easy quick and delicious! I also have coated chicken thighs exclusively in this spice mix (shake and bake style) and this recipe has come to be called in our house "spicy chicken."

If I do not want to knock people off their feet with strong flavor (but wonderfully strong) I will grind up dry roasted sunflower seeds, grind them to a powder and mix half and half with spicy mix and this is delicious also. Be sure to roll and roast the chicken pieces in healthy coconut oil for a crisp and flavorful crust.

Coating homemade french fries and oven roasting in a coconut oil coating with this mix is yummy too. Great for hot lunch on a cold day.

That's all I can think about right now. (I may remember in the middle of the night what else I do with this versatile spice mix and run downstairs and add a few other ideas (sorry, I'm too heavy a sleeper for that)

In the next few days I'm going to divulge what I found in my pantry, fridge, and medicine cabinet with the offending ingredient. (blush)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Hidden Names of MSG

Many people today have at least heard of MSG and know a little of the damaging effects of MSG. What they may not realize is that MSG is in almost every bottled, bagged, frozen or canned processed food in the super market shelves today. It is added of course to enhance flavor but also to hide unwelcome tastes, and to cover inferior ingredients. MSG is in everything from crackers and soda pop to vitamins and toothpaste. (I might add being an avid label reader I have even seen it in disguised in a multitude of packaged "healthy foods" as well! says,

An excitotoxin is any substance that overexcites cells to the point of
damage -- it acts as a toxin. And there may be more to this public poison.
MSG can directly worsen autism, attention deficit disorder, and
hyperactivity. And MSG can cause the brain to be miswired, especially in the
womb and the first few years of life. That damage to brain connections can
mess up nearly any aspect of brain function, from the control of hormones to
behavior and intelligence. Many tests have been performed on mice and found
to cause severe brain damage over the natural lifespan of the mouse. AND
people are 5X as sensitive to the effects of MSG"
Further research shows that MSG is linked to Dementia and Altzeimers and it has an addictive nature to it as well. The very cells on your tongue can become so desensitized to taste that normal natural plain healthy foods taste blaa, with out flavor at all.

Since MSG is often a component of a formulation, it is not labeled as such. You've seen words like autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed protein, and whey protein. Each of these substances contain a percentage of glutamate, the harmful component of MSG.

On the list below is the term "Hydrolyzed Protein," Precription for Dietary Wellness says,

Hydrolyzed Protein is a natural flavoring from the animal blood or other decaying protein sources. This substance is then subjected to acid hydrolysis, concentrated hydrochloric acid at tempertures of over 200 F for 4-6 hours. Sodium hydroxide (which is sold commercially as Drano) is then added to neutralize the solution!"

By simply calling it something different, several chemical names are diguised to the average label reader. The following additives either is glutamate or always has MSG included in it's manufacture.

Here's the list so far
yeast extract, yeast food, yeast nutrient, autolyzed yeast, autolyzed yeast extract,
calcium caseinate, gelatin, glutamate, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed protein,
monopotassium glutamate, monosodium glutamate, MSG, sodium caseinate, textured protein, texturized vegetable protein, flavorings, natural flavor, malt extract, malt, natural pork flavor, beef or chicken flavoring, pectin, protein fortified substances, seasonings, soy protein, soy protein isolate, soy sauce extract, concentrated soy sauce, and soy sauce extract, whey protein, whey protein isolate, kombu extract.......


I'm going to add another to my personal banned list "tahini extract."

I bought a few packages of my favorite treat, halva, while up in Canada visiting family. I like to visit the Asian and Mid Eastern section of a particular grocery store because of it's relative inexpensive cost. Being a habitual label reader I noticed the ingredient "tahini extract." Hmm, sounded suspicious, but I foolishly bought it anyway. The first time I had some I noticed a slight heat sensation but didn't equate it with the treat. (dumb) The second time, a day later, it hit me full blast. It started with a slight fever, or raised temperature, then an instant runny nose and a craving for water, then about an hour later a massive headache. Upon going to bed about an hour after that I felt very nausious but managed to hold on to my stomach. (maybe it would have been better to let it go?) I knew instantly the very typical symptoms and scolded myself for my stupidity. I really should have known better. So I tossed the rest out and promiced to smarten up the next time.

So, I have now offically learned that anything that says (anything) extract or (anything) isolate, or (anything) protein is MSG in its varied and disguised form.

On a side note, there are natural sources of MSG that are relatively safe: peas, tomatoes, soy sauce and cheese and some Japanese vegetables such as Nori. (thanks, Milehimama for that comment added to my rough draft) Mushrooms for instance contain enough natural glutamites to enhance soups and stews with a wonderful flavor boost. Natural MSG is not as easily absorbed and is better tolerated by the body, BUT, if you do have a severe reaction to MSG you may also have a reaction to the naturally occuring forms as well.

So, If I have not exhausted you already with all the facts, I have a challenge for you all. Go check your cupboards, medicine cabinet and vitamin basket and see how many suspicious MSG ingredients you can find. I am looking to add to the list above or start a suspect list instead. (Then I'll do some more research to confirm any suspecious ingredients.) I may like to start a typical food or brand avoidance list for a future post.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's so great to see all of you visiting my blog and posting comments on my bloggy giveaway post. Welcome. I feel like I should be offering you all a cup of tea. If you are a committed bloggy giveaway enterer, (is that a word?) pop over to my daughter in law's blog, Keeper of the Home for some really good giveaways as well. I just might enter myself..if she'll let me.

Bloggy Giveaway


This is my first official bloggy giveaway. I have chosen a book that I have come across recently by best selling author, Jordon Rubin. His newest book is hot off the press and is called "Perfect Weight America, ...change your diet, change your life, change your world."
It includes recommendations for what foods to eat and which ones to avoid, and delicious fat burning recipes. (Who couldn't stand to loose 5 lbs at least?)

If you have never participated in a bloggy giveaway before, this is how it works. Just post a comment to this post, anything (nice) will do, and you will be automatically entered for the free draw. Be sure to leave some kind of a method for me to contact you if you won, email at least, and I'll let you know. I will be drawing on February 1st so expect an email on the 1st or 2nd-if you win! Open to all residences of USA and Canada. Happy giveaway fun.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Just enjoy your kids!

We awoke this morning to a bright and beautiful winter wonderland. We do not get snow much in here Seattle, WA, but when we do it is so pretty. Graydon and I went out for walk today to enjoy the pond ducks just up the street from us. We love to laugh at the ducks scrambling, slipping and slidding all over the ice when ever we get too close.

Graydon got a little cold in the icy temperatures. He claimed his head was freezing! He does tend to exaggerate a little!

And then....he claimed his head snapped off!
Kids these days!

A wise woman just said to me one day, "just enjoy your kids, they will not be with you forever, cherish each and every moment" no matter how corny!

You gotta love the kid!

Bloggy Giveaway!


Here is my first bloggy giveaway. I have chosen a book that I have come across recently by best selling author, Jordon Rubin. His newest book is hot off the press and is called "Perfect Weight America, ...change your diet, change your life, change your world." It includes recommendations for what foods to eat and which ones to avoid, and delicious fat burning recipes. (Who couldn't stand to loose 5 lbs at least?)

If you have never participated in a bloggy giveaway before, this is how it works. Just post a comment to this post, anything (nice) will do, and you will be automatically entered for the free draw. Be sure to leave some kind of a method for me to contact you if you won, email at least, and I'll let you know. I will be drawing on February 1st so expect an email on the 1st or 2nd-if you win! Open to all residences of USA and Canada. Happy giveaway fun.

Blocking the time in your day.

So far my goals of getting the house and my life in order this month in January are coming together. Some goals, such as getting my photo albums up to date, may not be accomplished but that's OK. I do tend to set rather high goals for my self but I'm not discouraged when I get only half of them accomplished. It just means I have the next set of goals already to go without much forethought.

One of the things I wanted to share with you is how I have been planning my time during the week in our homeschool. (I much prefer the term home education or home discipleship) I have found that blocks of time dedicated to certain tasks work really well for me and my way of thinking.

I have a "morning chores" block with includes the following, approximately 2-3 hours

Up, make beds.
My quiet time (Morning devotions)
Exercise, usually a half hour walk or a 50 min exercise video.
Prepare our morning smoothy or porridge (Canadian term for cooked oatmeal or other grain)

Start the days color of laundry

(Monday-dark laundry such as jeans etc)
(Friday- whites)
Odd days are for overflow and time to do folding if behind on that.

Start preparing for dinner, decide what to take out of the freezer or other prepare ahead tasks such as marinades, or dressings etc. General tidying.

Make any phone calls, or appointments that may be necessary. Pay bills, enter purchase amounts into budget forms, etc.
Generally get caught up on responsibilities before read aloud/discussion time. My boys have gotten up on their own (in my dreams), done their chores and made their beds (hopefully) and have started their table time work that they can do without me. My sons are responsible to accomplish some subjects on their own like Math, Spelling, Grammar. (if we are focusing on that right now)

Family worship/Read aloud/discussion. About 10.00Am- till 12 or 1:00. We all sit down with blankets and we read several books and generally enjoy ourselves together and read and discuss all of it. We have had some really great discussions that can carry on and on into the afternoon. Generally we read the Bible daily along with enjoying some hymns including one that we are learning the parts. We have been reading the The Thinking Tool Box, Truth Quest History, Whatever Happened to Justice by Richard Maybury, and some great literature after all that. We finish our read aloud time off with lunch and a table game of some kind, Word-i-go, Banana Grams, Boggle, or Yahtzee, or Clue just for fun.

Productive Free time
Afternoons are for any carry over work that I need to help them with such as drivers ED training for my oldest, or extra math help-generally from 1-3 or 4:00 pm

Sometimes we all work on writing improvement but generally this time is what we call Productive Free time where as our time must be used productively and actively in pursuit of an interest or passion, engaging in a project or study that is delight directed and individualized. This time also includes time for my individualized study that I am pursuing right now such as a new cooking method or pursuing my interest in raw food preparation, etc. At different seasons I use this time block to do a word study or read an information book in order to seek knowledge on a certain subject. It is important for your children to see you pursing your own education as well, and maybe even producing a product. (Further posts on that producing products in the future).

Graydon usually is found brainstorming a new game and creating it from scratch. Recently he has been turning to the creation and maintaining of a blog. (good writing skills) Jonathan has been working on his scroll saw projects lately or sometimes listens to GA Henty on tape.

Paid Work generally around 3-4:00PM. My boys have several paid work projects that they have developed, one of which is our book selling business on Amazon. They print the shipping labels and pack up any online orders that we have gotten over the weekend or throughout the day. I generally answer any customer service issues or inquiries as well at this time. In the summer my oldest has a lawn mowing schedule that he carries out on specific days.

4:45 Sharp! I head out the door for the 5 min drive to the post office and when I return and have processed our own mail, get dinner going full speed. The boys have free time till after dinner when they take turns cleaning up the dishes.

Family time (evening) is to be spent as a family but honestly most of it is spend watching my husband sleep in his chair. He has long hard days and is generally done with his day when he gets home. I usually get on the computer at this time and pursue any left over business of the day, answer personal emails, write a few new ones and post to my blog, list any new inventory, research new products to sell on line, list on Ebay, etc. If I get to bed by 10 or 11:00 it is a miracle as I am a night hawk and much prefer the silence of the night to type and think than the noise of the day. (private confession)

That pretty much wraps up the routine and the blocks of our day, with some variations, of course. Our 1 day of the week outing- Friday afternoon where we do all the errands, grocery and Walmart shopping which we all look forward to. We also make this our paid work time as we are often out scouting for new inventory on Fridays.

Friday night is movie night, if I can find a good one. If not we do something else, like play a game.

The benefits of Blocking the time on your day is the ability to switch around the blocks to accommodate flexibility without compromising focus. If an appointment happens in the middle of the day, you can adjust your day by moving Read aloud/discussion to first thing the morning and then having Chores or PFT when we come back from our appointment. Paid work will be done before we leave as well so we can mail out any shipments as we pass the post office. Focus and responsibility is maintained while preventing the realities of life from writing off the whole day.

Anyway, that's the ideal day. It doesn't always happen that way but when off schedule for various events and circumstances we do have something to work back towards.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Purpose of Education

I'm thinking on starting a series of posts perhaps on Sundays as to why we as a family have chosen to educate our children at home. Every family seems to have different reasons and a different starting point but I will chronicle for you the path that the Lord has had us on the last 17 years and that we are still on to this day.

Perhaps I can see my main responsibilities coming to a close in the near future with our youngest at home being 15 now. The pain of seeing our family shrink in numbers as one by one my children fly the nest is only balanced by the pride I have in them as I see them becoming wonderful adults, spouses and parents themselves.

Whether you home educate or not the purpose of your children's education is not academics as many may suppose. In fact, some think that the homeschool movement was started by God Himself in order to get ahold of the parents hearts. (bring them to their knees-spoken by experience) Any home educating parent quickly learns to cry out to God for help as we see plainly we cannot do it in our own strength.

The most often quoted verses that many consider the premier navigating passage in the Bible has a direct command to educate our own children in a certain way.

Deuteronomy 6:4.

The curriculum
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. (The parents hearts first)

The Designated Faculty
Impress them on your children. (a mentoring and discipling relationship)

The Most Effective Method of Instruction
Talk about them when you sit at home, (You are together at home not going in separate directions) and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (living with your children together as a family unit) Tie them as symbols on your hands (your hands are mostly in front of your own face) and bind them on your foreheads. (for your children to see you living out our faith daily)

The Site of Instruction
Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

I will close today with a portion of prose that I had tucked in my homeschool files/notebook. Author unknown.

If I learn my ABC's, can read 600 words per minute, and can write with perfect penmanship, but have not learned how to communicate with the Designer of all language.... my education is not complete.

If I have memorized addition facts, multiplication tables, and chemical formulas, but have never disciplined myself to hide Gods' word in my heart, my education is not complete.

If I can classify animals by their family, genus, and species and can write lengthy papers that wins awards but have not been introduced to the makers purpose for all creation my education is not complete.

If I can recite the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution but have not been informed of the hand of God in the history of our country, my education is not complete.

If I can play the piano, the violin and six other instruments and can write music that moves men to tears but have not learned to listen to the director of the universe and worship Him my education is not complete.

If I can run cross-country races, star in basketball , and do 100 push ups without stopping but have never bent my will to do God's will my education is not complete.

However, If I see the world as God sees it and come to know Him Whom to know is life eternal, and glorify God by fulfilling His purpose for me, then my education is complete.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How to save HUNDREDS of dollars per year.

One of the ways that I have learned to economize over the years is by cutting my own children's hair. I've done it so long now, I had no idea what it actually cost these days for a man's haircut. Apparently $20.00 is average here in Seattle, so I based my savings calculations on this amount. (see end of post for more details)

It helps greatly to have a home hair cut kit but you can do without. It will just take a whole lot longer and it probably won't be as good a job. We have a Sunbeam razor and it works great. We also use two very old cheap shower curtains. One as a drop sheet under the chair and another as a shoulder cover. Clean up is very quick and efficient.

Start with a victim, um, model to "practice" on, (just kidding) and follow this simple plan. I use the longest attachment and it actually cuts quite short. I start by buzzing or shaving from the back up. Move along to the top and continue till all is done except the very front hairline.

You may have to endure "Are we done yet?" half way through!

Then cut the front hair the exact length that you want it to be finished.

Then you will need to pull the front hair up and cut off the longest hairs that will even out the front tapered look. Otherwise you'd have a ridge (or bump) of uncut hair. (Alternately you could just shave the whole head-it just seems a little too short in the front to look professional)

Take the length adaptor off and with the bare razor shave the sides to be nice and even.

And shave the back neck area.

And you are done. It takes me about 10 -15 min per person including clean up time and your children will thank you profusely,.. well, at least, "Thanks mom" will do. I have cut all three of my boys hair over the years and cannot possibly account for the savings accrued, but just calculating my two boys at home now, and my husband (yes, he lets me cut his hair too,) based on a hair cut every 6 weeks at $20.00 each. That's an average of 8 cuts per year per person times 3 equals....drum roll.... approximate savings of $480.00 per year.

AND I have not even calculated in how much I save by cutting my own hair. Yes, this can be done. It isn't as hard as it may sound. It just takes some practice. The hardest part is taking pictures of this procedure so I may not try. Based on approximately 6 cuts per year (every two months?) at only $25.00 per cut (a rough estimate?) looks like an additional savings of $150.00.

Totalling all that up, there is a potential savings of $630.00! All with the use of a 25.00 hair razor and a good sharp pair of scissors. NOT BAD.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm a Woman on a Mission

This Month, January, I had some steep goals. I wanted to get my house in order for some reason, any reason, if only just to be able to refocus and start moving forward with some other goals I had in mind. It's funny how unfinished tasks and disorder can weigh you down and clutter up your motivation.

Distractability must be a problem of mine as the intentional focusing needed to accomplish lofty goals doesn't come easy. But Oh, what a charge you can get when you check off another area of accomplishment, another room tidyied, another drawer done. Once things are in order, it is much easier to set up routines and maintain that order with daily and weekly chores. Spring cleaning can be addictive!

Please don't get me wrong - my house is not a complete mess. In fact I do get the occasional compliment that I keep such a lovely home. But it is not an organized home and that has always bothered me. Plus, being married to a neatie, exasperates the problem. Anything out of order drives my husband to distraction, literally.

I do love organizing and so to set up these schedules is my thing. That's fun! Doing them is another. That's work! And on top of that I am coming to terms with the lack of training I have worked in my two boys at home.

Well, OK all four of them.
My daughter in law is very gracious in mentioning that she has noticed her sweet husband's "artsy" nature as well. (Artists are messy people! Creativity is a wonderful thing but is almost a polar opposite from "neat and orderly")

And my grown daughter, well, what can I say, she really is an artist! Not much hope there.

So I have been realizing that I still have some character training to do on my myself and my children still at home.

A list for this and a list for that. What would I do without lists! They are motivating, and never ending but I could not do without one. (or two, if I cannot find the first one)

So, we are off again to assess and refocus on what is left to do and then prioritize that list and start some plans for February. Once the physical house is in order I have some spiritual and educational goals to accomplish. (Future posts brewing)

I'm a woman on a mission. Hear me roar!

"Dear Elliot" - 99 Balloon Salute

Many tears flowed when I viewed this precious video. How bittersweet this life can be, and yet knowing from whence we came and to where we go makes bitter and sad parting just a time of longing to see our precious loved ones again.

Sweet remembrances of my own sweet Jenny, born with trisomy 21 and a congenital heart defect, flood back to my memory through the tears. She was taken home after only a short year and a half of her life with us here on this earth.

I'll bet you are playing with Elliot right now! Miss you so much sweetie!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Raising Money Smart kids

Raising money smart kids.... that is quite a challenge in today's have now-pay later culture.

I came across a story by a smart parent that shows incredible insight as to the training that goes into the raising of money smart kids. This parent uses the "Kids Wealth Money kits" that we now have in stock on our RaisingEntrepreneursAtHome website

(Just so you know what he is talking about- the plan account recommends 20% of the total Kid's Pay amount be allocated to this account. This fund is used to purchase something relatively costly, like a bike. )

"My wife and I were with our kids, Mike and Meaghan (age 5) at Toys R Us buying a present for one of my nephews. When Meaghan saw her perfect purple Barbie Jeep she said, "Dad, can I have that?"

She tried it out by driving it up and down the aisle.

She was so excited, so she asked again...

"Can I?"

"Of course you can - it's $400 and you can PLAN for it."

"Can get I it now?" she asked again.

"Well, how much do you have in your Plan Account?"

"$50", she told me.

"Well, you need $350 more, and so in seven months you can get it."

I really wanted to buy it for her because I knew she would love me so much if I had bought it right then and there for her. But she was happy just knowing she could get it someday by making a plan to purchase it.

It did turn out that 5 months later, we happened to be in the same store and the Barbie jeep was discounted to $300, and she asked again if she had enough, and this time she did. So off we went to get the $300 from her Plan Account and she bought her Barbie Jeep.

Was she ever proud!

She told all her friends how she planned for it and finally paid for it with her own money. We sold it 2 years later for $150 which she then used towards her next planned item.

Teaching your kids to plan instead of save may be a minute difference in vocabulary usage BUT the outcome difference could be huge.

Anyone can save (well almost anyone) but not everyone can plan. It is a skill that is learned and reinforced hopefully in childhood.

What this can do for a child (and adults as well) is it teaches kids that larger purchases are possible, and not wrong because they are expensive - as long as you can plan for it, (and it is a worthy goal) you can get it.

It allows kids to make personal decisions for things they want to have (with your approval).

Again, the appropriate, consciously used language is key.

Let me ask you to say out loud the following two sentences:

"I want to save for a vacation"

"I want to plan for a vacation"

Now tell me: Which one feels more empowering and motivating?

Saving implies sacrifice, and while some may argue that it is good for kids to sacrifice, I believe it is not necessary to be negative about it.

Rather, if your child wants a bike, that's great!

Let's PLAN on how they can achieve that goal by training them in money smart skills now while they are still in our homes.

There were no such financial helps like the Kids Wealth Money Kits when my oldest two were at home and by the time I discovered them my youngest 2 at home had well gone beyond the need for the beginning stages of these great kits.

They are ideally suited for the 3-4 year old and up to ages 12-14.

But I do recommend them for those ages. They are excellent training for children AND they train the parents on how to train the child. Parents are in the lead here which is what I like the most.

I only wish I had come up with the idea to market my ideas and methods that we used when my oldest were at home.

Click here to check out our blastoff opening sale on the Kids Wealth Money Kits that I will be announcing in about a week from today.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Are you teaching your child to be a lifetime learner or learn or to be a deep thinker?

As homeschooling parents we all know that to teach your children to be lifetime learners is one of the most desirable traits and skills you can do for your children. But is your goal too shallow if all you teach them is to be a learner, to always learn but never to able to arrive at a conclusion? Could it be that being a thinker is a deeper and much more scriptural principle?

Today's school system is set up to teach learning and not thinking. It used to be when our grandparents went to school that the goals then were to teach thinking skills and their eighth grade graduating diploma gave them a much higher level of thinking than our twelve years of schooling does today. Perhaps the claim is that there is more information to impart now than there was several generations ago? Perhaps, but that may just be the point! Modern day schools with dialectic teaching and testing methods teach knowledge which is always going to be incomplete and full of gaps and not thinking and reasoning skills which is critical in bringing our children to maturity in discernment skills.

Furthermore to teach someone to think is to teach them the difference between right and wrong. To be able to reason the truth by principle is the deepest and most foundational education that we can give our children. They can learn what Mom or Dad might think about this or that but to reason and discern truth based on principle is the ultimate goal to leave as our Godly heritage.

Doesn't a thinker have to learn? Yes, but does a learner have to think? No. A learner is graded on how many facts and pieces of information he can parrot back usually on a test. By that definition a computer is an excellent learner but it cannot think! Does God want blind obedience or deliberate choice? Does He want our children to think and choose wisely or to just do as they are told without the reason or promise of a blessing? Let's not produce robots in the education of our children! Let's teach them to reason, even to reason with God himself. “Come now let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow!”

Learners know facts and yet thinking is discouraged. Thinkers deal in ideas and concepts and reasoning is the goal. To the learner the more facts the better but the thinker knows that the facts are important and they can be found when necessary.

Learners look at the effects; thinkers looks at the cause. Learners don't care why, things just happen and sees man as the focus of history. A thinker constantly asks why and understands the cause and effect principle. A thinker also views history providentially. A thinker is one who can apply thought processes to circumstances and is able to extract truth. The bottom line is a learner is paid for what they know. A thinker is paid for how they think, the basis of the entrepreneurial mind!

Teach your children to ask why, but don't tell them the answers. Teach them to search, to hypothesize and to reason the answers through the knowledge that they already have. The ability to craft a good question is a sign of intelligence and it is so important to surround yourselves with people who think and challenge your thinking. Of course, there is no higher call and better example you can set for those in your charge than for those thinking mentors to be your children's parents!

Knowledge is cautiously esteemed in the scriptures but we are implored to embrace wisdom. Wisdom cannot be taught; it must be reasoned and ultimately comes as a gift of God. Therefore, to be a truly accurate thinker is to be Biblically minded. A Biblical thinker is constantly comparing the ideas presented to him with the Word of God, to discern what is Truth and what is a lie. A Biblical thinker truly fears God over man which we know from Scripture is the beginning of wisdom! Let's teach our children to be wise through the practice of excellent thinking skills, and to lead their future families, this wayward culture and possibly our nation by being true Biblical thinkers!
Janet Langford

Your parental rights are threatened by the UN!

Please take the time to check out this website. It is really important that as many people as possible join this campaign by signing their petition. brings together everyone who agrees that the vital role of parents in the lives of children should not be undermined by government action or policy. I'm standing with them and I know this will be of vital importance to you and your family as well.

When you go to their site click on the "Learn" tab at the top of the page to find out more information about how an amendment is needed to our constitution to protect us from the extreme threat of a United Nations treaty for children's rights that is being sent to countries around the globe to sign. Once signed, rights of the children will supersede those of the parent AND an U.N. sanctioned international court's ruling trumps our laws unless the constitution specifically states that an international court cannot decide our cases. If our next president should sign this treaty (Britain already has and is suffering the whiplash) without a Constitutional amendment in place, your right to homeschool and your children's right to someday homeschool their children could end in this country not to mention the devastating results of stripping parents of their parental rights. I never realized the ramifications of this treaty nor the power of international law. Homeschool families in Germany are having their children taken away from them and having to leave the country because the state deems the parents too dangerous to educate a child and the state is viewed and legally supported as more safe to raise a child. This is very real. Please take the time to check out their website and spread the word. I really can't emphasize this enough.

Camera Advice Anyone?

That's it. My camera has died. Well, I cannot complain. My son got it at a garage sale for two dollars about two years ago. It really did take good pictures so I was happy with the good buy and the results. (The rechargeable batteries inside were worth more than two dollars!) But all good things eventually come to an end and this is it.

Can anyone tell me what features you really love on your camera, what kind (brand) you have and why. I feel like I'm swimming in a world of techno-information and they all look alike to me. I have one shot to get the best buy, and the best features. Any tips or recommendations?

PS, The picture above....I used to sell this type of camera in the camera department of a general store that I worked in in my teenage years!!! Does that let you in on why I feel overwhelmed with the techno-gyberish of today?!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Lego Church!

Yes, this was created by an adult hobbyist Amy Hughes, on her own time, with her own money. She says it took approx 75,000 bricks, and about a year and a half to plan it, build it and photograph it. It seems to sit in her living room and is 7 ft by 5 1/2 feet by 30 inches.

The auditorium seats 1372 "people" and includes 3976 windows. It features a balcony, a Narthex, stairs to the balcony, restrooms, coat rooms, several mosaics, a nave, a baptistery, an altar, a crucifix, a pulpit and an elaborate pipe organ. (For Amy Hughes website click here. )

I thought that I'd post this amazing work of art/architecture to introduce a posting series on the importance of recording your children's learning projects, games, science fair entries, and yes, even their Lego projects. (not that any of my children - as creative and ingenious as they are- have yet produced a masterpiece like this) We photographed our boys projects and then created Lifestyle of Learning notebooks. I have documented (through photos) quite a bit of my boys "work" but most of it has been recorded on regular film, not on digital. (so I will have to photograph the photos.)

A notebook of projects also becomes their portfolio of their high school years and a wonderful memory book of their whole childhood. Adding narrations of materials used, problems encountered, etc, is a natural way to add writing to their "curriculum" making their notebook very "life related."

So over time I will post some of the entries that we have done in their notebooks to encourage you and to spark ideas of what you can do to create that spark that ignites the passion of learning in your child. Who knows how high their passions can take them, right Amy ?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A delicious RAW onion cracker recipe.

In keeping with my goal of consuming between 30% and 50% raw foods this year I thought that I would post a very interesting recipe that I found on Dr Mercola's site a few weeks ago. Raw Onion Bread is more like a cracker than a bread but don't be shied away by the name, this is delicious! Reminiscent of old fashioned onion soup mix straight from the package, it is full flavored and is great with just about any savory topping you can come up with - hummus, tomato salsa, guacamole, etc.

You will need a dehydrator (or you might be able to dry it in your oven, but most ovens do not go low enough. Remember this is to be RAW, not just dried)

3 large onions, red or yellow sliced very fine or chopped in a food processor very fine.
3/4 c. flax seeds, ground
3/4 c raw sunflower seeds, ground
1/2 c. Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or you could use regular soy sauce)
1/3 c. organic cold pressed olive oil.

Combine all ingredients and mix well by a hand.

Spread the batter out to approx 1/4 inch thickness onto dehydrator trays. You will need some kind of a flat sheet that covers the plastic screen on most dehydrators. They can usually be bought as an accessory to your brand of dehydrator.

Set on 115 degrees and leave for about 12 hours or overnight. Check in the morning and if ready turn over and dry another 12 hours.

When ready it will be crispy and you can cut it or break it into pieces and serve or store for later.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere, But We Are Not Drinking a Drop of It!

What an evening! I just had the awesome privilege of hearing live a wonderful speaker and health food advocate Jordon Rubin, author of New York Time's Best Seller, The Maker's Diet. He is on a 40 week speaking tour around the country starting in San Diego and ultimately ending back in San Diego again promoting his newest book, Perfect Weight America. He was enjoyable, entertaining and very informative. He definitely has a mission and purpose in life and I think He WILL be successful.

His mantra, Change your diet- Change your life - Change your world. His goal is to the see America educated and losing weight, a mission that I think is timely and highly necessary.

One of his many methods for attaining our ideal weight was the simplest and cheapest of all and yet we are not doing it. ....the drinking of water, plain water, purified water, (not tap water) every day.

If you have a headache, drink 8 oz of water, 10 min later drink another 8.
If you remember your headache 10 min later then try something herbal but chances are you won't have to.

If you are hungry, drink water. Most of the time instead of thinking we are hungry we are actually thirsty.

If you are tired, drink water. Water is the ultimate energizer.

If you have allergies, don't take an antihistamine. Antihistamines are designed to dilute the histamines, right? Why not dilute those histamines naturally with plain, safe and cheap water! It works! (From experience I can say that if you realy drink a lot of water when you get an alergy attack, the symptom will get temporarily worse as the dilutions starts to occur. Hang on it gets better soon)

If you are depressed, drink water, the natural serotonin carrier.

Don't drink coffee to wake up in the morning - drink water. It's surprising how awake you will be quite quickly as water hydrates and primes the engines for the days work.

If you crave carbs, drink water. It will speed up your digestion and make carb metabolism more effective.

If you are overweight, drink water. Only water is the perfect fluid replacement to regulate body temperature, carry nutrients and oxygen to the cells, cushion joints, protect organs and tissues, remove toxins and maintain strength and endurance. Studies show that your metabolism will speed up by 30%. Water hydrates your cardiovascular system, irrigates your digestive track and helps to eliminate waste products.

Okay, okay, enough already? "How much do I have to drink?"

It's really quite simple and based on your present body weight. Drink 1/2 oz per pound of body weight, every day. So if you are 150 lbs you need 75 oz of water daily, (and if you are short one day you need to try to make up that shortfall the next day)If you exercise, you need more water daily.

The first step to a new you in 2008 is get healthy, America. I will be watching Jordon's tour with interest as I think he may have a significant impact through this coming year. If the standing room only talk he did tonight was any indication of the growing awareness and desire to make some positive changes, I believe he may well have to book larger venues as the year progresses. See his website for a free online coaching program.
For tour dates and locations see the partial list that I expect will updated as venues open.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Did someone mention the word ..B..B..BUDGET?

One of the deep, abiding and most delightful passions of my whole life has been the running of the family budget. (I know, I know, I need to grab a life)

One of my earliest childhood recollections was of my father writing on a piece of scrap paper his monthly income, minus groceries, minus heat, minus gas/insurance, etc = 0. The light went on. I could see first hand cause and effect. I was probably 6 or 7 at the time but it started a passion that I would hold for the rest of my life.

Fast forward to a newly married couple and a few children and lean times again. My husbands salary had been cut by 1000.00 per month and what was already tight, became impossible. Somehow, since I was the major spender, (interpret that major provider of material goods and food items) I had to make that cut in pay work. I read every book, studied budgeting programs, and worked every cash system there was until I had perfected my own. I loved it. It gave me a rush to have conquered, to have mastered circumstances instead of circumstances mastering me. We not only stayed out of debt during those impossible times but almost completely paid off our mortgage (we moved about three months before the final payment!)

That was a few years ago now and we have well recovered from those lean times. However, one of the wonderful overflow benefits has been that passion made me teach my children everything that I was learning. I made sure my children had financial intelligence and responsibility before they left home. They knew how to run a budget with a zero balance, knew the dangers of debt and I saw them operating a system with self control before they went out in the world.

Today, I am proud of them all (the grown up ones as well as the two still at home) In fact, so much so that I want to feature an article that my own sweet tender little boy wrote. Um, well OK, so he is 27 and married now but he's still my sweet tenderhearted little boy who loved his Mommy so much. He now loves his wife and his children so much and is full of Biblical and financial conviction. (And a little tip, ladies. You do not loose a son when he gets married, you gain a daughter-in-law, and then she gives you sweet babies as well, as a heritage! Oh, what a blessing!)

Take a look at this post on my daugher in law's blog, Keeper of the Home about a wonderful BUDGET SOFTWARE PROGRAM that my son and daughter in law use.

Ooh, I'm feeling tingles up my spine. Someone must have mentioned the "B" word.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Many Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Many years ago I remember my mother telling me the dangers of tropical oils. She wouldn't buy crackers made with palm oil or any other products with the deadly heart damaging oil. How far we have come. Much info and misinformation has been propagated by the oil refining companies that has hidden the actual health benefits of this highly saturated natural oil. In fact, coconut oil is so beneficial it is now slated as a safeguard against the deadly disease killers today, cancer and heart disease.

Below is an excerpt from the book, Nourishing Traditions.
Tropical oils are more saturated than any other vegetable oil. Palm oil is about 50%saturated, with 41 % oleic acid and about 9%linoleic acid. Coconut oil is 92% saturated with over two-thirds of the saturated fat as medium chain fatty acid. Of particular interest is lauric acid, found in large quantities in both coconut oil and mother's milk. This fatty acid has both antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
.... these oils are stable and can be kept at room temperature for many months without becoming rancid. Highly saturated tropical oils do not contribute to heart disease but have nourished healthy populations for milennia.

From "The Coconut Oil Miracle"
When taken as a supplement, used in cooking, or applied directly to the skin, coconut oil has been found to promote weight loss, help protect against many diseases, strengthen the immune system, improve digestion, and prevent premature aging of the skin.

Another quote,
It is easily digested by the body and unlike other fats (which tend to go to fat stores), the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are used by the body for metabolism. Coconut oil is uniquely rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid chain that is a prime ingredient in mother's milk, which helps to protect infants from sickness. The lauric acid becomes 2-monolauren in the stomach which has been shown by research to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitical properties

I have been using this wonderful lightly fragrant coconut oil for a few years now with great results. The oil is excellent for frying, having the most highest flash point of any oil on the market today. (meaning it will not become rancid and contain damaging free radicals either when over heated.) Baking with coconut oil also produces light and fluffy results that maintains the freshness longer than low fat baked goods.

BUT, there has been just one issue that I have struggled with over this past few years! The cost of coconut oil is high! At over $30.00 per half gallon it puts it out of the league for the budgeting healthy consumer. Searching for a solution, I came across Mountain Rose Herbals a company out of Oregon that has 1 gallon of organic, cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil for less than what I regularily pay for a half gallon. (1 gallon for $28.00 compared to a half gallon for $32.00!) Furthermore, if I like this product I can purchase a 5 gallon bucket at $121.00 and maybe share it around with some friends and share the further savings as well.

If you have never tried the light and delicious flavor and benefits of coconut oil, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Read the Label!

Continuing on our theme of the totally unnecessary inclusion of one of North America's biggest diet fixes, soft drinks. Let’s take a look at some of the other major components in just one can of soda, again taken from Dr Mercola's site, the leading healthy website on the net!

Phosphoric Acid: Which can interfere with the body's ability to use calcium, leading to osteoporosis or softening of the teeth and bones. It also neutralizes the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which can interfere with digestion, making it difficult to utilize nutrients.

Sugar: It is a proven fact that sugar increases insulin levels, which can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, premature aging and many more negative side effects. Most sodas include over 100 percent of the RDA of sugar. Sugar is so bad for your health in so many ways, I even created an entire list outlining 100-Plus Ways in Which Sugar Can Damage Your Health

Aspartame: This chemical is used as a sugar substitute in diet soda. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption including brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epilispsy/seizures.

Caffeine: Caffeinated drinks cause jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, breast lumps, birth defects, and perhaps some forms of cancer.

Tap Water: I recommend that everyone avoid drinking tap water because it can carry any number of chemicals including chlorine, trihalomethanes, lead, cadmium, and various organic pollutants. Tap water is the main ingredient in bottled soft drinks.
Clearly, the over-consumption of sodas and sweet drinks is one of the leading causes fueling the world-wide obesity epidemic.

One independent, peer-reviewed study published in the British medical journal The Lancet demonstrated a strong link between soda consumption and childhood obesity. They found that 12-year-olds who drank soft drinks regularly were more likely to be overweight than those who didn't. In fact, for each additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink consumed during the nearly two-year study, the risk of obesity jumped by 60 percent.

Here’s another sobering fact if you’re struggling with weight issues: Just one extra can of soda per day can add as much as 15 pounds to your weight over the course of a single year!

Other statistics on the health dangers of soft drinks include:

One soda per day increases your risk of diabetes by 85 percent
Soda drinkers have higher cancer risk. While the federal limit for benzene in drinking water is 5 parts per billion (ppb), researchers have found benzene levels as high as 79 ppb in some soft drinks, and of the 100 brands tested, most had at least some detectable level of benzene present

Soda has been shown to cause DNA damage – courtesy of sodium benzoate, a common preservative found in many soft drinks, which has the ability to switch off vital parts of your DNA. This could eventually lead to diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson's

If you are still drinking soda, stopping the habit is an easy way to improve your health. Pure water is a much better choice, or if you must drink a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice.

There is absolutely NO REASON your kids should ever drink soda. None, nada, zip, zero. No excuses. The elimination of soft drinks is one of the most crucial factors to deal with many of the health problems you or your children suffer.


Coke. It's the real thing - real dangerous!

Here is a fascinating article that I got off from Dr Mercola's site yesterday, about the habit of drinking coke. You may want to sit down with a cold glass of.....water!

Do you want to be healthy? Drinking soda is bad for your health in so many ways; science can’t even state all the consequences. Here’s what happens in your body when you assault it with a Coke:

Within the first 10 minutes, 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. This is 100 percent of your recommended daily intake, and the only reason you don’t vomit as a result of the overwhelming sweetness is because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor.

Within 20 minutes, your blood sugar spikes, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.

Within 40 minutes, caffeine absorption is complete; your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream.

Around 45 minutes, your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain – a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.

After 60 minutes, you’ll start to have a sugar crash.

Nutrition Research Center October 24, 2007

Friday, January 11, 2008

Go READ your vegetables!

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Inspire, don't require?" So have I. In fact, I have have used it and I even believe in it. Inspiring your kids to great activities and great reading is imperative to their success in their home education if you want them to continue to love learning all their lives.

However, sometimes, just sometimes, they need a little kick start. Occasionally they get in a rut (as we all do) and waiting for inspiration seems like a long winded ordeal. At these times I tend to lean a little heavier on require than inspire in order to get things moving again. It is a balance of both with sparing use of "require" from time to time.

We all know that some foods have an acquired taste and so it is with reading. Shakespeare may not appeal at first taste. Neither can some historical novels or great biographies. However the importance of them can not be understated. The vibrant energy that we get from truly inspirational lives put in print is worth every effort to get them to taste and see.

Furthermore, learning to love harder material is a stepping stone that we do want our children to eventually embrace. I refer to a step up in reading challenge or a gentle reading requirement as READING your vegetables. It takes work to digest vegetables and they are an acquired taste for many but the health benefits are far reaching. Vibrant education, articulate vocabulary and a solid Christian worldview are a few of the many benefits of healthy vegetable reading.

Conversely, a diet of junk food reading - comic books and some serial novels can dumb down and allow the reading palate to become dull. True, a little may not hurt you in the long run but a steady diet can make your heart sick and the desire for some time meatier tastes unpalatable.

So it is a wise mom who keeps a watchful eye over the reading choices of her children, and requires them to read a full balanced diet of science, history, biography and great literature. For a list of great meat and potatoes reading watch for future posts on the best of the best solid fiber and nutritional reading.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Real Life Learning-I wouldn't have it any other way!

One of the many benefits of having your children at home with you every day, is that they get to experience with you the daily events that make life real. If they were in a classroom all day their experiences would be contrived and scheduled and then graded. Many come out of 12 years of this assembly line eduction with just that, prestamped sameness, cookie cutter predictability and standardized test results.

Real life happens at our house. Sometimes it is the anticipation and preparation of the arrival of a special grandparent. Sometimes it is pulling over to the side of the road to fix a flat tire or handle another car problem. And sometimes our busy days stop completely in order to deal with a very painful event.

We buried our sweet little dog in the back yard yesterday. She had many problems and she was getting old. At 15 she had daily "accidents" and her little heart was so weak the blood was not getting to her lungs so she coughed a lot, gasping for breath. She had several tumors and sometimes bled from the rear area. The decision had to be made but it was just so hard to make it.

Yesterday had to be the day and I announced it to my teenage boys, "Go dig a hole." They knew what I meant. The tears flowed (mostly me) and I couldn't stop for a couple of hours. It was a painful day, getting those few preparations done. We ran a few errands on the way hoping to suspend the decision, I think. Last on the list was the Vet's office. We pulled in. I gathered myself together and approached the desk.

"Can I help you?"
"Yes," I squeaked. "We are here to have our dog euthanized."

What a cold word.

I did not make it past much more than that, searching the form I was to fill out through the tears pouring on the paper and smudging the ink. My boys were beside me with their arms around my shoulder, comforting ME! We must have been a sight! The lady in the back finally came to gently take her away and we said our brief goodbye's. They were kind and compassionate and I appreciated that. We were instructed to wait around the side door and we stood in the cold in muted silence fighting tears and wondering when it would be over. They finally came out with a box and her favorite down blanket covering her. She always liked to be covered up. The tears flowed again and we drove home and buried her beside the shed.

We were together the whole day through the pain, tears and the sadness and I would not have had it any other way. My two son's gentleness and tenderness was not only a support for me but they handled their grief in a manly dignified manner, important for them as well. It had to be done; they knew that, and we went through it together. We will have a few days of quiet I know, because grief must have it's time.

All of these real life events make up who our children are and will be in their future. Let's not ever separate our children from real life, in whatever form it may take-for the benefit of all of us.

Beanie, (Beanie Baby) January 26th, 1994 - January 8th, 2008
We miss you, Beanie

Monday, January 7, 2008

Another Day, Another Dollar....SAVED!

With even more purchases of energy savings light bulbs and another day on the ladder and we expect to wrack up additional savings on our power bill thanks to a great sale on compact fluorescent light bulbs.

We have a big house, probably too big for just the four of us at home now and so the power it takes to run this baby is steep. When my husband came home with his arms loaded with .....lightbulbs I thought he'd blown a fuse! But as he mentally calculated the difference it could make in our power bill, sparks ignited more potential savings in my imagination. This is how we worked it out.

We took out 5000 watts of potential power usage (66 light bulbs!) and replaced them with approximately 1000 wattage of potential use. That gave us a 4000 watt "savings," an 80% difference on the light bill! He estimated approximately 4 hours per day useage on every bulb in the house (which might be rather high)times 8 cents per KW charged with our power company = 1.28 per day X 365 days equals a savings of $467.00 per year. Minus the $50.00 invested in the bulbs yields an approximate savings of over $400.00 per year providing the bulbs last as long as a year. (They are advertized to last 7 years) That's over 1.00 per day, hence another day and other dollar - saved.....and we all know that a dollar saved is a dollar earned.
Any which way you look at it, I'm having a blast. Just call me the Merry Misery Mom. I'm in my glee.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm so excited!

I love saving money! I get chills up my spine, shaky knees and yet feel empowered all at once. My husband came home from Costco today with a big box of ....light bulbs!
"Guess how much they were?"
I shuttered. I just happened to pay a whoppin' $7.00 for ONE of these very looking bulbs at Winco (my cheap store) and do so every time one of our 13 spotlights blow out.
"Well..guess", he insisted.
"Umm , $5.00 each?" I hoped.
"Nope, $4.00 for a package of 6!"
"No way," I exclaimed.
"Yup, they are not your normal bulbs, they are compact fluorescent bulbs using 75% less energy." Working out the wattage and voltage usage my electrician husband estimated a savings of $300-400 per year!"

He quickly installed them all. They do not come on instantly though and in fact when we first tried them we were a little surprised at the slowness to become fully bright. Once they warmed up, (5-15 sec? or so) they seemed as bright as what we have had before, brighter! Yeah, I can my eyes a little wider for that kind of savings. As long as the expected life span is as good as it says on the box we'll be set.

I am going to be checking our power bill and maybe charting it compared to last year this time to see if it makes a difference. I hope to shed some light on other ways we have learned to save money as well over the next few weeks. I'll keep you "posted!"

Friday, January 4, 2008

I Love January!

For a compulsive organizer, taking down the tree, packing up decorations, and vacuuming up the last of the Holiday cheer spurs a flurry of uncontrollable Spring cleaning. I know it isn't Spring yet but January is an excellent time to purge and replenish.

Have you ever noticed "white" sales are always in January? Furniture stores usually boast large sales numbers in January as well. I think it is more common that I thought. The urge to clean up and clean out comes naturally in the dark inside days of January. Furthermore, this is still our school break and I so rarely have start and "finish the job" time to spare so I am on a rampage, every closet, every drawer, everything in sight must have an excuse for being there. I become merciless in tossing, donating and reorganizing. And I'm in my glee. You see for compulsive organizers such as myself, this is the most delightful time of the year. I rethink systems, work on economizing products that we use, and restore order and fresh air in closets, etc. Some of the most inspiring books on cleaning and dejunking I have read are two books by Don Aslett:

Is There Life After Housework?
Clutter's Last Stand

Even though I read them years ago I still use many of the systems that I put in place almost 10 years ago. I still have spray bottles with dilutable cleaning solutions in every room for specific tasks. Bathroom cleaning takes only 3 and a half minutes when done daily. I can wash all the windows of my house, sparkling clean, inside and out in about two hours. (This is the only exception, I do NOT clean windows-in Seattle-in January. I let the rain do that.)

By the time Spring really does come I can be outside planting and preparing for a great summer show of blooms and tomatoes.

Being proactive throughout the year really does mean you can be on top of events and unexpected happenings as they come up instead of drowning in mess and dysfunction.

So, let's see, Kitchen drawers-done, laundry room-done, office and downstairs bathroom-done. Now, onto the school room. Hmm, I wonder if library late fees are tax deductible?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Purposeful Persimmons

I came across a winter salad recipe calling for persimmons. Quite honestly, I stumbled a little and thought, "What's a persimmon?" I had heard of them but had never bought or tasted one. I do not even know if I would recognise them at the grocery store, so to save face I did the only thing any honest homemaker would do. I sent my husband! With a cool and collected look on my face just as he was walking out the door I asked him to pick up a couple of persimmons at the grocery store. His reaction was worse than mine! "Persmidons? What's that?" I rolled my eyes and spelled them for him and told him to ask someone in the store or read the signs, "I want two, please," silently chuckling as I closed the door. I was astonished at the price of 2.00 for two tiny plum sized orangeish fruit but simply followed the directions and peeled them and chopped them for our evening meal.

Wow, I am sold! Persimmons are mine, to love and to hoard. They made a delightful color splash in our green salad and since then have tried them to my delight in a smoothie. Yum. AND, they are grown in the USA making them on my OK to buy list (No US banned pesticides.)
They are somewhat high in carbs and natural sugars but topping a salad makes for a moist sweet flavor boost amongst flat lettuce leaves. They are high in natural iron and vitamin c making them a great winter addition to our diets.

Persimmons are delicious whether eaten fresh, dried, or cooked. As a fresh fruit, they are unbelievable, perhaps the cross between a crunchy peach, and an sweet apple. However you might describe them, the taste of a fully ripened persimmon is superb-incomparable to any other fruit. (Persimmons are featured in the soon to be released book, "101 Foods that could Save your Life,")

Today, I found them at my local Winco grocery store chain (standing for Washington, Idaho, Nebrasca and Colorado,) for only 28 cents each! I filled my plastic bag with visions of what else I can try?
Hmmm,....How about homemade persimmon ice cream? I'll let you know how that turns out.