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Peanut Butter Granola Muffins

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The arctic blast has reached us all the way down here in Texas. So I have been baking comfort food for the kiddos. They absolutely love the peanut butter granola I prepare.
 
But lately I’ve been on a superseed kick, so I have been adding them in where ever I can.
 

I typically bake a triple batch of my peanut butter granola recipe, and lately I have been adding 2 tablespoons each of chia seeds, hemp hearts, and ground flax seed to the oats before adding the liquid ingredients. They give the granola that extra kick of goodness.

I was inspired after browsing recipes on Evernote’s Food app and discovered a recipe for these peanut butter granola muffins. After preparing granola today, I took some and prepared these muffins for the kids. 
 
Peanut Butter Granola Muffins
 
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup granola (use a spatula to break apart clumps)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 banana, mashed
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2 1/2 Tbsp water)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
 
Mix together maple syrup, milk, peanut butter, mashed banana, coconut oil, and vanilla. 
 
In a separate bowl combine flours, granola, and baking powder. 
 
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix together. 
 
Add flax egg and chia seeds and mix to combine.
 
Pour batter into cupcake cups in a muffin tin – cups should be almost completely full.
 
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick or knife comes out clean after inserting.

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The Ever Scholar

I’m working on a new project. Well, it’s not really a project so much as a mission. I have always been a book worm, having several books in queue at any given time. But over the last several years, between the pressure of growing a career and the pressures of growing a family, my personal reading habit has suffered.  

 
Now I find myself moving into a new phase. We are officially done growing our family, and my youngest, at 7 months, sleeps though the night regularly. My home routine s becoming more regular as the children get a little older. While my life is far from calm, with a husband, four kids and four dogs, I am finally able to find small lulls to focus on myself again. 
 
Even though I’ve gone through college and graduate school, I will be the first to tell you I still have a lot to learn. I’m not going back to school, though I am about to start a year-long course that I’m really excited about (I’ll post more details on that soon). What I am doing is reading, lots of good books, on a variety of subjects. And I’m not settling for passive reading, just to log books as “read.” I’m reading books “actively,” taking notes and annotating as I read, following rabbit trails when they appear, participating in online book groups and discussions. 
 
I realized that, as I record my notes on the books I am working through, I’d love to share them with others. Since I’m reading several books at a time, and also doing an in-depth Bible study as well, I have decided a new site would be the best thing for sharing. I will be posting my Bible sudy notes, book journaling and other personal scholar notes over at the The Ever Scholar.  I would love to have you follow my reading progress there!
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A Day with Snails

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Okay, maybe snails, pill bugs, worms, and lots and lots of dirt. 
 
We spent the afternoon in our backyard Saturday, enjoying the warm weather and each other’s company. After some family work, tidying up the yard and cutting grass, the kids had a blast exploring under rocks and collecting their favorite pill bugs. 
 

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While the kids enjoyed the bugs and the sunshine, I put in some much needed time in the garden. I didn’t use my garden boxes last year on account of my pregnancy, and honestly hadn’treally considered doing one this year since we will be moving once the house sells. But we ultimately decided it was worth the effort to have some some garden produce while we were still here.  
 

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So I mixed compost into two of my raised beds, and planted lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and peppers. I will need to cover the beds if we have any really cold nights, but it felt great getting things planted. I’m looking forward to many wonderful salads soon!
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Dissolving, Solutions, and Crystallization

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We just wrapped up  A9: Dissolving, Solutions, and Crystallization. We started our week with some reading, to get an idea of what happens when various substances are put into water. We recently added Chemistry Pre-level I from Real Science-4-Kids as a reference book, and Chapter 6 (Mixtures) was a great introduction to what we covered this week. 

 
Part 1: Some things dissolve: Solutions and Mixtures
 
We covered a few basic concepts first. 
 
What is a mixture? When we combine difference substances, we have a mixture. We talked about a mixture of diffferent types of fruit in a bowl, and various toys in a box. Then, we talked about making a mixture by putting a solid into a liquid, like when we combine sugar and water.
 
For a demonstration, we made up a sugar solution as a demo. After stirring our sugar, we watched the granules slowly get smaller and finally disappear. Our solid dissolves, which means the substance, in this case sugar, comes apart into its basic particles and interact with the particles of water. This makes a special kind of mixture called a solution
 
We compared our sugar water mixture to a mixture of flour in water. After stirring a small amount of flour into a glass of water, we observed our mixture remain cloudy – our flour doesn’t come apart to interact with the water molecules as a solution but instead remains just a mixture.
 
Part 2: Soluble and Insoluble
 

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After comparing sugar-in-water and flour-in-water, we then explored a variety of materials to see what was soluble and insoluble. While we did some basic kitchen items, like vinegar and baking soda, we also found some fun objects like a matchbox car, a small block of wood, and a plastic toy. The kids enjoyed stirring these to see whether they would dissolve.
 
Why don’t certain objects dissolve? This was a great opportunity to review our earlier lesson on solids, liquids and gases, where we learned how objects’ particles are either very close together (in solids), interacting but not closely packed (as in liquids) or not in contact with each other (in gases). Our solid objects, with particles closely packed together, were not able to break apart and interact with the water particles. We prepared a chart to record our observations. 
 

A9Soluble_Insoluble_Chart 

Part 3: Crystallization
 

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We dissolved salt in water to observe not only the process of salt dissolving and forming a solution, but also of salt particles forming crystals. We recently learned about about evaporation, when the water molecules leave the liquid state and go into the gas state. Any solids that are dissolved in the water are left behind and reformed crystals
 
To help with our observation, we placed a couple of teaspoons of our salt solution on a dark plate, and left out to evaporate. We later observed a crusty film where our salt solution was before evaporating.
 
We also made a straw by twisting up a piece of paper and securing with tape. This straw was then placed in a jar of salt solution. Our liquid wicked up the paper straw and after the liquid evaporated, a salt crust (crystals) was observed on the surface of the straw.
 
This lesson helped reinforce our earlier lessons on the particle nature of matter, and the states of matter. Understanding this particle nature is essential for upcoming lessons on atomic and molecular motion.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Superseed Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I wanted to pass along a simple but decadent recipe I prepared this week. This dessert is soooo rich.

This recipe is from Food Republic. I doubled the recipe since I only had regular muffin tins, not mini muffin tins. I also substituted agave syrup for the honey (maple syrup would work as well). 

Superseed Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups                   

12 oz bag semisweet chocolate chips

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

2 Tbsp agave syrup

2 Tbsp ground flaxseed

2 Tbsp chia seeds

2 Tbsp hemp seeds

I combined the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a glass bowl, and heated in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted. 

I then placed a tablespoon of chocolate mixture in bottom of each muffin cup. The muffin tin was placed in the freezer for a couple of minutes until chocolate was solid.

In another bowl, peanut butter, agave, and seeds were combined and mixed thoroughly. A dollop was placed into each muffin cup on top of hardened chocolate, and then spread out flat, using the back of a spoon. 

Finally, remaining chocolate was spread on top of each, one teaspoon per muffin cup. The muffin tin was placed in freezer for several minutes to set the chocolate. These were stored in the refrigerator to keep chocolate from melting.

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Finding Children’s Books

childrensbooksI am always on the lookout for excellent book selections for the children. We love illustrated books and try to read several throughout the week as part of our school day. I will often find the children reading them together in the evening as well. 

 
While I can scan the shelves or displays at our library branch easy enough, and we do tend to come home with several books that we just grab off the shelves, our library system has several branches and content changes as books are reshelved where they are returned. 
 
I also prefer books that I’ve read some feedback on or that have been recognized in some way for their content. I regularly sit down with book lists compiled from various websites and request them from our library. Then I can pick them up from our branch’s hold shelf. Super easy! Here are some of my “go to” resources for children’s book recommendations.
 
ALA Book Awards
 
Various book medal awards are given each year by the American Library Association to recognize outstanding books. The Caldecott medal is awarded each year for children’s picture book, and the award goes to the artist, regardless of whether they are also the author of the book. The Newberry Medal is awarded each year to the author of the most distinguished contribution to  American children’s literature. The Silbert Book Medal is awarded to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished informational book each year. 
 
Current medal recipients, as well as winners from previous years, are listed on the ALA website. Additional award lists can also be found on the ALA website under Youth Media Awards.  The ALA also puts together a list of Notable Children’s Books. This is an excellent source of children’s book titles to include in your weekly reading.
 
SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books
 
Science Magazine also includes a roundup of science and nature themed children’s books each year when they publish the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books. Often there are medal recipients included in this roundup. Current and previous years are available here
 
Goodreads
 
Goodreads  is also another great resource for book recommendations. You can “Explore” book selections by genre, and see new releases as well as most read each week. There are also Lists  – Goodread members often put together lists of their own recommendations or contribute to larger lists that are searchable. Each book selection includes reviews and commentaries by members. 
 
Pinterest
 
Pinterest is a great resource for book lists. A simple search for children’s literature will turn up a large selection of blogs and websites that contain children’s book recommendations. These book lists range from the top books “all children should read” to content specific titles such as “books about courage.”
 
Author’s Websites
 
Another way to find books is to explore a particular author. Once we’ve read one book from a particular author, we usually seek out other titles, which are often award winning books too. A simple Google search will usually turn up an author’s website and book list. For example, right now we are reading through several selections by Molly Bang. Look for an upcoming post on a science series she has put out! 
 
 
 
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Learning with the Tuttle Twins

I think one of my most important jobs as a parent is educating my children about their inherent rights and liberties that exist regardless of politics or government. I believe that growing up with a firm understanding of their rights will allow them to function more confidently in the world. 

 
This past Spring we discovered a wonderful resource for learning about some of these topics. Connor Boyack’s new series, The Tuttle Twins, presents some of these ideas in a colorful, fun format that is easy to understand by a younger audience but not over-simplified.
 
The first book in the series, The Tuttle Twins Learn about the Law, introduces children to some of the ideas that Frederic Bastiat covered in his well-known collection of essays, The Law. Through colorful illustrations and fun conversations with the main characters, Ethan and Emily, concepts such as legal plunder, which might be a little heavy for younger audiences, are readily understandable.
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Kyri loved The Tuttle Twins Learn About The Law, and carried around Bastiat’s The Law for weeks afterward, reading the essays.

 
We were SO excited when this first book in the series was released! Kyri walked around the house reading this book, as well as her own copy of Bastiat’s The Law, for weeks. We had wonderful conversations about the topics the book introduced.
 
I was excited to learn about the much-anticipated follow-up book that was published just before the holidays – we preordered and Kyri received it as a Christmas gift! In the second book in the series, The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil, Ethan and Emily learn about what is really required to produce something simple that we probably take for granted every day – the wooden pencil. Boyack has presented the ideas from Leonard Read’s classic essay, “I, Pencil”  in a fun way for children to really comprehend how the free market works. 
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Kyri was amazed to learn about the complicated family tree of the simple wooden pencil.

 

This series is wonderful and I can’t recommend it enough. Check out the links above and see for yourself – the illustrations are amazing and the stories are powerful. You can also click on my affiliate link to the left of the page to read more about The Tuttle Twins series.