Home Economics, Updated

 Posted by on October 15, 2013  1 Response »
Oct 152013
 

This year, I’m down to one student in our family homeschool.  Along the way, I have made changes, tweaking each child’s education, finding improved curricula for math or science, adding special projects to English and history, and incorporating electives for each child’s interest.  With my youngest that meant adding a home economics class.

Home Economics, Updated www.habitsforahappyhome.com As I searched online, I could not find a satisfactory curriculum.  I wanted something that had the feel of a modern Proverbs 31 woman.  We would dismiss with extensive sewing (there’s nothing wrong with sewing; I’m just no good at it!), learn to prepare a variety of foods from scratch, and explore the fields of decorating and creating a cozy, family-centered atmosphere as well.  Lastly, we would learn to properly clean a house. All of these are things I’ve taught my girls simply by including them in our daily activities, but this would require my youngest to do further study, practicing and eventually mastering some or all of these concepts.  A friend who lives nearby joined our class, making it officially a “co-op.”  And double the fun!

We meet twice a week for an hour and a half, and have homework in between.  I divided the year into four quarters.  We are still in the first quarter and are focusing on two things:  food and ettiquette.  We will continue to focus on these lightly the entire year, but this first quarter, we are really digging in.  Here are the two books we use as references, and for reading assignments:

Home Economics:  Vintage Advice and Practical Science for the 21st Century Household is a modern compilation from decades-old textbooks.  The narration and some of the advice are a bit old-fashioned, but this only adds a bit of a history lesson along with our home economics study.  Fifty years ago, we learn, ironing was considered an art! Overall, this book is  delightful and helpful, giving homekeeping the respect it deserves.  I assign pages to be read according to what we’re doing in class rather than going through the book chronologically.

50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know:  What to Do, What to Say, and How to Behave actually sounds more old-fashioned that it is.  It covers everything from how to make introductions and apologies to what not to post on one’s Facebook wall.  Short, simple lessons with examples guide the up-and-coming young woman through many real-life situations, preparing her to deal with them smoothly and graciously.  The author does speak down a little (perhaps this book is meant for younger girls rather than highschoolers), but when she says words such as “grownups” we just change it to “adults.”  The adaptation is worth it as this book is rich with good advice.

And now, for a typical day’s Home Economics class:

I begin by checking homework.  Sometimes I ask the girls to print out and bring a recipe.  This is placed in a page protector in their notebooks.  Each notebook is divided into sections:  Cooking, Cleaning, Decorating, Budgeting, and Organizing.  Cooking is filling up right now; we’ll be adding to the other sections as we study them.  But today, homework was to “Pin” three recipes using pie crust to our community “Home Ec” board on Pinterest.  I’m teaching the girls to use technology in their homemaking, so we created our own board.

Next, I might give a quiz over the pages I assigned for homework last time.  I assign 2-6 pages from each book.  Since we only meet twice a week, this is a reasonable amount of reading.  The quizzes are usually written by me at the last minute (confession!) and are the most time-comsuming prep I do.  After this year, when I hand this homemade curriculum over to a friend to test for me, it will be easier.

Sometimes, instead of a quiz on our etiquette reading, I have the girls compose and act out a skit demonstrating the day’s lesson in a proper way, and another skit with the lesson done improperly.  Today, they performed for me the right and wrong way for teenagers to speak to adults.  The skit showed me they had learned the concept, and we all had a good laugh as well.

Now for the fun part:  cooking!  We might prepare a meal for a sick friend, or just practice making something yummy.  Our homemade bread turned out soft and chewy!

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We always try to make something that will actually benefit our families.  Most food does, as each girl has siblings and no food is ever left behind.  Everything does not always turn out well.  Below right, we learned what happens when you add honey to a muffin recipe and do not subtract any other liquid:

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The final exam for this quarter will be to prepare a dinner which will be eaten by both girls’ families.  The final exam for the entire school year will be to plan a dinner from start to finish, shop for the groceries within a budget, prepare the dinner, serve it and entertain guests with conversation, and clean the kitchen.  I keep the quiz grades, daily grades, and project grades in a gradebook to be averaged each quarter and at the end of the year.

In the second, third, and fourth quarters, we’ll be focusing on cleaning and laundry, decorating and creating a cozy atmosphere (with holiday planning included), and finally, basic sewing as well as bargain shopping for clothing and household linens.  Each project will be something realistic that the girls can take with them and do again later.  Nothing either complicated or useless.  Just practical, everyday home management.

Have you ever written your own curriculum for one of your child’s subjects?  I’d love to hear about it!

 ~by Kim, Daisy Muse

 

Top Ten Clutter Busting Secrets

 Posted by on September 19, 2013  1 Response »
Sep 192013
 

My house is far from perfect.  But it looks deceptively clean sometimes.  How?  I’ve put some principles into practice that help me keep on top of the messy piles that can accumulate so fast!  And so, today I give you my…

Top 10 Clutter Busting Secrets at www.habitsforahappyhome.comTop 10 Clutter Busting Secrets

  1. I sort mail immediately… often, I sort it on the way into the house from the mailbox, and toss the junk mail into the outside garbage.  Bills go into a box on my desk, to be paid bi-monthly.  Credit card offers and other identity-sensitive junk mail are opened, the envelopes tossed, and the contents immediately shredded (buy yourself a shredder if you don’t have one… they are definitely worth it).
  2. I never go up or down stairs empty-handed.
  3. I abide by this saying I heard long ago:  “Don’t put it down, put it away.”  (If only my family would, also…..)
  4. I occasionally do 15 min of decluttering, an idea I got from the flylady.  This is how I keep my cupboards and closets organized.  I like to do it immediately after the post-dinner kitchen cleanup.  Upbeat music helps keep it fun.
  5. We have a yard sale, usually once a year.  Our home owners’ association puts on a neighborhood one, and takes care of the advertising.  If we miss that, we donate to charity items  we no longer use or need, including clothes that are out of style or do not fit.  When decluttering, I put these items in large black bags, tie them, and take them to the garage or car.  This prevents me and my family members from regretting our decisions and going back and retrieving the items.
  6. In our house, we have a large basket by the front door, which I purchased at a yard sale.  During warm weather, it looks like the picture above.  In the winter, it contains hats, scarves, and gloves.  We also have a dresser (purchased for $10.00 at a yard sale) in our foyer.  Keys and sunglasses are kept in a basket on the dresser, ready to head out the door.  We also place any items we need to take with us that day on the dresser.
  7. We keep coats in our hall closet.  No hall closet?  Try a coat tree or hooks.  IKEA makes a nice-looking, inexpensive wall rack.
  8. Let’s face it, the kids won’t always be as concerned with clean as you are.  I do give them daily chores, but if their rooms are not exactly the way I like them, I have them take their things there, then I shut the door.  Aahhh….
  9. I use one file box for things like receipts and bill stubs we don’t need for taxes.  We don’t claim home office space, so we only save the one previous bill for our utilities.  For things I need to save for tax purposes, I have another, smaller file folder with a slot for each month.  Every piece of paper reflecting a purchase or bill I will claim goes into its slot as soon as I am finished with it.
  10. When I start to see an area getting out of control, I do my “five things clean up.”  Choose five things from that area, and put them away.  It’s amazing how that little bit makes a difference.  If I’m in a hurry, I’ll do three things.

How about you? What are your top clutter-busting secrets?

 top_ten_tuesday

~Written by Kim, Daisy Muse

Sep 102013
 

I am thrilled to introduce you to my long-time friend, Paige Harbuck! She has encouraged me in so very many ways and just one of those is in the area of feeding your family. She is sharing a series on freezer cooking with us. Her tips will change your life! Here’s Paige…

How to Make a Month of Meals for Your Freezer www.habitsforahappyhome.com What is a big cook?  If you read Hodgepodge regularly, you know about my dear friend, Tricia, and her batch cooking.  It’s a bit like a batch cook, just on a way more “produced” scale.  A big cook consists of actually making the meals and putting them in the freezer, ready to go.  All you have to do is make your list of what is in there and pull something out each morning!   It is heaven.

How to Make Freezer Meals

17 suppers and at least 10 breakfasts

Freezer Cooking With Grocery Sales

I always try to plan my big cooks around food sales.  Kroger will have boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale regularly and I try to hit those as much as I can.  Did you know that you can thaw meat, and as long as you cook it first, you can refreeze it?  Nice trick-buy your chicken, freeze it for a couple of weeks until you are ready, and then pull it out, boil or bake it, and use it for all the cooked chicken you need in your big cook recipes!  Twice a year, a company named Zaycon Foods will run a ground beef sale.  It’s great meat and a great price-just know that you have to buy 40 pounds at a time.  Go find a friend and split! (They also run a chicken sale twice a year as well, but it usually doesn’t coincide with my big cook times-but excellent prices!!!)

Sales also extend past the meat counter.  I have yet to do a big cook without making spaghetti sauce, and with the exception of that one summer that I had a million tomatoes from my garden, I use canned.  Look for them BOGO and stock up when you can.  The same goes for fresh veggies that can be frozen.  Being from Georgia, we have access to Vidalia onions almost all summer and I’ll buy them by the 5 lb. bag and chop them all at once.  Peppers also freeze well, so when you find them on sale, buy a bunch and chop away.  Of course, if you are not into chopping your veggies, go to the frozen section-it has onions, peppers, etc. galore.

Freezer Meal Planning

My first task in big cooking is the menu planning.  Many years ago, when I found this way of stocking up, I started with a book called Once a Month Cooking by Mary Beth Langorford.

51uBblnCbfL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_ It is nice and basic.  It gives you menus for two weeks or a month, regular, and low-fat.  It also gives you a complete shopping list as well as the order in which you prep and assemble.  The first time, I just went to my local library and picked it up-the next time, I just bought it.  It is just perfect for beginners.

51zeMCXzE8L._SX260_ A couple of years ago, I picked up a book at our book fair called Freezer Pleasers, by those Taste of Home people.  It was well worth the money I spent on it.  It is geared more toward the “cook once, eat twice” theory, and comes in handy ALL the time!

An Easy Start in Freezer Cooking

1. Remember this – start small. Look at the meals your family loves and always wants to eat.  For us, this includes meatloaf, Mexican food, and all things spaghetti-ish.  We also eat a lot of chicken, mainly because it’s ALWAYS on sale and a lot cheaper than beef.

2. Go ahead, make your menu of about 10 dishes.  That will carry you about two weeks!  (Even though there’s a massive amount of food in my freezer, I always account for the time I forget, or we just don’t want to “cook”, or cereal just sounds lovely-oh, and Fridays.)

3. The easiest thing to do the first time is just to double everything.  I plan on two meatloaves, a crock pot full of spaghetti sauce, at least 2 sets of chicken breasts in some sort of marinade, a chicken casserole, and something Mexican.  So mine would look like this:

4. After you have made your menu list, make your grocery list.  Don’t include things you already have in your fridge or pantry like spices or soups or the 12 cans of tomatoes you bought last week (oh, wait, that’s me.)  Just include the things you need.

list

5. Now, go to the store.  I suggest doing this early in the morning without children if possible.  You will go faster because you don’t have to worry about their 400 questions and requests AND no one wants to go to the store early.  It also gives you the whole day to work on prep.

6. Once you get home, go ahead and wash your veggies.

7. The first thing I do is put my spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker.  It’s pretty basic-tomatoes, onions, peppers, spices-and takes about 4 hours on low to get good and wonderfully smelly.  I do not put meat in my sauce until I use it because I also like to use it for calzones, pizza, etc.

8. Once that task is taken care of, I chop-onions, peppers, celery, etc.- and grate my cheese.  I will store all of these things separately in tupperware until the next day (I don’t want to use up all my freezer bags-those are too expensive, and I am cheap).

15 in bags, 2 cooling, 51 meatballs, and 24 meat pies freezing in the freezer...that makes the total...53 dinners plus breajfasts. I am ready and my family gets to eat well plus I get to bless some others along the way I'm sure.

15 in bags, 2 cooling, 51 meatballs, and 24 meat pies freezing in the freezer…that makes the total…53 dinners plus breajfasts. I am ready and my family gets to eat well plus I get to bless some others along the way I’m sure.

9. Once my spaghetti sauce is finished and cooled, I’ll go ahead and measure it into quart baggies, label it (PLEASE don’t forget to label what and the date-you WILL forget), and put it in my freezer flat.

10. Then I usually put a big roast in the slow cooker for overnight.

The next day (trust me, you want to break it up if it’s a lot), I start my assembly and freezing.  Do all “like” items together-chicken first, then beef, then whatever.

Depending on how many meals you do, it can take you a couple of hours to all day.

Storage

I use freezer bags for everything.  Casseroles fit better in gallons (usually because of the noodles), but meat and sauces are fine in quarts.  If you do a lasagna or something similar, line your pan with foil, then fill and freeze.  When it’s totally frozen, you can remove the foil with the food and now you have your dish back!  Remember to label and date everything with a sharpie.

Hope you’ll follow this series!  Next up-breakfast foods that freeze!

Paige Paige is a mom of two high schoolers and an elementary teacher of many for 21 years. Always frugal and practical she takes the common sense route.  But most of all she loves the Lord, thankful beyond measure for His grace and mercy, and His ability to turn a career girl into a woman that knows her home is the most important place to be.

 

Laundry Help!

 Posted by on June 25, 2013  No Responses »
Jun 252013
 

One Monday morning following the weekend the laundry looked like this. That’s the pile that wouldn’t fit in the laundry room. It was laundry overwhelm for sure.

Laundry! Help! at habitsforahappyhome.comAfter my overwhelm, I turned to the tried and true habits. Housekeeping habits right here on Habits for a Happy Home. Plus even more helps from Mama’s Laundry Talk.

10-Steps-Laundry-Under-Control Mama’s Laundry Talk

A site created by Lauren Hill, this is the ultimate place for practical laundry helps of all kinds!

Also be sure to take a look at Lauren’s Pinterest boards:

Plus, don’t miss…

Service OpportunitiesThe Ultimate Guide to Housekeeping Habits

And, at our house, part of our morning routine is using Everyday Homemaking’s ‘These Things Should Be Done Before School’ Checklist. On this list is a reminder for our children to take care of their laundry. We’re continuing to build a habit, teaching them how.

We invite you to subscribe so you won’t miss any Habits for a Happy Home.

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings
~written by Tricia, Hodgepodge

Jun 132013
 

I have posted before in reference to Habit Formation …

I think Habit formation should be a very important part of child training. I truly believe that God created us to be creatures of habit because having a good habit just makes things so much easier for us. Once something is a habit, you don’t even have to think about it, you just do “it”. Isn’t that a gift because if we had to think about every single action we took, we would be beyond worn out. The only thing that hurts us as creatures of habit is when WE allow ourselves to form bad habits.

Those are still my thoughts. I truly believe that the way GOD created us with the capability to form habits is a gift. When we do blow it and create a bad habit, that doesn’t change the fact that the ability to create a habit is a really good thing for us.

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