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Welcome to the sometimes random posts of Gina Reynolds. Use the labels at right to select your area of interest. Comment and let me know what you think. Scroll down on the right to follow this blog. Please feel free to check out my website as well at http://ginareynolds.org
God Bless...Gina

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2nd entry of Garden in $ents

When I can remember to do it, keeping track of the harvest is kind of fun!  It sure does make you realize how much gets eaten and not accounted for.
some of the raspberries being weighed

I didn't record any of the amounts of strawberries as we prettying much got maybe 1 cup a day or every other day over about 2 weeks.  These were either eaten as picked or brought in the house in a cereal bowl and sat on the table to be eaten at will (mostly by Taylor.)  We really need to put in more strawberries so that we'd get more at a time to be able to really do something with them (like jam.)  One of the pickings we did end up mixing with some store bought for strawberry shortcake.

Here's what I did keep track of:
6oz Basil at $1.75 oz = 10.50
2 1/2 lbs of Rhubarb at $1.99 lb = $4.98
2lbs zucchini at .99 cents a pound = 1.98
10 oz Cilantro = $2.65
1lb 2 oz of pea pods at $1.59lb = 1.75
1lb 6 oz of oregano at .80 cents an ounce = $17.60
2 lbs 6 oz of raspberries $3lb = $7.13

So that makes the total since last time $46.59, plus the $42 from before, which I'm adjusting down to $22.96 (because I figured the oregano price too high)  is $69.55 so far that the gardens produced!  Taking the 69.55 from the $141 spent this year (as outlined in the last post) that makes me still $71.45 in the hole, but we're getting there!

A word on the prices.  I'm finding them where I can (local grocery ads, physically at the store etc...)  I will say they vary A LOT and I'm trying to use the most "reasonable" price I can find (that's why I adjusted from last time, I found something I thought was more realistic.)  It's not a scientific study and really just for my amusement but I want it to be a good comparison.  My stuff is almost always organic.  I do use Sevin dust or other things when I have to (rather do that then lose the whole crop) but so far this year I've only used it on the spaghetti squash which may or may not make it and early on before the fruit was forming I had to hit the tomatillos with a spray.  However, in my pricing I have not necessarily priced by "organic" prices which would be higher.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Finished another year...

So we've finished another school year and just wrapped up another convention season for my business.  Summer can now truly begin!

Capitol day 08, look how they've grown up!
Reflecting though, it is hard to believe this once "couldn't do that" homeschool mom has now homeschooled for over 15 years!  We've graduated two and have two to go.  The girls will be in 10th and 11th grades next year (if we have to give them grade levels.)  So that means I've got 2-3 years left and done.  Well, done at least till grand-kids, which will be awhile!

How things have changed both personally and globally for the homeschool community.

Personally we've gone from grabbing a few workbooks from the local teacher store (that was the plan the year we pulled our oldest) to much more homeschool geared curricula sometimes written by me.  We have come a long way!

We've gone from a table in our living room, to the dinning room table, to desks, to couches and coffee tables and laptops wherever.  

We have come to realize the important thing to us is to teach our children to learn.  THIS IS HUGE!  Unfortunately textbooks don't do this, in fact they encourage students to focus on the opposite.  This was a game changer for us and I don't regret the results for one minute.  Our kids continue to do things differently than the crowd and continue to ask "why".  They got it, even a little too well sometimes!

The homeschool movement in the past 15 years has certainly changed too.  This could be an article on to itself, but suffice it to say we have better curriculum choices now written for the home environment by homeschool parents who get it.  What a blessing.  These resources were fewer, even 15 years ago.  Some of the changes may not be as good.

We have in many cases more restrictions than we did 15 years ago and I hope more are not coming but I fear they are.  If you go back 20 years or so till maybe the last 5, homeschooling was generally more "free" but in the last 5-10 years many states are giving back ground to the government.  Homeschoolers in general now are not as diligent as the first homeschoolers were.  Those first homeschoolers experienced fathers being put in jail, the restrictions were real.  Sadly, we've forgotten that our freedom from restriction is important.  I pray we wake up before it becomes impossible for my grandchildren to homeschool without government control.

The internet has changed homeschooling over the last 15 years as well.  Does anyone remember dial up?  15 years ago we could not have had the number of laptops all surfing information and doing online programs at the same time as we do now (we often have 4 going at once!)  And that doesn't even mention the number of resources that are out there for free that weren't 15 years ago.

So, I thank God for changing my thinking.  My children and family would not be what they are today if God hadn't worked on me.  I pray for the future that homeschooling will remain free and I try to do my little part in my circle of influence to educate other homeschoolers (or potential homeschoolers) to free themselves from the erroneous thinking they may have inherited or gleaned along the way.  I plant seeds and trust God will open minds in his time.

Remember, your children are a gift from God on loan to you.  They belong to God, not the government.

Psalms 127:3  Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. (NAS)

Mark 12:17 Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. (NAS)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Garden in $ents

While taking a break from my gardening work today I was perusing the Mother Earth News "Guide to Living on Less and Loving it!" magazine we picked up a few days ago.  One of the articles caught my attention, "Grow $700 of food in 100 square feet!"  Wow, that's a lot of money.  I know I save money by doing my garden but I also spend some on it which makes my husband not so sure sometimes of the "savings".  So I thought I'd take this idea and flesh it out here on the blog this summer.  HOW MANY $'S WORTH OF FOOD DOES MY GARDEN PRODUCE?

Well let's give it a go.

So far I've harvesting a small amount of asparagus which we've eaten raw or cut into stir fry's.  I'm going to estimate low since I didn't weigh it.  I'll count one and 1/2 pounds total though it might have been 2.

The Rhubarb has been going crazy, I've harvested twice already, enough for a pie, 9X13 crisp and 2 bags in the freezer.
Oregano about 2 weeks before I did a HUGE cutting!

Today I did a MAJOR cutting on the oregano and I'm dehydrating it as I type.  You can save so much on herbs, this might end up being my biggest "cash" crop as the oregano just grows and grows year after year.  You just have to not let it flower and you're good to go!

So for this first week I've got:
1.5 lbs of asparagus at 1.99 a pound 
4lbs of rhubarb at 1.99 a pound
16 oz of fresh oregano at 1.99 per ounce

That works out to $42.78 and really the harvest season hasn't even begun.  These are only my perennial type things.

I'm not sure I'll be able to keep this tracking up, but we'll see, I'll try.  I do really want to see how much my garden makes!

To be fair.  I have already spend a good amount this year on getting the garden going.  I spend $90 on wood and "dirt" for new tomato boxes (not a usual expensive, but it was an expense this year.)  Maybe I'll take pic's and show you those soon.  $40 on manure to "refresh" existing boxes since I didn't have enough compost, and lastly probably about $6 on a few seed packs on didn't have left from last year.  Oh, and another $5 for 1/2 a flat of greenhouse vegetable starts that I didn't grow from seed.  So total spent = $141.

So yes, right now my garden is costing us $98.22.  But VERY SOON I expect that to change!  Stay tuned....

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cold oatmeal is awesome!

I'd been collecting a few recipes over on my pintrest (yes, I finally caved though I haven't really made it public) for these refrigerator oatmeal recipes and they looked very interesting.  I finally did it a few weeks back, adapting of course and here's what I came up with.

Raspberry on the left, peach on the right

Refrigerator Oatmeal
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 cup light or regular almond milk (vanilla flavored)
1 tsp. (flavor, vanilla, maple, almond etc... see below comments)
fruit to fill top of jar (probably about 1/2 cup)

Simply add the first four ingredients divided between two jelly jars, and then in the space at the top fill with whatever kind of fruit you are using.  My favorite combo so far is to use 1 tsp. of almond extract and fill the top with raspberries.  I've also tried peaches with maple syrup and blueberries with vanilla.  I think cinnamon with raisins would be fabulous too, but I've got so much fruit in the freezer right now I haven't resorted to that one yet.  Once you have everything in the jar simply put it in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 4 days.  I'm not sure how much longer it would go as we haven't had one last that long yet.
Stir before eating in the morning!
I don't add anything, but my son Taylor likes it a little sweeter so he adds a little sugar or honey.  Even then, it's still much healthier than sweetened cereal!

So if you want to see the other versions I've collected check out my pintrest.  

I was skeptical at first but you've got to try it.  It's quick, easy, good and very healthy!  Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review of In Search of a Help Meet

Front CoverThis weekend while at the INCH convention in Lansing MI we picked up the book In Search of a Help Meet by Michael and Debi Pearl.   Because we are vendors we get to be in the hall before it opens so I was able to really "scan" the book before I bought it.

As a family we do believe in more of the courtship model on relationships but don't subscribe to the highly patriarchal or arranged marriage/betrothal type of teachings.  Because of this I tend to "pick and chose" as some materials on "courtship" can be quite over the top.  In marriage we believe the Bible teaches a "servant/leadership" model and any materials I give my children I want to support this.

While doing a lengthy "scan", (I basically skimmed the first 80 pages, page by page) I was encouraged by what I read.  There are some funny parts and he is very candid.  While reading it I thought, "this is something I think my boys might read."  It's not high "academics" but really an older "mentor" giving Biblical wisdom as well as sharing his and others mistakes and victories.

Yesterday I was able to sit out in the sunshine and read.  I read the entire book and can say I am even more impressed than I was from scanning.  It's not just a surface, here are a few verses and some advise, but contains really "practical" information.  There in an extensive section on basically what I would refer to as "considering your bent and hers".  Those are not the terms they use but it is really about how you're wired and considering what in a mate would be the best compliment. 

Highly recommend this one for any of you who have young men who are getting "ready" to chose their mate.  This isn't about dating, but rather for serious men who are already (or almost) ready.  By that I mean they have income, cars, house (or means to get one) etc...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Finally got to garden

Here in Michigan it seemed like spring would never come but I think it finally has!  This weekend was the first nice weekend I've been able to enjoy.  We have had some nice days up till now and either they were hit and miss or I was out of town when they happened.  I'd take a redo of this weekend for the next month.

I slowly got a lot of work done in the garden.  We have two major "garden" areas and this weekend I got one "almost" ready.  I hoping to finish up some work on it today if the rain holds off!  

This year I started some seeds indoors (as usual) with heat mats (not usual for me.)  My husband got them for me earlier this winter and I'm pretty impressed with the difference.  A lot of seeds that I have trouble getting to germinate came right up.  For me I have no trouble with things like zucchini, melons, basil and usually do okay with tomato's as well (though they seem to be trickier to harden.)  What gives me problems is peppers and many of the "herbs".  This year using the mat both the "rooster" pepper and "mini" peppers came right up.  The poblano's still didn't but I was using seeds that were 3 years old so that could be part of the problem.  I think the heat mats will definitely be worth the investment!

Pine needle "mulch"
My biggest problem with my garden is not the boxes that I grow things in, though they do occasionally need weeding attention, it's the paths.  The paths between my boxes (or areas) tend to get very weedy.  Over the years we have tried many things; straw, cardboard, mulch, ground cover etc..  The straw worked the best for the first few years but then I got some with seed in it and I had straw "growing" in my raspberries that I planted, yuck.  I still about 4-5 years later deal with the repercussions of that mess.  So I vowed not to use straw and take a change on that again.  Mulch works to some extent but it needs to be deep and gets very expensive.  I've tried several ground cover "cloth" type things that are "guaranteed" to not let weeds through.  Let's just say that I've found them to be a HUGE waste of money.  Cardboard works the best but has to be put down again each year as it disintegrates.

This year in an effort to not spend a lot of money on the garden (saving the money to make some new boxes later this month) we're using pine needles.  I had done this years before in my raspberries and they did fine with it.  Pine is acidic but we're using them around the boxes not "in" the boxes so it shouldn't bother the plants who don't like the acid.  My husband collected lots and laid it on THICK.  We have more to collect as we need to finish the paths in this garden and then move on to our second garden area.  Luckily we have 13 acres of woods with lots of pine needle droppings.  I love to use free things.  

The idea for this type of covering comes from a movie we watched called, Back to Eden.  It's worth watching if you're into gardening at all.  He talks about noticing in nature how there are not weeds everywhere and how layers and layers of leaves, pine needles etc...  cover the ground.  It's very interesting.

Parsley that over-wintered
So what is planted so far?  Not much, really.  Actually I had parsley overwinter which is unbelievable considering the we hit record cold this winter.  My rhubarb is growing like crazy and so is the oregano.  It's still to early for much of the other herbs though my sage is starting to come back and the apple mint in starting to pop up all over in and out of it's
Oregano spreading like crazy!
box!  I did plant pea pod seeds and put in some store-bought plants of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.  Those are 3 that just don't come up well for me from seed and when they do they take so long to get big enough for the garden that i just just
faithful full rhubarb
spend $3 and get 4 of each.  Actually this year I think I got 8 of the cabbage. We've been enjoying Asian chopped salad so I know we'll use more.

I may get the zucchini and some squash in today.  Still need to weed the strawberries and get more pine mulch in too.   If not today it will have to wait a week or so as I'm off to another convention later this week.  We'll see what today brings! 

Happy gardening!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Total Language Plus order of 3rd and 4th grade guides

First, let me give you the reasoning behind the company NOT giving a particular "order".  Simply, each child is different.  Take for example my daughter Ariel, who was an avid reader and loved to write even in 1st and 2nd grade.  She did start Total Language Plus the second half of 2nd grade (rather than 3rd) as she was ready.  Most students just looking at the size of the book would think that Whipping Boy would be much easier than Charlotte's Web.  When you look at the guide you would think so as well as Whipping Boy has little writing and in Charlotte's Web students write a 3 paragraph story each week.  For Ariel this was not the case.

Most of my readers know that I have been representing Total Language Plus for I think 7 years now.  One of the most frequent questions I get at the booth and via email is, "What order do I do the 3rd and 4th grade titles in?"

Ariel found Whipping Boy MUCH more difficult than Charlotte's Web.  Why?  It deals with beginning Character Analysis.  This guide asks the student to take the information they read and make decisions about that information.  It asks how the characters changed though the story itself never says, "The characters changed."  For most adults this is an easy task but for many younger students this is difficult.  I have found in my years of talking to parents it is often more difficult for the "quick" often early reader as they have learned to read fast and not take the time to stop and think.

Now that being said, most children I believe do find Whipping Boy easier than Charlotte's Web because "most" students at this age have a more difficult time writing large amounts.  Again, these are generalizations and their are many exceptions.

So the bottom line, what do I recommend?  Here's the order I recommend.
1. Courage of Sarah Noble
2. The Whipping Boy
3. or 4. Shiloh
3. or 4. Sign of the Beaver
5. or 6. Pippi Longstocking
5. or 6. Charlotte's Web

To finish out 4th grade (if you are doing 4 per year) add 2 of the following three: My Side of the Mountain, The Cricket in Times Square or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Again, please feel free to chose as you wish and take your own child's stregnths and weaknesses into consideration but over the years and in my own experience this order is what I found works best for "most" students.  Happy studying!