Wednesday, September 28, 2016

12 Fun & Easy Ways to Teach Geography ~ Homeschool Helps

"Geography is, to my mind, a subject of high educational value; the peculiar value of geography lies in its fitness to nourish the mind with ideas, and to furnish the imagination with pictures."

I used to think I didn't like geography and that it was too dry and uninteresting to teach (plus, I wasn't really good at it myself!). When I attended a lecture on geography at a homeschool convention many years ago, that thought had completely vanished! It became interesting and was no longer intimidating! Here are some ideas we have gleaned along the way that have made geography quite fun and easy to incorporate into our homeschool lessons!

  • Read geography inspired picture books. Cuddle on the couch and share lessons this way as traveling with books is very enjoyable! We share some simple questions and ideas to incorporate that concept here
  • Teach geography with poems and play games. By making a fun time together, children don't even realize they are learning. In this way, map and globe skills are honed in while sprinkled with some language arts!
  • Teach geography via picture study! Here are some paintings and geography based questions that will share both concepts with the children in an enchanting way.

  • Listen to geography inspired audio books. We like to do this when folding clothes or prepping meals such as Heidi (for Germany and Switzerland), Hans Brinker and/or The Hiding Place (for Holland), and so forth.
  • Read biographies about famous explorers (such as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, Captain Cook, Leif Erickson, Cortez, etc.) and bring geography to life. This way you are learning geography and history at the same time. As you read these biographies, bring out the globe and have the children trace out routes with their fingers or draw them out on maps. Identify the places you are studying together on a globe. We also like to do mini-reports on each explorer along the way. 

  • Cookbooks. To make geography come alive, cook a meal according to the country you are studying (or where the main character in the read aloud book you are reading lives). We even dress up as close as we can in that particular culture (for example, when we studied Greece, we had a meal and wore homemade togas out of sheets. This makes for a fun study and encourages the children to look up more information to learn about how to look authentic). We also name drop "famous people" (as if we know them) of that region during the meal conversation to make it come alive further.  
  • Travel. Next time your family takes a road trip or vacation, visit this post for some ideas on how to enhance your time off and turn it into an educational and fun geography field trip!
  • Create "Geography Journals". These are like mini-unit studies on the countries to break up the monotony of your regular studies. Visit here to conduct your own "Geography Journal" series! This comes with a free printable to make your geography journey easy and fun! 

  • Watch movies. Choose videos that take place in other counties (we like to do this on the weekends)! Print out a blank outline map of the world and tape it to your wall or place in a notebook. Each time you visit a country via a movie, have your students color in and label the country along with the capitol. Make it a challenge to visit every country via your movie night. For instance, Treasures of the Snow (for Switzerland), Inn of the Sixth Happiness for China and March of the Penguins for Antarctica.
  • Incorporate geography painlessly into your current studies. If you are studying about Laura Ingalls Wilder (for instance), and the book you are reading says she lived in certain states, you can simply have the children find those states on a U.S. Map. Or, print out a blank outline map for each study and have children label the pertaining places you read about while studying that particular subject (such as rivers, oceans, states, etc.) on the map every time you come across geographical information. If you are studying about animals, have students prepare a separate note-booking page sharing the habitats of that particular animal and what parts of the world they are found in and so forth. I think you get the idea and this is all basic geography!
  • Read about missionaries (YYAM Christian Heroes Series are our favorites). They have chapter and picture books which bring to light the gospel and are rich in the culture of each country.

  • Ready-Made Curriculum (Let's be honest, sometimes this is necessary!). I am including this as an effortless way to teach for the teacher. I like these kinds of Charlotte Mason style workbooks when I am not able to be involved due to life circumstances. The "Bringing the World to Life" series (affiliate link) does it all for you and in a simple format that students can easily do on their own. It includes map-making, missionary biographies, research, vocabulary, science, culture (social studies), Bible, art, etc.

I hope this post has encouraged you to see geography in a new light! It can easily be incorporated into your current studies without putting it into a special "subject slot" or it can be given a special "subject slot" and be utilized in a fun way to break up the monotony of your normal studies! Happy homeschooling!
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).

Thursday, September 22, 2016

From Beautiful Books to Blueberries ~ A "Shabby Chic" Frugal Farm Lifestyle ~ Entry #3

{Entry #1 is shared here, titled A "Shabby Chic" Frugal Farm Lifestyle}
{Entry #2 is shared here, titled "From Alpha to Zucchini" ~ A Shabby Chic Frugal Farm Lifestyle}

In our last entry, the idea of simplifying in order to live within one's means was discussed. We also touched lightly on making the home pleasing on pennies and without over-cluttering. This can be a problem when you live in a small home because you become dissatisfied that it is not large enough to hold all your "stuff". The solution for our little "Shabby Chic" Frugal Lifestyle lays in the idea of what I call "practical decoration". There are a few ways we do this in our home and I will share the first one here today.

"It {Shabby Chic} is a style that is quiet, simple, peaceful, and practical, allowing for the mixture of many tastes. It does not commit to Victorian, modern, or any particular era and can work with a number of different styles or houses. Over the years I have learned that the house itself is of less importance than its contents and how those contents reflect the life within."
Rachel Ashwell, Shabby Chic

I particularly love old Victorian Era books. They are mostly very worn looking because of the age.
However, you can pretty them up with a piece of lace or ribbon in sets of three.

The concept is that you showcase what is necessary in the home but in a pretty way. For us, the bulk of our entertertainment revolves around books. The bulk of our home education revolves around books. Much of the homesteading know-how revolves around books. And finally, the bulk of my home-building revolves around books. Books are an integral part of our life and space must be made for them. For example, in our living room, we have a fireplace mantel with a few photographs and pretties on top and one painting hung above it. We have a small china closet that stores my collection of vintage "special occasion" dishes which has one family heirloom displayed above it (a samovar passed down to me by my grandmother). These are my only decorations in our living room besides books. The room is small and I must choose my "friends" wisely. Thus, books have become the decoration.

“Books are not made for furniture,
but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.” 
~ Henry Ward Beecher

We have shelves and shelves of them! And I think they are lovely to look at. There are rows and rows of different colored bindings and patinas on the older volumes. If we take the time to look, we can see the beauty in a book. This shelving area could have stored knick-knacks and other dust collectors but where would I keep our books? By removing what we do not "use", we have created space for what is important in our lives and our small home "works".

We purchased most of our books at second-hand stores.

Even those who don't have the same addiction or interests, books can be a frugal part of your decorating. You can find sets of abandoned and beautiful books at library sales, garage sales, estate sales and so forth (read this post on how to build your home library). I have found hardcover volumes on clearance in the library room for 15cents. These can be covered in scrapbook paper, wallpaper and even wrapping paper for less than 50cents and displayed in your home to make a beautiful vignette. Volumes and sets of books give a rich and luxurious appearance like that of the "Old World" library where people used to prize a large library as gold.

Diana at Dreams Factory shares a technique to make any hardcover book beautiful!

I have seen some covered in burlap and some spray painted to look antiqued (this would be a great disguise for those old volumes you have sitting around that can use some pepping up). Such beautiful ideas for the humble book! You can even gather your prettiest vintage volumes with a bit of lace or ribbon for an old fashioned display. The basic idea is to use what you love and USE as your "practical decoration". Try not to add other things that will clutter out your life (and make you think you need a larger home). Just maintain with love the things you do have.

Underneath the scrapbook paper cover are some of my favorite women's devotional softcover books such as Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot and A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. When your shelves are getting crowded, you can decorate some of your favorites and place them on display on your nightstand until you are ready to open the volume again. 

Another major concept in our "Shabby Chic" Frugal Farm Lifestyle lies in seasonal eating. To all the gourmet cooks, it is a sign of sophistication to eat when food is at its freshest. For the frugal minded, it is a necessity (though we can assume the role of sophistication for that is what makes it "shabby chic" for us!). If I crave a strawberry in the middle of winter, it means nothing to me but a craving. As the good book says, "to everything there is a season". There is a season to actually buy strawberries, and there is a season of waiting until the day comes when you can buy strawberries.  While my favorite fruits are of the berry world and tropical variety, in order to make them a possibility in our life, I must be patient.

For example, when we moved into our homestead, we scouted the area for local farms and were thrilled to learn that there was a blueberry farm an hour away. In our old home in the city, we had strawberry farms, apple farms and cherry farms within a two hour distance. It does pay to do some sleuthing for you will receive the freshest produce and at a fair price (especially if buying in bulk). It is when they are in season that they become affordable. At that point, we will purchase as much as we can afford and make jams, syrups, pie filling, you name it! This will be our "fancy fruit" for the year and we will try and stretch it and preserve it to make it last until the following year.

This may shock some people, but the only other fruit we will buy regularly are bananas (they are just too convenient and useful for our morning smoothies, quick snacks, etc.). Apples are purchased in the autumn while the citrus fruits are picked for free from the kind neighboring farms in the winter. In between it all, we will rely on the provision of these seasonal "fancy fruits" as well as what we managed to store from our own farm. Though more fruit is on the way, at this point we have grapes, pomegranates and figs producing. The grapes are eaten "as is" and we also like to press them and add the juice into sparkling water for a refreshing beverage in the summer. The pomegranates are also eaten "as is" as well as pressed into juice. The other beautiful thing we do with them is freeze the juice by the dozens in ice-cube trays and add these pink cubes into our morning smoothies and blended drinks for the year. We make jams from the figs and flash freeze them to add into our smoothies also.

The last time we visited the blueberry farm, we were able to purchase 50 pounds at about $1 per pound (I will double the amount next time!). The timing was not perfect (we had overnight guests and family visiting at the moment). That is what is often the case but we must press on as the seasons do not wait for "me" to be ready. This is something my husband has to remind me of often! What to do with 50 pounds of blueberries? I placed the washed blueberries on cookie sheets in the freezer to flash freeze them. Once they were individually hardened, I placed them in freezer bags to be sprinkled into smoothies and cobblers. 

Another batch of blueberries were preserved into blueberry syrup for the pantry. This was my first time doing a fruit syrup of this nature and I was appalled at the waste. All those berries and time provided only 4 pints! And the residual of the syrup-making left me with a lot of pulp that I was apparently supposed to throw away. All I saw was dollars.... So, instead of doing my duty to "discard" as the recipe stated, I placed all the leftover blubbery pulp into mason jars to make shrubs (also known as sipping vinegar)*. These were popular in the colonial times as a way of preserving delicate fruits. They would add fruit, vinegar and sugar to bottles and drink them later on as a syrup. The rough estimate is 1 part fruit, 1 part sugar (honey could also be used though in reduced amounts as it is much stronger in flavor and sweeter) and 1 part vinegar (white vinegar will bring out the flavor of the fruit while apple cider vinegar is a more healthy option). I let these shrubs sit for about 3 - 4 days in the pantry and gave them a good shake once a day. Once the time was up, I strained them into bottles and we had deliciously, fruity, blueberry sodas to drink. Just pour the shrub over iced, sparkling water. This was a real treat as we do not purchase drinks.

* For more ideas on how to use up fruit scraps, visit here!

**I suppose that is a part of our frugal lifestyle that needs bringing up also. We serve water at most of our meals. It is quite cost effective :) When our goats are lactating, we can add milk to the menu or even chocolate milk (when you add a dash of cocoa powder and honey). The only other drink we enjoy is kombucha every evening. This is a very healthy and inexpensive drink if you manage to make your own.**

But back to the blueberry "soda" syrup... It added an extra enjoyment for everyone, it stretched the blueberries one step further and was still quite a frugal drink. The shrub will last a while in the fridge as vinegar and the sweeteners are both preserving ingredients. We usually keep a case of sparkling water on hand for these types of treats in the pantry. We will also use it with our frugal lemon peel syrup.

I also prepared and froze batches of blueberry pie filling. However,  I used half the amount of sugar (another way to save money and be healthier as most recipes call for too much sugar!). It was absolutely delicious! We will use this as pie filling, cobbler filling, crisp filling, over ice cream, over cheesecake and in turnovers. We will feel so very luxurious when enjoying all these wonderful things!

Frozen Blueberry Pie Filling (Recipe adapted from the Ball Blue Book, page 92)
  • 12 cups of blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar 
  • ¾ cup of cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice (I used my home canned lemon juice)
Wash and drain blueberries. Combine sugar and cornstarch in large stainless steel pot. Stir in berries and let stand until juice begins to flow (about an hour because I used less sugar). Stir occasionally during this time to release the juices of the berries. When time has elapsed, add lemon peel and lemon juice. Stir together and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Ladle thickened pie filling into freezer containers (leaving 1/2 inch headspace to allow for expansion). When the filling has cooled to room temperature, seal, label and freeze.

I tried my hand one more time at dehydrating blueberries and I will do it no more. They came out once again like "mummified blueberries". But, the moral of the story here is that I did not toss those pathetic looking things away. I added them to our homemade granola (in lieu of the raisins) once the granola was finished and cooled (I dared not place the already over-dehydrated blueberries in to bake some more). They worked very well this way!

We also canned a dozen jars of blueberry jam and used the low-sugar pectin to make them. The fruit itself is so sweet, there really isn't any need for excess sweetener. 

And finally, when all the proper preparations had been made, our pantry is filled like that of the gourmet stores (think Harry & David or Williams-Sonoma)! Rows and rows of gleaming jars. It is quite a "shabby chic" venture to have these special preserves which were hand-crafted. We feel very "rich" and blessed to have these provisions for the year ahead.

I don't think anything mysterious was revealed here today. I just wanted to share how the seasons can bless the frugal farm lifestyle, how we must "make hay while the sun shines" and how there is beauty in the practical and everyday things around us. I hope you have a lovely week ladies! Until next time, yours truly, JES
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 HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise 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). Special thanks to Antique Images (for the first image) and The Graphics Fairy for the label.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

100+ DIY Projects to Make with Fruit Scraps Ebook by JES

100 + DIY Projects to Make with Fruit Scraps

{Recipes with Matching Printable Labels}

An Old Fashioned "Waste Not, Want Not" Recipe and Resource Book

“Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”
~ John 6:12b

Presenting the "little hobby project I have been working on" where every frugal recipe revolves around fruit scraps! In some recipes we are tapping into the medicinal value of the scraps, in some the aromatic benefits, while in others it is the flavor they provide... I like to think of it as An Old Fashioned "Waste Not, Want Not" Recipe and Resource Book.

If you love turning trash into treasure, especially when it involves filling the pantry, broadening the food menu, home decorating, natural cleaning ideas, nourishing bath and body care recipes, home remedies and so forth-- then this book is for you. All the do-it-yourself projects revolve frugally around the foundation of fruit scraps that you would generally throw away! What makes this DIY Ebook a bit different than most is that none of the recipes require the use of expensive essential oils (though they could be added to enhance some of the recipes--if you desire). All the products are made from scratch by tapping into the beneficial properties of the powerful fruit peels! As you have always heard (and now know) that there are more vitamins in the peel than the actual fruit, you will be gleaning the gold in these recipes!

The other neat part is that all of the shelf-stable projects come with matching labels. This makes it an ideal book for gift giving ideas as well! At least 100 of the recipes are shared with a full color photograph of each product.

Chapter Sections Included (with Introduction) from the Ebook:

"Bath and Body" Recipes
Featuring a variety of all-natural products to fill your powder room shelves such as
balms, bath salts, face care products, natural perfume, scrubs, easy to make soaps, oils, powders, etc.

After preparing pies, jams, fruit sauces and such, you are left with a heaping pile of peels and scraps. Though the chickens, livestock and compost pile may enjoy them, the prospect of filling your pantry shelves, medicine chest and bathroom cabinet instead may be a bit more exciting! If you feel strongly toward our Depression Era ancestors, then the wise saying, “waste not, want not” certainly resonates within you. With this in mind, our little project book is directed toward you, the one who sees a peel as potential and a scrap as an opportunity!

"Cleaning Closet" Recipes
Featuring a variety of toxin-free cleaning products to inspire a naturally clean home such as
recipes for all your housecleaning needs, laundry aids, kitchen solutions (i.e., produce wash), etc.

You will notice that the frugal projects shared in this book showcase many citrus fruits. I consider their varied uses a blessing! They are in season in the winter when many of our gardens have gone to sleep, and extra time is on our valuable homemaking and homesteading hands. You have permission to be creative and productive while hibernating in your cozy home! There are also many other projects included that are focused on summer and spring produce as well which will give you plenty of DIY pleasure all year round.

"Embellishing the Home" Recipes
Featuring a variety of projects to bring natural beauty and fragrance to your home such as
handmade potpourries, fragrant sachets and room sprays.

You will also notice that many expensive health supplements you may be purchasing can be produced for pennies! We go directly to the pure source, the peel, and find our home apothecary has increased (and with very little funds).

"The Kitchen Table" Recipes
Featuring a selection of products and foodstuffs to broaden your menus frugally such as
breakfast recipes, healthy beverages, snacks, desserts, syrups, etc.

In addition to the easy-to-make projects, we also include matching labels (when they pertain) that can turn an ordinary item into a lovely gift! Or, they can simply enhance your own pantry and powder room shelves.

"The Medicine Cabinet" Home Remedies
Featuring a selection of home remedies and food supplements for your health such as
medicinal and protective oil blends, salves, tonics, booster powders, immune support products, etc.

Ingredients were carefully chosen in this e-book to reflect the most basic items we needed to accomplish the recipe properly while maintaining a budget. This means there are no recipes requiring expensive essential oils or a very random ingredient that you would never use again. If there is a rare item on our list, rest assured it will be used in at least a handful of our recipes (glycerin comes to mind here) to make the purchase worthwhile.

"The Pantry" Recipes
Featuring a variety of useful products that are “shelf stable” to fill your pantry shelves such as
make your own mixes, extracts, tea blends, seasonings, jelly, syrups, vinegars, etc.

There is also a section in many of the tutorials that give you ideas for when you are “feeling frugal” such as how to recycle items to make the project for pennies. We also share a “feeling fancy” idea, which can include luxurious additions such as essential oils and herbs. However, each project is first shared with the frugal foundational recipe in mind. For those that think that frugal can’t be fancy, I do hope this little publication gives you a change of heart.

Final Chapter: "Miscellaneous Uses for Popular Fruits"
Featuring a variety of creative ways to use the most common fruit scraps.

**Giveaway now closed. ** Before I officially market the Ebook, I would love to give one copy to one of our sweet readers! This giveaway is open to any one of you from around the globe! Simply enter via the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the easy instructions. You have an opportunity for seven entries (+ Bonus 5) per person and one week to enter. Happy kitchen-crafting! Love, JES 

Thank you to all who entered!

PDF Ebook with Printable Matching Labels $9.99 USD

Visit HERE for more details! 


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    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).