Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Homeschool Appreciation Day

(Disclaimer: images of blood are shown)

So my state governor (Mr. Rick Scott) has declared today (Wednesday, March 23rd) Homeschool Appreciation Day.

Unfortunately I only heard about this last night, thanks to an email from my wonderful pastor's wife.

So I was going to do something impromptu to celebrate. I wanted to take the kids to the park today and maybe go out to lunch with them. I wanted to give them the day off of school (even though we haven't done much school since we got back from our vacation last week). I even wanted to give them a break on some chores.

Well, it didn't work out very well. Last night Deborah had a bloody nose and decided that she should lean over the side of her bed and let it drip on the carpet. Did I mention the carpet is white? I told her last night that if her nose starts bleeding again, I would rather she let it drip on a pillow or blanket or something that I can throw in the wash. I thought she understood me at the time.

Well, Hubby and I had an emergency budget meeting, and decided to pay for carpet cleaning, since I haven't gotten them cleaned since the last time we got vomit on the carpet (only a tiny bit, and it was cleaned up pretty well, but it's still faintly there). Oh, and because my daughter's artistic talent got a little ahead of her common sense, and I found this a couple weeks ago:

Then her nosebleed started up again this morning. The kids were doing pretty well, getting their basic chores done (essentially just putting things away), and I thought we were on track to do all the fun stuff.

I called the carpet cleaner, Heaven's Best run by Chad Cohen. He did my dining room chairs a few months ago, and I really liked the fact that he was honest, and didn't have a bunch of hidden charges. The last company I used to clean the carpets had an advertised price, but when they showed up they told me I had to add a room to get the discount and it ended up being over $100.

Well, this morning's nosebleed threw everything off. It took over an hour for her to get it stopped, and when I went in the room I found this:
Blood spots in a much larger area. (oh, and the toothpaste... I forgot about that... my 2 year old did that right about the time I found the star.)

So anyway, I had to clear their room as much as possible so Chad could reach all the necessary spots. This meant all the bins under the beds had to be moved out. Where could we move these things? Well, the hallway is a great spot.

Oh wait, the hallway is still lined with all the stuff we moved out of the playroom to make it into a school room: closet doors, empty plastic bins, etc. So we had to move all that stuff too. The kids got everything moved to the garage (grrr... I just cleaned out the garage).

By this time, I realized there was no way we were going to a park because I didn't want Deborah being too active and causing her nose to bleed again. We certainly weren't going out to eat, because it was already lunch time, and I had to make sure I'm home for when Chad gets here.

So I ordered pizza instead and finally told the kids that today is Homeschool Appreciation Day. My 13 year old son rolled his eyes and said, "So what's that supposed to mean?" I explained that it's like Mothers Day or St Patricks Day... it's just a fun day to celebrate homeschooling. I told them that I ordered pizza since we can't really do anything else amazing.

I'm disappointed, but glad that we accomplished something.
Now on to laundry... post vacation laundry is bad enough... post camping laundry is ridiculous. But that's another entry.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why yes... that is what it looks like

Chocolate peanut butter: Why? Because I can.

One of my homeschool buddies recently hosted a blender party. Ok, it was technically a vitamix party, but since I have a Blendtec, I was asked to come along and bring my particular brand of blender to add to the fun.

We had a lot of fun. It was just the three of us, and I'm sure we probably collectively wasted about a pound of food... eggs during failed Mayonnaise attempts and a successful scrambled egg attempt, tomato soup with a bit too much onion and mock devonshire cream in a container that got too hot. Overall, it was a lot of fun, though, and I'd do it again in a heart beat.

The best thing that happened was that I was pushed to experiment a bit more with my blender. Since then I've made Crepe batter, a Chai Frappuchino that's better than $bucks makes, and my latest experiment: Chocolate peanut butter.

My friend made peanut butter in her blender (I feel awkward not calling it a Vitamix), and it was so yummy that we all started speculating on whether or not it was financially viable to start making it instead of buying it ready made.

Well I was at Costco yesterday and I did some comparison shopping. A 52 oz can of roasted
peanuts is $5.59. Two 28 oz jars of Costco brand organic, all natural peanut butter costs 8.69. I wanted to compare the cost of the organic, all natural stuff because that's essentially what I'd be making. I'm sure the stuff with sugar and fillers added would cost less than the peanuts (probably should have checked that price just to be sure), but for now I'm not too worried about it.

Of course, I can't leave well enough alone. One of my favorite spreads is Nutella. Nutella is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. So I thought, if I can make peanut butter in my Blendtec, why not try making Nutella. The only problem is, I bought peanuts... not hazelnuts. So I decided to try
one of the recipes I found, substituting peanuts... and let me tell you.... it's soooooo good.

So here's the deal. If the Italians have been giving their kids chocolate hazelnut spread for breakfast for years, then why can't Americans. Of course, to make it truly American, it would have to have peanuts as the main ingredient.

Here's my recipe. Borrowed from a couple of other blogs, and tweaked a little.

Chocolate Peanut Butter

1 cup Roasted, Salted Peanuts

1 T peanut oil

4 ounces chocolate chips, melted

2 tablespoon cocoa

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/2 tsp Vanilla

1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream (maybe more)

Follow Blendtec directions for making peanut butter. Add remaining ingredients and repeat the cycle for making peanut butter (press speed up to level 5, allow to run for a cycle, scrape sides of container with spatula, etc).

If you aren't getting a smooth consistency, drizzle additional whipping cream into the mixture until it turns glossy and smooth.

Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container. I would say, use by ______ time, but honestly... I don't think it's going to last long enough to go bad. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Change in America's Work Ethic

We have become such a lazy society. I'm including myself here. I don't like what we've become as a nation, but I don't really want to change myself either.

I had a bunch of things to donate to Salvation Army today. They took one thing out of about six items. Their reason... they only sell things as is, and the things I had wouldn't sell. 50 years ago, these things would have been taken gladly. Some guy would have set up shop in his garage and turned these items into workable usable things.

Take my refrigerator, for instance. It works. It's an older model... maybe 10 years old tops. The only thing wrong with it is the coating of mold. This is what happens when it's left sitting in my garage unplugged for a year. That's how long I've been trying to find a home for it. No one wants it, so it's going to the dump. I'm sure there are families out there that could use a nice refrigerator, but no one has claimed it.

Next item... My buffet and hutch. Solid wood, no particle board, dovetailed drawers. Beautiful piece of furniture. I'm not a carpenter and it would take a lot of elbow grease to make it look beautiful again. The top part is primed, and ready to be painted. The bottom part is a bit more difficult. It needs to be sanded down to remove the wax and paint that were layered on it. I don't have the skills to do the job but it would cost more than the piece is worth to have a professional finish it for me. Some father and son team could easily use this as a shop project. Years ago, this is what it's fate would have been, but instead it's going into a landfill. It makes me sad, but I've run out of options.

I also have a queen size mattress. It has served a long life at my house. I've had it for almost 15 years. It's still comfy, a testament to investing in quality. It has some staining and all it needs is a good cleaning. Someone somewhere could have a nice soft bed to sleep on if they would only come get it. Alas it's fate is the same as the other items... off to the landfill.

Then there's this old fireplace. It's actually a space heater that is mounted on a wall. I got it when an older friend of mine passed away. I went through the trouble of bringing it home only to realize that one of the prongs on the power cord is missing. It must have broken off during the move. I don't know enough about electrical wiring to replace the cord. It would probably take an electrician about 5 minutes and $5 to fix it, but this little piece of history is headed to the dump.

There are other things too. A filing cabinet who's only flaw is that it was covered in contact paper long ago. I would continue to use it, but I ran out of room. It was replaced by a five drawer, industrial size lateral file. There's also some plastic shelf units that would help organize someone's garage. These are now on their way to who knows where.

I guess the thing that bothers me is that both the places I called to donate these items, are supposed to be helping people find jobs. One of them is a drug and alcohol addiction recovery program. They specialize in helping people learn how to function in society. They could easily use these items to help some guy learn to become a furniture restoration specialist, or as an electrician project, or upholstery cleaner.

We hear on the news all the time about people out of work and losing their homes, and learning to live with less income. We are told over and over again to recycle, reuse, renew. However, when someone really wants to help out or do their part, there isn't an infrastructure to make this possible.

Oh well... at least I tried. Time to move on.