Menu Planner

Practical tip of the week ~

After finding lots of inspiration on Pinterest, I finally made my own

Menu Planner

Menu Planner

Now, once a week, the girls and I will sit together and allocate meals and days and jot our menu on the white board.

Simple and practical!

Pop over to my Projects page for the simple tutorial and my free Menu Planner download!


Rocks & Stones Experience

We enjoyed our month of Rock Outdoor Hour Challenges and my own Stones and Rocks discipleship week.

Rocks & StonesAlthough we have been outdoors most days, and have quite an impressive new rock and stone collection on our table, we have not approached our time scientifically.  I enjoy my child’s natural delight and detailed observations, but we did not research, compare, investigate, analyze, or even note our findings.

It was more a simple pleasure.  

And Charlotte Mason would approve.  She encourages us to give our children regular opportunities to get in touch with God’s creation and to allow these experiences to form a source of delight that will last throughout their lifetime.

So, with this as my long-term approach, I am confident that a scientific approach may develop in time.

(May I encourage young moms not to do what I did when I started homeschool? In my early days with my eldest child, I over-emphasized our nature study sessions and made it too intense, too heavy.  I was very ‘results’ orientated.  This approach stunted my child’s natural delight and she eventually pulled out of our outdoor hour times.)

Right now, our nature study is planned as a natural nature experience!

How have you enjoyed your nature study times?  What works for your children?  Have you any tips for new moms? Please share in the comments.


This post was submitted to the Outdoor Hour Challenge carnival.

Rolodex Recipe Cards

Practical Tip of the week ~

Here’s the most revolutionary organization tip from

Confessions of an Organized Homemaker 

Rolodex Recipe Cardsrolodex recipe card holder

Deniece Schofield recommends a good filing system to clip and save recipes.  Her tried and tested recipes are filed on her labelled Rolodex file. I started mine too, way back in 2000.

It works because ~

  • Easy to file
  • Rolodex file is compact and doesn’t take up valuable counter top space
  • Recipe is visible; just press open at the card you need
  • Add new cards  – quick and simple
  • Keep blank cards in your handbag to jot new recipes when waiting or visiting
  • New recipes are put up on the fridge.  If you haven’t cooked or baked it in 10 days – toss it out!  A great motivator!  If it works – simply file it.
  • Delegate – I can give each child her recipe card and we can all go for it!

My A,B,C filing system is ~

  • A = conversions & substitutes
  • B = Biscuits, Breads, Baking ~ Crumpets, Dumplings, Muffins, Rusks, Scones
  • C = Cakes
  • D = Desserts, Dairy
  • E = Egg dishes
  • F = Fish
  • H = Herbs
  • J = Juicing, Jams, Jewish cooking
  • L = Lunches
  • M = Meat ~ Chicken, Lamb, Mince, Meat casseroles,
  • O = Other ~ play dough, salt dough, bath salts, bubbles, homemade soaps, dog food etc.
  • P = Pasta, Pastry, Pancakes, Pies
  • Q = Quiche
  • R = Rice
  • S = Salads, Sauces, Soups, Sweets
  • T = Tuna
  • V = Vegetables
  • W = Washing soap, laundry soaps

Some negatives ~

  • It seems a schlep to rewrite recipes, but I sat for a few hours each evening many years ago and wrote out my favorite recipes.  Now I sit with my blank cards when I read a new cookbook, and quickly jot down the new recipe and give it a try!
  • I admit that because the cards are small, I abbreviate the recipe, especially the method.  This was fine until my younger kids started to cook and bake.  I simply rewrote some cards, and with experience and one-on-one training they master the recipes.
  • Some cards have become smudged – use a waterproof pen!

When we traveled for 18 months, and my Rolodex went into storage, I photocopied about 10 ‘very important’ recipes onto 1 page and kept it in my Filofax.

Now, everything is online, electronic, super-technical, Internet-based.  Many moms swear by their Kindles and iPad for their recipes. There are also amazing websites for menu planning and online recipe storage.  What are your favorites?

For now, my old system serves me well … and I don’t need to recharge it!

“Confessions of an Organized Homemaker is written by Deniece Schofield (ISBN 1-55870-361-6)

What works for you?  Share with us in the comments.


Sketch Tuesday ~ V

Here are our sketches for this weeks’ theme ~

Something Beginning with V

Miss.10 immediately thought of Vector Magnitude from the movie “Despicable Me”!

V 001

I thought of Vikings!

v 002

We love the simple, creative and open-ended topics Barb suggests each week!

I love the spontaneous approach we each feel towards the “what” and the “how” of our sketches.  There are some weeks that really inspire lots of detail, or an attempt with a new technique or art medium, or just quiet pleasure as we draw and create together.

See you at the slide show!


Forming Habits a reader asked how we carry out habit training in our home.

As it is the start of a new year, it is an ideal time to prayerfully introduce or reinforce the relevant habits for each child.

Here are my P’s in habit formation ~

Pray ~ (on your own)

  • Ask the Lord to highlight the character issue that He wants to establish in each child where there is a weakness.
  • God sees each of us with loving eyes and in grace and grows us to conform to Him by degrees.
  • I want instant changes, but He guides us gently by revealing His character, just as a potter works with clay.

“If only every mother understood how habit, in her knowing hand, is as useful a tool as the wheel to a potter, or the knife to a carver. With this instrument–habit–she can conceive of what she wants her child to be like, and then she can help him to become that!” Volume 1, Home Education, pg 9

May I illustrate a specific example?  We’ve enjoyed an extended summer break.  We’ve stayed up late and all of us struggle to get up in the mornings.  School is about to start and we all need to get back into a good bedtime routine so that we can all wake up fresh.

I want my children (10, 13 and 18) to go to bed at a reasonable time with a friendly goodnight greeting, brush their teeth and read quietly in their own beds.

Prescribe ~ (write in your prayer journal)

  • Ask the Lord to show you a good habit to replace the bad habit.  If you can describe it, you can prescribe how it should be implemented and established.
  • Introduce a new routine to replace a bad one. There is something freeing to “Starting from today …” and beginning afresh.
  • Express the positive instead of the negative. Don’t focus on the bad habit.  Write down the new habit in tangible, do-able words.

“I saw that religious teaching gave children a motive and the ability to try their best, and it raised them up so that they chose higher priorities. Knowing Biblical laws helped keep them from doing the wrong things. Having God’s love within helped them want to do good.”  Volume 1, Home Education, pg 9

I wrote in my journal,

“Starting from tonight at 8:30pm Miss.10 will say good night and brush her teeth and we will read our story together.

  • A new toothbrush and reminder to sing the whole “Jesus Loves Me” song while brushing. (This is an important habit all on its own!)
  • Chose a fun new story book to read together!

“Miss. 13 and 18 will also begin their bedtime routine by 9:00pm.  I will come to chat to each of them and kiss them goodnight. They can read on their own.10:00pm lights out.”

  • Reminder to Miss.13 about her tooth brushing – do it well!
  • Re-start our personal night-time notebooks?
  • Perhaps read on with “Beautiful Girlhood” with Miss.13?
  • Encourage her to have her Quiet Time in evening as she battles to wake in the morning?
  • Suggest a good new classic book for their own reading time?
  • Sit with Miss.18 and talk about things she is facing once she graduates/ friends.
  • Is there a suitable book we can read about womanhood and preparation for marriage?
  • Remind then to set their own clocks for the morning. ~ (together with your child)

  • Present the new good habit. Use positive words and friendly body language. Aim for your child’s heart and keep it intimate and non-threatening.
  • Explain why we need this habit.
  • Keep the focus positive and avoid blame, shame or guilt.
  • Keep it simple.  I find it is good to have a 1-word name for the habit.  This prevents nagging and tedious explanations.
  • Put up a chart or picture.
  • Encourage your child that you will help them remember the new habit, but that you expect them to learn to follow this habit this every time on their own.

At breakfast time I will explain the new routine. I tell them their bed times and suggest the ideas above with gentle enthusiasm.

Name my 1-word prompt ~ “Bedtime”  Tell them that a half-hour before “Bedtime” I will warn them.  I will tell them or use the timer and when they hear the bell they must start to go to bed.  (Warning is important for young children and daydreamers.  They need to ease off what they are enjoying.  The warning prepares them and in doing so, avoid tantrums.)

Prepare ~ (T is vital for young children/ for brand new activities/ to re-learn forgotten habits or to change the old habit.  Do this some time before the habit is to be implemented)

  • Prepare the child for the new habit.  (It is good to do this in a time when the child doesn’t normally have to do the habit. The day before, the afternoon before the bath-time or bedtime routine,the night before the morning routine.)
  • Describe it. Act it out. Make it fun. Sing a song. Whistle a tune.
  • Use a timer.
  • Do it together and explain step-by-step.
  • Watch your child do it precisely and accurately.
  • Explain that you will give a reminder and then they will do the new habit as they have just practiced it now. ~ (be ready and available)

  • Use the 1-word and watch that it is correctly performed.
  • Describe the good habit.
  • Initiate the new habit with a positive and enthusiastic attitude.
  • Start the habit quickly and reinforce it before the bad habit even has time to start.
  • Be ready before your child even wakes up.
  • Set up the necessary situation or be prepared to be present and focused.
  • Prepare the child ahead of the time and give time indicator when it will start.

At 8:00pm I must stop all my activities and announce the “Bedtime” warning and at 8:30pm go cheerfully with Miss.10 to the bathroom to watch her brush her teeth and check her technique.  Happily go to bed and snuggle with her and bring out our new story book. Read, chat briefly, pray together and kiss & cuddle, then say goodnight.  She may read quietly for about 15 minutes, then lights out.

At 8:30pm the older two must say their good nights and prepare for bed.  By 9:00pm I will start my one-on-one good-nights with the older girls.

Prevent ~

  • Be aware of the steps and difficulties and be positively present.
  • Ensure that the activity is correct and done with the right attitude.  Character is always reflected in the attitude. This is the hardest part.  We want an attitude adjustment and not just the right action!
  • Quickly nip the wrong/ bad attitude or habit in the bud.
  • Be firm but gentle.
  • Let your child repeat it if necessary.

My older daughters must stop their other activities well ahead of the bedtime if they still want to sit together and chat over a cup of tea.(This is a lovely habit they have developed now that Miss.13 has matured and they have such an intimate friendship.)  Miss.L’s routine will be their reminder!

Quickly remind Miss.13 to respond if she dawdles or is distracted. A simple,  “Bedtime” must prompt her to obedience.

Mother and Child by Mary Cassatt

Praise ~

  • Recognize and describe the good habit.
  • A delighted smile from mom is enough to boost that inner sense of “I did it well.”
  • Describe the positive that you see. This not gooey, sentimental and gushy.
  • No treats or rewards are necessary as this external motivation will force mom to permanently praise and reward the child.
  • A child must learn to ‘feel good’ inside himself that he successfully remembered and did right and good.
  • Internal motivation is the highest motivation.

My positive one-on-one time reading or chatting together is our reward.  If they delay or take too long getting ready, they will lose this joyful time with me as I will merely kiss them goodnight, tell her that we will start again tomorrow, and leave the room.

Permanent ~

  • Some habits take longer to establish, but vigilance is vital.
  • Watch over the child daily, wait  expectantly ready to reinforce, use the 1-word reminder if needed and repeat, repeat, repeat.
  • The mother must arm herself with tact, watchfulness and persistence. With only these tools, she’ll be surprised how readily her child picks up a new habit.” Volume 1, Home Education, pg 9
  • Usually within a week of daily vigilance you will be able to step back and allow the child to complete the good habit on his own.
  • Ms. Mason suggests, “(The child’s) mother will have to come up with a few means of reminding him, but she will be sure of two things: that (the new habit is completed correctly), and that this matter is never a source of friction between them. Instead, she takes on the role of friendly ally, helping him to remember since his memory isn’t always reliable.” Volume 1, Home Education
  • Step back in if they fail or do it with a sloppy or bad attitude.
  • Stay firm.
  • Continue to watch and promote until the habit is done without reminders, words or motivation. Then it is established.
  • I agree with Ms. Mason,do not give relief time off the habit. Do not feel sorry for your child’s efforts.  Such sympathy breaks the habit.  “Acquiring a habit takes some effort, but once the habit is in place, it is rewarding because a habit is pleasant in and of itself. It’s easy to do something on auto-pilot, something that doesn’t take a lot of thought or will power.” Volume 1, Home Education, pg 9

Please … have grace with me … I am a struggling, but persevering mom.  My children are not perfect and I have to work through my own weaknesses, my disappointments … and keep trying. 

Some of my best efforts seem to only work with my younger children, as teenagers develop and change. I seem to find this stage the most challenging.

Sometimes I have to apologize for coming on too strong, for showing my frustrations, for lack of grace  …

When I see my eldest doing what is right and good of her own accord, I know that it is well worth the effort. 

It is a JOB.

Pray, Prescribe, Promote, Prepare, Pro-active, Prevent, Praise, Permanent

Good habits and character do not come by chance. I am constantly aware of the Lord working Himself in me, urging me higher and deeper.

Blessings to you as you intentionally parent your children.

Discipleship with Stones & Rocks

I love combining subjects and themes!7-stones-300x240

Our Nature Study and Outdoor Hour Challenge (OHC) theme for this month is


It works wonderfully with a Bible Study!

Here’s your free week’s discipleship with stones and rocks ~ Discipleship with Rocks and Stone

stones & rocks 1

Each day presents a simple practical outdoor activity, provides prompts for personal reflection, includes some relevant scriptures and suggests an application.

stones & rocks 2Inspired by Leef met hart & siel (A South African Christian Magazine) November 2012.



Famous Artists 2013 Timeline

Famous Artist Timeline

We use both our Book of Centuries (BOC) and our Wall Timeline.  (You can pop over to my Art Era Timeline and Famous Artists pages for more inspiration and free downloads.)

Every year I seem to change and refine our timeline work and their applications.  As the children grow up they develop a more detailed sense of where things “fit”on the timeline or in their BOC.

As the children entered middle school, they each started their own BOC.

Much to my disappointment, they didn’t really refer to it much unless I scheduled it.  Their entries were also not as detailed or as personalized as I would have liked.

But, I press on in 2013, and made this ~ all our Famous Artists we’ll study this year printed out on a simple timeline ~ (click the title below for your free download)

Famous Artist Timeline for 2013

With a quick snip-snip, my kids can cut out and paste the Famous Artist in their BOC. I’ll encourage them to write their biography notes with each artist and musician.

Which artists are we studying this year?

Rembrandt van Rijn, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Caravaggio, Joseph Farquaharson, John James Audubon, Jules Breton, Albert Bierstadt, Elizabeth Gardener Bouguereau, William Bouguereau

Here’s a sample of my year plan:

Famous Artist 2013 Year OverviewHow did I plan this?

The simplest and most inspiring Charlotte Mason weekly inspiration came from All Things Bright and Beautiful. Patti creates a weekly post with a famous artist, some observations and suggestions for the art work, and she inserts a Classical Musician link and quotes a famous poet.  True to Charlotte Mason, she focuses on the same artist, musician and poet for the whole month.  If you are unsure of how to start your CM Fine Arts, just subscribe to her blog and it is all done for you!

Tip: Right-click on any famous public domain artwork and “save image as” to save the image to your computer. Use as a screen saver or wallpaper for the week you are studying the artwork.  Or print out postcard size for your “gallery” and your child’s picture study.

I also add artists or art works that I have in my art book collection.  I believe I must be faithful to use what I have at hand.  I’ll add library books to the collection as we go along. Basically I look for 3 to 4 good-sized prints for each artist. That will give us one picture each week for that artist for a month.

Typically I also look for a picture that will lead to an interesting art appreciation lesson.  We do not “do art” each time, but the picture should evoke a feeling, a thought or stimulate a story, or should be able to be narrated in detailed.

Ambleside Online have a great list of Fine Art subjects for each year.

Read how these amazing homeschool moms plan their art study:

Jimmie’s post – How to Plan Artist Study for a Semester at Jimmie’s Collage and

Barb explains how she does her Planning Art Appreciation for Homeschool or co-op at Harmony Fine Art.

Also, you can pop over to my Art Era Timeline and Famous Artists pages for more inspiration and free downloads.

So, join in.  How do you do your art study?  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.


This post was submitted for the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Titus 2 for Young Ladies

A poster to inspire ~

… adapting the verses originally written to young married women

to disciple my young ladies …

Titus 2 for young womenDownload your free poster ~

Titus 2 for young women


Thanks to You!

I love Word Press’ 2012 annual report.  They presented all their clients with a gorgeous stats report that really made me smile!

Somehow their “stats monkeys” compared visits to blogs with numbers of passengers on a Boeing 787, or visitors to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, or even how many climbers make it to the top of Mount Everest!

You all came with me to Liechtenstein!  🙂

Blog Report 2012And you all made this happen!

Blog Report 2012 2Thank you for your faithful friendship and love and support!

May 2013 be a wonderful year for all!