Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Setting up our schedule

With a week to go before the first day of school it is time to set up our schedules. When the kids are assigned a teacher they are also given a schedule of lessons to be done during the week. You can choose to follow that schedule or you can change it to better suit your needs as long as they are completing their lessons for the week by the end of the week and logging the attendance hours that are required.
With three kids doing online school and my schedule what it is, I wanted to keep it as simple and straight forward as possible. I decided we would have block schedules. This means that we concentrate on one subject a day. Mondays we will do all our weekly lessons for language arts, Tuesday we will do all of our math for the week, Wednesday is is Science, Thursday is Social Studies, and Friday is art and Physical Education. I purposely chose Friday as the day we would do the easier/funner lessons so that if for any reason the kids fell behind during the week on anything they would have Friday to catch up and they wouldn't feel overwhelmed.  I thought this would be easier for several reasons, mainly they will not have to be shuffling between workbooks and supplies. I can arrange the books on the shelf by the day of the week they will use them and also set out all the supplies they will need for that subject every morning.. There should be no confusion about what everyone should be doing.
 I might have to make adjustments to this schedule as my work schedule changes or if I see that the kids are not responding well to it.

I also wanted to make sure they could practice the concepts and then take the weekly quiz while all the information was fresh in their minds. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Slow Cooker Beans and Ham Hocks

Now that I am a working Mom, I am trying to find ways to feed my family healthy meals that have that homemade feel and taste that they are used too. One way I am finding to do this is the slow cooker. I made Beans and Ham Hocks and it came out so delicious and was so simple to make that I had to share.


1 lb. pinto beans
1 large onion cut into chunks
2 or 3 ham hocks (optional)
2 cloves garlic
5 cups water or until just below the rim of your crock pot
Salt to taste before eating


Rinse beans and put them in your slow cooker. Add the ham hocks, onion, garlic, and water.  Set you slow cooker on high and set aside for 6 to 8 hours. Salt to taste when they are done.  Serve with corn bread or tortillas. You can top these with shredded lettuce or cabbage, diced tomatoes, cheese, sour cream. Makes a yummy comfort food.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Bill Binder ( how I stay on top of our finances)

I have a few binders that I use regularly. My Family Binder, My Kitchen Binder, My Farm and Garden Binder and my Bill Binder. I will make posts about all of these binders and how I make/use them in later posts. I want to start with my Bill Binder first.
My Bill Binder has been so helpful in creating and sticking to a budget. It is where my bills go as soon as they come in the mail and it's where I go on pay day when I am paying my bills. I know what is due and to who. I can make little notes like school picture money due and the date or So and So needs $ for the football game on this date. All my expenses are written in there.
My go to place for organizational printables has always been Donna Young. When I was homeschooling she was invaluable. I still use her site.

Now lets build our Bill Binder.
First you will need a three ring binder. Any three ring binder will work. Some people like to cutsey theirs up, some like to keep it simple. It's up to you. I use the these clear view binders. Then I can make a cover for them and slide it into the clear pocket on the front. It makes me feel crafty.

Next I add 2 folders with pockets. One is for paid bills and one is for bills that need to be paid.

 I also like to add a pencil pocket. I always write in my Bill Binder in pencil because I sometimes have to change when I will pay a bill or amounts. I also like to keep a highlighter in there, when a bill clears my bank I highlight it. This makes it easier to balance my account.
And finally I print out one page for each month of the year. (12 pages total) Just click the link below.
I hole punch it and it goes into the binder as well. 
Now when I receive a bill it goes into the To Be Paid folder and I write it on the page for the month that it is due. 
Here is a sample of a page in my binder. 
Remember these are Donna Young's Printables.......Not mine. I have been using them for years and they are EXTREMELY helpful.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!!!

This song always reminds me of my Daddy. He is a hard working man and to me an example of what a husband and father should be. I always new my Dad would be there for me no matter what the circumstances were.  I love him so deeply and am so proud to call him my Dad.  DADDY I LOVE YOU!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Composting, Waste not want not

If you are like me then it kills you when something gets thrown away. I am always thinking about how I can reuse something. So I am always looking for new ways to use things. Left overs go to the chickens or the pigs, glass containers are washed and reused for storing seeds, lard, goats milk, or drinking out of.  But my biggest joy is when I can compost something. You put things in the compost that would otherwise go into the trash and ultimately a land fill and in return you get the best darn soil in the neighborhood.Compost is the ultimate in recycling, in my humble opinion. It doesn't have to be complicated. Your compost pile can be a simple whole in the ground, a plastic trash can with holes drilled in it, I've seen people build them out of old pallets and even buy expensive rotating barrel composters.
If you talk to any experienced gardener and ask them what their secret is 9 times out of 10 they will say "Compost". 
Compost piles are great when you have to clean out the chicken coop, goat houses, and  the rabbit hutches. My Chickens love my compost pile and I love them to be in it. The stir it up and add there own Organic matter while they are there.
  Everyone knows that you can compost kitchen scraps and newspaper, tea bags and garden clipping. Buy did you know you can compost the hair from your brush. I found this list from plantea

Paper napkins
Freezer-burned vegetables
Burlap coffee bags
Pet hair
Potash rock
Post-it notes
Freezer-burned fruit
Wood chips
Bee droppings
Lint from behind refrigerator
Popcorn (unpopped, 'Old Maids,' too)
Freezer-burned fish
Old spices
Pine needles
Matches (paper or wood)
Seaweed and kelp
Chicken manure
Leather dust
Old, dried up and faded herbs
Bird cage cleanings
Paper towels
Brewery wastes
Grass clippings
Hoof and horn meal
Molasses residue
Potato peelings
Unpaid bills
Gin trash (wastes from cotton plants)
Rabbit manure
Hair clippings from the barber
Stale bread
Coffee grounds
Wood ashes
Tea bags and grounds
Shredded newspapers
Egg shells
Cow manure
Winter rye
Grapefruit rinds
Pea vines
Houseplant trimmings
Old pasta
Grape wastes
Garden soil
Powdered/ground phosphate rock
Corncobs (takes a long time to decompose)
Jell-o (gelatin)
Blood meal
Winery wastes
Spanish moss
Fish meal
Aquarium plants
Beet wastes
Sunday comics
Harbor mud
Felt waste
Wheat straw
Peat moss
Kleenex tissues
Milk (in small amounts)
Soy milk
Tree bark
Starfish (dead ones!)
Melted ice cream
Flower petals
Pumpkin seeds
Q-tips (cotton swabs: cardboard, not plastic sticks)
Expired flower arrangements
Elmer's glue
BBQ'd fish skin
Bone meal
Citrus wastes
Stale potato chips
Rhubarb stems
Old leather gardening gloves
Tobacco wastes
Bird guano
Hog manure
Dried jellyfish
Wheat bran
Guinea pig cage cleanings
Nut shells
Cattail reeds
Granite dust
Moldy cheese
Shredded cardboard
Dolomite lime
Cover crops
Quail eggs (OK, I needed a 'Q' word)

Rapeseed meal
Bat guano
Fish scraps
Tea bags (black and herbal)
Apple cores
Electric razor trimmings
Kitchen wastes
Outdated yogurt
Toenail clippings
Shrimp shells
Crab shells
Lobster shells
Pie crust
Leather wallets
Onion skins
Bagasse (sugar cane residue)
Watermelon rinds
Date pits
Goat manure
Olive pits
Peanut shells
Burned oatmeal (sorry, Mom)
Lint from clothes dryer
Bread crusts
Cooked rice
River mud
Tofu (it's only soybeans, man!)
Wine gone bad (what a waste!)
Banana peels
Fingernail and toenail clippings
Chocolate cookies
Wooden toothpicks
Moss from last year's hanging baskets
Stale breakfast cereal
'Dust bunnies' from under the bed
Pencil shavings
Wool socks
Artichoke leaves
Leather watch bands
Fruit salad
Tossed salad (now THERE's tossing it!)
Brown paper bags
Soggy Cheerios
Theater tickets
Lees from making wine
Burned toast
Animal fur
Horse manure
Vacuum cleaner bag contents
Coconut hull fiber
Old or outdated seeds
Macaroni and cheese
Liquid from canned vegetables
Liquid from canned fruit
Old beer
Wedding bouquets
Greeting card envelopes
Dead bees and flies
Horse hair
Peanut butter sandwiches
Dirt from soles of shoes, boots
Fish bones
Ivory soap scraps
Spoiled canned fruits and vegetables
Produce trimmings from grocery store
Cardboard cereal boxes (shredded)
Grocery receipts

This list makes me happy!  Although I don't think I will be composting urine.
The only thing you really need to remember is to alternate between kitchen scrapes and yard scrapes, basically you want a good mix of wet and dry matter. Your compost pile should be on the ground, not on a pallet or cement, you need the critters in the soil to help make your compost. Every once in awhile go out and turn your pile. Stick you shovel in and turn it around get some air into and keep it moist. Compost piles are forgiving though. You can pile a bunch of stuff up and forget about it...it will still break down into compost sooner or later.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Preparing for storms/ Emergency preparedness

Monsoon season is coming to the Sonoran Desert and it's time to go through our supplies and make sure everything is in order. Every location has it's storms and natural disasters and it is in your families best interest to be prepared.  www.nationalterroralert.com recommends that everyone have a 72hr. kit. I am not so sure that a 72hr. kit is enough preparation but it is a place to start.

Lets start with water. Water is probably the most important thing to have stored for emergencies. The human body can only survive 3 days without water, but you will start suffering the effects of dehydration much sooner than that. It is recommended that you store 1 to 2 gallons of water per person per day. That is a lot of water and it can get expensive. I have a large family so I have been collecting food grade buckets from my local Big chain grocery store that starts with a W. They throw them away and if you ask the bakery manager more than likely they will give you all you want. These buckets have rubber rings that seal them...this is important. I fill these buckets with water and add 5-7 drops of bleach per gallon. You can also save the 2 liter soda bottles and wash them well with soapy water and fill the same way using bleach as described above. Alternatively there are many water purification tablets and drops on the market.


Something else to have on hand is the Water bob bathtub storage insert. If you know that a big storm is coming or that your water supply might possibly be at risk you can put this in your tub and fill it with water. It hold 100 gallons.

Lets talk about what happens when the water supply is cut off for whatever reason. What happens to your toilet and your human waste? Well, if the water system goes down so does the sewage system and if your neighbors are still  trying to use their toilets that waste can come up into you home. The first thing you should do if the water system goes down is to shove a rubber ball deep into the flush hole of your toilet. This will keep the sewage from coming back into your house and exposing your family to disease and costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repairs.
If your toilet isn't working then where do you do your business. I suggest you create a sanitation kit. Your sanitation kit should consist of a 5 gallon bucket with a Toilet seat that fits on it securely. Like this one from Reliance.

Make sure you include in your sanitation kit some large black trash bags, cat liter to sprinkle on top after each use, a few rolls of toilet paper, some hand sanitizer, dish soap, paper towels, sanitary napkins, baby wipes, and disinfectant spray. Also basic hygiene items like bar soap, shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies. It helps to have some large Rubbermaid type containers for washing small children in, doing dishes and general washing up.When your "toilet" is full you can tie up the trash bag and put it in a hole dug in your back yard. When everything has been restored to normal you can properly dispose of your waste. You can also purchase a premade sanitation kit like this one.

Now let's talk about loss of electricity. We loose power here during Monsoon season fairly regularly. The kids actually look forward to our little power outages because we pull out the candles and tell stories. But what about when power is out for long periods of time, like days, what then. First of all and this one is fairly obvious have candles, flash lights, and batteries on hand. Even better than candles have some oil lamps and extra oil on hand. Don't waste your battery run flash lights on indoor home use, save those for when you have to move around outdoors and night.

You might also want to have a camp type stove for cooking.

 And that brings us to food. First of all if you lose power DO NOT OPEN YOUR FREEZE AND FRIDGE unless absolutely necessary. Keep that cold air in. I would hate to loose my pork from this years pig or all the chicken and frozen veggies. If the power is going to be out for an extended period of time hopefully you are lucky enough to have a generator. I do not have one so we would start eating the food the is in the fridge first, then the freezer and finally start with the canned and dry goods.   If you have an extended pantry that you are working on like I do, then you have canned goods and dry goods stored. But how much do you store and of what. The Church of latter-day saints has a food storage calculator that can help you work on building your food storage. They believe in storing a years worth of food, you can use it to calculate your families needs.  Food storage calculator
 What do you store food in? Those food grade storage buckets for the big W chain come in handy here too. You can also buy 5 gallon buckets with sealing twist on lids and Mylar bags. And don't forget to have a can opener on handy.

Or you can buy 1 month's worth of food already packaged and ready to go like these. Remember you will need one for each member of your family.

Don't let food storage overwhelm you. Start with a 72 hr. kit in mind and expand from there as you see necessary. Add as you go and do research about proper storage.

A First aid kit is also an important thing to have on hand.
Include in your kit things like bandages in different sizes, absorbent compress dressings, adhesive bandages, adhesive cloth tape, antibiotic ointment, peroxide, alcohol, aspirin, Children's pain reliever, Ibuprofen, blanket , breathing barrier (with one-way valve),  instant cold compresses, non latex gloves,  hydrocortisone ointment, Scissors ACE bandages,  sterile gauze pads,  Oral  thermometer, Tweezers and a copy of a book like this one

Also include any medications your family may need for pre existing conditions such as asthma inhalers, heart medication, insulin. allergy meds.etc.  and emergency phone numbers or other items your health-care provider may suggest.
You can also purchase a pre-made first aid kit.

If you have read this far and think that emergency preparedness is for paranoid people and that your local city, state or your country will bail you out, if you think it won't happen or you will have time to gather what you need when the situation arises. THINK AGAIN. Last year a power converter blew out all the power in my neighborhood. There was an explosion and then the power was completely out for blocks and blocks (city blocks). The streets were almost immediately packed with cars headed for the local Walmart to buy candles. I have a friend who works there and he told me that they were sold out in minutes, the lines were long and people were angry. This was for candles, not water, not food, CANDLES.
Ask anyone in the states that have recently been effected by tornado's and hurricanes how long they were with out there basic needs. How long before the local city,county or start officials came to help. I am not suggesting that you prepare for the apocalypse; I am suggesting that you prepare for emergency situations so that your family is cared for and their basic needs are met. Even the US government suggests every household have an emergency kit and instructions on how to create one. You can find their suggestions here. 

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