Black Bird

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Green Smoothies - mmmm

Right after Christmas I decided that I would start every day with a green smoothie.  I did this for a couple reasons - 1 is I want to loose more weight and this is a good way to do that, and 2 I'm not a breakfast eater so this was a good compromise for me.  So why a green smoothie?  Well why not!!! They are yummy, they are nutritious and shhhhh you can hide things in there and get your kids to drink them.  

Here is my simple recipe for a delish smoothie every day.

1 handful of Kale
1 handful of spinach
1/2 cup of fruit - fresh or frozen
2 cups almond milk*
1/2 cup kefir or yogurt**
1 fresh banana OR 1/2 frozen banana***
1 whole avocado
1 scoop Juice Plus Complete powder

Add your milk and yogurt - blend.  Add your other ingredients one at a time and blend in between.

*You can use another kind of milk if you like but I wouldn't recommend real milk.  If you want to add juice then do 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of juice.

**I recommend Greek yogurt if you are going in that direction.

***I have found that when you freeze a banana the flavor gets stronger.

Some might ask about the price on this.  Well let me explain how I do this.  I look for sales on things.  I get Kale in huge amounts when it gets to be about 99 cents or less a bunch.  Same thing with the spinach - stock up when it's cheap.  For fruit - Aldi's!!!  I get my pineapple for $1.49 for 1 and chop it up myself.  Strawberries are 99 cents.  Banana's I get as low as 33 cents a pound.  Almond milk and kefir I get a dollar or more cheaper at Aldi's. 

Now next question - what do you do with all that fruit and veggies when you get it home and can't use it up in a few days.  I freeze it.  I clean it all when I get home.
I strip the kale off it's stem.  I then bag it in baggies, squeeze the air out and then freeze it.

This preserves my kale and spinach and extends the life.  I also do this with all my fruit except the bananas and avocados.  You don't have to do anything special to it except freeze it.  This makes it so easy to buy in bulk and use it later.  It's also nice because in the morning I grab a bag of kale, spinach and fruit and toss them in the blender.  Since everything is done before hand it makes it fast and easy. 

Now I do use a lot of baggies to do this, but instead of throwing them away after each use, I get a gallon bag and put the baggies inside and stick them back into the freezer.  This way I can reuse them the next time and I don't have to worry about washing them out.  This saves money and time.

This recipe does make a lot, enough for 2 nice sized glasses.  So what do you do if you are the only one eating it - well what I do is make them into Popsicles.  Healthy yummy Popsicles.  Such an awesome healthy treat for a hot summer.

So there you go - a delish easy way to have a yummy green smoothie every morning.

Healthy hugs,

Monday, June 9, 2014

Gluten free cornbread

My family loves corn bread.  Especially when paired with chili or taco hot pot.  So when cutting out the gluten and wheat it was one thing they missed the most.  I enjoy it too just not as much as they do and when I have it I want it hot with real butter and honey mmmmm.

On my search for a gluten free corn bread I found a couple mixes that I thought would work so I'm going to do my review of these 2 mixes.  I do have a third that I haven't tried yet but will here soon.

The first GF mix I tried was Glutino Yankee Cornbread & Muffin mix.  We loved this one.  It was moist and tasted a lot like regular corn bread.  I had nothing left after dinner which is a good indication that it was loved.  The mix requires a few extra ingredients besides what is in the box but it's worth it.

Picture from the WWW

The second mix I tried was Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix.  Now this one required less added ingredients but it was not near as good.  It was on the bitter side, not cornbread bitter but like something was added that shouldn't have been.  It was also very dry.  Now when I say dry I mean really dry.  When I was mixing up the batter all I could think was wow this is really thick and sticky.  I reread what to add several times thinking I had missed something, but alas I hadn't.  When my family tried it they commented on how dry it is.  I had left overs - never a good sign.  It could be that I did something wrong but I did follow the instructions and it was still dry.  

Picture from the WWW
Now I'm not expert when reviewing products but I do know what I like.  Would I use Glutino again?  YES!!!  Would I use Bob's Red Mill again?  Maybe, with a few changes like more liquid.  I have one more mix to try and it's the Aldi's brand.  Once we try that I will post a review of that as well.  So that is my review of the two mixes I've tried so far.  I will also be seeking out recipes and will critique those at some point.

Healthy hugs,

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Homeschooling what not Part 4

I do believe this will be the final installment of this set of homeschooling segments.  I've kinda jumped around a bit and probably should have done yesterdays today and today's yesterday but this is how it worked out.  There are 2 subjects I will be talking about today.  Science (oooooh the dreaded experiments) and Language arts.  Both of which send most people over the edge, but I'll break it down for you as to how I do it.

So the first one is Science.  Now really folks how hard is this?  It's not hard at all.  Baking soda and vinegar is all it takes - it creates a chemical reaction and bubbles form and oh yea fun.  But it's also practical as you can read here.  So in one fail swoop you have taught science and a life skill.  It doesn't seem like much but it really is.  Now pair that with a scientific method worksheet and you have curriculum.  At the last homeschooling conference we met a guy that teaches science - Mr. Science.  Now we love this guy - he takes simple household items and turns them into science.  We were looking at another kit that was over $200 and yes it had lots of nice things and software and a book, but when me son stood and watched this man do his experiments with simple things it clicked and he begged for the $20 kit till we bought it.  Science doesn't have to be expensive or stressful to succeed.  Check out his website, there is a ton of free stuff on there for you to use and counts as a full curriculum.

OK so now we are down to the last subject - Language arts.  Now I have to admit this subject used to make my palms sweat until I figured out what it was - it's READING people.  Yes that is simplified, but essentially that is what it is.  Does a child in 4th or 5th grade need to know how to diagram a sentence? NO.  When is the last time you diagrammed a sentence?  Is it something that needs to be done before graduation?  Yes.  Now when I was in school it was called English.  When I figured THAT out it helped as well.  This is how we do ours.  We read lots and lots and lots of books.  That's pretty much it.  Now you are probably thinking yea but what about writing and cursive and and and.  IF they are reading quality books by quality writers - this will come.  We do do cursive practice - only 1 sheet a day - nothing that is going to stress him out since he HATES to write.  And writing?  Well here's the deal, if the other subjects have some kind of writing, no matter what it is - I count that as his writing.  Now I don't make him sit down with worksheets and write, if he wants to do it on his computer - that is where he does it.  Remember we are in a technology driven society.  If you are anti technology, just remember it's not going away any time soon and you are hurting your child keeping them away from it.  Zach does his writing in Word on his laptop.  We does the answers to his questions on his computer, is it writing? Yes, just not as it's own subject.  It still counts and think about how much less stressful things would be if writing was wrapped into another subject so you and your child aren't stressed out.  Let me give you an example.  My son HATES to write like I said earlier, but he still has to as we know this is a skill he will use the rest of his life.  In his history lesson there is a writing assignment, this assignment was to take the story he just read about (the Epic of Gilgamesh) and write his own fairy tale.  So I told him to use his imagination and that he could write about whatever he wanted.  Then I told him if you want to start another Minecraft world and illustrate your story in there.  Then I will send it off to get it made into a book that you can keep.  His eyes lit up and guess what, my son who HATES to write wrote a 4 page singe spaced story in Word.  Is grammar perfect - nope.  Is spelling perfect -yes.  Why?   Because he reads - lots.  But good literature, things like Sign of the Beaver and The Chronicles of Narnia.  He also read books that interest him and those I let him choose.  But every time he reads guess what he's getting?  He's getting grammar, and spelling, and vocabulary, and history, and and and.  Now don't get me wrong there are times that we do more structured things.  He takes classes in Skrafty where he has vocabulary words, a small writing assignment and then a fun building assignment.  So far he has taken a just for fun Dr. Seuss class, Sign of the Beaver class, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian classes.  He's also gearing up to take Little House in the Big Woods next.  In the fall he will do The Borrowers.  But he reads lots outside of this.  His history alone has 3-4 books a day to read so yes reading is very high on our list of things to do.  It's that simple folks.  Break it down to what is simple and you will come away much happier with a much happier child.

So that is what I have for you in this series.  I am also going to do some reviews on products that we have used and don't like or do like so be on the look out for that.  Like I said we've been through a lot of curriculum so you can read what I have to say and take it for what it's worth.

Healthy hugs,

Monday, June 2, 2014

Homeschool what not part 3

For my 3rd and (maybe) final post on this I'm going to start things a little differently.  I'm sitting in a quiet house by myself contemplating things.  What would I say to a mom who is thinking about starting homeschooling?  What would I say to a mom who is thinking of giving up homeschooling?  What would I say to the mom that hates homeschooling but doesn't feel like she can quit?  I've been in all 3 positions, trust me NONE of them are easy. 

Lets address the mom that is thinking about homeschooling.  If this is you let me ask you a few questions (my answers will be from a Biblical perspective).  What's stopping you?  Is it fear?  Is it ridicule?  Is it bad experiences with "homeschoolers you know".  Is it because it isn't the "norm".  Well let me wrap this up for you - all of those questions are rooted in fear.  The Bible has a ton of verses on fear, probably because God knew it was the number 1 emotion in people.  The verse that I recite quite often is 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."  Why do we fear anything?  It's human nature but its when we let that fear dictate our actions that it becomes a problem.  Now I'm not talking about healthy fear of sin or running out into traffic - that we should have.  There is a lot of stuff I have never done because of fear and it saddens me now as I get older.  So if fear is stopping you from homeschooling and that is the ONLY reason take a moment to reflect.  Do you want that fear to run your life?  Are you going to regret that you didn't at least try when those babies are grown?  If God is telling you to homeschool and you are disobedient what do you think the consequences of that will be?  This is not being said out of condemnation but from experience. 

To the mom that is thinking of giving up homeschooling.  Think about your reasons.  Is it because your child and you are at each others throats?  The please read the previous 2 installments of this topic - I hope it will help even to a small degree.  Are you thinking about quitting because of other people and their pressuring you to do so?  I hope the paragraph above will help you.  Are you thinking about quitting because you feel that God is telling you to?  For me this is the only legitimate reason to quit, the other reasons will fall into place if you are being obedient.  What is your reason?  Think about it and I would love comments so that I could possibly help you.  Again this series is not meant to condemn but to encourage and uplift and maybe reinforce your reasons for homeschooling in the first place.

And to the mom who hates homeschooling.  Make a change.   Take a break.  Choose a different curriculum, unschool for awhile, just don't do school for awhile at all, go to a homeschooling conference or get some tapes of sessions for a conference and soak it in.  Take school outside in the sunshine.  Throw a blanket in the grass, pull out the school books and do school outside.  It is utterly amazing how a change of where you are doing school will change your outlook - and of coarse your kids.  Take days off.  Switch to a 4 day school week making day 5 a life skills day where you teach your kids how to clean the house, do laundry, wash windows, vacuum, cook, do dishes, clean the yard, work on the pool, prune plants - the list goes one.  Not only will this make your life easier, but their future spouse will thank you as well.  Go on lots and lots of field trips - right now it's spring.  Have your kids start field journals or nature journals.  Take them on long walks with a camera, a clip board and their journals.  There are lots of places to get free print ables for this or you can do like this blogger and just use a blank journal or sketch pad.  Here, here, and here are some great print ables that give prompts or not on them for those journals.  If you don't like those, do a search there are tons of links to print ables and ideas.   I choose to print mine, he has an area where he can sketch what he sees (counts as art), write what he observes (counts as English and science) and observe things in there environment.  My rule is simple, he gets 4 pages to do when we go out, 2 must be some kind of plant or tree the other 2 must be some kind of animal or insect.  If after making changes and you still don't like it, pray about your next step, it maybe that homeshooling is just not for you.

I'm still not done with this topic so tomorrow I will have a part 4.  I'm starting to feel like C.S.Lewis who only meant to write The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe but ended up with a whole series.

Healthy hugs,