I got up early this morning and read a few of the posts on the Back To Homeschool-Blog Hop-Classrooms. I just love peeking into other family's homes to see how they have their school area set up.
Our house is small (900 square feet, give or take a few) so I am always looking for ways to save space or organize in the space we have.
Reading other posts inspired me so much that I started working on straightening up and sorting out my school shelves and the dining area so that I could share. I just finished and took some photos. (Good thing, too, because they may never be this tidy again.)
This is where we do our school work. I may not be organized everywhere but, believe it or not, I do like to keep the dining table cleaned off. So it pretty much looks like this unless we are using it. I think it makes the whole area look better if the table is clean. (Hubby got that watermelon from a co-worker whose grandfather grows them to sell. This was a leftover because it was small.)
Just to the right of that in the above photo you can see the edge of what we call our school shelf:
Would you like to know what all is in this picture? If so, keep reading. If not, skip this section.
Here is our school shelf, corkboard, easel and what once was going to be workboxes but is now storage for puzzles, scrap paper and other random craft supplies. The purple basket on top of the workboxes/storage is our library basket. (Gotta keep up with them, can't afford late fees.)
You can also see our 3 year old in Daddy's chair, because just to the right is our living room.
Back to the school area.
Top of the bookcase: Play-Doh (I personally don't like the stuff. Don't tell the good parent police.) Green box has magnetic letters, Clear box is crafty/schooly supplies like extra glues and paintbrushes. Red box is full of card games and flash cards. On top of that is an old-school pencil sharpener that has been screwed onto a clipboard. (Our electric one stopped working and this is borrowed from my dad.)
First shelf: Books behind the other books because there are no other places to put them. So I put the ones that were more likely to be used this year in the front.
Second shelf: Collection of story books (mostly Golden Books) that were mine when I was small. (I keep them up higher so that they can be supervised when they are being used so as not to get them destroyed accidentally.) Also some puzzles.
Third shelf: Small books, Another box of games, a box of crayons, and a box of markers
Fourth shelf: Older reading books
Fifth shelf: Notebooks for schoolwork
Bottom shelf: Random workbooks and other books that we probably won't be using this year. (Actually, now that I think about it, I will probably be moving all those books to make room for what we actually are using this year.)
This is the box of books that I have taken off the shelf to sort because it's stuff that we will actually be using this year:
I will be going back to the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop to get more ideas later this week. I was just thinking, only other homeschoolers would want to look at pictures of other people's bookshelves. Ha!
We have been making a lot of changes around here, especially in the kitchen. I have known for a long time that organic is better for you but resisted because, well, it's expensive.
I have recently watched a few documentaries that have made an impact on what we are buying and eating. I encourage you to watch any of these documentaries (most are streaming on Netflix.)
It really started a few years ago with Super Size Me. We had eaten an almost vegan diet for a few years and had lost a lot of weight but after my daughter was born, we had slipped back into some very unhealthy eating habits. Couple that with changing job situations (meaning less money) and we were eating pretty unhealthy (cheap, processed) food.
We already ate a lot of fruits and veggies but knew that organic would be better. So we decided to pick one or two items to always buy organic and work our way up to buying all organic. We figured that a little at a time, we could get used to spending more for our health. Make "baby steps," if you will. (Sounds familiar to any Dave Ramsey fans out there.)
We started by looking at the Dirty Dozen list. This is a list compiled by some people called Environmental Working Group. They test a bunch of fruits and veggies to see which ones have more pesticides on and in them. The ones with the most pesticides are highest on the list. If you can buy these organic, then you are better off.
We decided that we would pick the two from the Dirty Dozen list that we buy and eat most often (Lettuce and Apples) and purchase those only organic.
Luckily, we have an Earth Fare in our city, so we can find bulk organic lettuces for almost as cheap as the bagged conventional lettuces.
We have also caught a few sales on organic apples at our local Publix. ($1.99/lb this past week is a pretty inexpensive price for certified organic apples.)
I have also been buying organic carrots, too. Carrots aren't on the Dirty Dozen list but they aren't on the Clean 15 either, they are somewhere in between. You can see the whole list here. Plus, the price for a bag of organic baby carrots is only cents more than the price for regular carrots at Publix.
I would love to buy local and organic but around here our "Farmer's Markets" have a bunch of the same food you can buy in the grocery store (ie. bananas do not grow in Alabama and in my opinion have no place in a Farmer's Market here), and they don't seem to mind pesticides. At the Montgomery Curb Market only one seller claims to grow their produce without chemicals. I figure I am better off knowing that it's organic in the grocery store than wondering at the Farmers Market.
Even if you can't afford organic, you should still be eating fruits and veggies because the benefits
of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.
Late last night I hopped on Pinterest for "just a minute" to find a friend's board and saw this wreath. I had already been trying to come up with an Easter/spring wreath and was thinking something along the lines of this or this but once I saw this I knew what I wanted to do.
I already had the vine part because we have Wisteria all over our yard and I have started using the vine to make wreaths. I know that a well-kept wisteria can be very pretty but our wisteria is Crazy and runs all the way across the yard and there is no getting rid of it. My friend Stephanie showed me how to make the vine into wreaths a long time ago and last year I made a few wreaths while I was cleaning up the yard. If the vine is going to annoy me it may as well serve some purpose. I might be making wreaths to sell in the near future. Right now I only have a couple made.
So last night at oh, eleven or so, I was making felt flowers for my new spring wreath.
What do you think? Do I need more flowers? Because I have more felt. I started out with some pastels but I LOVE the bright colors much better!
And candy-free, I just realized that there was not a bite of candy in our house for Valentine's Day. (This does not mean that I won't pick up some high-quality candy on clearance tomorrow, though. Or not. Who knows?)
This is one of those times that I am thankful that my kids are not in school and bringing home sugar-filled treats from each person in class.
The only thing I bought was plates and cards from the Dollar Tree (Hello, 50 cents each cards!)
I had huge plans to make pink heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast, but I have been sick with some sort of plague cold the past few days and could barely get myself out of bed this morning. I'm feeling better now. Thanks for asking.
But I did manage to scrape together heart-shaped chicken quesadillas for lunch with beans and rice and some strawberries cut in heart shapes. (Easy!) Plus heart-shaped pb&j for snack this afternoon. No picture, sorry!
While I was cooking chicken, I decided I would make enough to have some Chicken & Rice Soup. I loosely followed this recipe from CrockPot 365 and that is cooking in the Crockpot as we speak.
I am planning heart-shaped pizza for dinner. We will see how that goes. If it goes great you might see a picture on here tomorrow. If not, well.
It's amazing how far behind the house can get when Mom is sick for one day. I have so much to do. Happy Valentine's Day to my one reader (you know who you are!)
The past few weeks I have managed to work on some projects that I had pinned on Pinterest.
I started by making a pin cushion out of a picture frame that I saved from a yard sale and painted pink. This was so easy. I might be looking for other pretty frames to rescue at yard sales.
I also made a cover for my composition notebook.
I love the fabric. It was some my mom has had for "who knows how long". It's for-real vintage. I have quite a bit of it, still. It's perfect for book covers because it's got stretch.
I followed the tutorial here. I actually followed a tip in the comments and layered the side panels in between the front and back when I sewed them. I forgot to add in the dimensions for the spine of the book (very small since it's a comp book) but the cover wouldn't fit because of it if it weren't for the stretchiness of the fabric. About a half inch probably would have done it. I plan to make a cover from the same fabric for my bible.
My daughter saw that they make tutus for Zhu Zhu pets and of course hers had to have one, so I made her one with some tulle that I had left over from her tutu. I attached the tulle to a stretchy pony tail holder and slipped it on. Yes, sometimes the tulle gets caught in the wheels. Oh, well.
Have I mentioned how much I love Pinterest? I bet I have. I love finding fun stuff to make on Pinterest and lately it's the first place I look for recipes, too. There are some good ones on there.
This week I wore myself out chasing bargains at all the local grocery stores only to find myself with cabinets full of things that didn't seem to go together. So Saturday I made a list of everything we had and sat down to find some recipes to make a menu from. I am totally going to do try this every week, because I feel so much better knowing that I have a plan. Even if we don't stick to it, exactly.
I have already made some changes from the original because I realized that I needed something uber easy and fast on Fridays when I attend a bible study in the morning and we don't get home until melt-down time right at noon. That day ends up being PB&J for the kids.
2 lb Dried Black Beans (follow instructions on bag for rinsing and quick soak or overnight soak) 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder 2 Tablespoons Cumin 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder 2 ½ Tablespoons Salt
Mix all ingredients in large slow cooker and fill almost to the top with water. Cook over night on high or for at least 8 hours or until they aren't crunchy done.
We use the exact same recipe for Pinto Beans, too!
I would take a picture of the black beans but there is not much to see with black beans cooking in a black slow cooker. Ya, know?
Tip: I buy my spices at a local grocery store where they have almost every spice you could imagine for $1 each. (If you are local, that would be Oaktree.) The bottle of cumin that I get for $1 is twice the size of the bottle at Wally World for $2+!