Bailey’s First Birthday

Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays… It seems like there used to be a birthday “season.”  Now it seems every season is birthday season!  In fact, just in the last 5 days we have had 3 birthday parties to attend!  So, unless it is my own kids’ birthday, or a party at a very special location, I rarely take pictures anymore. However, this one I just couldn’t resist… This one was special!  This one was for our friend’s dog’s first birthday!  And, the only guest was our very own Triscuit!  Of course, the girls and I got to have some fun, too.  WE made “scooby snacks” and dog-bone shaped pizzas.  It was a lovely evening, so we ate al fresco.  Oh — and we were a full day early.  That’s right, I completely blew it and showed up a day early, but they had the party for us anyway.  Good friends.  Good times!  🙂


I’m so blessed to know such cool people!  Today we got to spend the day with the most adorable family who invited us over to… make applesauce!  How fun is that??  Times like this, I wish I could have scratch and sniff pictures for the blog.  Seriously, to make a house smell incredible; make applesauce!  She has the applesauce maker, (who knew such a thing existed?) that her grandmother used to use to make applesauce on the farm.  It’s kind of like a mortar and pestle.  She even has…

Yes, that is a colander with apples for holes.  Very cool.  Makes me somehow think I need one.  🙂

Natalie seemed to be the most interested in helping.  That’s definitely the norm around here!  She’s my little Kitchenaid!

She even had a cute apple story and some apple crafts.  I brought along some homemade applesauce printables I found on Pinterest and let the kids cut them out… that was my contribution to being crafty; ha!

Thanks for a super fun morning, Melissa!  We had a blast; and the applesauce is NUMMY!

DOH!  And, let’s not forget that our little buddy was there, too…

Pear Galette

Don’t you just love those fancy desserts that look so beautiful and difficult-to-make, and yet are so simple?  We made this pear galette the night we got home from Oak Glen.  It was such a hit, we did it again the next day.  With all our pears, I have now made two more to share with friends.  Here is the recipe:

1 cup (125 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 85 grams) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons (50 ml) chilled water

2 pounds (910 grams) pears, peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons (65 grams) sugar

1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar

MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.

DRIBBLE in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.

PLACE dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400°F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)

OVERLAP pears on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.

BRUSH melted butter over pears and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples. (Deb note: I found it nearly impossible to coat it with this much sugar, so I used a little less–more like 3 tablespoons. It made a lightly sweet tart, which we found perfect.)

BAKE in center of oven until pearss are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.

MAKE glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.

REMOVE tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.

BRUSH glaze over tart, slice, and serve.


And, if you have any pears and glaze leftover, I suggest making dutch baby for breakfast and pouring it over… It’s awesome!


We interrupt our regularly scheduled school week to bring you…

A week of fall fun!  This turned out to be one of those spontaneous, yet totally fun ideas; take a break from “regular school” to enjoy a week of “fall school.”  It began when one friend invited us to do a fall day with her; then another to do an apple day with her; then Daniel reminded me it’s the last week to do the fair again — so, with 3 days spoken for, I decided to scrap all regularly scheduled plans and get “fallified!”  (FUN for the kids, and EASY on the teacher!)

I began by printing out a bunch of fall worksheets from Enchanted Learning.  Staple them all together and add a cover that says “FUN fall worksheets,” and it’s almost like getting a new coloring book — they couldn’t wait to dive-in!  Did I mention I just love first and second graders?  So easy to please!


I was intending for this to take them most of the week.  They pretty much finished most of it today.  But, that’s ok!  Like I said, it’s a busy week and this was a totally last-minute way to take some pressure off of moia!


It’s only Tuesday, but we’ve “sensed” fall quite a bit, already!

1.  smell and touch: fall-scented finger paints!  This is one I’ve done before, but it had been a few years.  I totally forgot to cook it at first to thicken the starch, so I kept adding starch to thicken it.  Once I realized I was suppose to cook it, I had added so much starch that they became rather thick; which seemed extra-fun to the girls.  The recipe is as follows: 2 cups water, 1/2 cup starch, 4 TBSP sugar, food coloring and fall scents as you like!


2.  taste: I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and knew I would have to try it: apple-spiced doughnut holes!  Seriously easy.  Seriously yummy.  Seriously unhealthy — well, we won’t be making them every day!

Cut Pilsbury Grands into quarters.  Deep-fry; (I used Sunflower Seed Oil on medium low).  Roll in mixture of 1/2 cup sugar, 1/ cup brown sugar, 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice.  That’s it!!


Oh ya — and share with friends.


…and dip into extra sugar mixture for extra sweetness!


One last thought; do not share with these cuties!  🙂  (I think Malachi is quite smitten with little Rachel!)

3.  sights and sounds


We pulled out the 3 bins of Halloween decor, and began to dig through the contents.  Really, decorating with 4 children awake is like trying to stay clean while running through mud.  In all honesty, though, that is exactly the way I like it.  I purposely choose to do it while they’re awake because I love the joy of them discovering old items once again, the screams of delight, and the reminiscing as if they’re old ladies who haven’t seen these items in 50 years.  It’s priceless, really!  The favorite items, of course, are the Hallmark singing stuffed animals.  Sierra could listen to them non-stop all day and never grow tired of it.  Let’s just say, I don’t have quite the same feeling for them as they do.  🙂

Of course, now that they’re asleep I’m off to rearrange and pick-up the aftermath that is hiding my living room floor.  Have a wonderful first week of fall!

Oak Glen 2012

In the next 3 months, we will celebrate 3 kids birthdays along with all the holidays; yikes!  I say bring it on… I am ready!  Just please bring some cooler weather, too!

For the fifth year in a row now, we headed up the mountain to Oak Glen to kick-off our start to fall. This has become my most favorite tradition.  For the first time, however, we decided to do one of their tours along with picking pears.  (They had a bumper crop of apples this year, but we enjoyed the pears so much last year we decided to do pears again!)

We chose the Colonial farm life tour, which was perfect for my girls who are studying the colonial days once again this year.  (Not-to-mention, one of them would like to be a farmer’s wife when she grows up!)

The tour is 2 hours long, with about 15 minutes at each “station.”  The cruel part is, you can smell fresh-baked bread and apple pie the entire time!

Our first station taught us all about colonial tools.  (I may have been changing a diaper, so I missed most of it!)  Next were the colonial games. Allison was chosen as a volunteer, and did a great job catching the hoop!  (We won’t talk about how she did throwing it!)  It was certainly fun to try, though!

Making apple cider; nom, nom!

Making candles!  Later that night, we lit the candles and told stories until they were completely burned out.  The girls thought that was pretty cool!

There was a lesson on etiquette that was quite entertaining!

Writing with quill pens was a definite highlight.

Our last 2 stations were churning butter and learning to weave.  I was happy to have a rest at this point!  As soon as they were through, we rushed to the restaurant for some cold cider from pewter glasses, fresh bread and butter, and delicious food!  I highly recommend eating there if you are ever at Riley’s Farm!

After lunch, we headed out to pick our pears.  We were all feeling refreshed….

Well, most of us were refreshed.  The little guy took it easy in Papa’s arms!

Sierra was happy to finally see some animals; horses, goats and sheep!

We opted for the large bag, once again.  Can’t beat fresh, organic fruit!

Seeing pumpkins makes me happy!

We saw deer both on the way in and the way out.  It was a lovely start, and a lovely finish to our day!

Thankful Thursday Fall Style


And so it begins… the busiest time of year!  But, I am oh so happy fall is here!  And, we are now entering our season of all things apple and pumpkin.  For today’s thankful Thursday, we had apple cider instead of tea, and pumpkin scones.  Well, the girls had apple cider; I opted for pumpkin spice coffee. Both were K-cups found at Target.  I also found the adorable fall plates in the dollar section of Target!  All I can say is, I am one happy girl with lots to be thankful for!

Just Schooling Around

I don’t take pictures of all our school stuff; not even close!  But, I do take my fair share.  SO!  Instead of letting them rot on my camera, here’s a glimpse of some of our schooling days…

You know one thing I am so grateful about when homeschooling?  God seems to give me ideas just in the nick of time!  Seriously.  There are so many nights where I am just beat and can’t think of a single creative idea.  It used to stress me out… now I have no problem with it.  I go to bed and give my worry to God — inevitably, ideas come!  This particular day we were reading a poem called, “The Arrow.”  Out of nowhere I remembered an idea I pinned on Pinterest a while back.  So, we made these adorable little arrows and bows.  It was totally spontaneous.  (Ok, so God AND Pinterest can have a little credit!)  Of course, I should say my curriculum is all-inclusive and has many fun ideas, as well.  But in my opinion, you can’t have too much fun!

“Indian Quilts”  Painting.  Always fun.

Art and game time — outside!  This is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling.  Even when I taught high school math, as soon as the weather was nice enough we took our lessons outdoors.  There’s no greater classroom in my opinion!

More painting.  Still fun.

For some reason, the spontaneous creativity doesn’t happen as often with my 2-yr-old.  If I want an activity to do with her, I usually have to prepare something the night before.  Here we painted marshmallows and popcorn with sweetened condensed milk, milk, ad food coloring.  It was meant to be a project for Sierra, but most of the time I use this as an opportunity for the older girls to join in on the fun while I read to them.  So, that’s what we did!

Here’s another last-minute idea; we were suppose to make globes and name the continents, but instead of green paper and scissors, the girls used their mouths and seaweed!  (I’m not sure why Allison made her yucky face, since this is one of her most favorite and most requested snacks!)  My favorite quote:  “MOOOOOOM!!!  Sierra’s eating my Australia!” Ha!

More science; wind, waves, and tides!  We finally finished our seashore unit and will next move onto science in the colonial times.  I am hoping a trip to the tide pools will be in order soon.  I love how our curriculum had at least 2 – 3 experiments a week, tied in the Bible, and had the girls keep a science journal.  Good stuff.

So, that’s about it!  These are just some random schooling around shots.  Happy Wednesday!




If I blog about it…

…it will be cute and funny!  Then I can laugh about it, instead of crying!  (Am I the only one who thinks like this?)

Like the crayon all over the end table.  (And I mean ALL over!)

…Or the tp STUFFED in the toilet… again!  (and again and again and…)

How about that gum stuck to the wall?  I’ll give you one guess who the culprit is… (at least she didn’t chew it this time!)

Yup, you guessed it… the cutie who’s choking her brother!  Well, it worked; I do feel better now that I’ve shared with you.  (A little.)  I know Grandma is smiling!  I could have taken more incriminating photos; like the hand sanitizer squirted all over the garage, or the toothpaste in the bathroom sink, (at least it’s in the sink!), or the Bible that’s now missing a few pages.  But, I thought I’d spare you.

Oh, my sweet girl!  May God richly bless you with 12 kids exactly like you!

Rosh Hashanah

I’m not sure how it started, but it was some time last year…  I was suddenly very interested in the Jewish holidays, and wanting to learn more about them.  After all, Jesus was a Jew!  And though we are not bound by the law but saved by grace, I believe it is still important to know the heritage of God’s chosen people.

Since most of my learning takes place in the setting of my homeschool classroom these days, I thought it would be fun to learn together with my girls.  To be honest, I’ve done little more than google about Rosh Hashanah, but I am happy we at least had a little celebration, a little learning, and a little eating; and perhaps next year we can dive deeper!

We’ve been blowing our make-believe “schofars” all day, so I am quite thankful for the quiet of this evening to blog!  To begin, we read about the significance of today, the history and the origin, and then had apples dipped in honey to signify the desire for a sweet new year.  We also learned about “repentance” and prayed forgiveness!  I feel like that was pretty important, so that my girls don’t always think prayer is just asking for blessings!

The apples and honey were under the watchful eye of Sierra.  Dip quick, or you may get a slap on your wrist!  (Crazy 2 – yr – olds need to learn to share!)

Natalie was my big helper when it came to making Challah bread.  Don’t ask me what the significance of challah bread is; we didn’t get that far!  🙂

Sierra painted the bread with egg yolks for us!

So, we still don’t know what the significance of challah is.  But, this we do know; it is YUUUUUMMMYYY!!!

Happy new year, and many blessings to you!