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Mindfulness…Enso Meditation

This morning we tried another painting meditation, enso. Enso is the Japanese word for circle, so this is a painting of a circle. But it is so much more than that. The enso symbolizes the universe and the void, strength, elegance, and enlightenment. So when you paint an enso you are doing it as a meditation to not only focus your mind but gain self confidence as well. I learned about this painting over at Here We Are Together.

I started out by cutting white cardstock in half to make small sheets. I was going to use watercolor paper but my stash was low and I knew I would need a lot. I ended up with about forty half sheets of paper.

We started our meditation painting by lighting a candle, getting out our watercolor paints, and finding some relaxing music on Pandora Radio. We recited our focusing verse while taking  three breathes.

I am breathing in

I am breathing out

I am happy 

Oh so happy

I explained that we would be painting circles with our paints. I told them to breathe and paint their circle with one brush stroke. Then we began. They started quietly painting as I told them and then they began to experiment. They began painting with two colors, adding dots, placing them in different spots on the paper, and painting wide or skinny ensos. We did this for almost an hour with no complaint. And when they were done they went away happy. Here are some pictures from our painting meditation.

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We decided to make a wall display of all of our ensos and I think it turned out beautifully.

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After our first experience I know we will be doing this again some time soon.

Namaste

 

 

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Mindfulness….Salt Mandalas

Lately, I have been trying to be more mindful. I realized that sometimes I am busy thinking about something coming up and not being in the moment so I have been reading up on mindfulness and meditation. My friend and yoga instructor Heidi lent me a book called, Child’s Mind, which is a children’s book of mindfulness practices. This book has been a wonderful way for me to get started in meditation and it has given me some fun activities to introduce mindfulness and meditation to my kids. We have been using some activities from the book and all of my kids really enjoy them and ask to play them more than once.

I have also found a great site called called Here We Are Together. She has a bunch of posts on mindfulness and meditation with children. One of her recent posts was about water color painting on salt mandalas. I decided to try it and it went very nicely.

I started by using glue to make mandala patterns on white cardstock. I made enough for two per person, including me.  I did this the night before so they would dry and be ready for painting in the morning.

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I sprinkled salt on the glue right after I made each design. Make sure the salt covers the glue well because the watercolor paint does not stick to glue. I poured off the extra salt to save for the next mandala.

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The next day we got out our water colors, a candle, and some relaxing music I found on Pandora Radio. We took three slow breathes while saying

I am breathing in

I am breathing out

I am happy

Oh so happy

Then we quietly painted and listened and thought. Here are some pictures of our painting session.

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Everyone was relaxed after this activity and they all went off and played together nicely while I made lunch. I will defiantly be making some more to have on hand for anytime the energy gets high and we need a calming activity. I hope you all try this.

Namaste

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Project Simplicity…Saying Goodbye to an Unwanted Appliance

Of all of the places in the kitchen I get clutter, the pantry is the worst. It seems that I keep putting more stuff in without taking anything out. For example, when I bring canned food out of the basement the empty mason jar goes in the pantry. The jars had built up pretty bad so I moved most of the jars down to the basement again. That cleared up a lot of room but the jars were not the only thing taking up space. The microwave oven took about half a shelf, which is more space than I was willing to give it. So, I decided to get rid of it.

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Yep, I decided to get rid of my microwave oven! I have wanted tolet it go since last spring but decided that maybe that was too crazy. I thought I would miss the convenience.  So I kept the microwave oven for almost  year before deciding that I just couldn’t let it take up space anymore. But first I thought about what I used the microwave oven for and this is what I came up with, reheating leftovers, melting butter, and sometimes defrosting meat. Not too big of a list but before I really let it go I thought of how I could do these microwave things with out a microwave. So I will

 

1. Remember to take meat out the night before.

2. Melt butter or coconut oil in a sauce pan or in an oven safe dish when the oven is preheating.

3. Heat up leftovers in the oven or on the stove top.

 

So far, so good. I let go of the microwave about a week ago and haven’t missed it one bit. This transition was easier than I thought and it clears up a lot of space. The picture below shows where the microwave used to be, now it has baking dishes.

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For now, the microwave oven sits in the basement just in case, but I have a feeling that I won’t be needing it anymore.

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Anyone need a microwave?

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Little Moments…Ice Fishing

While boating is our summer family pastime, ice fishing is beginning to be our winter family fun.

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Lots of fun but no fish. Oh well, maybe next time.

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Project Simplicity…Kitchen

The kitchen, what a busy place to be. I have been putting off organizing this room because I am always in here working. I also have been waiting because it is a big job. Well, I decided to finally dive in and get it over with so here we go. I started by looking at everything I have by opening up all of the cabinet doors. You can get a good overview from the picture below but there is a wall to the left with the sink, fridge, and more cabinets.

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The pantry has been giving me the biggest problem. I go through and tidy it up but two days later everything is in a heap again. One reason this happens is because Killian unloads the dishwasher and doesn’t get everything in the right spot, another reason is because I am in a hurry and move stuff around without putting it back, but the main reason the pantry gets messy is because there is too much stuff. I need to get rid of some all together and relocate some other stuff, to the basement perhaps?

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Another place that gets messy is my baking and spice cabinets. Once again I have too much stuff but I also need to rearrange, I think that will make a big difference. Do you like the simplify sign hanging in the middle 🙂

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This area is right above the sink. The plates and cups are fine but my recipes and cookbooks leave something to be desired.

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As with all my other spaces, the first thing I did was take everything out of the cabinets. This picture is shows most of the contents from the kitchen cabinets. I did not take out the spices and food. I wanted to do that on another day.

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I hope by reorganizing I will be more efficient in the kitchen and in the end have less work to do to keep it up. Now it’s time to put it all back!

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Happy Valentine’s Day

A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you.

This morning we spent making valentine’s for each other. What a great way to remember that they do really like each other 🙂

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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What’s Cookin’….Granola

Well last week I showed you how to make yogurt. This week I will show you how to make something to put on your yogurt, granola! My kids love granola,  me too, but it is really expensive to buy. This recipe is easy, inexpensive, and you can make as much as you want. I make this recipe once a week but you could make more if you have a larger family or really like granola.

Granola

2 cups rolled oats and 2 cups quick oats, or any combination

2 cups shredded coconut

1 cup chopped pecans, or any nuts you wish. (optional)

1 cup dried fruit (optional)

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp salt

 

Here’s how you make it!

First mix the dry ingredients: oats, coconut, nuts, salt, dried fruit.

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Next melt the coconut oi. Mix the oil and maple syrup into the dry ingredients.

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Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread your granola onto two pans and put into warmed oven. Stir every 10-15 minutes until brown and crunchy. about 25-35 minutes. I keep checking and taste some to get the right doneness. When it tastes and feels right I take it out. Let it cool and then put in an air tight container. It will be good for about a week.

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Eat and enjoy!

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What’s Cookin’…Yogurt

For the last year I have been making yogurt instead of buying it and it is one the of easiest things I make. My kids love yogurt and I used to buy two large quart sized containers every week, which got expensive. My sister Tessa showed me how to make my own and I haven’t turned back since. This method has worked every time except one and it was only because I over heated the milk by a lot. I would highly recommend trying this if you have yogurt lovers at your house.

Start with buying a good quality plain yogurt, I use Stoneyfield Farm. Next buy a half gallon or gallon of milk. I prefer organic whole milk because it makes thicker yogurt. If you use organic milk make sure it is only pasteurized.  Ultra-pasteurized milk does not make good yogurt. I found that organic milk in half gallon containers is ultra-pasteurized so I buy a whole gallon and use the rest in baking, in cooking, or I let the kids drink it. Buying the whole gallon is still cheaper than buying two quarts of organic yogurt from the store.

Once you have the yogurt and the milk decide how much you want to make. I make four pint jar a week which is half a gallon.  I measure out four pints of milk into a pan.

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Turn the heat onto  medium and put in a candy thermometer. Let the milk warm up to 180 degrees. Do not go over or your yogurt will have a funny texture. I usually do this while I am making dinner so I can keep an eye on it and still do other things. After the milk reaches 180 degrees, so all the bags bugs are killed, take the pot off the heat and let it cool to 110 degrees. This takes a while so just check on it every 15 to 20 minutes. I also stir the milk some times during heating and cooling so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

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When the milk it almost to 110 degrees I get my cooler ready. I use a small cooler and fill it part way with water that is 110 degrees. The water and cooler keep the yogurt at the right temperature while incubating. I turn the faucet onto hot and put the hot water+

into cooler. I check the temperature with a thermometer and then adjust by adding warm or cold water to get it just right. I want the water to go most of the way up the jars so water amount depends on your cooler.

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Now I prep my jars. I put 1/2 Tablespoon of yogurt into each of the four pint jars. If you are using quart size jars use 1 Tablespoon per jar.  In this picture I am using yogurt from my last batch. Once you make yogurt you do not have to buy it again. If you save a few Tablespoons each time you make yogurt it starts the next batch. I only bought yogurt once in the last year because I went on vacation and cleaned out my jars. You can keep it in the fridge for over a week but try to use it every week to keep your yogurt culture active.

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Now I pour the 110 degree milk into each jar and give it a stir.

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When I am done stirring I put on the lids and place them in the cooler. I put the cooler in a place where it will not be moved or bumped and leave it 8-24 hours.

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I leave my jars in the cooler over night and in the morning, voila, yogurt!

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And how do we eat our yogurt? Well, today we had it with a little it of jam stirred in. There are many things you can add to make it exciting, so be creative and enjoy!

 

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Winter Walk

Sing a song on winter

Frost is in the air.

Sing a song of winter

There’s snowflakes everywhere.

Sing a song of winter

Hear the bells chime.

Can you think of anything as fine as wintertime.

Come along on a winter walk!

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Happy Snow!

 

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Homeschool Lesson Helpers

My children are ages 3, 5, and 8 and as homeschoolers we do a lot of learning together. Many things work well with everybody, like stories, science projects, songs, seasonal activities, and even history. I find that each child takes away different things from our lessons depending on their age. But some things don’t work for the group. I have different math and reading activities for each of the kids so I work one-on-one with them. During this time, I find the other two want something to do too. In the past, I have tried audiobooks, computer time, coloring, and playing in the other room but I found something new, busy bins.

I have one big red bin for each child with their name on it. Inside their bin is a worksheet and another fun activity. The bin below if for Liam, 3 years old. He does not get a worksheet but sometimes I include plain paper and crayons. In the bin is a hammer, golf tees, and a hard piece of foam packaging. He spent a long time hammering the tees in and pulling them out. I get a lot of idea for Liam at this site, which is all about Montessori activities.

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This bin is for Delaney, 5 years old. She has  a sheet to practice writing out her numbers and a lLite-Brite. For part of her one-on-one lesson we worked on patterns. I had her make patterns on the Lite-Brite and then she could make anything she liked.

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This bin is for Killian, 8 years old. He has connectagons to make 3-D shapes. He also has a math and phonics sheet which didn’t make it into the bin before I took the pictures.

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I have used many things in these bins including puzzles, sorting manipulatives, tangrams, magnet play, secret codes, and legos. I put something different in the bins each week so I don’t have to worry about switching them everyday. If someone gets board with what they have I let them color or use things in  one of the other two bins, the kids don’t mind sharing if it is their turn at the board. 

Some day I may need to try something new but for now these bins are a great way to keep everyone occupied and on task while I am working one-on-one.

Homeschooling, as ever changing as life itself.

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Eclectic Lamb

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