|Posted on August 22, 2010 at 10:53 AM||comments (0)|
Here is a post about the handmade journals that we made last month, including my basic photo tutorial and a link to a more detailed tutorial. The recent Childlight article about the Book of Centuries made me think of another use for these journals besides nature studies and notes. With larger paper, these would make a nice Book of Centuries too. It is a couple of hours worth of work, but our student is excited about them AND excited about books. ~Cori
|Posted on April 23, 2010 at 9:33 AM||comments (0)|
Cedar trees are simply amazing. I blogged about making fire with the inner bark. Far more interesting is what else can be done with parts of this tree. Included in my blog post is a book called "Cedar" by Hilary Stewart.
"Cedar is a significant book that inspires awe not only for the versatility of the tree but also for the resourcefulness of the people." —Rotunda magazine, Royal Ontario Museum
If you live in the Pacific Northwest you can visit The Leeloska Museum in Ariel, Wa.
Chief Lelooska wrote "Spirit of the Cedar People" and "Echoes of the Elders." Each book includes a CD of Chief Lelooska telling the stories. He is an incredible storyteller.
|Posted on April 13, 2010 at 2:09 PM||comments (0)|
This looks like a good, inexpensive handcraft for sewing beginners. It is a good way to use up fabric scraps. I love fabric and keep buying a yard or less because I like it. I have a whole drawer full . ~Cori
|Posted on March 30, 2010 at 2:17 AM||comments (0)|
I seem to remember getting this idea from Gina but when I looked for it, I found her post on Seashell Candles which is equally fun. Our shells are broken, so next time we will combine sand and shells. ~ Cori
|Posted on March 29, 2010 at 11:25 AM||comments (0)|
"Ordinary Life Magic" is a great unschooling blog. I love her ideas for art, science, nature study and the all around encouragement for masterly inactivity. I also liked her post about Negative Thinking. She has a couple of blog addresses, so be sure to click on each link. Enjoy! ~ Cori
Arts and Crafts with Egg Ideas:
A good post about Negative Thinking:
|Posted on March 27, 2010 at 2:47 AM||comments (0)|
Echoes in Time is located near Salem, Oregon. I would love to see other homeschoolers there! Debbie, who also works at the Gilbert House, runs the children's camp (for the children of adult participants only). I wrote about what it is like at Echoes camp. ~ Cori
Classes offered last year:
Other gatherings around the U.S. and Canada
|Posted on March 16, 2010 at 11:37 AM||comments (3)|
Do you have a child who loves honey? Does anyone in your family have asthma or allergies? If so, then here is a fairly easy activity to do with children or as an SOS (Saving Our Sanity) activity for yourself. I find making herbals to be quite relaxing and sooting to the spirit during stressful times. Since there is no cooking this is even good with young children---as long as you have a high tolerance for sticky messes. The following video, from LearningHerbs dot com, gives a good overview of the process.
1. Place the herbs or flowers into a small glass jar. I used a pint canning jar.
2. Pour local honey over the herb. Yes, you really do want to use local honey rather than national brands. If using it to help prevent asthma and allergy attacks using local honey is vital as it contains pollen from local plants.
3. Using a thin utensil, mix the honey and herbs thoroughly.
4. Top off with more honey and stir again. Repeat until the jar is full of mixed honey and herb.
5. Close with a tight lid.
6. The first week you need to restir the herbal honey daily. For less mess, you can also flip the jar daily to mix the herb and honey.
7. Let steep for 2 to 5 more weeks.
8. Strain the herbs out if you want. Delicate flowers like roses and violets can be left in.
How to Use:
*Spread or drizzle on favorite foods.
*Take a teaspoon to a tablespoon daily for medicinal purposes (asthma, allergies, digestive problems, etc.).
*Stir a tablespoon into hot water and drink as a tea.
*Add to your favorite tea or hot beverage.
*If using dried herb or flowers fill the jar only 1/4 of the way full.
*If using fresh herb or flowers fill the jar upto 3/4 of the way full
*If making for asthma/allergy prevention I add a tablespoon of bee pollen (and strain the honey only if absolutely necessary to make it edible).
*DO NOT USE WITH INFANTS UNDER 1 YEAR OLD.
*Always use local honey. For the more medicinal honeys I add in some Manuka honey, although I find it too thick and expensive to use alone.
*If your child does not like traditional homemade cough syrup you can use the same herbs in an herbal honey and use it to soothe sore throats.
*In general, I try not to heat the honey I am using but if your honey is too thick go ahead and heat it just enough to make it thin enough to get into the jar and able to mix with the herb.
*The range of what flowers or herbs you can use seems fairly wide. I can't wait to try rose and violet honeys once these plants start blooming. In the fall you can make rose hip or garlic honey. You can also use spices such as cinnamon.
Herbal Honeys We Made This Week:
Tummy Remedy Honey: use fennel seeds and chamomile flowers
Lavender Honey: I love anything lavender scented or flavored. Can be used for upset or anxious children.
Dandelion Flower Honey: this one is a pure experiment
First Aide Honey: we use this instead of products like Neosporin, I like to use equal parts comfrey leaf, comfrey root, lavender, plantain. THIS IS NOT EDIBLE due to the comfrey root. Great for cuts, scrapes and minor burns.
Fennel Seed, Star Anise & Licorice Root Honey: my family loves anything fennel or black licorice flavored. This is another one of our experiments.
|Posted on January 12, 2010 at 9:00 PM||comments (0)|
Making Seashell Candles
medium or large scallop seashells*
wax of your choice (we used soy although I don't recommend it)
color wax blocks
scent wax block
small tabbed and waxed wicks
Pyrex mixing bowl (can take the heat and pours easily)
scrap of wax or parchment paper
1.Cover work surface with newspaper.
2.Shave or grate color and scent wax blocks (do not mix and be sure to grate more than you think you will need)
3.Straighten wicks and place one in each seashell.
4.Pour soy wax chips into Pyrex bowl.
1.Follow your wax's instructions for melting, mixing and pouring temperatures. Be sure to check temperatures with a thermometer but do not microwave with thermometer in the bowl.
2.Once wax is melted and the proper temperature, add in the color shavings until the wax is the color you want. Use black or complementary colors to darken or deepen the color. Stir well but slowly. Once the soy wax starts to cool the wax block shavings will stop melting so work quickly. You can check the color by placing a drop of the colored wax on the wax paper. You will see the color once the drop cools.
3.Cool to the correct temperature and then stir in the scented wax block shavings until it's just a smidge stronger than you really want.
4.Carefully pour into the seashells. Adjust the wicks so that they stand up straight.
When working with younger kids I prefer to use soy or beeswax since these can be melted in the microwave. I just don't feel as safe using a double boiler to melt wax when working with kids under 9.
Pour extra wax into ice cube trays and let cool. These can be used to make chunk candles at a later date. Be sure to mark what scent you used!
Wax is hard to clean off so use only equipment, and wear clothing, that you don't mind having a faint trace of wax on.
*Seashells need to have a deep enough depression to hold a pool of wax & wick tab and needs to rest so that wax won't spill out. It may be helpful to have a pan of sand or rice to rest the seashells in as you are pouring the wax.
Should have put newspapers under those seashells!
With supervision, even the young can make candles.
Teamwork makes it more fun.
|Posted on December 6, 2009 at 12:06 PM||comments (3)|
My long entries keep disappearing so I am going to do this entry as two entries and hope it works. One on syrups and one on the other herbals. Cold and Flu season seems to be rearing it's ugly head at our house. KodyGirl has a cold that just keeps coming back even though the actual symptoms are actually fairly mild, the cat is snuffly and even I started sneezing today. All sure signs that it is time to make some cough syrup and other medicinals. So, that is what we have spend some time doing the past couple days instead of holiday baking or decorating. These recipes are easy enough for children to help with and fall under "handicrafts" at our house.
******Do not give honey syrups to children under the age of one*******
Lemony Cough Syrup
This is my own recipe based on several I found online. In an attempt to get a thicker syrup we simmered and reduced the the entire mixture rather than just the water. Not sure what the heating will do to the honey but we did get the thickness we wanted. Just be careful not to overcook the honey!!! KodyGirl helped me create this recipe to her preferences since she is less than fond of cough syrups. It is mild enough for long term usuage and great for kids.
3TBSP lemon juice (bottled ok, fresh is best)
1TBSP sliced ginger (I only had crystallized but plain root would be better, adj. to taste)
1 Tsp. dried thyme (if you add more be sure not to overpower the lemon)
1/4 cup water (distilled best, boiled ok)
1 cup honey (local or Manuka)
1. Mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan.
2.Bring just to a boil and immediately turn the heat down to a slow simmer.
3.Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until close to the thickness you want (will thicken more once cooled)
4. Strain before putting into a jar. There will be small flecks of thyme in the syrup and the syrup will retain a strong honey taste.
*If you want a clearer syrup you can make a small infusion of the thyme and water as the first step. Strain that with cheesecloth and then add it to the rest of the ingredients and continue with the recipe.
*Take 1 TBSP straight from the spoon as needed. Up to 1 TBLS per hour
*Add 1 TBSP to hot water to drink as a tea
*Add 1 TBSP to your child's favorite tea or juice
Licorice Anise Cough Syrup
This is my interpretation of the recipe found on EHow.com. This is a fairly robust syrup that will appeal to more mature palettes and symptoms (ie. the teens and adults).
1/2 cup licorice root
approx. 1/4 cup anise (ok to use less, anise has a strong flavor)
2 small cinnamon sticks (or one large stick)
1TBSP sliced ginger (I used crystallized since that is what I had, regular root is better)
I TBSP dried thyme
1 cup honey (local or Manuka is best)
2 cups water (distilled or boiled)
1.Add the licorice, anise, cinnamon and ginger to a small saucepan. Then add the water (I like to use boiling water from my electric teapot). Mix well.
2. Bring just to a boil and immediately lower the heat to a slow simmer (unless you used hot boiling water in step 1 in which case you skip step 2)
3. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.
4. Add in the thyme and let set in the pan until just warm enough to melt the honey.
5. Strain the mixture with cheesecloth (or metal strainer if you don't mind flecks) and add it to the honey.
6. Pour into a jar and refridgerate
*If you have to use ground cinnamon try adding it to the honey before starting. This may help it encorporate into the mixture better, otherwise it will float on the water in globs.
*I didn't try it but I think you could add a sprinkling of cayenne to this
Children: start with one teaspoon as needed, may go up to 1 TBSP per hour or two for persistent coughs
Adults: start with 1 TBSP as needed, may go up to 2 TBSP per hour or two for persistent coughs
Best for the height of the cold, long term(ie. more than 7-10 days) usuage is not recommended esp. for children
*take straight from the spoon like traditional cough syrup
*add to hot water to drink as a tea
*add to your favorite licorice, fennel or anise tea for an extra boost
|Posted on September 17, 2009 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
Out of desperation for some yummy hot chocolate last night I improvised this recipe. Drakon declared it "brilliant" and suggested that I post it for others to see. To begin with you must understand that we most definitely do not like the Gheridelli's hot chocloate mix that we bought on the road so this is an attempt to make it palatable. I would recommend using a richer hot chocolate mix as your base and lessen the milk accordingly.
3 cups hot water
1/4 to 1/2 cup hot chocolate mix (or to taste)
a generous half TBLS of honey (I only had fireweed flavored on hand, I recommend plain clover honey)
1/4 cup milk (or less if your chocolate mix is good quality)
1 TBLS peanut butter
Make it just like regular hot chocolate and then add in the honey and milk. Then take a small bowl or cup and put the peanut butter in that. Now add a TBLS or so of the liquid hot chocolate to the peanut butter and mix until smooth. Then add another TBLS of the hot chocolate and mix until the mixture is liquid enough to pour into the already made hot chocolate (much like how you add cornstarch to gravies or herbs to soap). Mixing a small amount of the liquid hot chocolate into the peanut butter separately helps keep the peanut butter from "cooking" and getting lumpy.
And since we are talking about food I just have to say that Bassman and I had the best, very basic, salad last night. The KOA we are staying at let us pick fresh veggies from their overly large garden. All we did was cut up some awesome tomatoes and a cucumber. Add a splash of vinegar and a dash or two of salt and pepper. Yum. A definitely treat from our usual canned on-the-road fare. Went great with the hamburgers lol.
My aunt told me how to make this minty hot chocolate. It is based on a product they use to sell in their store.
1. Take whatever hot chocolate you usually use and make one serving.
2. Take 2-3 round after dinner mints (peppermint flavored but not candy canes) and crush them. This works best if you leave them in the wrapper while crushing, otherwise you will have sticky candy everywhere.
3. Add the crushed peppermint the the very hot chocolate and stir until the candies are melted.
4. Enjoy. Perfect for winter! (and adults could add some schnapps if they wanted a special treat).
|Posted on August 24, 2009 at 12:15 AM||comments (2)|
We've been in the process of moving my wall o' books and I've come across some old favorites and some that I forgot I had. This book falls into the latter category. It's called Making Books & Journals: 20 Great Weekend Projects by Constance E. Richards. I haven't tried any of these yet (because I forgot I had it lol) but I instantly thought of all the lapbooks folks out there. This could be *great* inspiration for jazzing up lapbooks or educational posters for somewhat older kids. The jelly bean book and the lettuce book projects would fit nicely into lapbooking---and no they do not include jelly beans nor lettuce. You'll have to read the book to find out why they are called these names. If you're studying insects the hexagonal bee book would be perfect. There are also some 3D type mini-books that might be fun for a parent or older child to do. One of the more unique ideas in it is to take a piece of fake fruit, cut it in half, add a hinge and some decoration and use those as the cover for an accordian style book. The sands of time book has actual sand in it's cover! Several of the book ideas would work for nature jpurnaling; you'd just include more pages then their instructions say to. I also like that it shows some different styles of binding and stitching.
Truly interesting and inspiring ideas. Think the girls and I may be making some of them as holiday gifts.
|Posted on July 8, 2009 at 1:24 PM||comments (0)|
Most people wait until the kids are late elementary/middle school before trying to make soap because of the safety factor in using lye and such. At our house it is my youngest who is most interested in soap making. Combine that with my time constraints and I have discovered an easier way of making soap. Instead of making the soap from scratch I use those premade soap bases that can be melted in the microwave. They work quite well for my purposes and come in a wide range of types. I am partial to clear glycerine (which is *much* nicer than the glycerine soaps in the beaty section of your store), goats milk, avocado and olive oil. The kids also like the richness of shea butter soap base but I'm on the fence with it. Due to Tide's and Bassman's eczema I try to use only nourishing or moisturizing soap bases which is why I use a lot of avocado.I find our soap bases at Michaels or there are numerous online stores that sell them. You do not want to use a "generic" soap base as these never make a nice soap. You want one that tells you what oils have been added to it (ie.olive oil, shea butter, avocado, etc.). All soap bases are made from some type of glycerine base.
Things to keep in mind when working with kids under 10:
1.Have absolutely everything lined up and ready to use. Make all color, scent, herb decisions, etc. prior to getting set up. The soap cools quickly so being organized is a must.
2. Explain to the child that because the soap cools quickly it is very important that they work quickly but carefully (soap splatters can hurt!) and follow instructions exactly. If your child is not able to work quickly or follow instructions wait until they are old enough to do so.
3. Decide ahead of time which steps the child will help with. Kody Girl usually helps with cutting the soap base into meltable chunks, the stirring, and adding of color. I am in charge of adding essential oils and herbs since that can get tricky. I also do all the puring into molds since it takes a firm steady hand. Kody Girl is also my scentologist. She helps me determine when the soap scent is just a bit stronger than we really want (it fades dramatically the first week so we go a bit past our ideal scent since we know it will fade to what we want). Her nose is better than mine so her help is actually quite helpful.(Be sure to grind your herbs into a powder or they'll feel too scratchy when you use the soap! I use a coffee grinder just for my herbs.)
4. If the child is helping with stirring just accept that the soap will have air bubbles and be more of a whipped soap. They can't help but stir more vigorously than an adult. The whipped action does give a better lather but also makes the soap get used up faster in the shower.
5. If you are adding dried herbs it is helpful to add them to a small cup of the melted soap to make a paste and then mix the paste into the larger bowl. Much like adding corn starch to a gravy. This helps minimize clumping since the dry plant matter doesn't mix well with the heavy melted soap.
6. Make small batches as the soapbase soaps don't hold age quite as well as soap made from scratch.
7. If you use dried herbs they will eventually turn brown. Some, like lavender, turn brown within hours others, like spearmint, can take months but all organic additives will eventually take on a brown hue. This is normal and does not mean your soap has gone bad!
8. Watchout, making soap can become addicitve!
1. Make all your decisions about soap type, mold choices, scents, herbs, color, glitter (superfine only!) , etc.
2. Set everything up in easy reach of both you and the child.
3. Cut up the soap base into approximately 1 inch chunks for better melting.
4. Using glass or plastic bowls (I use giant pyrex measuring cups since they have handles, pour easily and won't accidently melt) melt the soap base according to package instructions.
5. Just before it is fully melted I like to add in the herbs, coloring agent and glitter (if you are using any of these).
6. Once it is fully melted add in the scent (if using essential oils it is esp. important to not put it into the hot microwave as heat destroys the scent).
7. Mix well, and quckily.
8. If the soap is starting to harden or stiffen at this stage I will put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds or less to reliquify it.
9. Stir one last time and then pour into molds.
10. Let sit several hours or overnight.
11. Pop out of the molds. Sometimes I put them into the freezer for a few minutes to shrink if they are sticking to the molds.
12. Enjoy! Store extras in airtight containers or you will lose your scent.
|Posted on May 29, 2009 at 6:31 PM||comments (0)|
2 tubs or bins of the same size
1 or 2 funnels
pencil or marker
something strong enough to cut the bins
There are many different ways of making these. This is the easiest I could come up with and is really a combination of two methods-one from the Urban Homesteader and one from a spring issue of Mother Earth News. You can use those ubiquitus plastic buckets (our local greasy spoon/fast food place sells them fro 2 dollars) but I prefer the larger and more flexible reactangular storage tubs that folks usually use for toys or Christmas decorations.
If your tubs are small or you are using a bucket you will need one bigger funnel. If you use a large bin or bucket you may need 2 medium sized funnels (it's better to have too many than not enough!).
1. Take the funnel and use it to trace a circle onto the middle of the bottom of one of your tubs. For a big tub make two circles, more near the edges of the tub, but not too close to the edge.
2. Now cut out the circles slightly smaller than you actually drew them (trust me this will make sense further into the process)
3. Now set the other tub inside the one you just cut. If your funnel is too long cut the tip shorter. If you want a bigger reservoir of water you can use rocks or blocks to prop the inside tub up higher (this is what I did with my really water thirsty veggies). If you are afraid that dirt may clog your funnel just protect it like you would any container plant (ie. pot shards, coffee filters, pea gravel, etc.).
4. Depending on how exactly your bucket.tubs fit together you may or may not need to cut a hole just above your reservoir. If you can fit a hose into your reservoir tub from the top (I just slide mine between the tops of my two tubs) and your plants are fairly water thirsty you will not need to cut a hole. If you can't get a hose to your resrvoir or you are afraid of waterlogging your plants cut a 1" square in the outside tub just above the water line in your reservoir. This will allow you to add water and will allow excess water to drain out.
Your final product will be two tubs nested together with the funnels connecting them and allowing the water to flow from the bottom/outside tub to the top/inside tub.You are now ready to add dirt and plants.
Oregon has had just enough rain that I haven't had to water my self-watering containers since I planted them 6 weeks ago. During the height of our dry spells (it's like a desert here in summer and like monsoons in winter) I should only have to water once every two weeks.