Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Montessori Style Rooms

I am a big fan of alternative education styles and there are a lot of good things to be said for the Montessori method. We plan to Unschool our children (more on that later) but I think there are a lot of ideas that we can take from other educational philosophies including Montessori. What I love about Montessori is that children are respected, given independence and allowed to use real tools and materials rather than fake, "kid" versions of things. Montessori is also child led, following the individual  child's interests and abilities. In this way it is very similar to Unscholling.  What I don't like about Montessori is that unrealistic imaginary play is discouraged. For example, you can play prentend at being an airplane pilot but not at being a fairy.

Anyway, enough of educational theory for the moment. I have been thinking a lot about how I want Echo's room to take shape when she gets older and we move her out of the nursery and in to her "big girl" room. I'm really interested in the Montessori style or organizing a room. Here are some great examples from my Pinterest board on kids rooms.

 Some of the things to take not of in a Montessori style room are beds directly on the floor, shelves and pictures that are low to the ground, within easy reach and toys organized in to easily accessed containers so that kids will have no trouble getting toys out and putting them away without adult help.

Other Montessori principles include limiting number of toys and choosing simple, quality toys over lots of cheap plastic toys. I love the idea of all this and would like to try it for our kids rooms but I feel like it might be harder in practice than in theory. Also, depending on the number of kids we end up having it could be difficult to have floor beds like I want, we may end up needing bunk beds!

Still I think all of this is is good information to keep in mind as my baby is quickly turning in to a little girl. She will be needing her big girl room before we know it!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Key Lime Cookies

It's been really fun going to the farmers market every week (especially when it's not ridiculously cold!) and partaking of all the local produce. I try to always make myself try something new when I'm there and the last time I went they had some great looking key limes for sale. I bought them because they looked so fresh and yummy but I ad no idea what I'd do with them. Luckily I stumbled across a recipe for key lime cookies and the problem was solved!

Here is the recipe, originally from Honest Fare.

1 stick of butter softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg plus one yolk
1/4 cup key lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
powdered sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth, add egg and yolk and beat until combined. Add lime juice, lime zest, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Gradually add flour and stir until dough is smooth. Shape dough in to 1 inch balls and transfer to cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Add powdered sugar topping using a sifter (this was so fun, I'd never done it before!).

I made these while my husband had people over for games and it was all I could do to save them all from being gobbled up on the spot! Luckily I had enough limes left to make a second batch :-)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sprouting Lentils

Here is a little something green for St. Patrick's Day! This was my first experience sprouting anything and I was delighted by how easy it was. I love fresh sprouts, especially on sandwiches and salads, but they are expensive to buy at the store. It's incredibly cheap and easy to make on your own and adds a delightful crunch to all kinds of dishes.

Place your lentils in a sunny widow in a clear container with cheese cloth on top.

After several days of sprouting

yummy, crunchy sprouts!
 To sprout you own lentils, just put about 3/4 cups of dry lentils (any kind is fine but not split, they must be whole) in water to soak over night. After they are soaked, place them in a clear container in a sunny window with a piece of cheese cloth on top. Make sure you have plenty of extra room in whatever container you use because they will grow quite a bit. Rinse the lentils in cold water twice a day, making sure that no puddles collect in the bottom of the jar. In just a few days the lentils will have sprouted and when you see green leaves they are ready to eat. You can then take them out of the jar and store them in the fridge.

I loved watching these guys sprout, it was awesome to see green things growing from my dried lentils that have been in my pantry for months. What a perfect project for spring!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chocolate Chip Apricot Scones

One of my new years resolutions was to bake more. Not because it's good for me or anything (it pretty obviously isn't) but because I love doing it and the smell of fresh baked goods in the house makes me incredibly happy. I dream of the day when Echo will help bake, I can just see her little pudgy fists kneading the dough.

Recently I've been having more excuses to bake, which is good so I don't eat it all myself! I've been having monthly get togethers with some of my friends who are pregnant or have babies. We usually meet in the mornings so it's the perfect time for some fresh baked breakfast goodies.

For our last meeting I made this chocolate chip apricot scones, mmmm... Here is the recipe adapted from Eat, Live, Run.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
6 T cold butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter with your fingers and work mixture together until it resembles coarse sand. Add the chopped apricots and chocolate chips.
Add the cream and mix with your hands until a dough forms. Make an eight inch circle with the dough and slice into 12 small wedges. Place wedges on a lined baking sheet and bake for 16-18 minutes, until golden brown.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Our Neighborhood Hawk

We have had a pretty impressive hawk hanging around our back yard for several months now and I finally got a picture of him!

After looking it up I think he is a red tailed hawk, they are pretty common in GA so it seems likely. He's pretty impressive in size and makes a wonderful cawing noise. I love that we have so much wildlife visit us here in our little woodland slice of the burbs!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

February Photo Roundup

Here's what we did last month...

Hiking in Jasper, GA

Chilling at home

Westley and Reese bird watching

drooly baby

Echo's first trip to the High Museum! 

Echo and her Granddad

Friday, March 1, 2013

Whole Wheat Sesame Crackers

This was my first attempt at making crackers. For some reason I assumed crackers would be difficult to make and had been avoiding them. I was so surprised to lear how easy it is and how delicious home made crackers can be. Crackers are a kid snack staple so I want to learn to make lots of different varieties to have on hand when Echo is old enough to eat them. The only slightly difficult thing about them is that rolling out the dough can be time consuming but this is only difficult because I have a five month old who wants my attention. You can find the recipe I used here, at Sweet Freedom

These would be great with cheese but we enjoyed them on their own this time. They were so good that we ended up eating them all in one sitting! I should mention that the recipe only makes six crackers so (even though they are large crackers) they go pretty quick. Next time I will double the recipe.