Friday, September 27, 2013

Beginning a Unit Study: Destination ENGLAND!

When we began contemplating the home education journey, a second method that I knew I didn't like and didn't want to use (the first being Charlotte Mason) was the unit study method. Too much work for me, too unstructured, too non-schoolish.

If there's one thing I need to get used to in life, it's eating my words - because we are now going full-steam ahead into - you guessed it! - unit studies. 

Unit studies can be extremely intimidating when they are taken to extremes. By "taken to extremes," I mean the type of manic unit study in which every single school subject is tied to the same unit study topic. For example, if one studied apples, then one would study apples in science, read about apples in history-literature-poetry, write about apples for language arts, draw apples in art, copy passages about apples for handwriting, sing about apples for music, and.... you get the picture.

These unit studies usually come with insanely complicated crafts - and lots of them! - which makes me cringe even more. 

I find that type of unit study to be unpleasant at best, because it is a huge, burdensome, time-consuming nightmare to pull together (over and over again with each new topic) and an incredible amount of work - not to mention that one really can get tired of apples!

And of course, if that type of unit study is something that you enjoy... go for it! (And then publish it on your blog so I can use it for free without having to do all the work!! Mwa ha ha!)

However, I have found that there is a much more common type of unit study, and that is a unit study that is used for only one or possibly two subjects - history and/or science. In this type of unit study, the entire family learns about the same subjects at the same time. For example, the whole family would study the Civil War, or the human body, or whatever topic - all together. Different levels of literature are used per student level, of course, but the family remains unified by topic - rather than, say, the first grader studying the Civil War while the third grader is in Ancient Greece and Rome and the seventh grader studies the Vietnam era (and etc.). 

Science and history can be linked in unit studies or studied separately. When convenient, other subjects can be tied in - for example, while studying the Civil War, it's a great time to learn songs of the Civil War or food of the Civil War. But this is only taken as far as is convenient for each family. 

We are currently using a real-books unit study curriculum for history/science/geography/literature. It's a lot of fun, and I'm enjoying it! This unit study goes country by country and studies the history/geography, science, and culture of that country - mostly through living books, and also through the occasional recipe, game, or craft. It's very simple, which is great for someone like me who gets overwhelmed very quickly by more complex unit study curricula.

The first country that we are studying is ENGLAND, and I'm very excited about this. Being a life-long Anglophile and lover of all things English, England is pretty much my favorite country! Using our curriculum and a host of other online searches, I've come up with a decently long list of topics that we'll be enjoying, and I am excited to share them with you soon! (As this will be a unit study for K-6, I will not include topics that would be appropriate for older students, like hardcore history studies or more complicated literature like Austen and Dickens.)

And, of course, it would be possible to spend the rest of our home education years studying nothing but England and still have more yet to study. England has one of the richest cultures in the world, and plumbing the riches of its historical and cultural gems would be a lifelong study. We will study only a small sample of all the wonderful things that England has to offer. 

Even in just doing the preparation for this unit study, I am finding how poor my K-16 history/geography education was. I actually thought that "Great Britain" and "England" meant the same thing! Oh, goodness. It's lovely to fill in the (many) gaps in my own education while working with my children!

When I started this blog post, I had my list of topics ready to share with you all. However, as we get further into this study, I keep adding more topics... and more topics... and more topics. To keep from having to come back continually to update this entry, I will simply wait to publish the unit study details until we're pretty much done with it. Wait for it - I'll post it before Christmas! (Remind me if I forget.)

In the meantime, I'm off to do a unit study.... on apples. After reading this apple collection at Raising Arrows and this apple book collection at Raising Mighty Arrows (check out her apple activity list as well)... well, it was too much for me. Apples, here we come!

Oh, and England too. Forgot about that part.

The first week's library book load for our unit study on England !

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend, everyone! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Putting Breakfast on Autopilot - A Weekly Rotation Plan!

As our family grows and our school-time activities expands, I am constantly on the lookout for anything that will make our days and weeks run more smoothly. Anything that can be put on some sort of autopilot is a special blessing, because it removes the time-burden of planning sessions.

One household item that has worked very well on a rotating schedule is breakfast. Planning breakfasts was really turning into a nuisance, and scheduling the same meal for the same day of the week is working beautifully. Here's how it works right now:

Monday: Yogurt with berries (seasonal or frozen blueberries) and homemade granola
Tuesday: Scrambled eggs
Wednesday: Oatmeal
Thursday: Fried eggs
Friday: Cereal
Saturday: Special (pancakes, waffles, donuts, fried cornmeal mush, etc.)
Sunday: Oatmeal

Egg days usually have fruit or meat with them.

I would love to add toast to some of these meals, but - alas! - gluten is an issue around here. If gluten is were not an issue (or if we have gluten-free bread around, which we never do), I love to put Peanut-Butter Banana Toast (toast, peanut butter, honey, sliced banana) on the menu - easy, fast, delicious, lots of protein and healthy fat to keep kidlets from getting hungry quickly.

I don't serve cereal very often because I find that its "staying power" is pretty much zero - in other words, I can't even get the dishes washed before I hear "Mom, I'm hunggrrryyyy." I try to make sure that meals have protein and fat to make sure that they will get kids through to the next snack or meal time.

(All of the above, of course, applies only to the family - for me, breakfast is eggs, usually in the form of a vegetable omelette! Yum.)

Regardless of what meals are chosen (I've changed my selections several times!), it has helped very much to have a regular rotating plan. I'm sure that the meal choices will change, but I plan to continue keeping a rotating schedule.

I know that some families choose to do something similar with dinners - for example, Monday is an Italian dish, Tuesday is Mexican, Wednesday is soup, etc. I've even heard of families that have the same dinner on the same nights of the week - i.e. Monday is meatloaf, Tuesday is tacos, Wednesday is roast, etc. That last one would be a bit much for me! But I do realize that some sort of weekly dinner routine would also be helpful - though I haven't gotten that far yet. Something to plan for the future!

Yogurt Parfaits - plain yogurt, strawberry jam, frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries. Incredibly easy to make! 

How do you streamline your meal planning, for breakfast or dinner? (Or lunch or snacks, for that matter?) I'd love to hear your tips and tricks!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Finishing Our First Charlotte Mason Picture Study Series - John Singleton Copley

This past week we finished our first-term series of Ambleside Online Charlotte Mason Picture Study, looking at the works of John Singleton Copley.

It has been a complete success!

Truly, I never knew that one could actually enjoy classic art. Or that it was really worthwhile to do so. In my seventeen years in the California Public School system, the total time that I spent studying art (classical or otherwise) was a big, fat zero - so this is my first formal exposure to really good art. It's awesome! I am enjoying it very much, as is our 7yo, and I plan to continue using this schedule as we move through our home education experience. I'm so glad that our children are getting this opportunity, and I'm thrilled to be along for the journey.

An added benefit of having art books around the house is that I have often picked them up to read the history and/or artist biographies, and I've really enjoyed learning about the pictures and their backgrounds! We've discussed various historical details as a family, and it's quickly becoming part of our family culture. My husband is becoming accustomed to walking into a room and hearing, "Hey, hon! Come here! You've got to see this picture!" (Or hearing about obscure historical details surrounding the artist and his works.)

Adding art to our curriculum has also been a great way to add even more history, culture, vocabulary, etc. to our knowledge-base. For example, today - as we started with our new artist, Edouard Manet - we discussed the following:

(1) The American Civil War (going on while the painting in question was created)
(2) The meaning of the word "parasol"
(3) Horse-racing, jockeys, race-tracks, etc.
(4) The geography of France
(5) Locomotor ataxia, the disease which eventually killed Manet

What an awesome way to add richness and culture to home education!

For our now-completed first-term work studying the works of John Singleton Copley, here are the paintings that we studied in depth (we studied many others less formally):

"The Copley Family"

"Paul Revere"

"Samuel Reproving Saul for Disobeying the Commandments of the Lord"

"The Nativity"

"The Red Cross Knight" 

"Watson and the Shark"
Here are just some of the topics that came up during our discussions of these pictures:

- Ships and sea travel
- Sharks
- Country flags
- Neo-Classicism
- The legend of the Red Cross Knight (read "St. George and the Dragon")
- Bible history (Saul & Samuel, the Nativity, etc.)
- The story of Paul Revere, and the science of silver smithing (we got lots of books on Paul Revere out of the library - including Longfellow's poem - and are still enjoying them!)
- Period clothing, wigs for men, infant mortality in history, etc.

And those are just a few from memory!

Picture study has been a wonderful addition to our school time - I'd encourage anyone interested to give it a try!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Easy Autumn Craft - Apple Print Wreaths!

I found the directions for Apple Print Wreaths over at Mama Jenn, and we did them yesterday and today. Easy, fast, and drop-dead gorgeous! (Ours didn't look as good as hers, but that's just life!)

See above link for directions!

A couple of my notes:

- Not having green foam, I just painted leaves and cut them out as well. They came out beautifully!

- Not having a stick or lots of apple stems hanging about to use as stems, I used... a broken-up palm frond! It worked beautifully!

- Plan two days for this craft - one for painting, one for cutting and gluing. 

- A glue gun is a must for this project, unless you want it to take approximately two years to complete! 

Hat tip to Amy at Raising Arrows, where I first saw this idea (on her awesome list of apple activities!).


Family Pictures!

My sweet sister-in-law lent us her photography skills this weekend while our family was in town for our "Fall Birthdays" celebration, and she took some quick family pictures! Here they are!

With our youngest, also known this weekend as "The Clingy One."

DH with our middle child, who was obviously SO into this picture thing!

Notice the tooth on our eldest - hanging by a thread! Any day now!

Because life is just better in sepia. 
Have a wonderful morning, everyone!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

We Fought the Craft... and the Craft WON!

Alternate title: "Why Our House Is Now a Superfund Site"

While searching the internet for fun things to do with our Galloping the Globe curriculum, I ran across this fun-looking craft from Pioneer Woman - making a paper-mache globe! Is that an awesome idea, or what?

I decided that we, too, were going to make a paper-mache globe. It looked like fun, and it couldn't be that hard. Right? Right?

However, from the very beginning, this craft was cursed by the universe. Seriously. Every single step of it.

But at the beginning, I didn't know that. So I blithely wrote "balloons" on our grocery list and planned to go ahead. Ah, the innocence of youth.

For several weeks, DH - who does a lot of the shopping - just forgot to buy the balloons. That was okay. I just kept putting them on the list.

After a month or two of that, the balloons were finally remembered and bought, and we moved ahead. The 7yo and I concocted the paper mache mixture (recipe at above link), waited a few hours for it to cool, and grabbed out a balloon to give it a whirl.

Yes, this picture is upside down. But you get the idea. 
Except that the balloons were.... mini balloons. And not just mini-balloons, but oval-shaped at that. (Most balloons are. I don't know why I expected anything different, but I did.) Well, crumbs. Balloons (big ones!) went back on the grocery list, and the toddler got the balloon.

I consulted the internet again, and several sources said that paper mache mix would last for several days in a covered container. Great! I boxed it up and figured that it would be ready for another day.

Two days later, after we had gone to the dollar store and come home with a package of punch balloons (much rounder than normal balloons), we were ready to go again.

We came home, went to the kitchen, and opened up the container of paper mache mixture.




Well, I'm not sure WHAT was growing in there, but...

(1) It was bi-colored. Pink and yellow. 

But more importantly...

(2) It was BUBBLING. Actually bubbling. You could sit there and watch it bubble.

After I got done dancing around the kitchen while shouting "Holy cow, it's bubbling!", I realized that we might not be able to use that batch of paper mache mix anymore. Just possibly.

I realized later, though,that what happened was actually quite the compliment to my kitchen! For several years I've been working on developing a healthy microbial atmosphere in my home. Among other things, I've been engaging in a ton of lactofermentation - making constant batches of yogurt, kefir, kombucha, lacto-fermented salsa, sourdough, etc. - and the fact that my kitchen was basically able to produce something like an active sourdough starter (i.e. my paper-mache-gone-bad) in under 48 hours was quite a compliment to my kitchen!

After I realized that, I got pretty excited - and by the time my husband got home, I was insufferably smug about the fact that my kitchen had been able to produce a sourdough in two days. I met him at the door with a big "Look what I did!" (Notice how I took the credit.)

But I digress.

The paper mache project was put off for yet another day.

The next morning, I made up another batch of paper-mache mix. We let it cool. And we headed outside to make this thing work!

Oh. my. goodness. gracious. What an adventure.

The 7yo, who was supposed to be helping, is as finicky as a cat about getting his hands sticky. So it required something like an act of God (or at least threats of imminent doom from me) to get him reluctantly involved in helping with a few strips.

The toddler, on the other hand, who absolutely glories in messes, was enthusiastic about plunging his arms into the goo as far as possible, and he was soon coated head to foot in one big mess.

And, though I didn't know it (never having done this before!), paper mache is an incredibly messy project that takes forever!

Add in some dirt, plus the cat's water (that the toddler obligingly poured into the middle of everything), and we soon had a mess for the ages.

Oh, and you can also add in an enormous bark scorpion, whom we found about four inches from where both children were standing barefoot.

By the time we were done with round one (of three), the kids were a mess, I was a mess (physically and mentally!), and the patio was a mess. Cleaning up required a hose-off for the patio and table, a bath and full clothing changes for all involved, and an extra load of laundry.

Oh, my! I was not looking forward to doing this two more times! But at least round one was done, and it looked pretty good.

We left it to dry and went on to do lessons (another bad idea). Several hours, I came back to check on it (it's supposed to dry between layers), and found....

Yup. Disaster strikes again. The balloon had apparently popped before the first layer could dry enough to support the shape.

And it was at that point that I walked the entire project to the trash can and said a firm and final farewell.

Of course, I was pretty disappointed. We'd put in a lot of time and work. But when I realized the work that still had yet to be done on that critter (two more paper mache applications, plus gluing on continent shapes and painting), I realized that I should count my blessings. This was one project that was not meant to be.

If you DO attempt this project, here are a couple of tips:

(1) Use punch balloons. But don't buy them from the dollar store.

(2) You're supposed to use narrow strips of newspaper in order to get a smoother finished. Pioneer woman cheated and used wider strips to finish faster - and I should have done the same. A rough topography is easily preferable to the time it takes to do this project using narrow newspaper strips!

(3) Do this project OUTSIDE. But don't just do it outside - do it on the grass or dirt! You'll save yourself the trouble of hosing and/or scrubbing the flour goo off of your cement.

(4) Do not attempt to do lessons on the day that you tackle this. Or run errands. Or do housework. Or anything else. Realize that the entire day will be sacrificed on the altar of this project.

(5) And here's the big tip: Unless you are among the extremely sturdy of heart, skip this project altogether and do something easier.

Enough said. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Created to Be His Help Meet!

This past week, I devoured Debi Pearl's "Created to Be His Help Meet." It immediately became my absolute favorite marriage book, and I want to highly recommend it to you all!

I read this book simply on the recommendation of a friend, who told me that it was her favorite and that she had benefited immensely from it. I read it to find out what was so awesome, and was amazed to find that I, too, benefited immensely. I didn't know I had so much to improve! Wow! Having read many, many Christian marriage books, I thought I'd seen it all (been there, done that), but this book took it to a whole new level. I found so many things that I need to improve in my behavior and attitude toward my husband, and I am so thankful that my friend loaned me this book. Now that I've read it at lightning-speed, I'm going to go back through it again with a fine-tooth comb, making notes.

"Created to Be His Help Meet" is not for the faint of heart. It is full of biblical truth, but it is biblical truth in a blunt, straight-forward manner that many will find offensive. There is a reason that this book is controversial, and disliked intensely in many circles! It is necessary to discard every shred of culturally-ingrained feminism from one's mind before one will be able to find the blessing in this book. Otherwise, the reader will spend her time being offended and insulted by Debi's manner of writing. She does not candy-coat the truth, or dress it up with ribbons and flowers in the typical "Christian women's book" style. She is hardcore. Very hardcore. Be ready for the challenge of your life when you read this book.

When I read this book, a certain movie scene kept replaying over and over again in my mind. Please note that I do not recommend this movie, and have not seen it since I was a child - but this book really reminded me of this scene, and thinking of it kept me giggling the whole way through. In "Created to Be," Debi Pearl does not pander to our egos or our desire to keep biblical submission quasi-feminist. She tells Truth with a capital T, and she does not gloss over the harder parts. Every page is a new "Get ahold of yourself, woman!" 

And frankly, that's just what I needed.


(Please note that I am offering the above illustration humorously. Please don't email me about how I'm either (1) smearing the book and saying that Debi Pearl is an abusive writer, or (2) that the illustration is inappropriate. It's supposed to be funny!)

And that's another thing you will need when you read this book - a good, hardy sense of humor. Or again, you will spend even more time being insulted and offended.

One of the criticisms levied at this book is that "Mrs. Pearl blames every marital problem on the wife!" While I understand the basis for this criticism, I believe that this is missing the point of the book. Instead of seeing it as a blame game, we need to realize the great truth that Debi Pearl is trying to get across - the fact that women have incredible power over their husbands and their marriages. Men do not have the same power over their wives or the same ability to make a bad marriage good. It is women, and women alone, who have an amazing power to change their men and their marriages for the better. This is an amazing privilege, and one that we should take advantage of - rather than whining that "it's his fault too, so why should I have to change?" Women are incredibly powerful in their marriages - much more so than men - and this is Mrs. Pearl's point. 

Do I agree with everything in this book? Nope. Of course not! There are things here and there that I questioned or disagreed with. But there is so much good, solid, challenging truth in this book - and I think that Christian women, and the church as a whole, can benefit greatly from it - especially in an age that really tends to soft-peddle (or ignore, or even contradict and belittle) what the Bible says about women and marriage.

I should note that there are times and seasons in every woman's life when different books (or ministries, or whatever) will hit her in an effective manner. This was the right time for me to read this book. It may not be the right time for another woman to be so powerfully impacted by the same book.

I remember well the first Christian women's book I read. It was when I was a new Christian, in college, and it happened to be the first Christian living book that I had ever read. And it blew me away. I had never encountered the Christian worldview in that way, and I was just riveted to that book.

Now, however, I find that same book tame and insipid, and the material to be ridiculously obvious. The time for that book in my life has passed. At the time, however, it rocked my world.

I remember also another book that I encountered in a women's study several years ago. At the time, I found it to be a bit extreme and unreasonable. Upon rereading it recently, however, I found it to be quite sensible and helpful! Again, there are times and seasons.

If I had read "Created to Be" ten years ago, I do not think that (1) I would have been ready for it, or (2) it would have had the same positive effect that it was able to have now. Now that I've had ten years of seeing that certain things do not work with marriage and husbands, regardless of how hard much they should work, or how hard I try to make them work, I was more than ready to hear the truths that Debi Pearl imparts about what really does work (regardless of how non-politically-correct it is).

Seasons, seasons, seasons.

Regardless, I believe that "Created to Be His Help Meet" is a treasure, and it has taken the place of my favorite and top-recommended Christian marriage book. If you haven't yet read it, I would encourage you to check it out! 

Friday, September 6, 2013

In Which the (Very) Dead Cricket Is Finally Buried!

Last year, I posted about the cricket who refused to die - a five-legged pet cricket whom we rescued from a puddle and kept for a month or two, despite several "near-death" episodes that led us to conclude that he had departed for a better realm.

A week or two after I posted the above entry, I noticed that "Jiminy" was slowing down - and about a week later, he finally did die - of honorable old age.

And again, we went through the childhood hysterics of losing a pet. Oh, my goodness gracious. (And I should note that, oddly enough, our 7yo was more upset over the cricket's death than he was about last month's departure of our beloved pussy cat. Weird, but true.)

Jiminy was interred in an old Altoid container, along with a couple of his favorite leaves, and I anticipated a cricket funeral in the back yard.... but it didn't happen. Why not? Because the 7yo confidently insisted that said cricket was "just hibernating!" and that if we buried him, we would surely be burying him alive.

And so the cricket stayed... and stayed... and stayed.

I pity the poor person who thinks that that Altoid container actually contains Altoids. 
This past week, after Herculean efforts on my part, the cricket was finally buried in our back yard - nearly a year after he died. I think that future bug pets may just mysteriously "disappear" after their demises. However, one way or the other, I am thankful to have a very dead cricket out of the house!

The 7yo was inclined to get a bit teary-eyed. I, on the other hand, may or may not have been dancing a jig in the corner (at least mentally).

We made a popsicle-stick cross for the grave, and the cricket episode is now officially over. Onto whatever our next bug pet will be!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How to Make Homemade Peanut Butter!

This is possibly the easiest recipe on the planet! Enjoy!

I started making my own peanut butter many years ago, and after a pause of a couple years am back at it - on a low-carb diet, I need all the variety I can get!

Peanut butter can be tricky stuff. Regular peanut butter is full of scary ingredients (like hydrogenated oils). "Natural" peanut butter is better, but is filled with sugar - I use it for the family, but it doesn't work for me while I'm low-carb. The really good stuff (also known as Laura Scudder's, or Sprouts brand, or any of those brands) is quite pricey - and I find that stirring the separated oil into a brick of rock-hard peanut butter is actually harder than just making the stuff from scratch!

And with that, here is the recipe for the real stuff!

Homemade Peanut Butter


  • Blanched unroasted unsalted PEANUTS (I buy mine in bulk from Sprouts)


Put the peanuts on a jelly roll pan and roast at 350F till golden (about 30 minutes or so).

(I one time tried to simplify by purchasing already-roasted peanuts and just blending them, but the results were - for whatever reason - awful. Back to square one - roasting my own.)

Dump those puppies into a food processor...

And process till done! Sometime during that process, sprinkle in some sea salt.

Et voila! 

Refrigerate in glass jars! The oil will never separate if the peanut butter is refrigerated, which is the best part about it. Delicious!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Engaging (Nervously) in the World's Most Dangerous Hobby

Does anyone here know what the world's most dangerous hobby is?


[Hint: You're reading the end-result of it.]

That's right, folks... In my never-to-be-humble opinion, blogging is the world's most dangerous hobby. Forget sky diving, tornado chasing, any of that - blogging can run those around the block, danger-wise. 

And why is such a humble hobby dangerous?

It's dangerous because it is a combination of writing (which gives anyone a big chance to start fights, wound feelings, garner oodles of hate mail, and make big mistakes in front of a large audience), and the internet, which grants an instantly worldwide audience, no matter what one has to say or how unwise it is to say it.

And the combination of those two gives any blogger in question the ability to make an utter chump of herself in front of large numbers of people. 

I realized a few days ago that I have now had this blog for over five years. I've written over seven hundred posts (plus over 550 posts on my other blog). It's been a great experience, and I've grown a lot during that time and thoroughly enjoyed my time in the blogosphere. I hope to keep it up for many years to come.

But I've also had many, many embarrassing moments as a blogger. Especially in my earlier days as a blogger, I published waayyy too many personal details - identifying details (this was before I realized how many crazy people are on the internet), too-personal details, details that should have been kept privately within my family and not broadcast. 

As a matter of fact, when I started this post, I went back through my blog and deleted some material that has long been a matter of embarrassment to me. And I kept my eyes half-closed as I did so, because I really didn't want to see all of the too-many-details that I tended to post in my early blogging days. 

Blogging is akin to Facebook in that way - how many times have I woken up in the middle of the night thinking, "Oh my goodness, I can't believe I posted THAT on Facebook!

The same goes for blogging. 

Blogging is a dangerous also in its propensity to cause unintended hurt feelings. I know of one blogger who started a blog as a way to process the loss of her baby (a term stillbirth). Though she did not say anything unreasonable, the end result was that her entire family (who read her blog) was furious with her. Family takes things personally, even things that are not aimed at them - and this is one of the reasons that I do not share this blog with my family. It's not worth the unintended hurt feelings. 

(This is one of the reasons that I often suggest to potential bloggers that they wait to tell all of their acquaintances about their blogs. If they are going to be publishing highly emotional, political, or controversial material, it may be better - or at least less risky - to blog anonymously.)

Another danger of blogging is the ability to post really, really, really stupid things without any safeguards to prevent us from making idiots of ourselves. (Ask me how I know.) Unlike published authors, we don't have editors and proof-readers to keep us on the straight and narrow. 

Thankfully, I've learned one ironclad rule - If I write anything in an emotional state (indignation, anger, fear, etc.) and publish it right away, I will later look back and regret that I published it (or, more likely, be in a state of absolute humiliation and embarrassment that I did so). Period. I have learned (or at least am learning) to wait 24 hours before publishing anything written while emotional - and inevitably, after those 24 hours, I either delete the entry or greatly tone down the language (usually the former). 

In fact, I've started pre-writing all of my entries by at least 24 hours, and it has been a big help - and a big preventer of blog-post-regret (the "What was I THINKING?" hangover). Not only do I usually get to trim out a few grammar and/or spelling errors, but cutting out emotional language is always a big improvement - more rationality, less irrational ranting emotionalism. 

A half-year ago or so, I made a really big blogging OOPS. I read something online that had me seeing red, quickly typed up a biting response, and hit "publish." Thankfully it was only up for about two minutes before I realized my own idiocy and deleted it (hopefully none of you read it before I took it down). After that, I calmed down, had a conversation with the blogger whose post had so angered me, and realized that she wasn't saying the things I had thought anyway!

*Awkward moment.*

Thankfully, things like that are rare. That may have been a one-time event (I certainly hope so!). But whether it's friends, family, or other bloggers who make us mad, the potential for hurting feelings, damaging relationships, and causing other problems (online and in real life) is very real. Bad things happen. And as a blogger, I sometimes realize my mistakes only in hindsight. 

And I don't even run a particularly controversial blog! If I did... oh, goodness gracious. Let's not even go there.

Or rather, let's side-track just a minute. As a matter of fact, I'd love to run a controversial blog! Wouldn't that be fun? Like all of us, I have strong opinions - and mine run toward the extreme-conservative side. I could probably shock most of my readers - even the conservatives among us - with the extent of my conservative leanings!

But, to be frank, I don't have the thick skin needed. And I don't think I could handle the hate mail that comes with expressing strong opinions frequently and openly on the web. And I don't have the time or emotional energy to field the arguments that inevitably break out in the comments section. And while I definitely believe that strong opinions need to be expressed and defended, I would be hurting and neglecting my primary ministries (that is, my marriage and family) if I sacrificed my time and/or emotional well-being in order to do so. For now, I'll have to leave most of the issues-debates to those who have the time and/or thick skin to deal with them effectively.

In the meantime, I'll have to deal with the other inherent risks of blogging. Blogging is fun. But it's risky. It's definitely a hobby to handle with care. And when it goes bad... it goes really bad really quickly.

How do you bloggers out there handle the emotional and relational risks inherent in blogging? What are your experiences? Let me know! I'd love to hear!

No blog post is complete without a picture of a really cute baby, however off-topic! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Low-Carb Broccoli Soup Recipe!

Do you all read The Common Room? If not, you should! The authoress of this wonderful blog writes thoughtful political and social commentary, wonderful information about home education, and - as befits an experienced mama of many kidlets - great advice on parenting and family life. (For starters, try her articles on dealing with picky eaters and bossy older siblings.)

She also writes great recipes! (Try her peach cobber!) I recently made her broccoli soup recipe, using her low-carb version, and loved it! It was delightfully thick (which was wonderful after so many watery low-carb soups!) Since I made some changes to it (basically doubling, tweaking the method, and using both thickening agents), I am going to publish my version here (with permission). Enjoy!


Low-Carb Broccoli Soup

20 oz. frozen broccoli (I bought my own fresh and froze it)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups water
1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, basil
2 egg yolks, whisked lightly
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar is my choice!)

Thaw broccoli.

In blender, blend together thawed broccoli, cream, water, and spices. You will have to do this in TWO batches.

Pour blended liquid into pan, bring to a low-simmer, stirring often, and cook for a couple of minutes.

Temper egg yolks into the soup (add some hot soup to the egg yolks, whisk, and return all to soup).

Remove from heat; add cream cheese and cheese, and stir until melted. Serve!


Do you have any favorite low-carb recipes? If so, bring 'em on!