Thursday, September 27, 2012

Free Classic Young Children's Fairy Tales for Bedtime Reading

The Rainbow Book of Fairy Tales for Six-Year-Olds by Lisa Ripperton

This is a compilation of vintage stories circa 1924, not dumbed down, full of rich language for children's ears, but also easy to comprehend for a young child, especially if read with affect.

Last night, I was able to read three as bedtime stories without my first grader getting antsy, although she did fall asleep during Rumpelstiltskin, and what better way to drift off to sleep! The font is nice and large for tired momma eyes. You can turn down the lights and read this book on a laptop. There are no pictures, just text.

There are many more free ebooks to browse at this site as well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Reducing Energy Usage in the Kitchen

After  we got our last electric bill, I decided that we needed to find ways to cut back on energy use. We ultimately decided to forgo a conventional oven in favor of low energy use efficient cooking and baking appliances. We had already cut back in every other area. We began using only three items to cook meals: an electric skillet, an electric tea kettle, and a table top halogen convection oven. These items use up to 80% less energy compared to a conventional electric stove.

                                 Average energy cost for kitchen appliances These 2008 rates are quite low, but at least it gives you an idea of which appliance uses the least amount of electricity. As you can see, an electric stove uses over twice the amount of energy as an electric frying pan. An electric oven uses more than five times the energy of a microwave!

Electric Oven3501 hour2.0 kWh$.16
Electric Convection Oven32545 minutes1.39 kWh$.11
Gas Oven3501 hour.112 therm$.07
Electric Frying Pan4201 hour.9 kWh$.07
Toaster Oven42550 minutes.95 kWh$.08
Electric Crockpot2007 hour.7 kWh$.06
Microwave Oven"High"15 minutes.36 kWh$.03

So far, I've found meals are cooking more quickly with our new appliances, and there is a lot of flexibility with the skillet and halogen oven. The skillet even bakes cakes as long as I line the pan with foil,so they cook evenly and don't burn on the bottom. The electric kettle is so fast! We use this for coffee(French press), tea, noodles, and hot chocolate. I can cook pasta by adding boiling tea kettle water to a sealed container with the pasta. After about ten minutes the pasta is cooked perfectly. I haven't tried this yet, but rice can be made in the skillet as well. All that is needed is to add boiling water, cover, and let it cook on a low setting for about 30 minutes.

The halogen oven cooks our larger meals like roasts and small to medium sized whole chickens. I am able to cook ten pounds of chicken thighs all at once in the halogen oven. It cooks large frozen pizzas in 20 minutes. There are two racks so you can cook your meats and vegetables at the same time. It's not as fast as a microwave, but faster than an oven. Smaller oven safe cookware is safe to use with this oven, so cakes, muffins, casseroles, etc. can be made easily. Larger families would find this impractical because space is limited, but for the four of us, this is efficient. A cake pan fits just fine as well as a medium sized ovensafe glass bowl.

We began remodeling our kitchen this week and got the radical idea of not replacing the worn-out stove, but to stick with these three appliances, and have them serve as our only means of cooking and baking. We plan to stay in this house for many years to come, so having an odd kitchen is not an issue. If we do sell the house, we'll add the conventional items back to the kitchen. My husband is making our new counters himself which will be freestanding with storage underneath(European style), so these appliances will have a custom place of their own.

Our electrical bill is reflecting the absence of the energy hogging stove. I am glad to see it go.

Note: the halogen oven is a bit fussy. We had to return the first one for a replacement after the bulb burnt out within 24 hours of use. The replacement oven was sent within three days, and has been working nicely. There are replacement bulbs which can be found on ebay for about $25.00. I read that they are a bit hard to replace with many screws to remove, but it is possible to replace the bulb yourself. You can't let anything get too close to the bulb; you can't touch it, or get water near it. Boiling water in it is not a good idea. Although there are no warnings about this, I think this may have caused my first bulb to fail. I ordered the electric kettle soon after this. The oven is self cleaning with the addition of a tiny bit of soapy water in the bottom of the bowl, but I don't want to chance it, so I simply wipe down the bowl with a soapy sponge and periodically put it through the dishwasher.

What we bought:
 Secura Digital Halogen Infrared Turbo Convection Countertop Oven

Hamilton Beach 7-1/5-Cup Stainless Steel Electric Kettle

Presto 06852 16-Inch Electric Skillet with Glass Cover

Printable Robinson Crusoe Paper Doll Set

Monday, September 03, 2012

School Begins Tuesday!

My son begins ninth grade on Tuesday. It will be much more work this year now that he is in high school. He chose Christian Light Education for its independent study approach. After all these years of homeschooling he has his school routine down pat, and barely needs me to help him. This is, of course, the goal - greater independence and responsibility. I find myself almost out of a job! I still have my daughter's school, but she is pretty easy. I'm using the same curriculum with her that I used with my son, so it's pretty much a cake walk.

I'm afraid my homeschool posts may be boring from now on! YouTube has been filling in a lot of extended learning for my daughter. In fact, the internet is providing a huge resource of free learning opportunities. Finally getting high speed has been a real blessing. I'm not making or planning our homeschool from scratch as much because so much is readily available online, or I am just reusing what we already have at home.

We've been homeschooling since my son was in Kindergarten, nine years now, and so much has changed in this short time. Homeschooling is becoming much more common and resources are abundant. I'll continue to share links, and will add my Pinterest homeschool pins on the sidebar.

About Me

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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: