January 22, 2014

The Make Your Own Movement (1 Comment)

Filed under: In the Kitchen — The Spider Herself @ 5:46 pm

This is why I don’t like Make Your Own. Everything empty at once. And why does it seem more of a burden to stop and MAKE some as opposed to putting it on a list, forgetting list at home, going to the store- where I have to go anyway (these kids want food!) and picking it up?

I keep messing with my laundry detergent recipe- just trying to make it easier than it already is because: Burden! The typical recipe calls for a shredded bar of Fels Naptha (which is getting easy to find- the local Walmarts even carries it), some washing soda and Borax. But I saw one recipe (sorry, can’t remember where or I’d give a hat tip) that only called for Washing Soda, Borax and essential oils. The greatest problem with making my own is shredding the soap- yes, even when my food processor does it. I’m a wimp.I’ve been reducing the soap and adding more of the other ingredients. I’ve also been adding essential oils for kicks. Usually eucalyptus or tea tree with something that smells better. Then I read where someone mentioned shredding the soap and keeping it in a baggie. This last time I shredded two bars and am keeping one in a baggie. That way all I’ll have to do next time is mix it all together.

The glass containers were for deodorant (coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder and essential oils) and face cream (coocnut oil, vitamin E and lavender essential oil).

The spray bottle is a cleaner that I’ve been using which was all over the internet awhile back. It’s vinegar and dish soap (supposed to be the name brand stuff but I don’t buy it). I mainly use it for a bathroom cleaner. I find it keeps the mildew down on the shower curtain.

I like using these but I am not an overly picky person. I’m not sure how much it saves money wise if you look you can find breakdowns of the laundry detergent on line. Balancing out time vs. money savings? I don’t know. I am not sure any one of these things would break the budget but maybe added up it amounts to something? Again, I don’t know.  But it makes me feel like I’m DOING something to earn my keep.

August 6, 2013

Homeschool for Free? (5 Comments)

Filed under: Homeschool — The Spider Herself @ 1:54 pm

Is it possible?  A friend asked on Facebook and I thought my answer would take up way (Way!) too much room for a comment.  Here is my rambling answer.

If you prefer workbooks it might be a little difficult to go totally free but it could be possible to do at a low cost.  I have used Walmart workbooks (when our local Walmart used to carry them) for kindergarten and first grade.  We picked some that were of interest to us and then added in books of interest from the library. Rainbow Resources and Amazon are good sources for low cost workbooks and I have found some used on Bookfinder.com.

I use Ambleside Online curriculum which is free.  Ambleside is based on the education philosophy of Charlotte Mason.  The curriculum, book lists and schedules, are free but you have to buy, borrow or steal your own books.   Many of the books used are older so they can be found used at a low cost.  Even if a person didn’t want to follow the curriculum exactly the book lists can be used as a guideline.  Also, Simply Charlotte Mason has book lists (you can buythe books through them but you can just find your own.)

If I didn’t follow Ambleside then I  would pick a history spine or overview history book and then add in biographies or historical fiction of the era being read for history.

For Math I’d use Kahn Academy (if your child is responsible enough to stay on track when they are on the computer).  Here is a great resource for generating free math worksheets.  I have used Math Mammoth’s math workbooks and found them reasonable in price for the down load.  You have to print the pages but if you have multiple children who will use the books then it works out really well.  When I purchased a workbook set I was also able to generate more worksheets as needed.  Another free resource that I have heard about but not tried is MEP- Mathamatics Enhancement Program.  It’s out of England and you have to print the worksheets (which are not cause and effect even though they are in the same sentence.)

As always, your library is a great resource.   Now, if your library is…lacking… most places have an extended network that allows you to borrow books from other libraries in that network.  Our library is also involved with Library2go where you can borrow audio and ebooks via the internet.  I have looked around there but haven’t actually borrowed a book yet.  I found it a bit frustrating to just browse for a book there but it’s easy when you know a title or author.

I have mentioned Bookfinder above but thought I’d expand a bit on what it does.  It is a search tool that searches many used book sellers- used ones like Abe books, Alibris, Powels, Amazon, Half.com and many more. It will list according to price including shipping.  I have found it very useful.   I recently purchased books using Bookfinder and spent, on average, just over $4 per book including shipping.

Another free resource for books would be Project Gutenberg which has 42,000 free e-books.  They have digitized many older books that are in the public domain.  The books can be downloaded in different formats or read on your computer from the site.  Ambleside has linked books in their book lists to Project Gutenberg when the book is available there.  Another free resource that I haven’t tried yet but have often heard about is Librivox which provides free audio books.  The readers are all volunteer but they have reviews so you can try and find readers you like.  Google books is a good resource as well as free ebooks from Amazon.  Sometimes a book will be free with Prime when normally it has a price or make use of their lending program.

Several resources for learning a foreign language for free are Livemocha and Byki.  I have not used them extensively but have poked around the sites.  I have a bit of a problem letting my kids loose on Livemocha because the free part requires you to record yourself speaking and having a Random Stranger (is that redundant? As opposed to a precise stranger?) evaluate you and then you are supposed to do the same for some other Random Stranger.  It just doesn’t sit right with me.  But our local library also has a way to access Livemocha’s pay side which I haven’t tried yet but keep thinking I should ask for the password.  Has anyone tried that?  I downloaded Byki’s free downloadable part and tried it, although briefly, and found it fine.  I am sure there are a ton of other resources if you searched for them.

I don’t know of a writing resource but making a list of subject ideas that you throw out to the student as a writing start would work.  A file could be made of  pictures, beginning or concluding sentences, and general subjects where you could draw from when your brain seizes up.  A free grammar resource is KISS grammar.  I haven’t used it but I pointed the kids’ Latin teacher to it and she used many of his ideas.  She had been having them diagram sentences with the lines that stick out all over and slant all different ways but she changed to underlining the noun, double underlining the verb, etc. and I think the students caught on faster.  I think they didn’t have to  remember which way the line was supposed to slant as it branched off from which word and could concentrate on naming the part of speech.

Other things to use are Amazon and Netflix streaming videos.  Things like Magic School Bus and documentaries are wonderful resources for history and science.  Many people read a book and then watch a movie based on the book and discuss the differences.

There are a ton of free or almost free resources out there.  It’s a matter of looking and determining what is best for you and your family.  One piece of advice I would give based on homeschooling for awhile now is try to get things lined up for the whole year before you start.  I often get the first term done or half the year figured out and then get tired, think it’s enough and stop.  But then I never get back to it and the end of the year ends up not being as… rich.  If Mama ain’t prepared than no one is prepared.  My kids are not going to go out and look up musical selections for a composer study for example.  They may be wonderful kids but they do have a few failings. If I have to search all over the internet (and possibly get distracted by other things- look!  a knitting project!) every time I need something later in the year then probably it’s not going to happen.  My thoughts are “have a plan but be flexible”.

In conclusion, I think it’s possible to put together a good, free or almost free curriculum all it takes is a bit of planning and trial and error.  In this age of the internet, there are truly amazing things out there that are available to us that never were before.

July 4, 2013

Inspiration (1 Comment)

Filed under: KJ,Personalities — The Spider Herself @ 4:55 pm

The 5-foot tall, thin-as-a-rail Pixie has decided she needs to gain strength.

I have  no idea how this thought entered her head but she has proceeded to go about obtaining her goal. I have always admired this quality in her.  She has demonstrated decision-making and determination from a young age.  I remember offering a choice of vitamin to her siblings (because that is what good parents are supposed to do- ha!)  and they would have an awful time making up their minds.  They’d take one and then throw a fit because now they decided they should have taken the other one.  But not Pixie.  She’d look at the choices, grab one and be off.  Happy.  She knows what she wants and she’s shown strong ideas about what to wear. There have been times when something has been hard for her but she has stuck with it.  There are other times things have become hard and she has walked away from it seemingly because she has the attention span of a gnat.

So when she mentioned she wanted to gain strength I figured it would be a passing thing.  We searched through what was here at home and most of the exercise things were on video tape and our tape player is not working.  The next time we were at the library we checked out the exercise DVD section.  We looked through the meager selection and picked an “African Beat- Latin Heat” video.  It’s mainly aerobic and has a pretty quick pace. Since we brought it home, she has done it at least once every day but one.  Jaw dropping. Okay. so it was only five days, but still….

Today she decided she wanted to try something else.  I was able to find our DVD of a resistance band workout which is more strength training and probably more of what she wants anyway.  She worked her way through it like a champ.  I had to do it after her (we only have one set of resistance bands) because I was feeling sloth-like just watching her.

Then she decided to make a lasagna-type thing for lunch with noodles, pasta sauce, cheese and ham.  She did it all with minimal supervision and no recipe.

I am amazed.

April 24, 2013

Friends (3 Comments)

Filed under: Blog Stuff,Life — web pig @ 1:14 pm

“You are my friend.  That in itself is a tremendous thing.  I weave my webs for you because I like you.  After all, what’s a life, anyway?  We’re born, we live a little while, we die.  A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies.  By helping you, perhaps I am trying to lift up my life a trifle.  Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

― Adapted from Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White

Charlotte's Web

April 8, 2013

The Continuing, Never Ending, Sickness Saga (2 Comments)

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Spider Herself @ 9:09 pm

March was a very bad, no good month.  The school year was growing long, the dark of winter was just starting to give way to spring light and weariness was settling in.  Then it hit.

At first having a ill child was a nice break from the routine.  A reason to stay home and take life a bit slower.  Unfortunately, the kids kept  catching things.  First one would get the flu (fever, and sore throat), then a week later, another, a few days later the last.  Once in awhile they’d space it closer together but most of the time they played the cruel trick on their Mother of letting her think it was all past and it was clear sailing when doom would hit again.  Then it was The Stomach Bug.  By this time, I was being neurotic about cleaning door knobs, light switches, faucet handles and toilets.  Four days passed.  I was feeling hope.  Then it hit the next one.  The first had been bad but passed quickly.  This one was worse and it lingered.  My Little Sunshine didn’t eat hardly anything for three days and when I pushed eating something she didn’t keep it in her system.  She was dragging and eating light for far too long before she perked up.  One hadn’t caught The Nasty Stomach Bug and I watched, fearfully.  Nothing for a long time.  I thought for sure we were out of the woods.  And she didn’t catch The Nasty Stomach Bug, yet anyway.  But that one is also The One Most Likely to Relapse and she did just that.  A bit of fever,lack of appetite.  One day she was dragging, the next up and playing the next dragging and not feeling well. Slowly she had more good days.

Finally, after six weeks of one sort of illness or another I thought we were done with it.  We hadn’t gone many places, hadn’t seen many people. It had been seven days without any one having a fever or losing their lunches. Four days without someone not feeling well.  I was optimistic about being able to spend time with friends.  I was looking forward to life resuming.

This morning, The Boy said his stomach didn’t feel right.  He said it felt like it did before he had The Nasty Stomach Bug.  And again my hopes were dashed.

I have spent time today cleaning faucet handles, toilets, door knobs and toothbrushes. My hands are dry after washing them every five seconds.  I have spend time touching my Man Boy when he needed me.  This week will be a slower week then I had planned after all.

I was told that there are as many as Nine strands of virus going around that manifests itself in similar ways.

I just pray we don’t get all nine.

This too shall pass.  I think I’ll be ready when it does.

February 26, 2012

Yogurt (1 Comment)

Filed under: In the Kitchen — The Spider Herself @ 6:47 pm

I’ve been making my own yogurt for awhile.  No, not consistently but it’s something I try to do fairly often.  Since I have causally mentioned this fact in conversation I’ve had hordes of people asking me how I make it.  A “horde” is two people, right?  Do I need to add that to my dictionary for you illiterate people?  I then decided to make a tutorial like them big, fancy blogs with pictures and everything.

I had seen recipes on the internet that helpfully suggested incubating the yogurt in your oven and that the pilot light would provide enough heat for the little bacteria to work.  After examining my electric oven all over I decided this option would not work for me.  Then I saw one where she used her crock pot to incubate her yogurt.  (She now uses a different method- read about it here.) But this method struck me as taking a long time- especially heating the milk up.  I also don’t have a crock pot with a removable insert so I would have to put the whole thing in the fridge because I think it’s important to let it get cold before disturbing it.  Then I came across someone- I wish I could remember who so I could give credit- who said a cooler would work well for keeping the yogurt warm as it fermented.  A light bulb went off and my yogurt making days began.

For some reason I decided to try this recipe for Armenian Yogurt.  Maybe it sounded exotic?  But I don’t follow the recipe exactly anymore.  I’m just a Recipe Rebel.

First I heat 4 cups of milk.


I put the thermometer in to keep an eye on the temperature.   The recipe says to bring it to a boil but I have read that it only needs to be heated to 180 degrees.  I try to make sure I am near the stove while I am doing this.  One batch was made unusable by my lack of attention.  I read also that if the milk is held at about 180 degrees for awhile then the yogurt will be creamier.  I’ve tried to do that these last two batches but rushed it a bit with this batch.

I made this while I was watching the milk.


I try to remember to put some boiling water into the jars I am going to use.  I managed to do so this time mostly because I was trying to impress you.  The yogurt has turned out fine even when I have forgotten this step.


I take the milk off the element


and add the heavy cream.  As you can see, I make sure to measure accurately.  Some people use dry milk to make their yogurt creamier.  It might surprise some people but I have a heavy cream addiction.  Therefore, it’s always on hand.  I also am not afraid of fat and would go so far as to say it’s good for you.


I then let it cool to 115-110 degrees.  I take out a bit of the milk and add the yogurt starter.  I have been using less then the original recipe calls for- usually 2 Tablespoons to a 1/4 cup.


Then I stir it into the milk.   And pour it all into the jars.


I heat a rice bag in the microwave as I do this.  Then put the jars into the cooler with the bag.


And then towels to fill in the open spaces.


Put the lid on and let it sit around.  Most recipes say to let it sit for 8 hours.  I have done it for as short as 4 and as long as 24.  Some people say that after 24 hours the bacteria have eaten up all the sugar in the milk.   If I leave it for a long time, I will heat up the rice bag again.


When the time is up I take the jars out of the cooler and put them in the fridge.  You can see that it is very thick.


I leave it in the refrigerator overnight.


Here it is after it’s been in the fridge for awhile.


The kids really like it.  I was a bit worried there wouldn’t be enough left from my last batch as they ate it almost all up.   When I buy yogurt for starter I have been freezing some of it to have on hand in case my starter stash gets eaten or if I leave it go too long between batches.  I sometimes drain the whey off to make a thicker yogurt or cheese.  I use the whey as a substitute for buttermilk in baked goods.

That’s it.

Armenian Yogurt

Original recipe from : http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/yogurt-recipe.html

4 cups milk

2 Tbl. – ¼ cup yogurt starter (plain yogurt- make sure it has “live” cultures)

2 cups (or so) heavy cream (optional)

Heat the milk to 180 degrees.  Take off heat and add cream.  Let cool to 115-110 degrees.  Take some out of the pan and stir in the yogurt starter.  Add starter mixture to the rest of the milk and stir.  Pour into containers.  Put into cooler and let sit for 8 hours or longer.  Put containers into refrigerator until cold and ready to serve.

January 21, 2012

Define The Term Round 2 (1 Comment)

Filed under: Dictionary,Photos — The Spider Herself @ 8:37 pm


Short Cut:

A.  A route that looks like less mileage on the map.

B.  Usually scenic.

C. A route that usually takes more time than expected.

D.  The way we usually go.

E. All of the above.

June 13, 2011

Bad Guessers (3 Comments)

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Spider Herself @ 1:34 pm

Pixie was playing a guessing game with us.  She would hide something in a bag and we would have to guess what was in there.  She told us this one started with a “ch” sound and was Mama’s.  Lots of things were guessed but it just wasn’t the right things.  She ended up describing them as blue and had Crocs written on them.  So we guessed my blue sandals.

“You are right!” says she.

Which got us to head scratching- why did it start with “ch”?

“They are choes!” she replied.

Oh!  Yes, choes that are chandles.

On to the next guessing game.  This one started with an “I”.  Hmmm.  It’s something we listen to.  She doesn’t like them but the rest of us do.  Whit is in them.

Oh!  Adventures in Odyssey.

But where does the “I” come in?

“You know- Inventures in Odyssey.”

I don’t know why it was taking us so long to guess these things.

April 10, 2011

How Rumors Get Started (3 Comments)

Filed under: HP,KJ,Life,Personalities,TG — The Spider Herself @ 5:41 pm

The eggs were cleaned, blow dried (What?  Doesn’t everyone blow dry their eggs?) and being placed in the carton as we hurried to finish up before leaving for church.  One pretty blue egg was left over so I delicately placed it into a carton for us to keep.  I somehow managed to fumble the poor, pretty egg and it broke on the floor.

“Oh!  It broke!”  Said Miss Sunshine.

Pixie runs into the kitchen to see what happened.  “Did you break it?  Why did you do that?”

“Yea, why did you do that?” Her ever helpful Father teased.  He had seen the whole thing.

“You did it on purpose?”  asked Miss Sunshine.

“Why did you break it on purpose?”  asked Pixie

Yes, I threw it on the floor in order to see our last, only remaining egg smashed. (The Hens really need to be getting busy out there!  They been slacking.) My heart’s desire was that The Dog  get it so I devised this deviant scheme and carried it out.

In the process of explaining that no, I had not broken it on purpose; The Boy enters the scene and proclaims, “You broke it on purpose?!”

Yes, there it is folks, the process of how rumors get started.  I am now a purposeful Blue Egg Smasher.  Beware.

December 18, 2010

Define The Term (2 Comments)

Filed under: Dictionary — The Spider Herself @ 10:34 pm


Scenic Route:

A. The longest possible way to get to where you are going even if it looks shorter on the map.

B. The way with the most curves, ups and downs, and washboards.

C. The way with the most adventure and memory building events.

D. All of the above.