Friday, May 30, 2008

Grow Your Own Mushrooms

9-10" Shiitake Mushroom Log

Product Description from Amazon:
"All-natural hardwood logs injected with shiitake spawn produce mushrooms every two months for years. Grow indoors with plants or outside in shade. To produce mushrooms, or "fruit" the log, soak it in non-chlorinated ice water for 24 hours. Harvest in 6-10 days. Logs require regular soaking in nonchlorinated room-temperature water every two weeks. Log-grown Shiitakes are high in protein, low in fat and have a meaty texture. They have a deep, rich flavor and absorb the flavors of spices, herbs and foods they're cooked with. Chefs prefer shiitakes grown on logs for the superior flavor, texture, and color. "

See Autumn Rose's Shiitake mushroom harvest; my inspiration for this post.

More mushroom kits:

Pietra Fungaia

Mushroom Kits - Button Mushroom Kit - 6 lbs

The Espresso Oyster Mushroom Patch. Recycle and grow mushrooms at the same time. Product Description: "Practice bioremediation at home! Recycle old newspapers, coffee and espresso grounds by inoculating them with Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus). One of our favorite methods is the simplest: just mix the sawdust spawn directly into coffee grounds, espresso or perked. Our Pearl Oyster spawn fruits in a wide temperature range, making it suitable for inoculation across the country. A fascinating project for people of all ages. Kit comes complete with 1 gallon of Pearl Oyster Sawdust Spawn and detailed instructions."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Beautiful World of Ferns

"The green and graceful fern.
How beautiful it is.
There's not a leaf in all the land.
So wonderful, I wis. "

Have ye e'er watched it budding,
With each stem and leaf wrapped small.
Coiled up within each other
Like a round and hairy ball ? "

Have ye watched that ball unfolding
Each closely nestling curl
Its fair and feathery leaflets
Their spreading forms unfurl? "

"Oh, then most gracefully they wave
In the forest, like a sea,
And dear as they are beautiful

Are these fern leaves to me." — Twamley

Our Ferns in Their Haunts: A Guide to All the Native Species, by Willard Nelson Clute, 1901

A Century of Ferns: Being Figures with Brief Descriptions, by Sir William Jackson Hooker, 1854.

The fern paradise: a plea for the culture of ferns by Francis George Heath, 1878

" The Spring is here—the delicate-footed May, With its slight fingers full of leaves and flowers ; And with it comes a thirst to be away, "Wasting in woodpaths its voluptuous hours. " ~Willis

How to Know the Ferns: A Guide to the Names, Haunts, and Habits of Our Common Ferns
, by Frances T. Parsons, 1899.

A bit about the folklore surrounding the Bracken Fern and ferns in general from Folklore of Plants, By Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer, 1889:

"Among Celtic and Germanic nations the Fern was
formerly considered a sacred and auspicious plant. Its luck-bringing
power was not confined to one species..."

"...those who possessed the secret of wearing this seed
about them would become invisible. Thus, we find that, in
Shakspeare's ' Henry IV.,' Gadshill says : ' We steal as in a
castle, cock-sure : we have the receipt of Fern-seed, we walk invisible.' "

From A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden by Walter Crane, 1899:


For children: Nature Study Made Easy by Edward Byrne Shallow, Winifred T. Cullen,Ferns, ages 9-11, published in 1909.

All are in public domain, readable online or downloadable as an ebook.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Frugal and Wholesome:Homemade Blender Recipes

If you are like me, you don't use your blender nearly enough. See article for homemade butter, peanut butter, barbecue sauce, and homemade fruit spread blender recipes.

And some simple blender cream soup base recipes. And good number of blender recipes from Recipezaar.

Making meals from scratch can be a big cost saver, and is healthier in the long run. Using all natural ingredients is preferable to using prepackaged meals with ingredients you can't readily identify such as preservatives, food coloring and high fructose corn syrup. I've saved quite a bit cooking from scratch over the years. My all time favorite frugal cookbook is on my sidebar, More-with-Less, a Mennonite cooking from scratch on a budget cookbook.

Share a tip or comment on BecentsAble's Tipster Tuesday's post, Labels and Ingredients.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Free Children's Printable Cut-Out Train Stations for Train Sets

Click on title.

Frugal Homemade Bean Recipes

We cook beans quite a bit, and they are both inexpensive and a healthy protein substitute. Here is one my simplest bean recipes which is wonderful over rice:

Easy Beans and Rice

-Any bag of dried bean, although navy bean or black beans are especially good.
- 1 TB onion powder
- 1 chicken or beef bouillon cube
- 1 tb pepper
- 1 tb salt
- 1 tb Italian herbs
- 1 TB garlic
- 1/2 tumeric
- a few stocks of chopped celery
Optional: Chopped ham or other bits of leftover meat

Beans tend to take a long time to cook, so leave some time to let these simmer on the stove early in the day. Follow the recipe for the dry beans off the package. I usually soak mine over night. Serve over rice.

The seasonings are made to taste, so experiment with them. I found that the key to flavor was adding quite a bit of onion powder. Even adding chopped onions doesn't enhance the taste like the onion powder. Adding lots of pepper gives it a nice kick. I'd recommend adding chopped ham or sausage; the meat is really delicious with lots of pepper.

More frugal bean recipes I've made from scratch. Most of these recipes are from my More-With-Less Recipe Book(see sidebar):

Caribbean Rice and Beans and Brazilian Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans Casserole

Pinto Bean Bread

Three Bean Casserole

Potato-Topped Chili Loaf

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Late Talking Children

I am the parent of two bright late talking children, both of whom had markedly different early childhood experiences. My oldest(son) was raised by daycare(40 hours a week) until age three, and had the "advantage" of an excellent early preschool with speech therapy. Yet he was two years delayed in speech at age four. My two year old daughter has always been at home with me, and she has a speech delay as well.

Parents are not necessarily to blame for their children's lack of speech.

Late talking toddler: New research debunks the myth:

The study found that a mother's education, income, parenting style or mental health had no impact on a child's likelihood of being a late talker. Study Coordinator Associate Professor Kate Taylor said the findings debunked common myths about why children are late talkers.

"Some people have wrongly believed that delayed language development could be due to a child not being spoken to enough or because of some other inadequacy in the family environment," Associate Professor Taylor said. "This is clearly not the case and I hope these findings will reassure many parents that delayed language is not a reflection on their parenting or the child's intelligence.

Um, thank you. I'm not offended by these sorts of comments when they are directed at me, but I do find it frustrating. In the past, my response was to educate, and explain the probable origin of late talking, but often I would get a condescending look(I'm in denial) or one of confusion. Now I just tell people who imply a connection between parenting and late talking to mind their own business(in a kindly patient way). I've got enough miles on me to trust in wisdom and experience.

Why do people persist with unsolicited advice for a "fix" for non-standard children anyway? There are instances where we cannot change God's creation, and who are we to even question God's plan. It is us who should change, not God. We must fit people into society and not the other way around. We were created in God's image, and trust that we are all equally worthy in God's eyes. Society needs fixing, not children. The definition of perfection is God's; true perfection is not set by the standards of society. If we embraced everyone, who knows the potential of person.

Along these same lines, I've actually had two doctors ask me if I had considered having a tubal ligation due to my son's speech delay, the implication being that children with genetic/hereditary issues should not be born. This shocked the heck out of me. Is eugenics(liberal eugenics) on it's way back as a social policy?!

How can we measure the potential in children? My son was classified as retarded by the school system at age four. If I had not had the where with all to remove him from our school system, he would have spent his days in a special segregated classroom with low expectations for academic achievement. He is ten now, and with five years of home education he is an advanced reader and excels at math. His speech is normalized. At the rate he is going, he'll be done with high school at age 16. Ironically, it didn't take any specialized curriculum, just standard back-to-basics school books(Rod & Staff). More importantly, I'm not a trained or gifted teacher, just an ordinary mom who loves her children. So maybe love is missing from our society, love for the individual, not the statistic.

If my son had been a slow learner, I'd have not treated or labeled him as such. The sky would have been the limit, and I'd have fostered a love of learning. He'd have gone as far as God allowed him, unfettered by ridiculous limiting measurements based on impersonal standardized norms. The bar is set by the child, not the statistic.

Here are some other resources for parents with late talking children:

Thomas Sowell: Heredity, environment and talk Sowell's books, Late-Talking Children and The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late

In the case of late taking, always get your child tested by a physician specialist to rule out issues which may be corrected such as hearing impairment or other physiological causes. Whatever the issues, all children are special, and all children are souls born with their own God given potential. Parents know their children best, and should be their first educators and their greatest advocates. Be still and pray; let God move your heart and mind. His plan is the only plan, and it is good.

Late talking resource for at home speech enrichment.

Also see: Experiences Homeschooling a Speech Delayed Child, Part II

And:  Late-Talking Children Confused with Autism Spectrum