Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making Butter

I have to share a funny story from when Warren and I were still dating!
I really have not changed much over the past 8 or so years we have been together!

So we are in our first house (tiny tiny tiny cottage) that we had just spent 1 year rebuilding. I was telling Warren that I wanted a butter churn so I could make us homemade butter. Sweet Warren hops online after I went to bed and found one on Ebay! He kept it a secret until it came in the mail, he was so proud of himself! Then he opened the box....apparently he didn't read the descriptions fine print.....
it was about 1 inch big! a perfect little mini of a butter churn! LOL
I felt so bad, it was so thoughtful! We still have it in the kitchen today!

Since then I got a real one from my friend Lisa's grandparents at a yard sale.
I decided a couple of days ago I wanted to make butter with the kids. I bought heavy cream and we started to churn! and churn and churn...1/2 hour later long after the boys got board with this and left me on the floor to churn alone, I had whipped butter!
So I wonder, had I kept going would I have made more solid butter? Is there a key ingredient that I missed somewhere? If anyone knows please share, but for now, I like the whipped butter!

Making Strawberry Jam

I finally ran out of my home made jam that I made in August from the berries we picked at Ward's Berry Farm! So I waited until they were on sale at Roch Brothers and bought enough to make more........
Apparently liquid pectin can expire (there was NO experation date on the pouch!) It never jelled! I canned 1 large jar and 3 smaller ones.
I have 2 options here....get new pectin and process all over again?
use it as really delisious strawberry sauce on angle food cake for Easter! and future desserts!
I think I need more strawberries!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The story of bottled water

The Story of Bottled Water
My friend Heather posted this on her blog and I was so impressed with it I thought I would share it too. You HAVE to watch this short, funny movie about the life cycle of bottled water. This is a real eye opener, makes you think!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Number Rods

I have to start to organising what I am going to make for Montesorri materials. At this point I have just been making what looks fun to make and what materials I have on hand!
My friend Lisa had a huge yard sale a couple of weeks ago and she was selling an old Jenga game. The pieces WERE blue, red and yellow. I thought to myself, " I wonder if there are enough pieces to make the red and blue number rods? Would'nt you know it there were! I had to paint some of the yellow ones red or blue, but Mason helped me do that and it was fun.
My next problem was "how do I attach them end to end so they will be strong enough to withstand 2 children? I found a way, I admit it is not the most "earthfriendly" way, but it works and when we re done with them if I cant find a new home for them I will take them apart and recycle them! I ended up using clear packing tape!!! Long stripes of it across the pieces and pressed it down and around the sides!

Mason worked with them and loved them. We literally went through ALL the excersized that went with them in one day. The excersizes are a bit easy for Mason at this stage, but we are still going through it all so he gets used to the materials and I will have them made for James!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Biomes 3 part cards

(Mason woring with Honey's St. particks day 3 part cards)

OK, so the link to download the cards is not working out, you can still click on the link below to see them, but the pic has moved down and covers the words? so if you are interested in the biome 3part cards, which include, tundra, ocean, pond, desert, borel/coniferous forest,
 temperate forest, rain forest, chapperal, & savanah
leave a comment with your email adderss and I will send you the file.
I have to THANK Honey for sharing the link to make your own 3 part cards!  She has made some amazing cards herself of India and  St. Patricks Day at http://mondorfment.blogspot.com/
 I wanted to make some about Biomes and I could not find what I needed, so I decided that I would make them.  I am really not very computer savey , so I hope this works and you can download them if you want to. Go to link below..... *WAIT! they didnt download right? I need to figure out how to fix them* sorry...
I dont know why but, when you preview them the photo is moved, but when I try to edit them they are fine, so I dont know how they will down load, you can try it and let me know if it works!

This is the link with the template to make your own cards. Thank you Mymontesorrijorney!

This is an example from joymontessori on how to present 3 part cards to a child for a lesson.

I love that there are so many amazing montesorri mom's out there with a wealth of great things to share!

Soap Making

Last week my friend Heather and I took a soap making class. It was so much fun!

Part of my homesteading goals is to make as much of my own products for family use as I possible can. (whithin reason!)
I want to know:

where is comes from,

what is in it,

what effect on the Earth is has,

is it safe/healthy for my family ect...

Making our own soap fit right in there!

Come to find out that it does have an ingrediant in it that can be "scary" while in the soap making process...LYE

This is a toxic ingredent that when mixed with rich, fatten oils goes through a soponification process. The fats that are acidic mixed with the lye which is alkaline, this nutralizes the mixture and the end product is SOAP and glycerin. Once mixed there is no more lye and it is perfectly safe!

The soap I made was ;

Coconut oil

Olive oil

Organic Sunflower oil

Palm Oil

Dead Sea clay

Nutmeg oil

Sweet Orange oil

Honey &


I have to what 2 weeks to use it...one week to go! It smells so wonderful, and I have 15 bars of it! Heather's soap was similar but she used , Cucumber and Lime (no clay). We decided to split out batches so we will have 1/2 of each kind! - thanks Heather!

I really want to make a shampoo bar so I do not have to buy bottles of shampoo and contitioner any more! I will let you know when I get started on this adventure!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Scent Jars

Even though James is only 1 1/2 he wants to do "school" stuff just like Mason too!  So I decided that since he LOVES to smell my candles when I make them, that he might like the scent jars.  I realize he will not be able to match the scents yet, but Mason can and I will have them made to James when he is older.
These were supper easy!
1. Collected and washed baby food jars
2. Poured thinned out blue kids nontoxic paint inside the jars and shake
4. I put fragrent oils (pineapple, rose & spearmint) one scent per two jars for matching on cotten balls in the jars.  You can use any scents you have, vanilla, almond extract, coffee ect...
5. I used a nail and hammer and punched holes in the lids
6. I put little stickers on the bottoms that match for checking if the scents matched....James peeled off the stickers!... so I am going to have to put little dots of paint instead!  
Thats it pretty easy!

Learned in Time!

There is something to be said for following the child !  I am a doer, I think of a great lesson, I put it together and I want to do it now.....Mason (who can be very stubborn) doesnt alway see it that way....he ussually does not want to do the lessons I suggest....so I wait.....I nug.....I wait...
One of the things I like about using the Montessori Method of teaching is, I teach him how do so a lesson, then it goes on the shelf for him to try/work with.

So I wanted him to learn about the values of money/coins.  I found these great cards at
printed, cut & lamanated them, I show Mason how to work with them and put them on the shelf.....
They sat there for 2 weeks!  He refused to touch them?  I told him once he mastered them we would put out something new!  Nope,

Yesterday was a beautiful day...a tease really 64 degrees in MA, in March!  We took our lessons outside naturally!  I brought out what he picked and the money cards too.  We sat in the warm sun and sure enough he took the tray with the money cards and started to work with them and he loved them!  He spent 1/2 hour with them (with no nugging from me) he even extended the lesson on his own..
"Mama, do you know there is another way to make .26 cents!"

I learned more than he did sitting on that warm blanket...it is worth it to wait until he is ready to do a lesson rather than make him.  I think he will learn more from it if he wants to do it rather than doing it because I want him too!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The history of...SOyKind Candles

In the beginiing....
About 5 years ago my cousin Shannon asked me to join her in a soy candle buisness.  We were triing to find a way to make some money while staying home with our children.  Mason was about 5 months old and Shannon was newly pregnant. That was great news!
We Shannon had started the company called Bean Town Candles, after some time of triing to work with the color dye, we decided that having the candles without color "Naked" would be easier and healthier...
The Naked Candle Company was born!
It wasnt to long after that , shannon realized the scents from making the candles were to strong for her while pregnant :(  She decided it was not going to work for her and agreed to let me continue on my own...;)
Five years later I am still making candles.  I had a couple of periods of time when I didnt do much with the company due to the busy life of a new family.
The Naked Candle company did well dispite my slow efforts...friends and family and repeat customers kept wanted more and more! I went to craft shows in Mansfield and Dedham were the candles were well recieved!  Even thought the craft shows were ALOT of work (those candles are heavy!) I loved them.  I met some wonderful people there!  I have a collection of buisness cards from other sellers that are also selling thier great products!  One of my favorite stroies from the Mansfield craft show...
It was Christmas time and I had all my candles on display, so many people were gathered around the table and smelling the candles "Ohhh!", "That smells so good", I love this one, and this one and this one!"
but the comment I heard the most was..
"WOW that smells like Christmas"! (it was the Mistletoe candle that smells like a christmas tree and my best seller of all time!)
This happened so much that I finally decided to change the name to "Smells LIke Christmas"!
As much fun as the craft shows were, there were alot of work!  I still do one in Dedham for my mother in law Sherry's office, but I take orders instead of lugging tons of candles there!

Leagal woes:
So during all this time I was aware that there was a company in Chicago that has the name "The Naked Candle Co" trademarked.  I still used the name here in Massachusettes with a DBA, and figured I would never be big enough for them to notice.  Not to mention by the time I check and found out I had already printed out TONS of lables, buisness cards, a banner, stamper, ect... And "Its a great name!" 
At some point last year that company gave up that name!  Great!
Had I known it would have worked out perfectly, but I didnt know and someone eles scooped up the name and they are here in MA! That was heartbreaking!  Now all my customers that go looking to ME will find another completly different company!

a new recycled company...
It took me all  summer and fall to recycle the company into something totally new.  Coming up with a new name was the hardest and most exausting part....I wanted/had to find something that represented this company's commitment to the a clean Earth.  (and it had to NOT be TRADEMARKED yet!)

After many, many many names I finally came up with SOyKind! 
SOy Kind with the Earth in Mind!
SOy Kind with lead free wicks
SOy Kind with GMO free soy wax
SOy Kind with reclaimed or recycled packaging
SOy Kind without
     petroleum chemicals, preservatives or artificial colorants

After many more trial and errors I came up with the logo too!

Its been a long journey, I still get sad somtimes about the loss of The Naked Candle Co, esspecially when I had to "recycle" all the lables, the banner, stamps, paper work ect.... but so is life and life goes on!

Check them out at...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St.Patrick's Day

      Happy St. Patricks Day!  So he came again! The Leprechaun!  Every year we set a trap to catch him so he has to share his gold.  This hat has a false top with a fake gold rock on top.  Since Leprechaun's do not like to follow the rules we put up a sign that says "Do Not Climb Ladder" and put a small ladder made of twigs leaning up against the hat.  Ofcourse the Leprechaun climbed the ladder to get the gold!  He did fall in, but that tricky little guy, used the ladder to climb OUT!  Mason was so excited when he looked inside and saw GOLD! but alas he tricked us, it was chocolate gold coins!!! Sneaky little Irishman!
For breakfast we had tea & cereal with GREEN milk!  James thought this was so funny!

For "school" time James worked on one to one correspondice with green marbles and tongs, and spooning with a melon baller.
Mason worked on Honey's St. Patrick's Day 3 Part Cards and  great thing happened.....I decided to put on some Irish music and instantly Mason picked out the instruments that were on the cards (Celtic instruments that were ban during Queen Elizabeth I time) He listened carefully to pick out the sounds of the tin whistle, bodhan drum and fiddle, and heard them!  It was great!
We spent a lovely afternoon with friends at the playground, came home ate boiled dinner and then James out of no where spiked a fever of 102.7! Sick again?  Oh No!......
Luck O' the Irish!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Baking Bread, Rolls & Pizza

Thanks to the insparation from my friend Heather!  I have been making homemade bread for a month now.  We only had to run out and buy bread once, when James was sick and I could not get to making some.
So hear is my thoughts on my progress so far...

It is not hard to do....it takes me about 1/2 hour (with interuptions from small people) to mix the recipe.
Wait for an hour for it to rise,
cut in half, flatten to a rectangle and roll, put into bread pans, this takes 5 mins
wait an hour for it to rise again
Bake for 35 mins
So there is a lot of waiting!  I have been making it in the mornngs, on rainy days or if we have not plans that day and are going to be around the house.

I am still working on the recipe itself.  I did mess up once and it came out great!, but I could not remember what I did!  So far what I like to do is...
Use the recipe on the King Arthur flour and 1/2 and 1/2 it with wheat flour plus I replace the sugar for honey.

I have found that the dough makes great rolls too!  after the first rise I shaped the rolls, and put them in an oiled round cake pan, let them rise again, cover with foil and put them into the freezer until I was going to use them for dinner that week, then I thawed them while dinner was cooking and popped them in the oven for 10-15 mins. 

I triied using it for pizza dough, but it was to doughy? The premade pizza dough at Roach Bros was mauch better! 

I am going to try Heather's bagles next!!!

St. Patricks Day 3-Part Cards

A Montessori mom named Honey made these great St. Patricks Day 3 Part Card!
You can find these great cards at :

Monday, March 15, 2010

Making Color Spools

So it has begun!  The long task of making the materials that go along with teaching Montessori! This is how I look at it....I love crafts!  Since Mason was born I have not had nearly as much time to do MY crafts as I would like, then James came along!  Now I get to have my "craft therapy" and prepare for the boy's school lessons at the same time!

I jumped in and I made the color spools. I first learned about how to make them from this site..

I was so impressed that I picked it to be one the first things I made on a very LONG list of materials i want to make/not buy.
Here is what I did;
1) I read the above blog several times and took notes!
2)Dragged my husband Warren to Homedepot to get the wood and paint chips!
3) purchased 3 four foot strips of poplar and "aquired" sample color paint chip sheets, the ones that have       long rectanguar colors in 7 shades

4)Mason helped me measure the 3 inch marks!

5) using a hand saw and then when my wrist felt like they were going to fall off, switching to the electric handhelp jig saw, I cut them into 3 inch pieces, making 42 altogether.

6) Then I SANDED! SANDED! SANDED!!! I put them a on a small tray and brought them with me around the house for the day and kept sanding!  I used very fine sand paper.

7) Then I cut out the color strips and glued them around the peices of wood.  I folded them around and creased the edges, so they would glue flush around the wood. (some the color chips cracked at the edges alittle).  I used a glue stick which worked much better than white glue! I also pressed them under a heavt book.
They are done!  I might finish them with non-toxic Salac, but I have not decided yet.

Mason used them today and LOVED them!
James did too!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Freedom with in Structure

These past few weeks have been very busy as well as very exciting for me.....
Our journey in homeschooling so far has been pretty easy!  Mason is just a natural learner, he always has been! (James we will have to see!) So we have taken it pretty easy so far.  I must admit that back in September we were both gunho to sit at the table everyday when James napped and got as much "school" done as we could.....then November happened, Warren got layed off work and was home, the holidays, sicknesses, including poor James with nemonia.  I had a lot of time to think about what we were going to do come September, well June really..........Lesson learned, "I think we need a little structure"

Since Mason will be turning 6 this year (YIKES!!!) I have to send a Letter of Intent to the superattendant of schools with my intentions of what I am going to be teaching Mason for Kindergarden, got me thinking. 

Then  I stumbled on a blog from a homeschool mom who uses the Montessori Method, and I was smitten!  Never thought I would use a set curriculum, just figured I would use a little of this, a little of that, what ever Mason was interested in at the time , along with supplemental basics. 

Little did I realize, I allready used alot of the monessori method!  I am a big beleiver in self help skills and freedom within structure! 

What I like about this method of teaching children, for homeschooling:

It allows the children to choose what they want to "work" on during "school" time, but you provide what thier choices are!

Each lesson is presented to the child, step by step, then the child is free to work on it.  there is usually a control card to help them if they need it, so it is a NO FAIL approach to teaching children from ages 2-6, but they have the freedom to explore the lesson and ask questions.

It promotes
 self control
 life skills
 and a big emphisis on Math and Science!

I am only in the beginning stages of my learning about the Montessori method, but I have signed up for an online course and I am receiving the curriculum through the course, I like what I see.
There is a HUGE community of other Montessori homeschoolers for support too!
I hope I can keep up with my blog and share with you our journey as we go.
Keep checking in!

our little classroom space!