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God Bless...Gina

Saturday, August 23, 2014

3rd entry, garden in $ents

Time does fly when the summer gets busy and it's been over a month since my last update.  If you didn't catch the first two you can click the garden category at right and catch up.  The basic idea is that I'm tracking how much in dollars my garden produces.

It's been a cool summer and the worst year I've ever had for basil.  It's not growing well and turning black (just like when it gets a frost.)  I think it's the cool nights.  We've been down in the 40's some nights.  Basil LOVES and thrives in warm.  I do still have pesto in the freezer from last year, think I'll hoard that as we'll be lucky to get more this year.  (Usually I do 10-15 for the freezer.)

Well here we go, and again I'm pricing the best I can.  Oh, and I rounded some this time, tired of math...  This was as of about the 1st week of August, I'm behind on posting.
My first Eden Melon

Zucchini (.99lb)  = 12.18
Bok Choi 6oz ($1.99 a bunch) = 1.00
Swiss Chard 6oz ($1.99 bunch) = 1.00
Pea Pods 10 oz = 1.25
Raspberries 5lb 12oz =15.75
Cucumbers 9lb 6oz ($1lb) = 9.00
Cabbage 4lb 8oz (.50lb) = 3.00
Cilantro 1lb 6 oz = 3.50
Basil 4oz = $1.40
Eden Gem Melon 6 ($2ea.)= $12

So adding this (60.08) to the $69.55 thus far I have 141.63 that has been produced.  With the new things I added this year I was still 71.45 in costs more than what it had produced.  So now I'm only $11.37 of breaking even. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What we're doing this year

Really, it's August already?  Time for the annual, "What we're using this year post."  This summer seems to have flown by, but it is that time to start buying the new index cards, planners, binders etc... and gear up!

Around the World in 80 Days NovelOnce again our year will be different.  It seems like I say that almost every year, especially the last 4-5.  We keep losing students (to graduation, it's a good thing!) and situations keep changing as they get older as well.  This year Ariel my 3rd will be starting early college at Bethel with their REACH program.  So I keep saying instead of "homeschooling" we'll be "bethelschooling" as she doesn't have a drivers license so Lex and I will probably be frequent visitors to the Bethel library to get Lexie's school done!  Not much of our "home" school will actually be done at home this year I'm afraid.

 So anyhow...here's what we'll be doing, wherever it is we'll be doing it!
Hiding Place (The) NovelEnglish- Of course we're using Total Language Plus again for Lexie.  This year we're doing The Hiding Place and Around the World in 80 days to compliment our history studies.  Both of these guides have great paper and project ideas that will go well with our modern history study.  With writing cases and speeches for Speech and Debate we've found that 3 Total Language Plus guides makes a solid year of English for us.  So the third guide which I've also used for my other 3 is The Giver.  For us, this is a must do.  It is so timely with papers on careers and dating/marriage.

Ariel has been a year or two ahead in English so she may not do any "curriculum" but rather do some CLEP testing.  She will probably study and clep out of Composition 101 as we checked and Bethel does accept that CLEP.  We were originally thinking of doing Total Language Plus American Literature Poetry or Short Stories and then studying for the Analyzing Literature CLEP but Bethel doesn't accept this one so we may go a different route.  It might be we CLEP composition for the 1st term and then she can take Composition 102 the second term, we'll see how the year goes.  She really doesn't "need" more English or literature so we're not worried which is the beauty of homeschooling!

The Mystery of History Volume IV Hardback w/ CD Companion Guide *PRE-ORDER*History- That bring us to our modern history study.  We are very excited to be using the BRAND new Mystery of History IV!  It was just pre-released and we don't actually have the book yet though we do have a pdf of the 1st quarter.  Over the years we've done books 1, 2 and 3 of MOH twice but have had to piece some other things together to cover American and Modern World.  I'm very excited to instead this time through have it all pieced for us!  I'll do a separate blog soon just on this as I just finished our 1st quarter syllabus.

Advanced Pre-Med Studies CurriculumScience- This year the girls are splitting in different directions for the first time with their science studies.  Lexie is VERY excited about doing a Pre-Med study put out my Master Books.  It contains 4 separate books with study questions and quizzes.  The books are:  The Genesis of Germs, The History of medicine, Building Blocks of Life Science and Body by Design.  We are going to add a few "labs" with it that are not included in the text just because she likes doing them.  I'll also probably do a another blog on this soon outlining our plans including the added labs.  She's doing this one largely "on her own" for the first time though I will help her outline the labs and cave in and read aloud to her at times (she prefers that.) 

Product DetailsAriel will be doing Signs and Season Astronomy which I have already blogged some about, and will probably share our co-op schedule and syllabus to help others that may want to incorporate this into a group setting.  She's not my traditional "science" kid and wanted something different than your biology, chemistry, physics kind of schedule.  I think this will be a science she'll like, remember and actually find useful in life.  I'm excited to learn it with the kids as I teach it for our co-op.

Financial AccountingMath-  The girls have been on separate paths here for awhile now and that will continue.  Ariel will be finishing her "last" year of high school math.  She is not a math child so we are counting financial accounting as her "math" for the year.  We're using Professor in a Box Financial Accounting which we'd also used for one of her brothers and her other brother used parts of it to prep for the CLEP accounting test.   She may also end up doing whatever she needs to to pass easiest college math she can find in the spring if we can work it into her schedule.  They have free tutoring and she talked to another Art major that claimed she was also terrible and math and did it so that encouraged Ariel greatly!

Understanding GeometryLexie really needs an easier math year this year as last year was a not successful switch of curriculum that left her doubting her math capabilities.  Up until then she always felt she was good at math.  My goal is this year to re-instate that good feeling for her.  We are using Understanding Geometry from the Critical Thinking Company.  It is a high school course, but not an overwhelming one.  I think she'll enjoy it and find it "easy" which is my goal this year.

Electives- This year it looks like Ariel will be doing Art electives.  She's hoping to take Art History and either Graphic Design or Photography at Bethel College.  We won't find out for another week or so if she can get into those classes but that is the current plan.  She'll also take Art (mostly drawing) at our co-op.  She has decided she wants to be an Art major (probably studio art) and wants a bachelors in case she decides to go on for further study in another area.

Lexie wanted to do cooking at the co-op so I am teaching a class.  We are using some of the Homestead Blessing DVD's and teaching things like canning, pressure canning, bread baking and more advanced cooking techniques.  It should be a lot of fun but also a challenge to fit the cooking into a one hour co-op class!

Of course we'll do Speech and Debate again.  They are especially excited about and planning their speeches for the fall.  Both of them would like to qualify regionally at least.  Though Ariel loves debate she's not so excited about the resolution this year, but hopefully that will change as the season begins.  We compete with NCFCA but are looking into other options as NCFCA doubled in registration this year which was disheartening.  The girls have met many friends with NCFCA and don't want to leave them however, so we will probably stay. 

The girls also both need their P.E. credit and though Ariel has already done her life-guarding for part of it we may try to get a volleyball team going this fall to finish it off.  We are in process of working out the details on that one.

Besides that, who knows?  Something else always comes up.  They both got to participate in a musical this summer and loved it.  I suspect if we have openings in the spring co-op schedule they'll be wanting a drama class.  We'll see what opportunities God brings our way.

So if you're interested in some of the above mentioned curriculum watch the blog for future posts as I'm likely to update how we're preparing and how we're liking our choices.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


A long time ago I heard a sermon about the importance of having margins.  What are margins?  Simply, it's the white space around the words in your paper.  In your life it's the white or empty space around all the important stuff you do.
no margins = stress

Life without margins is chaotic and no room for any interruption good or bad.  There is no time for impromptu ministry, fellowship or unexpected emergencies.  If one little thing happens it throws you way off balance and recovery is long.

Life with margins allows for fitting in an unplanned visit with a friend who drops by for coffee or time to make a batch of cookies to bring to someone who needs a visit.  When things do happen, such as car repairs, dr. visits etc... there is time to fit them in without making life completely miserable.

Blessed margins, room for the unexpected...
So why all this talk about margins today?  I've been reminded that people will try to stress your margins and push them in as much as you will let them.  Sometimes push with such force that you want to please them, as well as get them to stop, and cave in to their margin wrecking goals.  They don't mean to, they have their own agenda and ideas about your life and what would be best for you or your family.  But YOU know, God has already instructed you about these margins and they are best.

God doesn't want us to be so busy we can't take time for ministry, fellowship or most importantly to be intentional in teaching our children.

So what can we do with these margins?

I've been fighting to keep my margins this week and so far we've been able to: support a friend and say yes to going to see his play, my daughter and I are having a date today to go to an art show, I get to catch up on ministry to my husband and iron some shirts, my daughter got to have a friend over to just hang out, later we're working on fair projects together, and I'll be able to talk with my daughter as we leisurely get her packed and clothes labeled for camp instead of hurriedly throwing things in a bag and hoping nothing is forgotten.  Oh, and I had time to write this blog!

So plan for margins and fight to keep them!  It's worth it!

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!