Whole Wheat Sourdough Pancakes

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I’m fairly new to the sourdough game. But after reading Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread, I am motivated to incorporate it more into our routine. I am currently using Desem sourdough culture, which is a whole wheat culture available through Cultures for Health.
 
Sourdough pancakes are a great way to use excess starter left over after feeding. Typically when I feed my starter, I pull out all but 1/2 cup of my starter and this is my excess or discard. Rather than just toss it, I set up a second jar for pancakes the next morning.
 
Sourdough Pancakes
 
2 – 3 cups starter (I add 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup water to whatever excess starter I have and then let it go overnight.). In the morning I add:
 
3 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup almond milk
 
The almond milk really loosens up the batter so it can be spooned easily onto a greased griddle.
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We love pancakes around here but these are by far the fluffiest pancakes I have ever made!
 
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Natural Laundry Soap

laundrysoap1It’s that time again – with a larger family it seems like I am always doing laundry. I always chuckle when I read about folks with “laundry days” where they can bang out their laundry in an hour or two a week. I find myself needing to do one or two loads a day to keep up with the family’s needs. And to be honest I’m usually still overloaded with clothes and linens. If they aren’t dirty and piling up, they are clean and piling up, needing to be folded and sorted. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this problem though!

Here is my go-to laundry soap recipe.

Laundry Soap

(add 2-3 Tbsp to each load of laundry)

1 bar soap, finely grated (I typically use Dr. Bronner’s Lavender)

1 cup super washing soda

1 cup borax

1/2 cup – 1 cup baking soda

I mix all together into a large jar and give a vigorous shake to combine well. I keep a tablespoon measuring spoon in the jar.

I do not use dryer sheets (they contain animal fats) or wool dryer balls. But for a little added scent (though the lavender soap works quite well for this), I may put a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on a scrap of flannel along with the clothes in the dryer.  

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I wanted to share a cookie I prepared recently. It’s super easy, and it stores well. Prep ahead and keep in the fridge until you are ready to bake.

4 1-ounce squares of unsweetened Baker’s chocolate
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups sugar
3 eqq equivalents (EnerG or flax work well)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 cup almond milk 
 
In a small saucepan or microwave, melt together the chocolate, coconut oil and peanut butter. Whisk together as you heat until mixture is completely combined.
 
In a stand-up mixer bowl, combine the chocolate mixture and 2 cups sugar. Add in the egg equivalent (I used EnerG egg replacer) and the vanilla, and mix well. Add in the flour. Dough will be crumbly and dry. Add in the milk and mix until the dough is moist. 
 
Divide in half, and put each half onto a large piece off parchment paper. Shape cookie dough into a log, with a diameter of 1 1/2 – 2 inches and roll up tightly in the paper. Fold down the ends and let chill for at least an hour allow the dough to become firm.
 
When ready to bake, preheat over to 350 degrees F. Remove dough just before baking, unroll parchment paper, and cut 1/2 inch slices from the dough. Spread on cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cook at least 15 minutes. Cookies will be soft, with an almost brownie-like consistency.
 
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After chilling for at least an hour, the dough holds its shape well. Remove just before slicing and baking.

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The shape of the cookie depends on the cookie dough log. Rounder logs make for rounder cookies. But they all taste just as yummy!

 

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Three Weeks In

We purchased a cottage on 1-acre in the woods of the Florida Panhandle three weeks ago. It’s a real fixer-upper, but each day we make a little more progress. The first week, running water was the biggest task. Some of the water pipes had cracked during the period the house sat uninhabited. The first few days, we would turn the water on just long enough to fill plastic tubs for washing and flushing.

Thankfully, we tackled that problem, and have functional plumbing now. This week, my husband rebuilt the hot water line so we could finally turn on the water heater. That’s right, for almost three weeks, I have had to heat water on the stove for washing dishes and bodies. The shower pipes leaked so we couldn’t use them for showering. And even if they hadn’t leaked, who wants to take a cold shower anyway?! So I used my large camping pot to heat water on the stove and lugged it into the shower, where we used a cup to pour water over us to wash. Very rugged, but it gets the job done.

Just yesterday we finalized the hot water pipe repairs and turned on the water heater. Thankfully, it works well and we’ve had hot water in the faucets. After a grueling day of plumbing repairs in the bathroom yesterday, our shower and bathroom faucets are now fully fuctional!!

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It’s glorious! Our fully functional shower, complete with a new sprayer attachment. Cups and pots of warm water work fine, but a hot shower just can’t be beat!

 Today was mostly spent on smaller tasks, but all add up to making this place our home. We finally put up a mailbox – I am sure the mailman will appreciate that! Mounting shelves, organizing the pantry, emptying the dining room so we can paint and redo the floors.

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Much of our stuff in still in storage, because we will be redoing all the floors, one room at a time. But school must go on, so I have bins of supplies in our unfinished dining room.

 It’s certainly a change of pace for our family. We have a long way to go to get this place where we want it to be, but we also have a family that has needs. Each day we have to juggle the demands of children, dogs, schooling, day-to-day errands, all while taking on major home repairs and renovations.

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One of my pantry shelves, freshly painted and stocked. It’s also high enough to keep circular saws safely out of reach of children.

Everyday I remind myself that it won’t always be this chaotic and messy. Soon enough our home and homestead will be in tip-top shape! In the meantime, I wake up each morning and smile because this life, even in this time of renovation and repairing, is exactly what we have wanted for years. We are blessed!

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Four Walls and a Roof

If you follow me on Instagram ( and I hope you do! – I share pictures and updates regularly there), you know my family has been camping for the past month. We have been bouncing around this idea of downsizing our home, getting some acreage, and living minimally for a couple of years now. We started putting this idea in motion a year ago when we packed up our house in Texas and put everything in storage. We put our house on the market, and we alternated between crashing at my parents’ house across the country and living in our empty house with no furniture. After our house sold, we thought we had found something that fit the bill for our next home. Smaller house, a larger lot, much cheaper sale price. In fact, twice we found something that seemed to fit the bill, and twice things fell apart. 

 
Things came to a head in September when our second opportunity fell apart literally hours before closing. We were forced to make some hard decisions and fully rely on God. We decided to step out in faith. We picked a town halfway between my parents and my husband’s parents, packed up our camping gear (and we haven’t camped since before our oldest was born almost 9 years ago!) and we set off for Florida. We decided on our way down that we would camp until we found our next home. 
 

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We still had the same basic criteria – a smaller house, a larger lot, and CHEAP. We decided to go all in with this plan and find something we could pay cash. We found a house that needed a lot of work but that was still livable, on an acre, and that cost exactly what we were hoping to spend. Closing went smoothly, and we have already started the hard work of making this our home. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are just taking it one day at a time, one project at a time. This could end up being our forever home (or at the very least our Long Long Time home) so we know we have time to do things just the way we want. 
 
We are in a rural community and I love it! Life moves at a different speed around here. I am so excited about getting involved in the community and meeting people – fellow homeschoolers, folks who love natural living and being self-sufficient. 
 
So our month-long camping trip has finally a come to an end and now we start roughing it in our fixer-upper. Our homestead. Our home. 
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Vegan Mofo 2015!

September is Vegan Month of Food, or Vegan MoFo for short. Once again, I’m not really in a position to do much “from scratch” cooking – we are moving next week! So while I won’t be sharing any recipes on the blog until I have my new kitchen set up, I will be sharing pictures of our vegan food all month on Instagram.

Follow me on Instagram – you can click on my Instagram link on the right side of the blog. And be sure to check out the hashtag #veganmofo.

New to Vegan  Mofo? Not sure how it works or what it’s all about? Wondering which blogs to follow? Check out the main Vegan Mofo website here.
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A Fresh Start – Our School Curriculum 2015/2016

KyriEnder2015schoolWe’ve had a hectic year with selling our house and living somewhat as transients in Georgia while we figure our where our next home is going to be. We haven’t always gotten all of what I had planned (for school) done, but I think we’ve had a productive year.

 
I shared this past fall our plans for the 2014/2015 school year, how I prepared for the entire school year to help keep us on track during the upheaval. I just posted how I’ve revised my 36-week folder system to instead use an Arc Notebook. But I’d like to share the specifics of our academic plan for the upcoming year.
 

Fourth Grade

Math

 
Saxon 5/4 – we started this curriculum in 2nd grade and have been slowly working through it. We are on “schedule” to finish the book this school year.
 
Usborne Dictionary of Math (3 book series)  not a curriculum but a great resource. Colorful and engaging, these are fun to read and glean knowledge. Click here to check them out.
 
Living Books – We have been investing in Greg Tang books this summer and will include them for use during Kidschool as a way to get our “Math” brains working. Kyri also loves reading these on her own.
 

Language Arts

 
First Language Lessons – Level 4 Teacher’s Guide and Student Workbook.
Evan-Moor Daily Reading Comprehension Grade 4 – daily reading selections that include several questions that reinforce understanding, finding the main idea and supporting facts. 
Evan-Moor Nonfiction Writing Grade 4 weely lessons that introduce nofiction writing and puttig together topic sentences, supporting facts, writing, and the various types of writing
Evan-Moor Building Spelling Skills Grade 4 (continuing) – weekly spelling lists and activities to reinforce spelling, phonics and                   other areas such as synonyms/antonyms and homophones.
 

History

 
Story of the World 4 – We stepped back from SOTW this past year to focus on American History, but we are picking up with SOTW 4, which also includes later events in US History.
Story of the World Activity Book – We will mostly be working on the outlines and mapwork for each chapter.
 
Beautiful Feet History of the Horse – Kyri is OBSESSED with horses and when I came across this literature-based study guide, I knew she would love it. The curriculum pulls from a large selection of both fiction and nonfiction books about horses, so I won’t list them all out here. I will be putting together a separate post as I get all the texts together and organized.
 

Science

 
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding  – We started using this curriculum last year. Volume I is geared toward K-2, and we have been moving through these topics fairly quickly since we have seen much of the material in previous years (though not always in as much depth). Volume II is geared toward Grades 3-5 and we will be moving back and forth between the four “threads”, including topics from Volume I as prerequisites as needed. 
 
Carson-Dellosa Just the Facts:
     Earth and Space Science (4-6 grades)
     Life Science (4-6 grade)
     Physical Science (4-6 grade)
 
This is a great series that provides in-depth activities and puzzles. I will be pulling from all three volumes to go along with our BFSU lessons.
Evan-Moor Daily Science Grade 4 – This is a great resource for exploring concepts in earth science, life science and physical science. Each week has a Big Idea and daily readings and activities introduce and reinforce each concept. I am planning on using these as a supplemental science reading for Kyri’s independent study time. While our main focus will be on our topics in BFSU, these daily readings should be interesting without going into too much depth.
 
Geography
 
Evan-Moor Daily Geography Grade 4 – we started using Evan-Moor Daily Geography for 3rd grade and Kyri just loves it, so we will be continuing the series.
 
Bible
 
AWANA – Kyri finished her third year in Sparks this Spring, so she will be moving to TNT in the Fall, and is very excited!
Bible Road Trip – This has been a great study this past year. We typically do the daily reading and discussion in the morning during our Kidschool. This year I would like to put a little more emphasis on Notebooking for each week’s reading.
 
Additional Resources:
 
 
Health and Wellness
 
The Care and Keeping of You Book 1: Book and Journal (American Girl) – discusses body changes and emotional changes, and geared toward girls ages 8-10.
The Feelings Book – Book and Journal (American Girl) – deals with feelings, emotions and communicating about feelings through journaling and talking to others.
Vintage Remedies for Tweens (continuing) – covers a variety of topics from food, natural health
Raising Vegetarian Children   more of a guide for me, but we will be pulling recipes and discussing healthy habits.
Laying Down the Rails Book and Workbook.
 
Hebrew
For writing practice and mastering the Alef Bet we are using a couple of different resources:
 
 
For reading and speaking we are using:
 
Mango Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew
 
Character Development
 
This may go along with Health and Wellness, but I will list separately for organization.
 
Beautiful Feet Teaching Character Through Literature – this includes a wonderful reading list appropriate for both Primary and Intermediate Readers, as well as Study Guide lessons geared toward Primary and Intermediate Reading Selections.
 
Laying Down The Rails – this is a compilation of Charlotte Mason’s writings, organized to cover wellness topics (such as Cleanliness) as well as Character topics such as courtesy. There is a book for parents/educators along with a student book that includes discussion topics.
 
Art and Music Appreciation
 
While we pull projects from our DK Book of Art, I have been keeping Art and Music as an area of interest-led study. Kyri loves being creative and doing crafts and I try to provide outlets for this – with craft supplies and ample opportunity to check out art books at the library. As far as music, she was gifted an acoustic guitar which she loves, and she is slowly becoming more comfortable with holding it properly and using her hands correctly. Once we relocate she will have more time and space to spend working on learning chords.
 
Classics Reading
 
One of the shifts we have made in our homeschool approach is to spend a lot more time just reading together. I am always looking for excellent book suggestions to work into our reading schedule, and we usually have two or three titles we are working on at any one time. Over the summer we have been working on the Little House series, and I have a list I’m putting together for this school year. With the Beautiful Feel study guides, I have even more books to include. I will be putting together another post with our reading list later in the fall.
 

Preschool/ PreK 

 
We started off slow last fall, mainly just to get Ender interested in learning and working on “school” work together. This year, he is ready to go! He is always asking me to do school work or to read to him. I am looking forward to an exciting year with him! His younger brother Julian is only 2 1/2 but I am expecting him to tag along a bit and participate a little. Julian is already able to count to 15, so he may end up being fairly interested in some of our school work.
 

Math

 
Saxon Kindergarten  As with Kyri, I am starting out early with the Saxon curriculum to allow us work at a slower pace if needed. Saxon K covers a lot of basics like patterns, shapes, and counting, as well as Calendar basics.
 
Confessions of a Homeschooler – Letter of the Week. I use several of the resources from this curriculum for teaching number recognition and basic counting skills. I have laminated flash cards and put onto rings for easy review.
 

Language Arts

 
Confessions of a Homeschooler – Letter of the Week for letter recognition and basic writing skills
 
Starfall  this is a wonderful resource for teaching the ABCs and phonics. Ender, like his sister, really loves the interactive games that introduce phonics and simple words.
 

Science 

 
While I expect Ender (and possibly Julian) to tag along with Kyri’s science lessons, I want to have some simpler activies planned as well.
 
More Mudpies to Magnets – a great book with age-appropriate experiments for ages 2 through 6.
 
Evan-Moor Learning About Animals (Science Works for Kids Series) Grade K-1 – A great introduction to animal basics. Includes simple worksheets and coloring and gluing pages.
 
 
Miscellaneous Resources
 
For practice, we use a variety of flashcards – these are a fun way to practice letters, numbers, colors and shapes!
 
For handwriting practice (numbers and letters) I love to pick up little workbooks from Target – Busytown workbooks are our current favorite around here.
 
Notebooking Pages
 
This spring I took the plunge and purchased a lifetime membership to Notebookingpages.com. This is a wonderful resource for notebooking pages on a wide variety of subjects. I have been incorporating notebooking pages into our history and science reading, as well as character and nature study. The site membership also includes a web app that allows members to create their own notebooking pages, from start to finish, or simply including their own clip art or images in preexisting pages. While I enjoy making my own notebooking pages, it is great to have so many pages available ready to go.
 
Starfall
 
While Kyri is growing out of Starfall‘s content, she still loves to explore the site with her younger siblings. They continue to add new content, and they do have multiplication and division activities, as well as basic geometry and probability activities to explore.
 
Nature Study
 
We don’t follow any schedule or planned curriculum for Nature Study. Instead, I make sure we have a wealth of resources available that encourage exploration and discovery, along with sufficient identification guides. Local park and rec programs are a great way to round out our home nature study program. I will be putting together a separate post where I share the variety of resources I have put together over the past couple of years for the children.