We started November off with some family portraits. The kids had a blast out there with our friend and photographer Molly. Continue reading
I have gotten a request from a good friend for the peach jam recipe we used. I of course found them all on Pinterest. I made 4 different versions of peach jam because I am usually up for experimenting. The first version I made was this Vanilla Peach Jam. It doesn’t use pectin so it has to simmer for hours to get to the right consistency. I already had the vanilla beans on hand because I make my own Vanilla Extract. But if you buy individual beans at your grocery store they will set you back $3-4 each. Ouch. So I order about 1/4 pound of them each year from somebody in California who sells them on eBay. They are great quality and you get a lot more than you would think for the price. I think I spent a total of $9 last year and I got 27.5 beans. It was fantastic. I made over a half gallon of vanilla extract.
The second version of peach jam I made required pectin and boy was it so much easier with pectin. I followed the recipe on the pectin package and it turned out pretty great. This is the version I opened for the girls’ PB&J’s last week. I also gave a pint size jar of this to our friends who went camping with us.
The third version I made was an overnight crock-pot version. Never again will I try that. I started it after 10pm so it would be ready early in the morning after cooking for 8 hours like the recipe said. No, just NO! This resulted in a nasty smelling, burnt looking and tasting, pathetic excuse for jam. If you want to try making jam in the crock pot then please do it during the day when to can constantly check on it. This whole batch got dumped down the garbage disposal.
The fourth version was a no-pectin version again but following a basic recipe. It was easier to do the simmering this time because I had the practice from the day before. I also knew what consistency I was looking for and it felt like it just took a lot less time.
I really enjoyed being able to make all of this jam for super cheap. I stopped in at Walmart to get the lids with bands. The store had them stocked in the wrong place so I got a killer deal on them. And because of this I decided to buy my bags of sugar there as well. My budget for supplies was the $11 I had in my pocket. And at $8 even it left me a little extra to stop in at the local coffee place and grab a much desired fancy coffee concoction.
Do you make your own jams?
This year we will be homeschooling The Girls. I have been looking into ways to do this on a budget and I would like to share my ideas with you all.
Start Simple: Amelia is starting Kindergarten and according to our school district she is starting a year early. Her birthday is 11 days past the state cutoff date so she would not be allowed to attend public school until next year. We are not going out and buying a big curriculum package or expensive software. We are starting simple with an online curriculum that we can cancel at any time if we find it doesn’t suit her learning style. The curriculum we have chosen is Time 4 Learning. We will supplement the curriculum with a big workbook we found on Amazon and lots of arts and crafts. The best part is that exploring nature and the Library are free so those will be huge resources this year.
Pinterest: Using the internet to hunt for new ideas to make learning fun and hands on are a must for these little people. You can reinforce skills by presenting them in new ways and the kids will think it is just a fun game to play. Half the time they don’t even know they are learning.
Laminate: My Husband Extraordinaire bought me this laminator a few years ago. I use it for all kinds of kid things. There are worksheets that the little ones love above others and by laminating them we can use dry erase markers and wipe them clean and use them over and over. There are pieces to learning games that are just better off being laminated to keep them safe for years.
Get Creative: We try our best to utilize things we already have around here. There are plenty of counting and early math games you can do with toys and stuffed animals. There are color and shape games you can do with their favorite toys too. If Candy Land gets boring after the 1,000th time you play it, revamp it with new game pieces like an octopus and T-Rex. My sister made this gorgeous felt food picnic set and it has lead to years of fun and imaginative play for The Girls.
Follow Their Lead: Follow your child’s interests wherever they may lead you. Amelia had a question the other day that lead us down a rabbit hole of discoveries. She wanted to know how crayons were made, which lead us to YouTube, melting crayons, drawing on different textures and surfaces, and of course making a card to send to her 3 year old cousin. That lead to a discussion on mail and how it gets to it’s destination. Surprisingly it is not magic or owls that take our mail. Her cousin lives in the desert so we learned about some desert animals and how they live without as much water as we get here in Oregon. That lead to a discussion on weather (with the help of YouTube because that is not my area of expertise) and why it is warmer or colder in certain areas. One question lead to a hundred others. I feel like she learned more that day than she does when we get busy with “important tasks” and can’t make the time to just answer and see where that leads. Sometimes you just need to make a fort in the living room and pretend you are a hibernating bear in the winter.
Dollar Store: Did you know it is cheaper to buy a book of practice paper for Kindergarteners at the Dollar Tree than it is to buy it at Wal Mart? There are all kinds of inexpensive buckets and containers at the Dollar Tree to use for cute storage or as fun ways to present things like sensory bins. The Dollar Tree also has some of those craft supplies for a lot less, like pipe cleaners, glitter, glue sticks, and those foam shapes. These things are at a decent price all year instead of just the month of August.
Get Outside: Kids thrive when they are not forced to sit for long periods of time, especially the under 6 crowd. The Girls learn a lot just from donning their helmets and getting out on their bicycle and tricycle and talking while riding around. We stop to stare at butterflies. We ride near the creek and we talk about the plants. We see people out walking their dogs and we talk about . Sometimes we stop and talk to people in the neighborhood and make new friends. We love finding new parks and places to explore like this splash fountain we found in the Palm Springs area. We spent a long time talking about all of the creature sculptures. They learned a lot and had fun playing, and you can’t beat that for a free activity.
Chores: It might not seem like it but The Girls learn a lot from having chores. Amelia feeds the dog, makes her bed, helps me make mine, takes out the bathroom trash, and sweeps among other things. Annabelle makes her bed, picks up toys, wipes the table after meals, and puts away dishes. Children are capable of so much more than we give them credit for and we do them a disservice by trying to do everything for them.