It’s been awhile since I posted a recipe on here, and you know I’m good for allergen friendly options so I thought I’ve give you a beverage to try! This is a faintly sweet, dairy free caffeinated drink. Think; a more healthy twist on a traditional mocha. It pairs well with a long afternoon watching the kiddos in the sandbox 😉
Dairy-free Iced Mocha
Serves: 1 mom needing a fancy pick me up
8 oz plain oat milk
2 shots of fresh brewed espresso
2 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 heaping scoop of collagen peptides
4/5 ice cubes
optional: 80% dark chocolate shavings
Combine all ingredients except ice and chocolate shavings in a blender (a handheld blender and cup work just fine for a single serving). Once well combined, pour over ice in a tall glass and top with chocolate shavings. Enjoy!
One of the numerous benefits of homeschooling is the ability to educate and learn in a way that works best for your family and situation. We have always done a combo of Charlotte Mason and classical education, a blend that compliments our learners and the goals I have for their education. I’m really happy with our curriculum and methods, but the past few years have been rough due to scheduling. Between navigating a new baby with two kids who still needed a lot of one on one help with school, and then all the covid mess, 2019 and 2020 were difficult on the school front. There was burn out. I hadn’t yet felt that in homeschooling and man, was it discouraging! One of my main goals for homeschooling is to have learning be enjoyable and that goal was not met. We did survive but that’s not enough for me. I want to thrive! Or why am I even doing this, right? Anyways. Our extra long summer break has been restorative, but also detrimental. I can feel the lack of schedule and structure starting to wear on us, so while planning for the next school year I decided to try a few changes.
First, we are going to school year round! It’s not as insane as it sounds, and actually not too far off what I usually end up doing, but I’ve scheduled everything in a calendar an effort to be more intentional in my breaks. The way I have it planned out is that we will not school for more than six weeks at a time. Some “year rounders” do a two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off schedule but I decided I wanted to have a longer stretches in order to get into a rhythm, something I don’t think I could accomplish in two weeks. Let’s be honest, we don’t really hit a stride till week two.
I am really looking forward to this new schedule. I have high hopes that it will make this coming school year the best one yet. I’ll keep ya posted on how it goes!
The second change I have already implemented is firmly scheduling our field trips ahead of time. There is nothing like taking advantage of homeschooling by enjoying a long weekend off in the middle of the year in order to go hiking around to see some lava tubes. While I am usually very good about doing fun field trips to complement our learning, I usually play it by ear as far as when exactly we do them, (thinking that it was ideal and more fun to be flexible) and as a consequence, I would miss some opportunities. Well, I decided I could be flexible but also give ourselves firm windows of time in which certain field trips have to be done. For example, we are for sure going to the Monet exhibit while it is in town, so I know I HAVE to get there in September or we will miss it. And I have to make sure we have a ideal weather for our geology excursion out of town so picking a reliable month for good weather was important; October seemed a good option. You get the idea. By doing more research ahead of time for our big field trips- special exhibits, excursions out of town, etc., I’ve been able to plan at least one big adventure a month. This plan gives me so much to look forward to while supplementing our homeschool curriculum and also taking advantage of living in such a diverse state! Now, the flexible part is that while some field trips have certain weekends I’ve marked off, they could easily be moved around that month in order to accommodate our schedule without missing out, win-win! I’m so glad to have something special for the kids and I to look forward to each month.
The third change I made was booking all the extra curricular activities way ahead of time, gauging how much work and strain these will put on the family, and how best to manage that. It’s not an easy choice as I’d like the kids to Do All The Things for sake of experience and fun but it’s just not possible. For example, Azelie will be busy this year with faith formation classes. Reconciliation prep class, piano, 4H, soccer (fall), and ballet. Whew! Doing ballet and soccer in person would just be too much time commitment for us. Soccer is local and affordable, so that will be in person. A is very interested in ballet, and I wish I could find better options for her in our area, but for now ballet will be online.
Caidoc will also be in soccer in the fall, and flag football in the winter. His year round activities are 4H, faith formation class, a writing class, and piano. Our goal (pun intended, haha) is to stack their soccer practices back to back, in order to make the schedule more manageable this fall. How? Chris is volunteering to coach both teams. Haha! The parks and rec department of our city is very happy to have volunteers and makes an effort to cater to their schedules. Here’s to hoping that all the sportsing and classes are enriching for C and A, I’ve done my best to stack the deck in our favor. Wish us luck, friends.
I was burnt out at the end of this past school year, let me tell ya. I thought I wasn’t going to get my mojo back which made me even more dejected. I was dreading needing to plan for the 2021-2022 year and while we did two summer sessions (in order to prevent the “summer slide”), I didn’t really feel the thrill I usually have for homeschooling. Turns out, the best way for me to get enthused about homeschooling again was to just jump in head first and get the planning DONE. I am so excited to start school up again full throttle with the kids. The countdown is on!! While putting our kids in school has never been something I’ve considered, even in my toughest times, I am grateful all over again for the homeschooling route we chosen-it is so forgiving and fulfilling.
So friends, if you’re in a slump, I recommend ripping the bandaid off. You can do this! A trip to the dollar store for snazzy school supplies doesn’t hurt either😉.
Foraging has recently become a hobby of mine, and if you ask anyone in my family you’ll hear various humorous stories about me mucking about in the woods this spring or eating parts of a tree on a walk. Doubtless I look less the wood nymph and more of a nutcase but I love it. The interest in plants as medicine really started a long time ago, when my eldest daughter had chronic ear infections and I was skeptical about the amount of antibiotics her doctors kept prescribing. I felt that there must be another avenue to look into and that round after round of antibiotics couldn’t be good for her. After digging around on my own, I found that homeopaths suggested that garlic oil in the ears can help. I mentioned this to the doctor and was severely chastised and told “never to do that!” Fast forward six years when my second daughter got an ear ache, guess what I was told; “Garlic oil in the ears is the first thing you should do. Antibiotics are really a last resort.” What a different tune! I’ve had a several other similar interactions involving my health and my husband’s which has really reshaped my thinking on the medicine we take. I now reach for herbal and holistic remedies before I try OTC or ask for prescriptions.
This past year I’ve taken a bigger leap into alternative medicine by creating more of my own. I especially enjoy making tinctures because they are so easy, yet potent. I’ve been making nettle tea and tinctures for a couple years for Husbands allergies, but this spring I expanded my horizons. On our last camping trip to Fort Flagler I came prepared and had a whole list of things I hoped to find, including yarrow, nettle, St. John’s Wort, plantain, and pineapple weed.
Armed with my gloves and bags I got a good amount of fresh nettle, which I intend to use for dye, since I already have plenty of tinctures. Yarrow was growing EVERYWHERe on the coast so I got a whole bag of that too. While there was a great deal on plantain as well, I couldn’t find it far enough from a road, so I’ll look for it another time. Right up on the fort I found St. John’s Wort growing too and I scored big on that. Pineapple weed, otherwise known as wild chamomile, loves to grow all over the sidewalks in our city, but I could not for the life of me find it in the woods or in a less toxic environment. Such a bummer! I grow chamomile but I was looking forward to boosting my supply since those tiny flowers last long.
However, I was able to get enough yarrow and St. John’s Wort to make several tinctures, one of which is a combo of the two with some of my own lavender thrown in. A powerful anti anxiety brew!
In addition to medicines I’ve been foraging for spruce tips in order to make beer. That has been a really fun experiment and several of the batches turned out super well. One batch did exploded once it was opened and one was grossly sweet, but most of them taste like a lager, like Blue Moon. I started making non grain beer since both Husband and I don’t do gluten and usually don’t eat wheat. Spruce tips are the new growth that emerge on spruces in the spring. They are very fun to pick and can be eaten right off the tree, resulting in a citrusy taste and a great boost of vitamin C.
I might have gotten a little spruce tip crazy, so now C and A can identify a spruce from a fir, and they point out spruce tips all the time, haha! I’m sure they will thank me later, right? Haha!
Spruce tips also make a great remedy for sore throats and coughs, so I’ve made a tincture of those too.
Looking forward to summer and fall foraging I’m compiling a list of things I’d like to add to my medicine cabinet or use in various projects, such as naturally dyeing clothes. So far my list has elderberries, sumac, conifer (not just the tips this time), and acorns. Rosemary, thyme, chamomile, oregano, and lavender are all doing well in my herb garden. I have plans to preserve those for cooking, medicine, and tinctures to last us till next blooming season. Let me know if you have any herbs or plants you need “pruned” I’ll come help ya out! 😉
Every year the kids and I make individual summer bucket lists on the last day of school. I love seeing what they come up with! This year C kept it short and sweet:
Get water guns.
Get a new sprinkler or pool.
Get more chickens.
Get candy and eat it in the sunshine.
We’ve successfully accomplished all but one of those (sorry buddy, Official Pet Ban and such…)
Azelie had a longer list with more specific requirements.
Go to the cabin.
Help Cosima try out a new little pool.
Go on a picnic.
Sounds like the perfect summer to me! We’ve done most of these already and it’s only July, but we do have a few more camping trips planned and we have to go an what Azelie deems a proper picnic. One cannot simply eat food outside, oh no. The picnic blanket must be on the checkered side, and we have to have packed a lunch, “not just snacks on the deck, mom.” The girl has picnic protocol down.
My list involves a lot of what the kids would probably classify as “work”. Berry picking, jamming, walks and bike rides, organizing for the new school year, BBQing, brewing, foraging, etc. I’ve already got strawberry jam in the books and blueberry season is eminent!
Our bucket lists give us some good goals for the summer but we always have other activities to fill our time as well. Caidoc is doing baseball again this year (yay for sports being back!) and his developmental leap has been amazing! Azelie will be taking tennis lessons in July and she is so excited. Both of the “bigs”, as well call them, take piano lessons through the summer. This year we are doing two two week sessions of summer school- much to C and A’s chagrin. It pays off to not have any of the “summer slide” though. I’ve been really cashing in the summer time vibe and we’ve been watching movies, eating ice cream, and having lots of fun adventures.
Pickle maintains the title of Adventure Baby. She loves to get out and do things. Her life goal is to be a big kid and she’s always asking to be included with whatever C and A are doing; she always “practices” piano after them and patiently waits her turn each day- so sweet!
The chickens and kitties are really keeping us busy. C and A have morning chores with the animals, “doing these animals chores makes me feel like we have a farm, mom!” We are all learning a lot, especially from the chickens. We recently had to clip the wings on our cross beak who likes to scale the six foot fence. She better be a good layer because between the beak and the flying she is giving us a run for our money. Those birds are so much smarter than anyone gives them credit for. The other night I went out to lock them up and Sorcha was still out. She’s taken over being the guard chicken since Lucas has been re-homed (that was hard!😢). I talked to her saying, “now lady, you can go to sleep it’s okay, it’s just me”, to which she promptly came over for a pet, then flew up into the coop. Such good girls.
Our summer has been a blast so far! We are blessed. I can’t wait for the rest of it! I look forward to more gardening ( it’s been a great year for the garden!), more foraging, camping trips, and getting myself psyched for the school year to come. I can’t wait to show you what we have planned for field trips for year- just wait! In the mean time, if you’re bored and in Washington, feel free to stop by anytime. We are always good for a popsicle or a cold brew and our willow tree has the best shade around. Come on over!
Well, 2020-2021 has been weird for a lot of people in a lot of ways. For me, it became The Year Of The Pet. Meet Freya and Isla!
This is a good story, let me fill you in.
My original plan was to have the chickens be a financial lesson for the kids; they would gather eggs and sell them, using the egg money to buy a kitten sometime around Christmas. Well. On a walk one day the kids and I saw a “free kittens” sign in the neighborhood. We all were very excited thinking maybe we could rationalize expediting our plan if the kitten was free. I told them not to get their hopes up as it might be that they were all gone, or not a good fit for our family, etc. I texted the number thinking, “meh, doesn’t hurt to check.” Next thing I knew I was texting this guy down the street about an 8 week old litter one of his tabby cat’s just had- and asking to take two. Apparently, a Siamese male is making the rounds in the neighborhood because his other tabby has a litter now too! Anyways, he tells me he will hold a pair for me, and sends me kinda blurry pictures. I didn’t tell the kids because I wanted to make sure this was really happening. Husband went to check them out and talk to the guy- he was so nice! We picked up the kittens three days later.
Having the kittens been such an awesome experience! They came litter box trained and eating kitten food so they adapted really quickly. We named them Freya and Isla. Here is where the story gets a little more…interesting. The guy told us they were both girls. Well, after a few days I’m looking at these little kitten bums and thinking, “I’m no vet but uh…” we took them to their first vet checkup and yep, both boys. The kids had been bickering back and forth for a week wanting to know if they were boys or girls, and quite a bit of consternation was raised. Bear in mind we’ve been calling them Freya and Isla for about a week and a half at this point- basically 10 years in kid time. So, will all the bickering and having already established names… I decided not to tell them, stating that it didn’t matter and they were nice kitties and healthy and that’s all that mattered. That settled that. Yep. I took the easy way out.
(Kids, if you’re reading this one day, I was sick of the bickering so yeah, our boy cats stayed Freya and Isla. Plus, I didn’t want to get into with you, but we are going to have them fixed so..in the end, it really won’t matter.)
Freya and Isla are the most easy going, beautiful, and fun kittens ever! We really lucked out. Online it says a mix of a tabby and Siamese are called a Lynx point Siamese..? It doesn’t really matter to us, but that’s what the all knowing internet says. They are very affectionate which is a very good thing with three littles who want to cuddle all day. Their bond is sweet and entertains us to no end.
They are sure growing fast and love spending time outdoors. Freya is our warrior kitty, who frequently stalks the squirrels in the backyard. Isla is a chunky love who needs to make sure everyone is tucked in at night. They love to wrestle each other and chase a laser. Cosima is loving having little animals to boss around. You can see how this past year was been The Year Of The Pet for us. I’m officially on a self instated pet ban now. I think we’ve maxed out our space and time commitments. That is, until the kids get older and more capable of helping out..and we get more space…maybe a few more chickens would be nice…as a learning experience of course.