Thursday, August 4, 2011

Close To My Heart Mini Stamp of the Month Blog Hop

Welcome to an inspirational blog hop showcasing Close To My Heart’s Stamp of the Month. The August Stamp of the Month is called “Wicked” and contains 9 images. It is available for just $5 with a $50 purchase!

I have some wonderful Consultants joining me in this hop which works as a circle. So begin “hopping” and feel free to leave comments along the way.

If you are working your way through our hop you should have arrived here from Cherri’s Blog.

Now for my project:
Our son got his biggest wish for his seventh birthday – a tiny kitten. The kitten is a little grey fuzzy ball of fun and snuggles and FRitW is enamored! I’ve taken a million photos of Meowy Jr. in the last week and found that the August Stamp of the Month was a perfect match for my photos.

My layout is based on the "Raise the Curtain" layout in the Magic Scrapbook Book from CTMH. I used the kitten stamp from "Wicked" and my very favorite stamp in the set - the curly border. I love that stamp!

The main photo is actually the cover of a mini book. I used the "put your best foot forward" stamp on this photo.

This photo seemed perfect for the sentiment: "Hats off to you"

August Stamp of the Month: Wicked
Magic Scrapbook Program Book
CTMH cardstock: Colonial White, Desert Sand, Barn Red
Color-Ready Alphabets Cork
Milepost Shapes
Metal Hinges
CTMH Stamp Pads: Barn Red, Desert Sand, Black, Autumn Terracotta

Thank you for stopping by! Now hop on over to Sheila’s Blog to see her creative use of this stamp set!


Not Back To School Blog Hop - Curriculum Week

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Heart of the Matter Online is holding a ‘Not Back to School’ Blog Hop. I missed it last year, and am a bit late getting started this year, but here is my beginning post.

This week the Not Back to School Blog Hop focuses on curriculum choices. We actually homeschool year around changing curriculum as we complete it. We do not keep track of grade levels, instead having an ultimate goal and projected graduation date.

Our oldest, Kirk, is 16. He is using My Father’s World –World History and Literature as his core curriculum with a supplement of “The History of Christianity and Western Civilization Study Course” from Vision Forum. In addition to the recommended literature, he will be filling his Kindle (as soon as we get it) with lots of classics and G.A. Henty books. We replace the writing assignments from MFW with Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Student Intensive C and he also uses The Grammar Key. Kirk uses ALEKS for math and is currently halfway through the Geometry course. He is not using an actual Science curriculum, but simply exploring that on his own. He will also be helping teach Science to the little guys. He will be studying Spanish with Rosetta Stone as soon as I work out a few computer glitches, and physical education is covered with Football in the fall, lots of mountain bike riding, and leading the little guys in exercises each morning.

Maggie is 12 (very soon to be 13). She also uses ALEKS and will complete the 7th grade level this week. She loves the Mystery of History series and will begin Volume two in a month or so. She will also listen in with Doug as he goes through the Vision Forum study course. She began Apologia’s Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day last week. Her writing curriculum is Writesmith Apprentice and she has decided to resurrect our family newsletter to apply some of the skills she’s learned. Spelling is tough for Maggie, so I am looking for an actual curriculum to help her. She has seen real improvement in the last two years with some methods we’ve developed on our own and playing lots of Quiddler, Scrabble, and Boggle. She will be getting a Kindle as well and I’m sure Kirk will have lots of recommendations for her. Our local library is small and its very limited selection only includes abridged editions of literary classics so all of us are excited about the possibilities for our Kindles. Maggie will be using Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish and her physical education of choice is Irish Step Dance – which should begin again very soon.

FRitW just turned 7. He is using Primary Arts of Language from Institute for Excellence in Writing. This covers all of Language Arts. We do not use a written curriculum for history, math, or science – instead using life as his school room.

MT is 4. He does not do school regularly. He listens in throughout the day and I include him anytime he appears interested. He helps build train tracks, k’nex vehicles, and Keva buildings, and plays in the dirt as often as possible.  


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Planning My Fall Garden

With the garden languishing in the heat, I’ve decided to turn my attention to planning our fall garden. My first stop in planning our garden is always the East Texas Gardening website. This site is developed by our county extension office and is my favorite resource for planting dates and variety recommendations. Prior to exploring this site, we planted everything in April and just hoped for the best. Of course I never had any success with carrots, lettuce, or potatoes because April is too hot to plant these cool weather veggies.

Once I print out the planting dates, we sit down as a family and discuss what vegetables we want to plant. Then I highlight those veggies, color coding them by the month they should be planted. Once I have a plan, I begin to look for seeds. This year I've heard that, due to the extreme heat, the temperature of the top 6 inches of our soil is around 95 degrees. I plan to call our extension office and see how much difference this might make in what seeds will germinate.

We are learning to grow plants using a natural approach. This is something we are taking one step at a time, but our first step was to begin using heirloom seeds as opposed to hybrid. This means that most of my seed shopping is done online. A few local nurseries and farm stores carry heirloom plants, but few have heirloom seeds. My favorite seed websites are Botanical Interests and Seed Savers Exchange. With my highlighted plant list in hand, I peruse these sites searching for varieties that are known to grow well in my area or that I have had success growing in the past. But, I like trying new things, so I also search for new varieties that grow well in hot humid areas.

Once I have finalized my list I purchase everything I want to plant for both my spring and fall gardens. I find that if I only purchase the seeds I need right now, I will forget to order the other seeds in time to plant them.

With the planting dates noted and the seeds purchased, I turn my thoughts to learning something new. This is where my current favorite gardening book comes in. I’ve blogged about it before because I just love this book: Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening by J. Howard Garrett and C. Malcolm Beck. If we tried to apply everything I read about gardening at once, nothing would ever get done, so I try to limit our experiments each year.
This year our experiments included beginning a compost pile. We also added cornmeal and a purchased compost tea to our fertilizer experimenting and I bought a garlic pepper tea mixture to kill squash bugs, but I’ve been hesitant to use it for fear of killing my beneficial insect population. We’ll eventually find a balance between picking insects off (or shooting them off with water guns!) and spraying natural insecticides. Next year I hope to explore companion planting.
The final step in planning is to actually prepare the garden plot. We have already pulled out all of the cool season plants: potatoes, onions, carrots, and lettuce. The dirt is tilled and ready to be reshaped into beds. We’ll have to decide what needs to be pulled out of the rest of the garden to make room for new fall plants and then we will be ready for fresh plants.
I'm linking up with Briana at The Garden Path. Click here to hop to this week's blog hop and read what other blogging gardeners are doing this summer.