Easy Gluten Free and Dairy Free Muffins

Gluten Free Muffins

Here is the original post on these tasty muffins, www.5dollardinners.com

I have found that it is easier to tell people what I can eat, then go through the list of what I can’t.  This post is for all my dear friends who want to share a morning muffin and coffee with me!

Gluten Free Muffins:Two Ingredients

Open the cake mix and dump into a mixing bowl, then open the can of pumpkin and dump into the bowl. Now mix together. I use two spoons to drop the mix into a greased muffin pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. This will make 12 muffins.

Next week I am going to try adding a few extras like nuts or butterscotch chips to the mix. Gluten free cake mixes usually require a lot of butter, I love that I can skip the butter in this recipe. Since we don’t follow the directions on the cake mix these muffins are also dairy free. Which at my house means everyone can eat these!!!

Now grab that dusty can of pumpkin puree hiding in the back of your pantry and enjoy some yummy muffins. (P.S. If you only buy pumpkin on the end caps at Thanksgiving, look in the baking aisle near the canned pie filling)

Thanks so much Tricia for sharing!

Gluten Free

Update: I made a cake version with the same recipe.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Cake 

Review of Soldering Through History, Revolutionary War

Soldiers

I picked up a copy of Soldiering Through History, Revolutionary War last year at a homeschool convention. Just this week we finally arrived at that time period in history.

After watching the DVD it felt like we had just been on a field trip to a battlefield and spent the morning talking with a soldier.

Sgt. Sam and his brothers demonstrated different marching techniques and battle formations.  My boys loved watching all the different moves and the explanations of why the moves were needed.

I love that Sgt. Sam part way through the DVD talked about gun safety, and even through the guns were not shooting real bullets, it is still important to practice gun safety when reenacting with them.

The DVD ends with Sgt. Sam and his brothers reenacting the Battle of Trenton.  I have to say my boys “cheered” when the DVD announced the battle.

After the DVD my boys were highly motivated to reenact what they had just seen.  My daughter did like the information given in the DVD but has chosen not to reenact with her brothers.

The study guide that was included with the DVD gave a nice overview of the time period. My boys’ favorite was the uniform quiz; they enjoyed learning the names of the items carried by the soldiers.

This is a great supplement to any study on American History, the only down side is the price, $34.99. I generally like to spend $20 or less on a DVD. Here is there website if you would like a copy of your own, onthefieldofbattle.com

Or other copies of the series,Soldering Through History: Lexington and Concord or Soldering Through History: WWII Marines

DIY Resurrection Garden for Easter

Resurrection Garden

After seeing different versions of the Resurrection Garden on the Facebook and Pinterest, I really wanted to create one for my home.

The one I originally saw used a clay pot bottom but when I went to the store I could not find any clay pots so I came up with a plan B. I did find a blog that wrote up step by step directions for a  Mini DIY Resurrection Garden at wearethatfamily.com

Supplies for Resurrection Garden:

  • Potting Soil
  • Grass Seed
  • Pebbles
  • Plastic Liner
  • Coco Liner
  • Twigs
  • Wire
  • Rock
  • Small Clay Pot

Steps to Constructing Resurrection Garden:

  • For the base I used a 10 inch plastic drip liner and a cocoa liner. The plastic liner cost $1.96 and the cocoa liner cost $.077. I used scissors to cut off the hanging plastic piece to make a round bowl out of the plastic liner.
  • Using the potting soil I filled the bottom with some dirt, then placed the small pot in on its side and covered the back part of the pot with dirt. The goal is to create a hill with the back of the pot buried under the soil and front of the pot open.
  • I used aquarium rocks in front of the small pot. Then placed grass seed on the soil above the pot. Then I covered the grass seeds up with a small layer of soil.
  • My oldest son gathered some sticks from the yard and used green florist wire to make the 3 crosses
  • Stones could be found in the yard to save buying the aquarium rocks. I also shared the cost of grass seed with a few friends.

DO NOT FORGET TO SPRAY WITH WATER 3 to 5 TIMES A DAY!!!  (I use a spray bottle to mist the dirt)

About 4 days later our grass seeds began to sprout!

I used some nails to decorate the edge of the bowl. The nails pressed into the coco liner. I was thinking I could also hot glue some nickels around the edge and maybe add some other visuals reminders, like some cloth inside the small pot.

Do you have any suggestions for visual reminders to add to the garden?

Learning the Lobes of the Brain

Learning the Lobes of the Brain

My kids and friends gathered together for a day on learning about the nervous system and how the brain works. I wanted to have some hands-on ways to remember the lobes of the brain. This lesson goes well with Christian Kids Explore Biology learning about the human body.

Learning the Lobes by Playing “Brain Says”

The “Brain Says” game, much like “Simon Says” each student takes a turn playing the brain. The Brain can have the other students touch the different lobes of the brain, but if the Brain doesn’t say to touch it the student is out. For an extra challenge the Brain can describe what happens in the lobe and the students can touch the lobe for an answer. See the photo above for where hands go to identify the different lobes of the brain.

Learning the Lobes with Brain Cupcakes

First bake a batch of cupcakes. Then using some homemade buttercream icing and round tip #7, do two big lines down the middle and then random swirl lines on each side.

Using address labels and toothpicks, each student can label the parts of the brain. We chose to label the right and left hemispheres. Then we labeled the 4 different lobes of the brain.

If you are looking for some great ideas on the nervous system check out Spelloutloud Blog.

Try some of these other learning tools for learning the lobes of the brain.

 

Revolutionary War Battles with Green Army Men

Green Army Men
We are gearing up for quarter 3 in All American History Jr. on the Revolutionary War. My youngest son loves to set up battles with green army men. On our last field trip to a battle field my son discovered in the gift store themed army men. He does not forget these kind of finds.

I knew I was going to need to come up with game plan to change the look of the green army men. A quick trip to the Dollar Store landed me a pack of light green army men and a pack of dark green army men.

A quick decision was made for the pack of dark green army men to become the minutemen.

Now the pack of the light green army men really needed to be red to represent the red coats. Hmm how to make this work….

Changing Green Army Men Into Red Coats:

  • First we covered the table with paper.
  • Using a bottle of red finger nail polish we painted the coats of each soldier.

I allowed him to paint each one. He was happy to have both sides of the armies ready to reenact battles from the Revolutionary War. I can’t wait to see my son use these soldiers to display the battle tactics of each army.

Next week we are going to look at a new DVD series, Soldiering Through History: Revolutionary War.

A great collection of army men.

Design Your Own Colony

Design Your Own Colony

A creative writing wrap-up to our colonial studies using All American History Jr  vol. 1

Design Your Own Colony Supplies:

  • Map of 13 colonies
  • Notebook paper for answering questions
  • Blank white paper for designing a flag
  • Crayons or markers for designing the flag

We talked about what we learned or remembered about Jamestown, Plymouth, and Massachusetts Bay Colonies. I gave the boys a list of questions for them to answer about their colony.

Questions to Answer to Design Your Own Colony:

1. What will you name your colony?

2. Will your colony be founded for money or religious freedom?

3. Where will you build your colony?

4. How will you handle relations with the local Native Americans?

5. What type of government will you have? A democracy? A monarchy?

6. How will you get people to settle in your colony?

7. Write 10 laws that colonist should follow in living in your colony.

My boys were excited to share their choices with everyone. Now picking names required a little extra brainstorming, but soon we had names and locations decided.

The real laughs came from the laws written for their colonies.

Here are the ones that made us laugh:

1. All stores will close at 6pm.  Why? Well Ben Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a men healthy, wealthy and wise.” So stores need to close so people can go to bed.

2. There will be no adultery. Do you know what that word means? “No, but it says in the bible not to do it.”

3. There will be no guns in town limits. Why? I don’t want my brother to shoot me.

After answering questions the boys went on to design a flag for their colonies.  Now we are ready to move onto the Revolutionary War, I am sure the boys will love my next hands-on idea. It will include army men and red fingernail polish.

 

Cupcakes and Social Media and a Mission

 

cupcakes

Cupcakes hold a special place in my heart, not because of their yummy sweetness, but how God used them to minister to my family.

My 13year old daughter signed up for a 3-week missions trip. We then knew we had to raise support for her trip. Now my daughter took a cake decorating class a few months back and had been practicing her technique on cupcakes.

So this mama thought I can put one post on Face Book to help put the word out on our new plan.

“Local Friends, Natalie needs to raise funds for her mission trip in April. Among other service projects, she will be spending a week at The Voice of the Martyrs. She will be selling cupcakes for Valentines Day at a $1 each. If you would like some yummy cupcakes please email me how many and we can work out the details. Thank you!”

Not only did we have a list for Valentine cupcakes, but also people started asking for Superbowl, Birthday and Baby shower cupcakes! Our family rallied with her and it became a team effort for some of her really large orders.

The amazing thing was I didn’t have to research clever ways to raise money, I noticed the talents my daughter had been given and focused on using them. She may not collect hundreds of books for charity or build wells in 3rd world countries, but God has given her gifts and I pray she always uses them for His glory.

 

Since she continues to bake and travel on trips, I have updated the post here.

Sea Glass U.S.A. Map

 

Sea Glass

Years and years have gone into the making of this project. Of course most of the years the glass was rolling around in the ocean. About a few times a year I take my kids to our special beach where you can hear the waves “clink” from the glass rolling in them. After looking on Pinterest and seeing a few mosaics done in sea glass we got excited to do one on the United States.

Sea Glass Map Materials:

  • Bags of different color sea glass (mad-made sea glass can be purchased at craft stores)
  • Super glue
  • Map of the U.S.A
  • Floating picture frame 16 x 12

Sea Glass Directions:

  • Place picture frame on top of the map, this allows the map to be a guide for glass placement.
  • Select pieces of sea glass to fill the size of each state. Some states need more then one piece.
  • Once the pieces have been placed begin gluing them.

I have a small window over my kitchen sink that receives the afternoon light; I placed the completed sea glass map leaning up against the window.

Sea glass mosaic

Now what to make with the rest of our sea glass…..I bet I can find some more ideas on Pinterest!

More Menu Planning Info

Meal Planning
When you know your weaknesses and strengths, you can design a menu planning system that works for you.

  • I love organization but lack in the upkeep.
  • I am not a morning person.
  • I am limited on the amount of space I have. I only own one fridge with a small freezer on top.
  • I only have an attention span for a week worth of cooking.

On my refrigerator I keep a dry erase board that is designed to write in what is for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On Sunday night I summon the kids to get their binders and make the choices on what they are going to cook. Then they check their supplies and write what they need on the grocery list located next to the erase board. Some weeks we forget or get to busy, and we find ourselves foraging through the cabinets. Oops, great plans need upkeep.

Now my 11-year-old son is in charge of breakfast, which means he needs more supervision, then my older kids. I have him cook or assemble most of his breakfast dishes the night before. If he is making pancakes, we make them after dinner and reheat in the morning. If it is a casserole he assembles the night before and dad puts it in the oven on his way to work. That leaves me with one morning I need to be present to help him cook breakfast. Remember I am not a morning person!

Every Monday morning at 8am you will find me at the grocery store with my list in hand. Would you be surprised that the grocery store is really quiet at this time of the day? I can focus on my list and get in and out quickly. Now I have 6 people living in a 950 square foot house, no extra space here. The best thing on shopping day, my son is at home serving breakfast to the family.

 

Cooking Lunch

My daughter making hamburgers for lunch.

You might like reading my post on how I created cookbooks to help my kids meal planning.

 

Meal Planning for Kids

Cookbook
Homeschooling has a way of tripling the amount of meals needed to prepare in a home. Having 3 growing boys and 1 princess also increases the amount of food! Meal planning becomes a necessity to surviving the homeschool day.

This is how I solved the meal planning problems in my home.

Meal Planning Format:

  • Each child is assigned either breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • They are then responsible to plan, cook and clean that mealtime.
  • About every year, I rotate the kids around to a new meal slot.
  • Yes, it does help that I have a house full of teens to actually cook.

Now meal planning has been my nemesis, the kids really struggle with coming up with ideas.

Meal Planning Cookbook:

  • 3-ring binder
  • stickers
  • Google images
  • recipes

After gathering my supplies, I first decided on a theme for each day of the week. For example: Monday breakfast would be something with syrup, and lunch would be something with hamburger. Once I had the themes I gathered about 4 or 5 recipes that would match each theme.

On the first page of the cookbook I typed up the scheduled lunch theme.

  • Monday is something with hamburger
  • Tuesday is salad something
  • Wednesday is cold sandwiches
  • Thursday is hot sandwiches
  • Friday is fun meals

On the first page of the cookbook I typed up the scheduled breakfast theme.

  • Monday is something with syrup
  • Tuesday is something with oatmeal
  • Wednesday is something with eggs
  • Thursday is something with cereal
  • Friday is something with bagels

Then using card stock as dividers; I labeled the dividers with each theme and decorated with stickers. The recipes were placed in page protectors and little notes were added on how to make things either dairy free or gluten free to handle the food allergies in our family. Using Google for some chef images, I decorated the front cover of the cookbooks.

Now when it is time to plan meals, my kids look at the theme for that day and pick one of the recipes. Then they write a shopping list for ingredients that are needed for their meal plan.

I have another post on how this meal plan for kids works.