Savoring a Memory & April’s Carrot Cake


Remember when grandma used to make “name of your dish here?” Every time you eat certain foods, you think of a special someone, or a time, or a place, or an event.  Some of those you have the recipes for and you make them for your family.  When my oldest son moved away, he would call me and ask how to cook a certain food or the recipe for that special family dish.  For his birthday, I took a few weeks and wrote down many of our family recipes and a paragraph or two recalling a memory of why the recipe was special.  He loved it!  I have “updated” and added to the cookbook over the years, and he is asking for the latest copy.  Below is a sample from the book:

April’s Carrot Cake
My older daughter’s favorite cake is carrot cake with no raisins or pineapples. As a child she loved bologna sandwiches with a glass of milk, ramen noodles, and beans and wieners with macaroni cheese.   Her taste buds have become more sophisticated and she’d rather have a chicken salad sandwich than bologna.

This daughter excels in school, has read all Miss Manners books (some of them more than once and even requested one for a Christmas present), enjoys languages, knows how to pinch pennies, and cannot tolerate unfocused men who would like to date her.  She is a little too concerned at times, but this conscientiousness makes her an excellent student and employee.  The girl likes to cook, but really doesn’t like cleaning up.  She is a good cook and makes delicious casseroles and yummy cakes.

Recipe:      6 eggs
1 ½ c. sugar
3 tsp. lemon zest
4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 c. grated carrots
2 c. ground almonds
½ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

Grease and flour a rectangle cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Separate the eggs and beat the yolks into the sugar thoroughly. Add lemon juice and grated rind, carrots, almonds, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well.  Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into cake mixture. Pour batter into pan and bake 45 minutes or until done.  Frost with cream cheese frosting. (At My Table, 2003)


Go Bananas!

Kids can help with these, and they will eat them up!  These are so healthy, you won’t mind them eating ice cream, or having a stack of pancakes.  Gluten free!

Banana Ice Cream
2 Frozen bananas
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk
Put into food processor and blend to smooth and creamy (start with one tablespoon of milk and add the other if needed).

Banana Pancakes
2 eggs
1 banana
¼ tsp. pumpkin spice
Mash together to make smooth “dough.” Heat pan on medium and spray.  Pour silver dollar size pancakes, cook 30 to 45 seconds on each side.  Serve with syrup.


The Holy Spirit by Billy Graham Book Review

Book Review
The Holy Spirit by Billy Graham
Billy Graham’s personal exhaustive study of the Holy Spirit led him to write this book. He explains the complexities of the Holy Spirit–who He is and what He does, and our enormous need for His power in our lives.  There are great chapters on how to be filled with the Spirit, recognizing and using our spiritual gifts, and how the Spirit’s fruit is produced in our lives.  One passage in the book that inspired me as I read, “While we read the Word, its message saturates our hearts, whether we are conscious of what is happening or not.  The Word with all its mysterious power touches our lives and gives us power.”  Consistently read the Word and activate God’s power in your life!

Microwave Brown Betty

This is a very quick individual, healthy desert when one just needs a little something sweet.

Microwave Brown Betty
1 green apple, peeled and cut up
1/8 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter
Dash salt
Dash cinnamon
1 heel whole wheat bread (or any bread), toasted and torn into pieces

Stir together. Cook on high for 3 ½ minutes. Stir about midway.


7 Steps to Great Public Speaking

I developed this quick guide for students, but this could also be used by anyone giving a speech.

7 Steps to Great Public Speaking

  1. Pick a subject to speak about which you know.
  2. You will need an introduction, a body (with points) and a conclusion.
  3. Intro: You need an attention getter at the beginning of your speech—“bait” to grab your audience attention and “hook” them into paying attention. Then tell your audience what you are going to tell them.
  4. Body: Tell them. This is the main part of the speech where you educate, persuade, and/or inform your audience. Typically there are three main points. Once you have an outline of your points, just expound upon each point.   If it is a short speech, then just add a couple important sentences about each point.   If it can be a bit longer, then say a bit more. If you have a lot of time, then you may want to come up with more points instead of rambling on and on about each point, unless more detail is needed. Just don’t bore the audience. In a demonstration, the body would be the steps of how to make something. This is probably the easiest kind of speech to give.
  5. Conclusion: Tell them what you told them. This is your wrap up where you summarize. You could end with a good quote, a challenge to the audience, or rephrase your attention getter. When you are finished, ask if the audience has questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, buy I will find out.”
  6. It is better to learn those main points than to write out a speech and memorize it word for word. If you must, use note cards. Only put the outline on your card. DO NOT READ your speech. A glance at a note card to remind you of your next point should be enough to keep you going.
  7. PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! Practice will prepare you more than anything else and make you feel confident.

Philosophies of Homeschooling

DISSECTINGAre you thinking about “homeschooling” your children? (I prefer “educating at home,” but society has taken the moniker for this to be homeschooling.) Or do you just want to know how they do it, or maybe why do people do that?  Maybe you have seen the stereotypes of homeschoolers and are just curious.  On the one extreme stereotype, the children do nothing but play all day and never crack a book;  on the other extreme stereotype, the children sit at the table and study all day, every day drilling those math facts and spelling words for hours on end.  Most homeschool families are somewhere in the middle of this broad spectrum.

There are those who have tried to label the different ideas that are given for home educating. Others have broken these labels into six philosophies: Traditional, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, Eclectic, and Unschooling.  Below I have attempted to describe how I see these.

Traditional looks very much like public education. You pick a curriculum of textbooks and read, have study questions, and take tests.  The teacher explains and grades papers.  There are many companies that cater to this approach—Bob Jones, Abeka, Alpha Omega (workbooks instead of large textbooks), Switched on Schoolhouse (computer based), and others.  I admit I started with this one myself.  It is how I was taught and in my narrow vision, I thought it was the way to do it.   With more than one grade, however, this method was tiring for me, and boring for my children.  The easiest thing about it was that my planning was minimal as the textbooks are all ready to go with all the information laid out that you need to cover and students just have to read, work, and regurgitate.  This works for some families, but I soon discovered when I tried a satellite program (Christian Liberty) that my children were doing a lot of unnecessary busy work, and not enjoying learning.

Classical is an approach in which we never immersed ourselves. It would need total immersion to truly be Classical.  The idea is to take one back to a time when young children memorized many facts and Latin was used and studied.  However, I do agree with the thought that children do learn at different stages and that we should cater to this in our education.  In that way, I am very agreeable to the Classical style.  There are three basic stages of learning and in Classical they refer to these areas as Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.  Grammar is for the younger children who can only see things literally, just facts.  Dialectic is for the middle age children who are beginning to analyze and look for reasons; they have begun to ask a lot of “Why?” questions.  In the older stage (usually high school), Rhetoric, they are taught to communicate what they are learning; communicate and debate, explain the “why and how” themselves.  All of these are ideas are good ones, but there is not a good boxed curriculum for this philosophy.  However, some places to go find out more is,,

Charlotte Mason wrote a book, Home Education, in 1886 and later was the founder of “House of Education” in 1892.  She had come to the conclusion that education, as it was being done, lacked understanding of how children learn.  Many have read her work and others have written about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, summarizing and giving modern touches to it.  The basic idea is that you teach children the three R’s—reading, writing, and math; and give them opportunities to learn through nature, museums, interviews with people, and reading real books called “living books”, not just dry textbooks. I combine this approach with two others referred here as Unit Study and Eclectic.  I don’t fit neatly into a category, and many others do not either.

Unit Study in its purest form takes a topic and incorporates every subject into learning about that topic. There are now many who have put together unit studies over numerous topics.  The first packaged curriculum was Konos, and many families love it.  It is great for learning if a topic is chosen that your child wants to learn about, but there is a lot of preparation and planning for the parent teacher.  Personally, I could not keep up with so much prep work.  However, at my house we tweaked the whole idea, and we did do unit studies in our own way.  We would pick a topic they wanted to study in science and go to the library, museums, nature parks, or wherever we could learn more about our subject.  We had written, oral, art, home economics, and more that we used while presenting information about our topic.  Sometimes they chose how to present information and sometimes I did.   At the same time as these unit studies were happening in science, we were working through history chronologically.  For history and for science, we used textbooks as resource books.  In history, they read fiction and non-fiction about the period, wrote papers, made food of the period/place, drew pictures, made models, visited museums and places, etc.  I continued to have math separately on their grade level.  Occasionally we had a review of grammar, but they were reading and writing a lot with the science and history, so the review was short and just reminders of what is a verb, noun, etc.  This works well for self-motivated learners, and it is exciting to learn new things together for all of us.  Even those who need a little prod loves to chart their own course for how they would like to go about finding the information about a topic they choose.  In this method, I realized my children were learning, and not just studying facts for a test.  As stated earlier, there is a little Charlotte Mason and, as you are about to see, Eclectic mixed into Unit Study for my family homeschooling philosophy.   To learn more about a true Unit Study, look for Konos. For the very young, I successfully used Five in a Row.

Eclectic is the approach that is the closest to describing our homeschool style. In this philosophy, we pick and choose from different curriculums, and very rarely use it as instructed.  We pay a lot of attention to the learning style of each child and cater to their personal need.  Learning styles can be verbal, visual, kinesthetic, reading/writing, or a variation of these.  One child must touch it; one must read about it; one may need to hear it; there are many ways children learn.  In public school, they are unable to teach to a specific style because of the number of students to teacher ratio.  At home, we have the freedom to figure out the way our children learn best, and in our eclectic approach, find the curriculum that fits.  In this approach, the biggest challenge is to learn about your own child and find what is best for them.  Since each child is unique, you may not use the same approach with each one.  One may love the Alpha Omega workbooks, while another will fail with the workbook method.  One of my children was an auditory learner.  He learned best with oral work.  Discussions were very important in his education.  He hated workbooks.  One of my others did love workbooks and writing.  Therefore, different approaches and different curriculum choices were needed.  I bought a lot of used books at local homeschool used book sales, and tried different ones to find what worked best for each of my children.  Of course, they each had to learn to write and speak publicly, but I did allow them freedom to learn new things in the way that was the best fit.  It does sound like a lot of work, but teaching was a breeze after figuring out the learning style.  Eclectic is all about mixing all the philosophies and curriculums to fit your children’s needs.

Unschooling is the last one to discuss, and it is one that is probably one of those extremes. I have not met many of those who adhere strictly to this philosophy, but the idea is to allow the child the freedom to direct their own learning.  As can be expected, there is not a curriculum for this one.  In the best scenario, there are a lot of good books in the home library, the public library is visited often, and many opportunities are given to learn by taking field trips and exploring.  Personally I would not recommend this methodology for my own children.  They would want to play video games all day, but everyone knows their own children and perhaps in your unschooling there are no video games for distraction.

Whether you are thinking about home educating, or you were just browsing about this weird idea, I hope you are more informed after visiting me here in the Mulberry Grove.

Potato Soup

My husband and my first meal after our marriage (I was 16 and he was 21) was canned potato soup. We had no stove; I warmed it on the waffle iron. We had no table; we ate on a cardboard box. We had no chairs; we sat in the floor. It was winter, 1978, and cold. We had no heat and huddled near our defective furnace. We slept on a waterbed mattress on the floor. It had no heater. We put my electric blanket between the cold water mattress and us. We had no refrigerator, but it wasn’t necessary. The house was a refrigerator until a week later; we borrowed a gas heater from a friend. Then we just put everything on the back porch to keep cold. The   biggest problem was that sometimes everything froze. The second evening, I made deviled eggs by boiling the eggs in my percolator coffee pot, and warmed beans and wieners on the waffle iron. That year there was snow on the ground until the end of March.  I had to think outside the box to feed us without eating out.  It was a fun challenge.  Now I make homemade potato soup and it brings back the memory of that first can of soup.  See recipe belowG hero 039:

Potato Soup
About 10 medium potatoes, peeled and cut up
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt to taste

Cover with plenty of water and boil ‘til tender.
Add 1 lb. Velveeta cheese and cook to melt.
Add flour or cornstarch to ½ cup cold milk and mix with fork.
Pour this mixture into the hot soup to thicken.

Sometimes I add leftover ham. Serve with hot cornbread.


My Best Kitchen Secrets

My Best Kitchen Secrets

  1. For dry beans, 1 ½ cups makes about 4 cups of cooked beans
  2. wooby pics 083Use freshest eggs for baking, and older eggs for hard boiled.
  3. When making cornbread, make sure your cast iron skillet is HOT when you pour in the batter. Fabulous crust!
  4. Test your baking powder if you have had it a while; put a teaspoon in HOT water. If it is really fizzy, you are good to go. If there is little or no fizz, it is not usable anymore.
  5. Add a little sugar to foods with a large percentage of tomatoes (spaghetti sauce, chili, etc.). Delicious!wooby pics 023

6.  In a hurry? Use angel hair pasta    which cooks in about 3-5 minutes versus spaghetti that takes 8 to 11 minutes. Open a jar of pre-made sauce and heat while the pasta cooks, and you even have time for making a quick salad. Dinner in 10 minutes is no problem.

7.  When cooking a meatloaf, you can cut the cooking time in half by making it into mini loaves using a muffin tin. Your “muffin meatloaves” can also be frozen for individual servings later.

8.  Save bread heals in the freezer and when you need bread crumbs in a recipe, toast and run through the food processor.

9.  When making a fruit tray or salad, drain a can of pineapple chunks and dip your bananas and apples in the juice to slow down the enzyme that turns these fruits dark.



Coolest science experiment for every age:

2 cups corn starch
1 cup of water
food coloring (optional)

Mix with your hands.

Actual kid comment:
“It’s really weird when you first put your hand in the glop, and it is really hard to grab some up. When you get some in your hand and lifted above the mixture, roll it up into a ball. Then relax, all it will slip through your fingers! I really liked it!”


Say Thank You

Say Thank YouFlamingo Thankyou
Manners never go out of style. I would like to address the beautiful thing called the Thank You Note.  When someone does something particularly nice for you or they give you something, you need to say thank you.  However, if you are unable to do that in person, it is essential that you send a thank you note.  In today’s world, that may come in the form of an email, but if you really want it to be meaningful, use the old fashioned snail mail.  Everyone loves to receive a hand-written note.  Even if you did say it in person, you can make the person doing the kindness feel extra special by sending a note anyway.  Do it right away, don’t wait weeks to send it. Be gracious in a world of forgotten manners.  Here are a couple of examples and feel free to copy:

Dear Aunt Matilda,

I love red! You must have spent many hours knitting, and you have made me feel so special. Thank you for your kindness and generosity.  I can’t wait for you to visit so you can see how good I look in my red sweater knitted by my special Aunt.  It was the perfect choice.

With love,



Dear Mr. Johnson,

It was the sweetest surprise to come home from my weekend trip to help Mother and see my freshly mowed lawn. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you for doing that.  Please enjoy this plate of homemade cookies.  You are awesome!

Thank you,