Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nature Studies at a Municipal Nature Reserve

This spring weather is perfect for getting out. Our summers are just too hot for hiking. Yesterday, we spent a few hours at a 465 acre nature reserve park with trails, wetlands, and a big lake.We saw so many Fowler's toads along one of the foot paths, we had to keep stopping to avoid stepping on them. We were able to identify a good number of wild flowers, forest and aquatic plants, birds, insects, and even fish. The butterflies and dragon flies were active and plentiful. We saw snowy egrets fishing in the wetland, and a few ospreys flying overhead.

After a very long walk(we got a bit lost), we rented a paddle boat for an hour. The park is free admittance; the boats are $4.00 an hour, and well worth it. Next week we'll be going to another municipal park with trails. These places are wonderful for bringing along your nature study books for field study. A little notebook for drawings of what you see is an enjoyable activity for younger children. My preschooler asks me to draw the animals we see when we get home. I label the pictures, and she gets the added benefit of vocabulary building and word recognition.

Rod & Staff has a number of nature books for coloring with realistic pictures. Their older science books concentrate on nature studies and are appropriate for late elementary school students(5th and 6th grades). We've used these over the years, and it has helped the children know and appreciate the natural world around us.

Simple DIY Bird Bath/Feeder

Elizabeth made this simple naturalistic feeder and bird bath recently. See here for instructions. I would make this in a minute if it weren't for so many squirrels in my backyard.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Worked on Some Embellished Tees This Evening

Handsewn flowers and buttons on one of my sleeveless white T-shirts. The tan tee was too low, so I added a little valance and a clip-on $2.00 flower. Actually, I still need to sew this one.

The fabric were very inexpensive, found in remnant bins. See this post for tutorials.

A few more tees I'd like to work on, maybe with ribbons as well as fabric flowers.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Embellishing Plain T-Shirts AKA: CorsageTee

Ahhh, just what I was looking for to liven up two of my tired white T-shirts! I'll go a bit less and angle it onto the corner of my larger T-shirt. No ribbons for me(too chubby). Tutorial here.

I might try an easier carnation as well.

Here is a very simple tutorial for floral cascades off the shoulder.

Another good tutorial...she flowered quite a few of her T-shirts using pin backs, and they turned out so professional looking, yet they were very simple to make.

Ribbons and heart flowers.

Another good tutorial(easy, easy), a sewing party with four sisters. Cute post. 

Jersey knit fabric is a good non-fraying choice for permanent flowers. They will wash well.

Make a Pantyhose Rose

Made from pantyhose and wire! I'd like to make one of these for my niece.

Vintage Children's Topographical Map of North and South Amercia

From a children's turn of the 20th century geography book found in public domain at Google Books. Click to enlarge and save. Charming and colorful, this map is helpful in showing the shared mountain ranges and major rivers.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chicken Chili Recipe

The other night I tried Tammy's chili recipe, but used shredded chicken instead of ground beef, diced celery instead of green pepper, leftover black beans instead of kidney beans, and half a jar of leftover spaghetti sauce(organic from Big Lots!) instead of tomato sauce. I ended up adding too much brown sugar(I should really make it a habit to measure), but it was really good, regardless.

I served this over hot white rice - delicious! I added a little hot sauce to mine and the hubby's, while the kiddos liked the less spicy version. I'll definitely make this again.

Round Loaf Cinnamon Bread Recipe

This is a partially self created recipe(base recipe from More-With-Less Cookbook on my sidebar), so measurements are approximate. You can shape this bread any way that you like. I rolled them into small balls, and pushed them flat. Half way through, I took the last of the dough and make one big giant roll, baking it in a large cast iron pan. They turned out very well; the small ones were just perfect for little hands.


2 packages of dry yeast in
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp sugar

Combine in large mixing bowl:

1.5 cups of sugar
1/8 cup cinnamon(2 Tbsp)  I didn't measure, so this is a guess. Make each tablespoon a little under and that should get you there. Try 1.5 tablespoons, and give it a taste test. Adjust to taste.
1/4 cup oil
3 c. warm water
yeast mixture

Add about six cups flour gradually to the bowl, stirring thoroughly. Add more if too sticky, a little at a time. Knead until elastic, about 5-7 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turn over once, cover and place in a warm place to rise for 1/2 hour. Punch down, knead a little, and let rise again in bowl until doubled in size.

Pull apart and shape into balls, flatten a little, and bake at 325 for about 20 minutes. Half way through baking, butter the top and drizzle honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired. Slather it together with your fingers, distributing it over the top and sides. Check bottoms of bread at 15 minutes to make sure they are not burning. Use middle oven shelf. They are done when the bottoms are golden brown, and/or they sound hollow when you knock the bottom.  Smaller loaves will cook more quickly.

Freeze what you don't eat because homemade bread does not have preservatives like store bread. When you are ready to eat, just pop them in a warm oven with a little butter on top. So good!

Recipe made about eleven small rolls, and one big round one.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Old Time Radio Broadcasts, Homeschool Audio Learning

There is an interesting war-time biography on Hitler(free) at the OTR widget on my sidebar today.  More vintage educational history broadcasts here with samples. Freebies here, although not always of the educational variety.

Listener's favorites:
01. Churchill (Winston) Recordings
02. Mr President
03. AFVN Recordings (Armed Forces Vietnam)
04. Blitzkrieg
05. Complete Broadcast 1944 (D-Day Invasion of Normandy CBS)
06. World War II Collection
07. Great Moments in Radio
08. FDR Fireside Chats & Speeches
09. Complete Broadcast 1939 (Nazi Invasion of Poland)

Of interest:
Science Magazine of the Air
"Leonardo di Vinci is considered the Renaissance man. From being the first man to come up with the concept of the helicopter to being able to leap over a man that was standing straight upward, Leo was very gifted. Only if good old Leo could be in this time period, in order so he could hear the story of his life immortalized on the radio in Science Magazine of the Air. A show during wartime for serviceman, Science Magazine of the Air told the stories of extraordinary human beings that accomplished extraordinary things."

Frontier Fighters
"From Robert La Salle's navigation of the Mississippi River, to Lewis and Clark's dauntless challenge of reaching the West Coast of North America, Frontier Fighters takes you on a historical voyage that pits you in the middle of the taming of the West. So, if it you're following John C. Fremont on his legendary "Oregon trail" or helping Zebulon Pike verify the true source of the mighty Mississippi river, Frontier Fighters will transport you to a time where American history is unfolding before your very own ears!"

Their prices have remained low over the years, many are no more than $5.00 per MP3 CD collection. Shipping has always been fast. I'm a customer and an affiliate.

Some vintage radio shows can also be found free and in public domain at Internet Archives, and other places across the net.

Add Your Own Words

I found this public domain children's book page at Google Books. I'm just learning how to use Gimp(freeware) to manipulate images. Here is an endearing early 20th century drawing of a mother and her children by the fireside. You can add your own words to the blanks; I've blanked out the words. Click on image to enlarge and save.

1912 Bride Paper Doll

Click to enlarge and save. From Marge's blog:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Almost Done!

We have another week to ten days left before we are done with all homeschool subjects that were scheduled for the fall and spring terms. It will feel good for all of us to have more free time. I saved Science for the summer, so we'll have one more subject to complete for sixth grade, but this will get done quickly, early in the morning.

Last year my son did a summer junior forest ranger day camp for a week, but he's not too keen on doing this again. I guess we'll have to see what pops up for summer activities. Maybe I can get him into swimming classes again at our city community center. I have an inkling he might like golf, so I've got plans for him to take at least one class in the future, hopefully with the city parks department(less expensive).

Otherwise, we'll be taking advantage of the free parks, both municipal and state. We can extend some of his 6th grade science with nature hikes and star watching. It's been a good school year, and I look forward to working further into the upper grades with my son.

Yogurt Popsicle Recipe

From the More-with-Less Cookbook(on my sidebar), Yogurt Popsicles:

Stir together:
1 pt.plain yogurt
6T.(1/2 small can) frozen orange juice concentrate
1t. vanilla(optional)

Pour into mold(s) and freeze. Makes 6-8 popsicles. We used a popsicle mold purchased from a local dollar store.The popsicles were gone quickly, so I'll be making this again.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Natural Sunscreen Results and Recipes

Reposted from last summer. We will use our homemade sunscreen again this year.

The natural sunscreens(see links below) that I purchased earlier this summer have been working very well. We've been spending hours out in the sun at water and amusement parks this year, and we've had no sunburns. They are not waterproof, but seem to stay on the skin well even when perspiring. I've been stretching them by squirting the sun screen into a travel size pump bottle and adding a little oil(almond). The natural sunscreen that I've purchased really needed it anyway - too difficult to spread.

The main ingredient is zinc oxide(not oxybenzone, a suspected hormone disruptor), the kind you see on lifeguards noses in the summer. It's very white on the skin, so as you can imagine, this natural sunscreen can leave white streaks if not oiled down a little. I'm sure this reduces it's SPF, but so far we've not had any problems.

I'm going to try a natural sunscreen for the hair and scalp(my part). I'm thinking zinc oxide, water, aloe vera, and maybe a little flat beer might work well as a spray.

Does your sunscreen work? Surprisingly, 3 of 5 brand-name sunscreens either don’t protect skin from sun damage or contain hazardous chemicals — or both. An Environmental Working Group investigation of 1,625 sunscreens rates the season’s best — and worst.

Zinc Oxide Sunscreen vs Titanium Oxide Sunscreen

Stretching Pricey Safer Sunscreens

Safer Sunscreen

A few recipes that I found online, but have not tried yet:

Organic Natural Sunscreen Recipe

Homemade Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

Homemade Sunscreen


Handy SPF Table

Zinc Oxide Powder

Monday, May 17, 2010

Early 20th Century, A Boy's First Haircut

"In the early 20th century, the first haircut usually had a more profound affect on all parties involved than it does today. A hundred years ago, boys and girls were often dressed similarly, and wore their hair similarly in long curls. So the first haircut for a young boy was more than just a haircut…it was their first step towards boyhood." Read more here.
A Victorian tradition, saving a lock of hair. I did this with my daughter's hair(a little curl) after her first hair cut.

Read more about hair history here, at the main page.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Homemade Natural Inspect Repellent

It's mid-May and we already have a good number of mosquitoes in the yard. Even though it works very well, I try to avoid insect repellent with DEET. It's just too strong for the children. So, last year I made my own repellent, and it worked very well. I've made it again this year, only with rubbing alcohol and a bit of water as a base instead of expensive vodka(fixative).

From last year's post:
"You can make your own with essential oils added to either oil, vinegar, witch hazel or vodka. To name a few, these essentials oil are known for their natural bug repelling properties: lavender, eucalyptus, citronella, lemon grass, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, clove oil, rose geranium, cedar, neem oil, and tea tree oil." Read more here.

Update: I just harvested a huge bush of catnip, and I noticed here, it mentions that catnip is an effective mosquito repellent. I'll be trying this as well.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Make a Homemade Above Ground Swimming Pool

Pages 700-703, St. Nicholas: a monthly magazine for boys and girls, 1915. Modern additions could include Inexpensive pool liner(recycled billboard tarp),an inexpensive portable pump(for drainage),and some pool sanitizer. I wouldn't use treated wood without a liner because of the potential for leaching dangerous chemicals into the water.

We might try this, or purchase a *300 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank.

Here's a complicated design from a 1971 Popular Science magazine. It stacks away.

Lumber can get expensive; however, lumber salvaged from free wooden pallets might be usable for a pool liner frame.

*Hot tub made from 300 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank. This picture really gives a good idea of how roomy these 300 gallon stock tanks are inside. This stock tank can be ordered online at Ace Hardware, and other places. I'd just use mine as a swimming pool.

Recipe: Black Bean, Sausage, and Sweet Potato Soup

What's for dinner tonight:

Black Bean, Sausage, and Sweet Potato Soup

* 5 1/2 cups water
* 1 1/2 cups dry black beans
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 2 cups chicken broth
* 1 tablespoon tomato paste
* 1 tablespoon water
* 1/4 pound Italian sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
* 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1 pound sweet potatoes
* 3 green onions
* salt to taste
* ground black pepper to taste

Rest here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Vintage Wedding

 All are free and in public domain . Printable(right click on image of the page) and downloadable.

The Book of Weddings: a Complete Manual of Good Form in All Matters Connected with the Marriage Ceremony, 1907.

The Wedding Day in Literature and Art, 1900

Golden bells ! What a world of happiness their harmony foretells! Through the balmy air of night How they ring out their delight ! From the molten-golden notes, And all in tune, What a liquid ditty floats To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats On the moon!‎ ~ Edgar Allen Poe

Choosing the trousseau, Good Housekeeping, 1916

The wedding dress

Mother's remedies, Manners and Social Customs

Wedding floral designs, 1888

Book of Etiquette,1922, see Table for Contents for wedding sections.

Fashions for Brides, 1904

Wedding cake recipes:

Vintage estate gowns for sale(Edwardian period is pictured).Beautiful workmanship, and inexpensive for the superior quality. See here too, in tiny sizes. Women were smaller back then. These are fun to look at, and it's amazing how fast they sell out.

Home Coiffure—The Simple Pompadour—The Divided Pompadour—The Psyche Knot—The Swirl or Turban Coiffure, 1911. History of hair styles followed by directions.

Using a hair rat(ratt) to achieve the Gibson girl look. More here.
Make your own hair rat(ratt).

Friday, May 07, 2010

Frugal Recipe: Cheesy Collard and Cabbage Chicken Casserole

All ingredients are from Save-A-Lot and Dollar General discount stores. I made this up tonight myself, so measurements are approximate:

Cook together in a pan:

One cup shredded(.59 cents a pound) or chopped chicken
A spoonful of minced garlic(jar)
A few shakes of dried onion(spice bottle)
A little seasoned salt(I use Abodo)
A little sweetener such as honey, sugar, O.J., or maple syrup
One small can of diced tomatoes
A jar of mushrooms(drained)
One can of Glory Southern Style Country Cabbage(drained)
1/3 of a bag of frozen collard greens
One cup of shredded Save-A- Lot pizza blend cheese
One cup of homemade chicken stock and a bit of milk(or half a can cream of chicken soup - Caskey's is very inexpensive at Save-A- Lot)

Cook chicken, onion, and garlic first for about 5 minutes on medium heat, then add the remaining ingredients, cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Lightly blend pan ingredients with one small box of cooked elbow macaroni (12-16 ounces) into a medium sized casserole dish. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for about 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees until top is browned.

This was very tasty, and we'll have this again.

Pool Weather is Here

Wading pool right outside our patio door, enclosed in a screened tent(mosquito country here) from Dollar General.

I put down green patio carpet extending from the back door to the other side of the pool. This keeps it clean of pebbles and dirt from the ground. We've had this set up in the summer for the past three years, and it has gotten a lot of use. Next year we will probably purchase a larger pool. This is hours of  fun at home during the warm weather months.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Free Homeschool Printables: Vintage Mother's Day Literature

Mother's Day is celebrated in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (and a good number of other countries) on the second Sunday of May.

Flower of Mother's Day: White carnation, poem here

The following are readable, downloadable, and printable. To print pages at links, right click on the image of the page:

Good Stories for Great Holidays(Mother's Day Stories), 1914 :
Mother's Day entertainment ideas: history, recipes, entertainments - The Mary Dawson Game Book, Mother's Day,  1916.

Fifth grade reader, Bolenius Course in Reading, 1919,An Order for a Picture.
 Sixth grade reader:  The Knight's Toast, Sir Walter Scott

Story hour readings: eighth year(includes comprehension questions):
An Order for a Picture, 423
The Shrine, 427

More later....

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Learning to Deal

This was sort of funny when I first read it, but actually it's a bit sad how judgmental people can be...even fellow homeschoolers. After years of homeschooling, I figure they like us or they don't. Life is too short to worry about it. My accountability is with God and to God.

Related: How Will(Homeschool)Children Learn to Deal with Conflict? Interesting post and discussion, especially the comments.

Homeschool Socialization Survey

This is an older survey(2003) addressing socialization.

Survey: Homeschoolers new political force
Refutes 'socialization' concerns posed by thinkers in academia

By Art Moore

An unprecedented new study of adults who were homeschooled not only contradicts assertions they lack socialization but shows them far more likely than the average American to be civically minded and engaged in their local communities.

Parents who homeschool often are asked, "Aren't you concerned about your child's socialization?" notes the survey's author, Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute in Salem, Ore.

Brian Ray

Time magazine, in a feature, posed a similar question, he pointed out: "Homeschooling may turn out better students, but does it create better citizens?"

The answer, he says, is an emphatic yes. But not only does homeschooling turn out more active citizens, it produces Americans who tend in overwhelming numbers to hold conservative values.

Read rest here.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Kitty in the Spring Garden...

his favorite place.

Sharing a public domain vintage paper cut-out. Just click on image to enlarge and save:

About Me

My photo

I'm a homeschooling mom of two, a teen and a little. I hope this collection of mine helps you as much as it has helped us. I have an Etsy shop here: And a blog: