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Showing posts from February, 2012

Created for Work

First a word about JM Cremps. I LOVE their products! Totally focused on the interests of boys, they are well stocked in gear for camping, geocaching, fishing, woodcarving....the list goes on. This past Christmas I purchased all of The Boy's gifts from JM Cremps. I was introduced to this family-run company last year at the MACHE Homeschooling convention when I stumbled across their booth. Dad, Mom and sons were running the booth. I was impressed not only by their products but also by the way this family worked together. Last year the Star Tribune wrote about this family and their journey to starting a family business. You can read the article here

Last year I also stumbled across the book "Created for Work" by Bob Schultz and decided to add it to our curriculum. Each week The Boy and I would read and discuss a chapter of this book. God had his hand in this decision as the timing was perfect. Isaiah (The Boy...he's quickly outgrowing his nickname) was beginning to bec…

Monkey Bread

Before I begin mixing ingredients, I turn the oven on to 350, put half a stick of butter or 1/4 cup coconut oil in my cast iron skillet, and set in the oven to melt. I also start topping in a sauce pan on low heat using:
1 stick of butter
3 T. brown sugar
 ~Stir occasionally while the mixture melts.

While the oil is melting in the oven and the caramel sauce is cooking on the stove, I mix:

1 3/4 cup baking mix
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup coconut oil

Remove skillet from oven and pour butter/oil into the baking mix/milk. Stir well. 

Coat hands with a little baking mix (this will only help a little bit...this is a gooey, sticky mess) and roll dough into little balls (a bit smaller than a golf ball). Drop the balls into a bowl of cinnamon-sugar....roll around to coat and place sugar coated dough balls into the skillet (which is already well greased from melting the butter!). Fill skillet. Top with caramel sauce. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Careful…

One Hundred Jars of Baby Food on the Wall......

.....One hundred jars of baby food. Take one down, pass it around. Ninety-nine jars of baby food ....

What does one do when a friend drops off ONE HUNDRED jars of baby food? It's time to get creative. As you may have gathered by past postings, I love free stuff. I also love the challenge of making free stuff useful. I'm already dreaming of the things I'll use the little glass jars for but first I must find some uses for the food. I do have Princess (daycare baby girl) who will eat up some but she's nearing the stage of eating "normal" foods. I sent a bunch home with Princess and will keep a stock just for her but she'll never eat her way through this pile. 

I started the morning with a baby food smoothie. Yes, I did and yes, it was yummy, despite the weird combo that I choose. One small jar of spinach/carrot combo, one small jar of banana (c'mon, who doesn't like banana baby food?), and one small jar of blueberry applesauce. I topped off my baby foo…

Quick as a Cricket Lesson

Lessons on the fly, because that's how I do things. I start every fall with big dreams of structured, daily lesson plans for my preschool kiddos. And every year around mid-October I realize that daily life creates many more opportunities for learning. I like to talk (I know, most of you are shocked at this), so we talk. We talk a LOT at Laurie's Little Sprouts. We talk about colors when we're coloring, when we're eating (because fruits and veggies naturally lead to color conversation) and when we're looking at the colors in the sky. We talk about letters. We sing. We read. We play. WE bake. We create. We learn how to treat our friends with kindness and respect. We learn manners. So what's left? Not much. I don't think I need a lesson plan or a big planner full of lesson plans in order to teach. So the other day I was really excited about where our day took us. I couldn't have planned it any better.
 I am fortunate that the Early Childhood program in my c…

The Power of FIZZ

Have you ever made a model volcano erupt?  The kids LOVE it. Even The Boy, who has seen many mom-made volcanic eruptions, still loves the excitement of waiting for the fizz. The simple concoction of baking soda and vinegar is also a magical cleaning combo. A couple of weeks ago I was rushing around the kitchen (like that's a surprise) and accidentally dropped the coffee filter basket (full of moist, used coffee grounds) on the floor. I pulled out the vacuum which picked up most the grounds but a brown stain remained on the carpet. I wish I had taken a before and after picture however it wasn't until the carpet started fizzing that I even thought about blogging this. I mean really, this is just every day life at my zoo. I just sprinkled baking soda on top of the stain and carefully poured the vinegar. Then watched the fizz. It's an exciting part of my day. I get really excited when the fizz turns coffee brown as it lifts the stain from the carpet. Pretty cool. After the fizz …

Heart Candy

So easy and amazingly yummy......and probably full of high fructose corn syrup (I have purposely avoided reading the ingredient list on the back of the sweetheart package).

I used my silicone heart "muffin" pan (I've gotten my use out of that thing!) for this treat.

Measurements are approximate since I didn't measure.

1c. of Sweetheart Conversation Hearts (I crushed about 1/2 of them)
5 oz. of almond bark

Fill the bottom of each muffin space with sweetheart. Melt the almond barkPour melted bark on top of sweethearts. (I did not fill each space...only filled to an inch or so)Let cool (being impatient, I put mine in the freezer)Pop out of the pan and enjoy.  

Food Love

I show my love with food. I don't know if people appreciate this kind of lovin' but I sure enjoy cooking for those I care about.

Valentines Menu: Homemade Wheat Bread Roasted Red Potatoes with Mushrooms Roasted Asparagus Baked Salmon in an Orange Sauce Brownie with Ice Cream and Homemade Chocolate Sauce

My new favorite bread recipe is from Gwen's-Nest, the only thing I substituted was whole wheat flour. This bread is so easy and makes the best pizza crust! I'm not even going to bother giving you the directions for this bread because Gwen does it better. Check out her recipe here

I LOVE oven roasted potatoes (skillet potatoes). I rarely make them the same way twice. For last night's meal I quartered the potatoes, tossed the potatoes into a pan of boiling water for 5 - 10 minutes...just until potatoes are a little tender - easy enough to poke a fork into but not too soft. I find that the potatoes cook a little more evenly when I boil a bit before putting in the ove…

Happy Valentines Day

The ultimate Valentines gift, the ultimate gift EVER is Jesus Christ, a gift from our loving, heavenly Father.

I know that Valentines "stinks" for a lot of people. You may be alone - widowed, divorced, never wed. You may feel unloved. You maybe in a marriage that leaves you feeling alone and unloved. 

Wherever you are in your life know this, YOU ARE LOVED! Your heavenly Father loves you so much that he sent his son, Jesus, to live the life of a man here on earth. While Jesus walked the earth he suffered, like you have suffered. He hungered, like you have hungered. He was rejected and persecuted. Finally he died (and rose again!) for your sins. Why? Because HE LOVES YOU!

God can fill you with love, hope, and peace....if you allow him. 

Want proof?
John 3:16 For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 ...but God shows his LOVE for us in that while we were just sinners, Christ dies for us.

Valentine Schmalintine

How does one handle special days such as Valentines while still maintaining frugal and minimalism ideals? I'm really stumped. February and March are usually the months when I'm at my cheapest. I've begun saving up for the taxes that will need to be paid in April, I'm tightening my money belt after spending too generously over Christmas, not to mention that I'm still focusing on my financial goals for the new year.

For the most part I am not a card giver. Not only do I think cards are a waste of money but they are also a waste of resources. For birthdays I save a tree by giving a gift (in a reusable bag) and skip the sappy card that usually does say "it" right anyway. So a card just seems out of the question. I find it absolutely silly to spend $2 (often more) on something that is going to be read and then thrown away (hopefully in a recycle bin). Really, what is the point in that? Now if the recipient lives miles away that would justify a card. If the reci…

Time Savers

Last fall I realized that it was time for a new computer. My old computer was too slow for blogging and surfing for new ideas. After much debate, I settled on a laptop, and I'm so glad that I did. I love the mobility. Now when I find a recipe the computer goes with me. No more running back to the computer in the other room to see what step comes next. No more wasting paper to print up recipes. The other day I found that it's even useful to watching educational videos while I'm doing something else. Pandora can also follow us to whatever room we are in for a dance party (my kiddos like to dance).

Above I'm making a "Master Baking Mix" while watching a video on....something. Hmm. Beekeeping? Gardening? I don't remember. The Master Baking Mix is also a time saver. The dry ingredients are mixed in bulk and can be used to make pancakes, waffles, muffins, quick bread and biscuits. Having it made up ahead of time will save me time in the kitchen later.


LESS in 2012 ~ Less Commitments

One year ago I was overwhelmed with commitments. I was a Cub Scout leader, Women's Bible study co-leader, I was also involved in two different bible studies, and I was trying to fill my calendar with home parties to promote my Wildtree business. At night I'd rush out the door as soon as the last daycare kiddo were picked up. Later I'd rush home after my activities, exhausted, only to find the that the kitchen wasn't cleaned up during my absence so I'd angrily do the dishes, pick up the house and often times go to bed mad. The verbal conversation in my head was, "Can't my family see that I am busy. ALL.THE.TIME? Why can't they help?" until one day, at my breaking point, I prayed. And I prayed. I prayed until the verbal conversation in my head changed. Suddenly I wasn't trying to "fix" my family but I knew I needed to fix me. I learned that I can't expect my husband to have the same priorities (regarding household cleanliness) as …


I've attempted mozzarella on two separate occasions and both times I experienced failure.  After the second failed attempt I put my rennet tablets away and hadn't thought about making another attempt. Until now. FINALLY! SUCCESS! And I can now share with you how I did it. Also this becomes a permanent record for ME in attempts that I can once again replicate yesterday's cheese success (this is admission to my poor memory).  Ingredients: 1 gallon milk  1/8 t. calcium cloride 1/2 a rennet tablet (dissolved in water) 2 t. citric acid (dissolved in water)

Warm milk on low to med-low heat on the stove. I do this on low just in case I'm distracted (this is a common occurrence) from the kitchen. I'd hate to burn a whole gallon of milk! 

While the milk is warming, add calcium cloride and citric acid. Stir frequently to prevent the milk from burning at the bottom of the pan. (I had helpers with this part)

Once the temperature reaches 88 degrees, add dissolved rennet tablet. Stir fo…

Valentine Crayons

A couple of weeks ago I bought a heart shaped silicone mold at Hobby Lobby. My intentions were to use it in making Valentine candies.........
                  and then I saw this great idea on a crafting blog.  I started at the bottom of our crayon bucket, that's were all the broken, misfit crayons hide, dug out the misfits and if any labels was left, I peeled it off. The crayons were too hard for my little helper to snap into pieces so I snapped and she arranged. If you want to be more "controlling" of the color combinations, you may. I just went for the eclectic look, not being too concerned about complimentary colors or using all valentine colors. Besides, I had used most of my Valentine colored crayons in last weeks Melted Crayon art
The silicone molds are a little flimsy so to avoid melted wax all over my oven and/or stove, my carpet or more likely me (because that's the kind of thing that happens in my kitchen), I placed the mold on top of my baking stone and t…

Frugal Cleaning

Cost of cleaning supplies (including laundry soap): Less that $40 a year
The borax, washing soda and fels naptha, until now, have been used exclusively for laundry soap. Although I have rubbed stains with a wet bar of fels naptha before throwing the piece of clothing in the wash. I have also started to use borax in my "soaking pail" for cloth diapers. In a pinch I will use equal parts of washing soda and borax as a dishwasher det

Baking soda is used for almost anything! Scouring my sink, removing stains from my white counter tops, removing stains from carpet, removing urine stench from couch cushions (preschool nappers...need I say more?), carpet deodorizer, armpit deodorizer, shoe deodorizer, etc.

Vinegar can be used for drain cleaner, coffee pot cleaner, removes spots from glassware, and like baking soda, it also removes urine stench (removes the stench even better when used with baking soda).

Peroxide is not only used to clean cuts but also cleans countertops, removes st…

Valentine Crayon Art

I was hoping that my painters tape would hold up to leave a cool heart in the midst of the melted crayon. Unfortunately I think the tape lost some of it's sticky factor and didn't hold up. Next time I will try contact paper.  I used a "pancake mold" to make the template.
 Crayons were glued to the top of the canvas with a hot glue gun. We used an assortment of reds, pinks and purple.

 After the wax began seeping behind the tape, we tried holding the pancake mold to the canvas in hopes that that would save our heart but in the end I decided to ditch the heart. Another obstacle we faced was a dysfunctional hair dryer which preferred running on the low setting. Occasionally high setting would kick in for approximately ten minutes before reverting again to low. The low setting did not give enough heat to melt the crayons. It took most of the afternoon of running the dryer on high for ten minutes, letting the dryer cool off for twenty minutes and beginning the cycle aga…