Tuesday, November 26, 2013

About Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ Our Printable (Revised) Recipe

"I am still convinced that a good, simple, homemade cookie is preferable to all the store-bought cookies one can find."
~ James Beard

Some women look up to Amelia Earhart for her famous flights in the 1930's. However, one of my favorite females in that era happens to be someone of a different caliber. She was a "household arts" major. May I introduce you to Ruth Graves Wakefield? You might say she was an inventor of sorts...

As co-owner of the Toll House Inn (with her husband), she become well known for her tasty desserts. In fact, her resourcefulness changed the way many Americans eat their cookies!

Legend has it that her famous recipe was prepared on mistake when she ran out of baking cocoa. Instead, she added broken pieces of chocolate, hoping that it would melt into the batter. The result was the creation of the "Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie". Mrs. Wakefield then sold the recipe to Nestle in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate chips.

During World War II, popularity of the chocolate chip cookie grew as local soldiers from Massachusetts shared their care packages overseas with others. Soon, soldiers from all over were writing letters back home requesting these tasty morsels and the rest is homemaking history...

Here are some tips from our little kitchen on how to make a tasty and chewy chocolate chip cookie. We are also sharing our healthier version of this favorite American treat (below in printable format).
  • Use real butter.
  • Once the dry ingredients are added into the bowl, do not over mix the final dough. Place in the refrigerator for an hour if you think you over-beated the dough (meaning it resembles a creamy cake mix instead of a thicker paste like it should). 
  • Do not grease your baking sheets as this can cause the cookies to spread and flatten.
  • Once the corners of your cookies show signs of being golden, remove them from the oven. Let them sit on baking sheets for 4-5 minutes before removing cookies from baking sheets so that they have time to "set". 

  • Finish cooling the cookies on cooling racks.
  • Chocolate chip cookies freeze well so we prepare a large batch at one time. Our recipe makes approximately 6 dozen.

While I still adore the famous "Toll House Cookie Recipe", I wanted to prepare something a bit more wholesome for our family. We do try to eat healthy but still struggle in this very delicate department of desserts (*sorrowful sigh*).

Here is how we ended up making them a bit more heartier (this is the recipe shown in these photos) by introducing some whole wheat flour, oatmeal, coconut sugar and a splash of coconut oil. You are welcome to download our version HERE and print it out for your recipe book if you like :)
All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).

Friday, November 22, 2013

Favorite Books that Inspired the "Herbal" Series

Like many ideas in life, the one for our herbal series was inspired by books. Today we are sharing our three favorites in three different categories along with some of our favorite excerpts. Perhaps they will inspire you as well!

"Maria floated across the room to her side. She looked at the big books with their bulky dark brown leather covers. One of them lay open, and Oma pointed to its thick, unevenly cut pages.

"This book is called an herbal," she said. "My daughter, Juliana, and I have worked for many years to bring together all these recipes for cures. The papers for these pages was made by my servants out in the shed behind the castle."

Maria reached tentatively toward it. Oma nodded. "Yes, you may touch it."

Maria ran her fingers over the rough texture of the paper. She noticed the intricate lines penned in heavy ink and the wonderful drawing of an herb. Somehow, she felt as if she were touching the plant itself and taking the words into her soul…"

"You know, every noblewoman must know something about the herbal arts. It is expected that we will at least know how to take care for the physical needs of our families and households…"

~ Excerpt from Dr. Oma: The Healing Wisdom of Countess Juliana von Stolberg by Ethel Herr

This book is recommended for young ladies* of 12 and on in order to introduce your daughter (and perhaps yourself) to the historical world of the "herbal". You will be inspired by the life of Juliana von Stolberg as you learn about the healing arts, the history of the Dutch people and this faithful woman from the past.

*Note: One point I would discuss with my daughter is that the secondary character (Maria the granddaughter) married a man whom was an alcoholic which warrants a conversation. Beyond that, it is a very educational and endearing read of a grandmother passing on her godly faith and healing knowledge down to her granddaughter. It also shares the history of the Dutch people. I especially appreciated the medicinal healing aspects in this book. It is an important art that our young women would benefit from and I hope that this little novel would foster an interest in it.

Country Crafts: Kitchen ~ Pantry ~ Decoration ~ Style by Stephanie Donaldson
(Note: This is a reprinted, revised version of the Country Store)

“In Tudor times, in the sixteenth century, the pantry could be described as the control center of the domestic economy. It was here that the countrywoman would store her precious herbs and spices, and make lotions, potions* and distillations. In doing so, she could be described as the family doctor, pharmacist, herbalist, perfumer, candlemaker and pest controller all rolled into one, and the health and well being of everyone in the household was her responsibility.”
~ Stephanie Donaldson, The Country Store, Reprinted & Revised as Country Crafts

"In Elizabethan England it became customary for gentlewomen to write down the secrets of their household management in a book to pass on their skills from one generation to the next. As well as recipes, this book would include simple remedies, lotions and potions*, potpourris and polishes, many of which we would recognize and even keep in our pantry today."
~ Stephanie Donaldson, The Country Store, Reprinted & Revised as Country Crafts

With its beautiful photography, Country Crafts inspired me to store foods and handmade goods according to the seasons like our ancestors have done for many years. The author includes suggestions for pantry items, medicinal recipes, bath and body ideas as well as home decoration. I am in love with this book!

*Note: Although "potion" is often referred to in the occult world, it's definition can also mean a liquid with healing properties.

Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide by Rosemary Gladstar

"One of the greatest benefits of herbal medicine is that it gives us the ability to become more self-reliant. Feeling that we have choices in how we care for ourselves and our families, and that we ourselves can play a central role in treatment and preventive medicine, can help us build a positive attitude of empowerment. With very little effort, time, or money, we can grow our own herbs, make our own medicines, and care for our families and ourselves, much as people have been doing for millennia. Herbalism is truly an accessible, inexpensive, natural, gentle, and, most importantly, effective system of healing. Herbs are among the safest medicines available. 

As recently as a 100 years ago, almost every American household had a kitchen garden with an “apothecary” section designated for healing plants. It’s fun to re-create these traditional gardens. Dig up a small plot by the back door, plant your favorite medicinal herbs (and edible herbs as well), and step back in time."
And alas, this book is a treasure trove of information for the beginner herbalist. It shares all the basic terms and how to begin making your own home apothecary along with some basic herbal recipes. I highly recommend this book!

This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: Modest Mom Monday'sMake it Yourself MondaysHomestead Barn HopNatural Living Tuesday'sTeach Me TuesdayRaising HomemakersMake Bake CreateWise Woman Link UpWildcrafting WednesdayWhatever You Want WednesdayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysHomemaking WednesdaysHomemaking Thursdays,  From the Farm Blog HopFarmgirl FridayClever Chicks Blog Hop and Deep Roots at Home. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What is a Picture Study? ~ Charlotte Mason Series

“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artists has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, then common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at a single picture.”
~ Charlotte Mason, Excerpt from Home Education

"Picture study" was one of the first ideas that inspired me about home education. It seemed so elegant and lovely to share beautiful artwork with your children, treating them to a masterpiece feast by the greatest artists of all time. To view pictures for the pleasure of the little child with no harsh memorization lessons, but only pure delight.

Have you considered sharing a few moments with the masters? They require little work from the teacher but the result is a sweet appreciation for the finer things in life. Not the fast and the furious that is plaguing the billboards today, but the slow and deliberate, classical creations of the human hand.

Mother and Child in a Picture Gallery by George Goodwin Kilburne

"We recognise that the power of appreciating art and of producing to some extent an interpretation of what one sees is as universal as intelligence, imagination, nay, speech, the power of producing words. But there must be knowledge and, in the first place, not the technical knowledge of how to produce, but some reverent knowledge of what has been produced; that is, children should learn pictures, line by line, group by group, by reading, not books, but pictures themselves."
~ Charlotte Mason, The Philosophy of Education

A "picture study" can be as simple as taping a masterpiece on the refrigerator every week and letting your children study, stare and share as they eat their meals. (A dollar store calendar featuring famous art is perfect for this!)

Or, a notebook can be assembled of all your chosen paintings along with a brief artist biography, the child's picture reviews and any other pertinent information you wish to document.

The general object is to expose your children to fine artwork in order to promote an appreciation and interest in the art itself. For once the flame has been lit, the love of learning will continue to grow.

"It will be noticed that the work done on these pictures is done by the children themselves. There is no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, but the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves. As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so do we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it."

The Ancestors by George Goodwin Kilburne

Where to start?

"The child is given his first reproduction. He looks at it, and you let him talk about the picture. You don't lecture about schools of painting or style. The child is allowed direct and fresh access to the picture itself. At first, he may focus on little…

Next time, the skill will become sharper, the child more observant. He will regard the pictures as friends."
~ Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children's Sake

At the British Museum by George Goodwin Kilburne
"Children whose minds and spirits are nourished with these paintings will, in turn, look at the world around them with new eyes. They will comment on the quality of dappled light under the trees, or note that the storm clouds remind them of a Rembrandt landscape. It is a wealth that will remain with them for life."
~ Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children's Sake

Some other practical ways to implement picture study into your homeschool:
  • After studying the artwork, take turns pointing out all the details in the painting and sharing how each person feel's towards the picture. You may be surprised at how strong of an opinion they have on art!
  • Flip the print over and see what details the children can remember without looking at it.
  • Once the artwork has been discussed, turn the print over and see if your students can recreate it on a blank piece of paper. This will encourage them to dig into the details when they study the picture!
  • If the print has a historical event attached to it or a scene from the Scriptures, read together some pertaining information to make the painting come alive.
  • As the student gets older, you may want to prepare a portfolio of the art you have studied. We did this when we had a child old enough to write which included their treasured art reviews. 
  • Read a short biography about the artist of the painting. Share other artwork by the artist and compare them. Do they notice anything in common? Does the artist always paint people, landscapes or historical events? Study more paintings from the same artist until you feel like you "know" them and then move on to another.
  • We also like to do themed picture studies where something is being learned which pertains to the painting. You will find our versions here: Bible in Art Picture Study Part 1: Van Gogh and Bible in Art Picture Study Part 2: Rembrandt.
  • Include picture study in your unit studies. When we studied Noah's ark, we studied famous ark paintings in history. When we studied apples in autumn, we studied the famous apple paintings by Cezanne. 
  • Purchase curriculums that include picture study in the workbooks such as the Language Lessons series from Queen Homeschool (affiliate link).
  • Be creative, there is no right way to enjoy art!  All it takes is a few minutes each week...
Young Girl Reading by George Goodwin Kilburne
"Make it (picture study) a happy warm time,
just like when you enjoy a story together."
~ Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children's Sake

Monday, November 18, 2013

Make Your Own ~ Pooh's Medicinal Honey

"Pooh's Medicinal Honey" is inspired by a love of literature, preparing a pantry and making your own medicines. Simple projects like these require a few minutes during the "good times" but are a wonderful way to increase your preparedness for both the common cold and your food storage during those "trying times". And of course, a touch of whimsey always adds a few smiles… 

Note: This post was created by gleanings from Jacqueline who shared the benefits of raw honey and cinnamon as a medicinal duo to fight colds and Annie who opened the doors to the world of "herbal honeys" to me. Thank you ladies!

Simple Supplies:
  • raw honey
  • cinnamon (Make sure it is REAL cinnamon ~ceylon cinnamon~ and not cassia. Read here for more information.)
  • clean jar with lid
  • 2 weeks of waiting ;)


Add 4 Tbsp of cinnamon to every cup of raw honey and mix together. Place in a clean jar, cover with lid and set in a sunny spot for two weeks to infuse.  Some people let it go for six weeks and let it sit in their pantry. The choice is yours :)

"Because of its warming and stimulating properties, cinnamon is used to boost vitality, improve circulation, and clear congestion… It is also a powerful antiseptic, with antiviral and antifungal properties, and is often indicated in cases of viral infections, fungal infections, and colds and flus."

To Use as a Cold Fighting Medicine:
  • Take 1 generous tsp., two times a day for approximately 3 days. This is intended for both adults and children. Cinnamon and raw honey are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. 
Prescription for Young Children:
  • Read a chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh each night until symptoms fade, then continue until childhood fades (for it is very fast)! 
To Use as a Pantry Food (or "Larder" as Pooh would say):
  • Don't worry if your cubs children keep looking for more. This could also be used as a healthy pantry food by mixing into the morning oatmeal, spreading over toast or stirring into your coffee or warm cup of tea.

To Use as a "Preparedness" Food:
  • Consider storing a few extra quarts of this infusion since it will last for many years. Cinnamon kept by itself may become rock hard but mixed in honey will preserve it further. Both cinnamon and honey have so much nutritional and medicinal value that it would be a wise addition to your food storage (read some health benefits of cinnamon here and raw honey here).
Important Note: Infants under 1 year should not be given honey.

Home Education:
This would also be a fun project to do with your child since it is so easy. They would love to be involved in making "Pooh's Medicinal Honey"! This is where learning takes place by measuring, stirring and learning about the medicinal properties of food while spending time with mama. Linking this project to the Winnie-the-Pooh book makes reading more exciting too! Here is a coloring page featuring Pooh and a honey jar which you can incorporate as well.

Printable Labels Because:

"As soon as he (Pooh) got home, he went to the larder; and he stood on a chair, and took down a very large jar of honey from the top shelf. It had HUNNY written on it, but, just to make sure, he took off the paper cover and looked at it, and it looked just like honey. 'But you never can tell,' said Pooh. 'I remember my uncle saying once that he had seen  cheese just in this colour.' So he put his tongue in, and took a large lick."

'Yes,' he said, 'it is…"

It is important to label your honey because you may have someone mistake the contents or be a bit uncertain about them like our dear friend, Pooh (label is shared below along with the recipe). You may want to include this in your herbal. Simply follow the link at the bottom of this post, download and print :)

Lastly, this would make a thoughtful gift for a friend who is under the weather, for as Pooh says:

"A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside."

You will find your free download of Pooh's Medicinal Honey HERE.

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadFrom the Farm Blog HopFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou FridayShabbilicious FridaySimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). The Winnie-the-Pooh illustration was found here.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Using remedies is a personal decision. Nothing I say on this blog is approved by the FDA or intended to diagnose, treat or prevent disease. All things on this blog are my opinion or the opinion of others.