Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fifth Grade Handwork: Socks!

The socks are finished! The socks are finished! Last Tuesday the Boy and I spent the afternoon knitting the last bit on our socks: rounding the toe and casting off. Our teacher, Barb, had confidence — or pretended to :) —in our ability to finish at home. I was not quite as confident; I didn't even know what some of the pattern's terms meant. But, we did it; Barb was right.

Wednesday morning we spent our last handwork class of the fall session darning the socks and weaving in the ends. Both of our socks had a few holes where we got a bit sloppy so we tidied those up with a bit of yarn and wow! they looked so much better! As soon as we got in the car the Boy put his on and wore them for two days.

Pre-darned socks

Modeling his bright red socks

Monday, November 21, 2011

Homeschool Crunch Time: aka Apathy and Distraction

Tis the week of Thanksgiving, and I have much to be thankful for, such as: a loving husband, three healthy sons, a house to snuggle in on cold days, more food than I need, and the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. I look forward to spending Thanksgiving Day with extended family, sharing memories, laughing, playing a few board games, and watching the Ravens vs. the 49ers with my Raven's fan of a mother-in-law. (There will be much shouting at the tv.)

Meanwhile, we keep plugging along in our homeschooling. I say plugging, because I'm feeling like we're just not making any headway. We spend one day at home immersed in our main lesson, then two days in the car traipsing around town. The weather has been warm and mild, so we've taken advantage of all opportunities to get together with friends.  We've had a few art classes, two festival get togethers (Halloween and Martinmas) plus the preparation that go into those, home school group at the library, and a few social outings/field trips. As well as just plain ol' social time. Husband never questions our homeschool routine; he is confident that we are covering all we need to. But even he  was curious as to why we're out of the house so much lately. 

Besides all of the distractions, I admit that some apathy has started to seep in. After a gung-ho first block, my energy level has petered out a bit. I am not too interested in the subject matter (geography) so I am struggling to make it interesting for the boy. His analytical mind soaks up facts, and he enjoys reading books about each state (we're doing the New England states right now) and discovering things like the state song, bird, gem, capitol, etc. I would rather be baking blueberry pies, listening to folk tales and songs, and making clam chowder. I struggle with creating balance and presenting ideas in a way that will interest the boy, but will keep me on track, too.

I had hoped to make December a "light" month. Spend some time on math, work on Christmas gifts together, keep it light on academics and heavier on the arts. But it's looking like we'll be carrying geography on through Christmas. Sigh. 

I'm kind of looking forward to old man winter storming in. When it's cold and the world is blanketed with snow or frosted with ice, we tend to hunker down by the glowing wood stove and get into our work. I guess we should enjoy these nice days out of doors while we can for it will not be long til  I'll be writing about cabin fever!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Whoopie Pies!

With the onset of autumn comes all things pumpkin. There's pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin scones, and one of our favorites: pumpkin whoopie pies. My indoctrination to the gustatory delight that is the whoopie pie was not a favorable one. My first was a chocolate and creme combination. Overly sweet, but lacking taste. It was then that I decided that Amish cooking isn't always that great.

Since Husband really enjoys a good whoopie, I tried out a few different recipes. Here's the one that we like best:

Pumpkin and Cinnamon Cream Whoopie Pies
 3 C flour
1t salt
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
2T cinnamon
1t ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 c oil (I use melted butter since I don't like the taste of vegetable oil You can also substitute up to 1/2 c with applesauce)
3 c pumpkin puree either canned or homemade 
2 eggs
1t vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift your dry ingredients together. Cream oil/butter and sugars till blended. Add eggs one at a time. Blend well. Stir in vanilla, then pumpkin. Add dry ingredients to wet. Mix til blended, but don't overly blend, just til blended and fairly smooth.

Drop by tablespoons-full onto a clean cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes. Remove from sheet to a cooling rack. Once cool, I pair them up according to size and shape.

Cinnamon Cream filling:
3 c powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 c butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1t vanilla
pinch of salt
1-1/2 t cinnamon, according to taste

Cream butter and cream cheese together til smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, blending till well mixed. Sprinkle in salt and cinnamon and add vanilla. Mix well.

Spread a dollop of the filling on the flat side of a pumpkin "cake." Top with a second cake. 

I store mine in the fridge. The cake is very moist and will get sticky, so if you layer them  you might want to use wax paper in between.