Monday, January 31, 2011

Save the Kitties, The Big Kitties!

I saw this on National Geographic online today:

Little Kitties, Big Cats. Donate $5.00, and post a picture of your house cat to help the National Geographic Big Cats survival initiative.

I am going to post my kitty's picture tonight. : ) Featured kitties here.

Kitty of the week pictured at left.

One of my daughter's cut and paste kitties. I found this online as a free printable. Click on image to enlarge and save/print.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ten Tips to Keeping Homeschool Simple and Effective

See here. This is a good one! Even though I've got an older homeschooled son(seventh grade) who I've schooled at home since Kindergarten, I find myself having to go back to refresh my memory, and re-establish in my mind the importance of keeping it simple with my five year old homeschooled daughter, especially in the early years.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Free High School Science and Math Textbook Downloads

I just discovered free Amazon Kindle books which can be downloaded to a PC(and other devices) without having to purchase the Kindle. All that is required is a free Kindle PC reading application download.

CK-12 Chemistry
Ten others here.

These text books are originally from this site which offers free digital textbooks for K-12 for mathematics, science, technology, and engineering. You can download them from either Amazon or this site.

All Amazon Kindle freebies here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

30 Healthy Foods

"Real Simple asked the country’s top dietitians and nutritionists to tell us which super-powered ingredients we should be incorporating into our diets regularly. Here are their combined picks, plus some simple and delicious preparation suggestions."
Read here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sew for Charity Directory

A long list of sewing opportunities to serve and uplift those in need.

HT to Re-nest.

Framed Coloring Pages

This is a neat idea and so easy! We've actually done this with vintage images, but haven't framed them. I've been thinking how nice they'd look if I could figure out how to enlarge them(free) for a wall mural. Our pictures are of giraffes and an Acacia tree. Pictured above is a vintage reindeer that I water colored in December. I may try this site which creates block posters from any image for free.

See here for the tutorial for creating frameable art from coloring pages. Her subject is Pop art.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Growing Plants from Kitchen Scraps

Our 2011 indoor gardening projects:

Grow an apple tree from a seed

Grow a tangerine tree from seeds
- Maintenance

Grow a potato or sweet potato plant(should have "eyes" or buds)

Grow beans, onions, garlic, and anything else that has sprouted(or the potential to sprout) in the pantry and catches our fancy.

Tomorrow I'll go searching for a long table at the thrift store to fit under a south facing window. This will be our indoor garden table. We'll experiment with different vegetables and fruit seeds from the kitchen and see what happens. I know some of these plants we plan to start will have pretty blooms once they grow larger, and if nothing else, will make pretty house plants.

If we stick with this, I may purchase this retro gardening book Don't Throw It, Grow It!: 68 windowsill plants from kitchen scraps. Read the reviews to get detailed information on the content. One of the comments mentions that this book was originally published in the 70's under the title "The Don't Throw It, Grow It Book of Houseplants". You may be able to find this at your public library. Update: I found the originally published book at our local library under the author Selsam, Millicent Ellis. They didn't have the new edition.

I have fond memories of my older sister growing potato vines and starting avocado plants in the kitchen window sill during the 70's. Having a house full of plants was much more popular back then. I grew up with plants in every room, some hanging from the ceiling in homemade macrame plant holders.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Green Tea Health Benefits

In a study reported on in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition "research subjects who drank green tea as part of a controlled diet saw an increase in metabolic rate. The authors concluded that 3 or 4 cups of green tea could increase metabolic rate by 4% over 24-hours. That translates into burning an extra 50 to 100 calories a day." ~ Calorie Count and Thyroid Disease.

Nutrition - 11 Benefits of Green Tea : Lowers blood cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, helps bones, reduces inflammation, etc.

Health Effects of Tea

I had stopped drinking the green tea due to its bitterness, but I've read the the higher quality green tea is more potent and tastes sweeter. I'm going to try it again, and I won' t be purchasing the dollar store green tea this time. I drink a few cups of inexpensive black tea everyday, and I think I'll mix it up bit with some fancy green tea.

Update 1/25/11: I ordered Gyokuro Imperial Green Tea from Teavana(Thanks Eva!). I automatically received $4.00 off the order, which was a nice surprise, so my order was about $20.00 including shipping. My birthday is this month; this will be a gift to myself. I'm hard to shop for, so I usually tell my husband that I'll pick out my own gift. He's making me a cake - homemade from the heart.

Jiffy Lube Coupon, Stacking Discounts

I need to get an oil change for my car soon and thought I'd share this printable $5.00 coupon for Jiffy Lube. I purchased a gift certificate via Ebay's gift card center for Jiffy Lube so that I could use my ebay shopping points(which where about to expire). This brought down the price of the gift card by ten dollars, and I received 4.5 percent(seller's fees) cash back by clicking through to ebay from my account. Searching for Bigcrumbs using the Swagbucks search engine netted me 8 Swagbucks dollars. I use the Swagbucks to purchase Amazon gift certificates - free food and homeschool books.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Free Young Children's Music History Literature Unit: Chopin

From Project Gutenberg: Chopin, The Story of the Boy Who Made Beautiful Melodies, by Thomas Tapper, 1917. Free and in public domain.


THIS book is one of a series known as the CHILD'S OWN BOOK OF GREAT MUSICIANS, written by Thomas Tapper, author of "Pictures from the Lives of the Great Composers for Children," "Music Talks with Children," "First Studies in Music Biography," and others.

The sheet of illustrations included herewith is to be cut apart by the child, and each illustration is to be inserted in its proper place throughout the book, pasted in the space containing the same number as will be found under each picture on the sheet. It is not necessary to cover the entire back of a picture with paste. Put it only on the corners and place neatly within the lines you will find printed around each space. Use photographic paste, if possible.

After this play-work is completed there will be found at the back of the book blank pages upon which the child is to write his own story of the great musician, based upon the facts and questions found on the previous pages.

The book is then to be sewed by the child through the center with the cord found in the enclosed envelope. The book thus becomes the child's own book.

This series will be found not only to furnish a pleasing and interesting task for the children, but will teach them the main facts with regard to the life of each of the great musicians—an educational feature worth while.

More by Thomas Tapper here: Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Schubert, and Beethoven

Frugal Saturday Bulk Cooking

Ten pound picnic pork shoulder, $1.59 a pound, slow cooked to yield 17.5 cups of shredded pork(seasoned with spices, vinegar, and hot sauce), and a pot of seasoned bone stock for cooking beans, rice, and greens.

Our freezer is full, but I still need to wiggle in some turkey(.99 cents a pound) which my husband cooked today. Later, I added the turkey carcass to the pork stock and slow cooked it all day.

I've got Brunswick Stew in the red Folger's container.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Make a Joyful Noise, Nature Noises

I just ordered these fair trade nature song musical instruments for our homeschool from Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit Mennonite enterprise:

Musical Frog $12.00: "This carved wooden frog has unique talents. Create the sound of two different frog calls by using the thick end of the stick. Mating call is made by running the stick up the back towards the head, and distress call is made by running the stick down the back towards the bottom." Made in Vietnam.

Cicada Rattle $6.00 - Sounds like a Cicada. Made in Cameroon.

I'll have to take a trip to the library to find some cute books about frogs and cicadas for my Kindergarten daughter.

Update 1/25/11: Received these today - fast shipping! The frog is a good size and beautifully carved, and the rattle well made.

For older children I found quite a few free educational resources at my Google Books library:



You can print individual pages, or download these books. To print individual pages, switch to Plain Text, and if you want HTML, delete "text" at the end of the web address, add "HTML", and reload the page.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recipe: Root Vegetable Dish

Winter Root Vegetables from the NYT:

"Root vegetables in the brassica family — like turnips, kohlrabi and rutabaga — contain many of the same antioxidants as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Kohlrabi and rutabaga also are excellent sources of potassium and good sources of vitamin C. Parsnips provide folate, calcium, potassium and fiber, while carrots offer beta carotene. All of these vegetables are high in fiber."

Polenta With Braised Root Vegetables

Start the polenta before you begin the braised vegetables. By the time the polenta is ready, you’ll have a wonderful topping and a comforting winter meal.

1 cup polenta
1 scant teaspoon salt
4 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound kohlrabi, peeled and cut in small dice
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut in small dice
1 medium parsnip, peeled, cored and cut in small dice
1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice or crushed tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil a 2-quart baking dish. Combine the polenta, salt and water in the baking dish. Place in the oven on a baking sheet. Bake 50 minutes. Stir in the butter, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the polenta is soft and all of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the cheese, if using.

2. While the polenta is baking, cook the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, kohlrabi and parsnip, and then season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and stir together for about a minute until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes with their liquid, a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked down and fragrant. Add lots of freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust salt, and remove from the heat.

3. Serve the polenta with the vegetables spooned on top.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: You can make the vegetable topping a day or two ahead, and reheat on top of the stove. It’s best to serve the polenta when it comes out of the oven, though it can sit for five minutes. Alternatively, allow to cool and stiffen in the baking dish, or scrape into a lightly oiled or buttered bread pan and cool; then slice and layer in the pan, and reheat in a medium oven or in a microwave.

Nutritional information per serving: 277 calories; 7 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 8 milligrams cholesterol; 49 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams dietary fiber; 743 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 6 grams protein

I'm not sure about the polenta, but I'm willing to give this recipe a try.

Paper Cuttings

Free printable templates for snowflakes here.

Children's winter snow scenes here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken and Pumpkin Lasagna

I have a stock pile of pumpkin and spaghetti sauce to use up. I plan to make my own cream of pumpkin for this recipe. I'm thinking - a little cream of chicken mixed with the canned pumpkin.


* 1 (14.5 ounce) can cream of pumpkin soup
* 1 cup milk
* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
* 1 pound boneless chicken, chopped
* 1 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
* 9 lasagna noodles
* 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Read entire recipe here.

A few others I'd like to try:

Layered Spinach Mostaccioli(probably use Penne)

Fanny's Italian Casserole(cream of mushroom with spaghetti sauce)

Free Homeschooling Liberal Arts/Modern History Materials: MLK Speech, Quiz, and Discussion

"Today as we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., a familiar anaphora will ring out time and again: "I have a dream." And in some ways, that's unfortunate.

The phrase is powerful and historically significant--no doubt about that. Yet its power and significance have been worn thin in recent years through repeated use as a civil rights sound bite and a journalistic cliché.

The impassioned speech that Dr. King delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 is one of the great orations of the past century. In addition to serving as a central text of the Civil Rights Movement, the "I Have a Dream" speech is a model of effective communication. In fact, it's one of the most commonly anthologized works in composition textbooks." Read more here at Grammar and Composition. Link to complete speech and quiz included.

We copied and pasted it for our own use. I use Jarte - free word processor.

Children's Place Online Sale - Stacking Discounts

I got some children's long sleeved tops for $3.00 a piece(clearance) online at the Children's Place. There are some other nice deals, but things are selling out quickly.

Use 20% off code: P7C2011, and FSJANUARY2011 for free shipping. I also got 4% cash back by clicking through to the Children's Place via If you've signed up with Swagbucks, do a search for to earn some search dollars.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Printable Vintage Teddy Roosevelt Essay: The American Boy

"The American Boy", by Theodore Roosevelt, published in St. Nicholas(magazine), May, 1900. Can be copied and pasted or found here in Pres. Roosevelt's book, The Strenuous Life. Right click on image of the pages to save or print.

Excerpt: "No boy can afford to neglect his work, and with a boy work, as a rule, means study. Of course there are occasionally brilliant successes in life where the man has been worthless as a student when a boy. To take these exceptions as examples would be as unsafe as it would be to advocate blindness because some blind men have won undying honor by triumphing over their physical infirmity and accomplishing great results in the world. I am no advocate of senseless and excessive cramming in studies, but a boy should work, and should work hard, at his lessons—in the first place, for the sake of what he will learn, and in the next place, for the sake of the effect upon his own character of resolutely settling down to learn it. Shiftlessness, slackness, indifference in studying, are almost certain to mean inability to get on in other walks of life. Of course, as a boy grows older it is a good thing if he can shape his studies in the direction toward which he has a natural bent; but whether he can do this or not, he must put his whole heart into them. I do not believe in mischief-doing in school hours, or in the kind of animal spirits that results in making bad scholars; and I believe that those boys who take part in rough, hard play outside of school will not find any need for horse-play in school. While they study they should study just as hard as they play foot-ball in a match game. It is wise to obey the homely old adage, 'Work while you work; play while you play.' "

Saturday Chicken Batch/Bulk Cooking

Slow cooked shredded chicken from a 10 pound bag of chicken thighs, $5.90 at my local Save-A-Lot grocery store. 2.5 cup containers ready for the freezer.

Chicken broth from same:

Bone broth from same:

Bones are smashed for marrow and cooked in water with a little vinegar to extract calcium and other minerals.

In addition to calcium, bone broth contains "magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain." ~ Organic Thrifty

Friday, January 14, 2011

Almost Free Organic Ketchup

With my Swagbucks earnings I was able to purchase twelve bottles of organic ketchup(O Organics Tomato Ketchup, 20 Ounce Bottles Pack of 12) from Amazon for $ 5.08. If I had waited another week or more, I'd have gotten them for .08 cents. We needed it now, so I'll begin banking my earnings again. Shipping was free.

My Swagbucks earnings are from simple searches uses the Swagbucks search engine. This could not have been easier for me to earn a little extra grocery money.

I just discovered the grocery coupon section at Swagbucks! Supposedly, I can earn 10 Swagbucks for every coupon used.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Custom Build Your Own Sofa/Bed

Plan here(advanced). The fabric is painter's drop cloth, and the filling is from recycled pillows and stuffed animals. This one lifts for storage.

Easy: This could be made simply with a twin bed - screw wooden legs into the box spring and add the back to a wooden support box behind the bed.

Or one mattress on a platform with a wedge bolster:

Another easy idea - wrap cinder blocks and plywood with heavy fabric for a platform bed/couch.

Stained rustic wood beams as supports :

We made our own recently. See here.

Inexpensive DIY Truss Wood Bookshelves

Detailed plans here, or just wing it. This is easy enough to make to your own measurements just by looking at the finished picture.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Indoor Winter Gardening: Cucumbers

This is an experiment, so I don't know if I'll have cucumbers anytime soon, but my potted indoor cucumbers are blooming in a sunny window with southwestern exposure.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fabric Scrap Softie Doll Tutorials

See here.(Image at left is from tutorial)

Super thrifty sources of fabric:

Thrift stores
Old clothes
Old sheets
Towels(bath and dish)

Some other favorites:

Mr Seahorse softie doll
Frog softie
Terry cloth cat softie
Sock kitty(easy)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Readable Online: Vintage January Editions of Boys' Life Magazine

Boys' Life is the official youth magazine for the Boy Scouts of America. Published since 1911, it contains a proven mix of news, nature, sports, history, fiction, science, comics, and Scouting.Published by Boy Scouts of America, Inc.

Jan 1913

Jan 1914

Jan 1915

Jan 1916

Jan 1917

Jan 1918

Jan 1919

Jan 1920

Browse more here.

Easy Homemade Sculpting Clay

"In a salad bowl (or non-stick pan) mix 3 cups of white glue and 3 cups of cornstarch. Add one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of glycerin*, 2 tablespoons of canola oil." See here for remaining instructions. The results are called cold porcelain. Image from esprit cabane site.

The link mentions that glycerin can be found at crafting stores; however, I get mine at Walmart or drugstores in the vitamin aisle. The store brand or off-brand is very inexpensive.

HT to Tipnut for leading me to this site.

Repost from 2009.

Vintage Children's Winter Paper Cutting(Advanced)

Found at Google Books from a January 1912 copy of Primary Education. Free and in public domain. Just click on image to enlarge and save or print.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Vintage Blackboard Calendar for January

This 1910 calendar is free to use. I found them at Google Books. Click on image to enlarge and save, or download(right click on image) the original at the link.

Another from 1910 which has the same beginning day of the week as January 2011:

And another(blank):

And an Eskimo calendar:

Friday, January 07, 2011

Classic British and American Essays and Speeches Online

Classic British and American Essays and Speeches

I saw this at Grammar & Composition. Available free online "from the works of Francis Bacon and Daniel Defoe to those of Virginia Woolf and Martin Luther King, Jr., are more than 150 of the greatest essays and speeches composed by British and American writers over the past four centuries."

Each are easy to copy and paste - great reading and copy work examples for students learning essay writing.

~ Of Studies, Francis Bacon (1561-1626): "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man."

Downloadable Calendar: Best Months To Buy Things

A downloadable monthly calendar of the best times to purchase items inexpensively:

Found here. Full size is available at link.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Printable Informational Resources for Student Essays and Reports

See vintage texts from my Google Books library. I've collected over 5000 vintage educational texts from which to draw homeschool curriculum. It has been really helpful for books reports, research, lessons, and other homeschool materials. I use the search box at the link; however, I also use the general Google Book search to expand my searches.

All books in my library are free to download(PDF). Some of the magazines like Life and Boys Life are viewable online only, and not available for download.

Printing individual pages used to be very simple, but they no longer have a button to switch the text to HTML. You can still do it though. Simply use the Plain Text button on the top right of any page in the book, then scroll to the end of the web address, delete the "text" after output=text, which will be at the end of the address. Type in "html" in lieu of the word "text", load the page with this address, and you'll have a page which can be right clicked to save or print.

Pages can be copied and pasted in plain text, but sometimes there are problems with the conversion at Google Books - missed words, gibberish, etc.

Here are some pages my son(age 13) will be using for an essay on How Bees Make Honey. They cover the topic of bees more broadly if you click back to previous pages, or go forward within the section. I've saved these links in HTML, so you don't need to change them. To save or print, right click only on the image of the book pages at the links or you'll get the entire screen.


Do Bees Make or Gather Honey?

A Manual of Natural History: Bees Contradicts above contention that honey is made.

Compare and contrast: modern answer to this question here - How Do Bees Make Honey?

Lessons in Nature, Volume 1: Bees(plain text - copy and paste) or HTML(several pages).

Short essay on bees with fill-in-the-blank prepositions... just for fun. ; )

Observations by Apiarists(Best nectar producing plants)

The Kitchen Table, Honey and the Honey Bee

A Dictionary of General Knowledge: Honey

The Bee-keeper's Guide(very scientific with detailed anatomy)

More on bees in my library here(405 general references to bees). Nice illustrations too.

How to Draw a Hen(Easy)

My daughter(age five) asked me how to draw a hen on a nest today. We found a helpful printable online with several steps for drawing a hen, eggs, and chicks. It turns out she wanted the hen to sit on some of her oval shaped blocks. So I cut out a stand of folded cardboard(dry food box) for her, she then decided to tell me a story about the hen. : ) She is getting good at using scissors; however, I still need to store them away because she'll cut her hair(and who knows what else) if left unsupervised with scissors.

Original here.

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: