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I Love My Dehydrator!

I love, love, love my dehydrator.  My mother-in-law got this Excalibur dehydrator for me two Christmases ago.  I have used it for so many things.

I dry out the herbs that I grow in the garden.

 Sometimes I have too many onions growing in the garden.  This time I chopped the onions up and dehydrate them on high for about 6 hours.
 I used the VitaMix grain mill for chopping up the dried onions.  It worked so well.

 You can use powdered onions in soups, breads, pizza crust/sauce, eggs......the sky is the limit.
You can also leave the onions whole and rehydrate them in soups, casseroles, sauces .....and other things you want whole onions for.  You can dry garlic the same way!

I have also been growing and drying Oregano, and Basil with great results. 
This is the first year I have grown oregano, and I LOVE THIS STUFF dried.  We add it to pasta sauce, and Italian breads. I am hoping to have enough to last me through the winter until spring when I can plant more!  I simply pick the oregano, wash, and place it on the dehydrator sheets.  I don't even have to turn the dehydrator on in the summer. It takes about 2 days drying naturally, and only a few hours on medium if you need it done right away.

I make some kick-butt fruit roll-ups

CLICK HERE to see the whole post on how I made them.  It is super easy, and I have a few good recipes. I have discovered a new recipe which I now use exclusively.  


Cherrysauce fruit roll-up

4 cups of fresh or frozen cherries (pitted)
1 cup of unsweetened applesauce

Blend together until there are no lumps.  Pour onto your dehydrator trays.
dehydrate on high for about 4 hours, or until the leather pulls away from
the tray easily. It works out to about 25g of carbohydrates each, I cover my
diabetic daughter for 30g of carbs just to be safe.


This is why I originally got this dehydrator, to make my own dried fruit.  This is one of the simplest things you can do with a dehydrator.  Cut up your fruit and lay it on your dehydrator sheets so the fruit isn't touching (it will dry better this way.) 

Dried Apples

Dried Bananas

  You can dehydrate all kinds of fruit.  I have tried cantaloupe, pineapple, peaches, and mango with great results.  Making my own raisins from homegrown grapes didn't turn out too well. They became hard little balls, not even good enough for muffins. 



School Games for EVERY AGE

Here are some fun games for those transitional times between subjects.  Or games to use when practicing a specific skill.

Measurement Scavenge

Supplies needed:  one ruler per child
How to play: simply call out a measurement between 1 and 12 inches.  The children run around measuring things.  First one to bring the object with the correct measurement back wins. 
Variations: you can use a yard stick, tape measure, or flip the ruler and do centimeters.



Supplies:  paint chip cards from any hardware store
How to play:  Pass out the paint chip cards and have the children run around trying to match a color on their card to something in the house. 
Variations:  you can also just call out a color.  Call out colors in another language.  Have the children draw out slips of color from a jar. Play this game outside, slip the cards into your purse to use at a park.
 The kids can color match every hue on the card.  The kids can color match big objects like furniture, the floor, and walls.  Sky is the limit.  This is a great indoor game, but can also be played outside.


Shape Scavenge

Supplies: cards with shapes on them. (draw shapes on index cards)
How to play:  have the children draw one card and run around the house or outside looking for that shape.  First one back is the winner.  
Variations: have the children work on teams and pass out five cards to each team. 


Number Scavenge

Supplies: Number cards or a deck of playing cards with the kings, queens, and jacks taken out.
How to play:  have the children draw a card and then collect that number of like things.  Examples: 8 books, 4 pictures, 10 spoons. Make sure they replace all their collections at the end of each turn or you will have some major clean-up when the game is over. 
My son is super creative with this game.  He came up with the money equaling $8, and the thumb-drive with 16 files on it. You just never know how your kids are going to surprise you, I thought he would be bored with this game. 


Find it in the RICE 

Supplies: One plastic bottle, some dry rice, small objects that can fit through the bottle opening, a camera, and printer.
How to play:  First, take a picture of the small objects you are going to put in the bottle.  Then fill the bottle with the small objects and the rice.  Screw the lid on VERY TIGHT, or glue/tape it on. Print out your small objects picture.  I slipped my picture into a plastic sleeve so the kids could cross off the objects with a dry erase marker as they find them. The kids take turns finding the objects in the rice.  This is a great game for the car or any other quiet time. 

Remember to make it fun.  kids have an abundance of energy and imagination. Ask them to make up a game or two, you may be surprised what they come up with. 


Things to do with POTATOES

I have always enjoyed potatoes, but they take so long to cook.  Here is a tip........CROCK-POT them! 
Here are some things I made with my crock-pot potatoes.
Put your washed raw potatoes in the crock-pot with 1/2 cup of water. Set on high and leave it alone for a few hours, check after 4 hours. The size of your potato will determine the length of time they have to be in there. The potatoes are done when a knife can be inserted through without hitting anything hard.

These potatoes can be eaten as is or you can cut your crock-pot baked potatoes up into chunks, and throw them into a pan with some oil,salt, and garlic/onions. You can bag these cut potatoes up and throw them in the frig with all your ingredients for breakfast tomorrow morning. Simplicity at it's finest.

A quick breakfast to get you going on your way.

Or if you just can't wait to make something out of potatoes, MAKE FRENCH FRIES!  These are SUPER simple to make and easy to eat........
 Soak your raw cut french fries in cool water for about 30 minutes or so. 
This gets some of the starch out. 
 Completely dry your raw soaked french fries before you coat them with oil and salt. I added some garlic powder to mine!

Yummy fries, they take about 40 minutes to bake in the oven at 400*.  I like my fries kinda crunchy so I give them about 50 minutes in the oven at 400*

Do the same thing with sweet potatoes too!  They don't need to cook as long in the crock-pot. 


Pre-School Busy Boxes

Yet another year of homeschool begins.  This year I am managing three kids in the lesson plans.  I have a 6th grader, a 4th grader, and  a pre - schooler.  I have a plan to make everything work, and it all has to do with these plastic bins I got from COSTCO. I have also seen these at MICHAELS craft store, they are scrapbook supply storage bins.  I like the large square size of the boxes, and they stack together.  I am going to call them "Busy Boxes."  

There are five boxes, one for each day of the school week.  Each box is filled with fun activities: worksheets, play-dough, games, craft kits, sorting activities......the list goes on and on......let me show you some ideas I have for the boxes.  Each week it will change, each week I will come up with five more fun filled boxes........can I take the pressure???? We shall see. 

 This is an example of one box. I am trying to mix in activities that she can do alone as well as activities I will help her with.  All the flashcards will be done with me,  the alphabet puppets can be colored and cut out by her,  with help from me to glue them down on the paper-bag in the right places.  The stamps are more of a filler activity when she gets frustrated with something, or I need some time with the older kids alone.  

We are going to be building a number train across the top of the wall, she will start that activity today.  Each day we will add a new train car to the line which has a new number on it.  I pre - cut these train cars to make it simple to put up right when she decorates the car and puts the number of the day on it. My daughter loves mini books that she can color, so today she will color a mini book of "Billy Goats Gruff" and do some activities with that.  

I am going to introduce a Bible story every other day.  It is nice to store the book in the Busy Box so I can keep track of it.  I have some stickers to make a story scene of this story.  She is also going to make a lion mask.  If I can get the older kids involved later on in the day we will act out the story.  

I am going to find a cartoon DVD that relates to one of these themes and add that to the box for the ultimate melt down, which tends to happen right before lunch.  I will have 30 minutes of bliss while that is on. 
As you can see the number train is growing.
The alphabet puppets are being made.  We try and make up a song with each of the letters.

Here are some other ideas I am working on for the rest of the boxes.  
 Sorting colored beads of different sizes and hues.
 This is a fun activity, print out a close up facial shot of a family member, this is my sister.  Laminate, or slip the picture into a clear plastic sheet.  Use dry erase markers or dry erase crayons for hours of fun.  And remember to make one of these a picture of your child so they can dress themselves up too!
 Paint chip color match.  This activity is SUPER EASY to put together.  Simply go to your local hardware store and get some paint chips, some clothes pins, and glue.  Cut a thin strip off the side of the paint chip and glue a piece of each color on separate clothespins.  It is fun to match the different hues of color.  My older kids couldn't resist this. 
You don't have to MAKE everything.  Throw some paint with water pages in each box, NO MESS, just water and a paintbrush. 

I have gotten a lot of inspiration from the following blogs.  Check them out.


Carb FREE jello

I am so excited to have this jello.  My type 1 diabetic daughter can have as much jello as she wants.  This jello has no Aspartame.  It is made with a Stevia drink mix, which is carb free.  This is super easy to put together.  My 4 year old daughter helped with most of it.  You will need to purchase some gelatin, and stevia drink mix.

You will need four packets of gelatin, 
4 cups of water, 
and 4 teaspoons of stevia drink mix.

First bring 3 cups of water to boil.  Then add the four packets of gelatin to the one cup of cold water, let that sit for about five minutes.  It will thicken quite a bit.  After the 3 cups of water boils take it off heat and add the 4 teaspoons (or more to taste) of the stevia drink mix.  Pour the hot stevia water into the gelatin water and whisk together.  Pour into molds........pop the jello into the frig for about 3 hours and you are all done!
 I used some india tree food coloring to make the jello a nice pink color.

You can pour the jello into any mold, this is in a mini bundt cake mold.  It turned out beautifully, and there still aren't any carbs in it!