Simple Dandy Jelly.

Monday, April 15, 2019

 We can always count on the dandelions to tell us when spring has arrived. They cover our fields & yards with little bursts of sunshine that provide the bees with their first food of the season and hold so many medicinal & nourishing qualities. For some, these “weeds” are seen as pests but those who forage and know their benefits their arrival is celebrated each year. We harvest dandelions every spring and use each part from flower to root as a form of food or a tool for healing. Dandelion greens make a great salad, the root is perfect for creating a detoxifying tea, and the flower can be used in soothing salves & oils. There are so many amazing ways you can put these wild edibles to use but our favorite by far is dandelion jelly.
Making jelly from the dandelion flower is simple and delicious. We collect the flowers leaving plenty for the bees and transform them into a sweet, honey like jelly that is perfect for our morning toast. My children love to carry baskets out to fill up with these bright yellow blooms, the perfect activity for almost every age to participate. Once all of our dandelions have been harvested we add them all to a large bowl with water to soak. This removes any of the dirt, ants, and other yucky things we don't want floating around in our jelly. Then we simply lay them out on a towel to absorb most of the excess moisture. 
 Add your cleaned flowers to a large pot with four cups of filtered water and bring to a boil or ten minutes. Pour the contents of the pot through a fine strainer or cheesecloth, making sure to press all of the dandelions to release the juice. Let this liquid cool to use for your dandelion jelly. 

3 1/2 cups dandelion juice
6 tbs pectin
2 tbs lemon juice
6 cups raw sugar

Add lemon juice & pectin into dandelion juice in a large pot and bring mixture to a boil while stirring. when it reaches a boil, add all of the sugar at once. Stir constantly and bring back up to a rolling boil that you  cannot stir down. Let this boil go for two minutes, making sure to stir constantly. turn off the heat and jar up your jelly. This recipe makes 3 pints.
Make sure to process your pints for 10 minutes in a water bath canner leaving 1/4 inch head space.
We love making a few batches of dandy jelly each spring to last us into the cold months. It is such a tasty and easy recipe that my children can help with and enjoy all year round.
Have you ever made dandelion jelly before?
I'd love to hear what you think!
Try this recipe? Tag us so we can see!

5 Books to Bring Waldorf Into Your Home.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Books are one of my favorite resources to gather information from. Googling is great for top of the head questions but when I know I'm going to want to reference something back time and time again a book is my go-to. When I was looking to shift our family to a more Waldorf mindset, I gathered a few reads to help me along the way. The advice & information I received in the pages of these books would give me the tools I needed to implement a seasonal and daily rhythm, bring more connection to our family, and give me more understanding into the growth & development of my children's minds. To this day I still pull out these books frequently to find inspiration, to trouble shoot areas that we are still working on, and to reinforce my knowledge of the Waldorf philosophy.
These 5 books are just a jumping off place for you to explore, there are so many amazing books on this subject but I find these are constantly being pulled from the shelves, pages dog-eared and worn.

1. Heaven On Earth - If you have young children, this book is an amazing resource full of so many wonderful parenting tips and advice for you. With everything from ideas for indoor & outdoor play to simple and straight forward ways that you can connect with your children, it's my most reached for "parenting book" of the bunch. I find daily inspiration in the pages and constantly find myself re-reading the wisdom it contains.

2. The Creative Family Manifesto -This book is about enhancing your entire family’s creativity through everyday rituals, art, play and handwork. It is filled with simple tips and inspiration for you to start creating a life for your family that is both beautiful and filled with meaningful connection.

3. The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook -This Handbook is made for homeschoolers but is a wonderful resource for any family wanting to create a more Waldorf environment in their home. It touches on meal planning, self care, daily routines, and so much more!

4. Festivals, Family, & FoodBeing in tune with the rhythm of the seasons is a huge pillar of the Waldorf philosophy. Honoring festivals and seasonal celebrations is a way our children can feel connected to the full cycle of the year and to different cultures & religions around the world. This guide is filled with recipes, games, songs, poems, and more to help your family honor all the festivals & celebrations the year has to offer! 

5. Waldorf Education: A Family Guide - This educational guide is a great starting place for those of you who want to homeschool in a Waldorf style but I also love it for its insight into the different ages and developmental stages of  our children from kindergarten through high school. It gives you a wonderful idea of how your child’s brain is working and the way that they are processing and experiencing the world around them. A must for any parent who wants to take a more gentle and developmentally appropriate approach to learning and parenting.

I hope this list is useful to you and will help you on your journey towards a more Waldorf style home. Do you have any Waldorf parenting books that you love?
Share them with us in the comments!

A Look Into Our Homeschool Day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Some of the most frequently asked questions I get around here are about homeschooling. Why we chose to home school, what curriculum we use, what our day looks like, the list goes on. When I was a new homeschooler seven years ago, these types of posts were invaluable to me. I wanted to see what other families where doing. At the time, I didn't know anyone who homeschooled and I was eager to jump in but I didn't quite know what that would look like for our family. How would we structure our day? Educate multiple children at different grade levels? How would we get it all done? What I came to find out through speaking to other experienced homeschoolers and through my own life experience was that every family is different and it will take time, patience, and flexibility before you feel comfortable in your rhythm. My biggest encouragement to those of you who are wanting to choose this path is to jump in and figure out the details later. Through trial and error you'll create a system that honors everyone in your family & their individual leaning styles. 
Today, I thought that I would share a little look into a typical homeschool day for us. This will give you an idea of the types of work we do, the resources we love, and the way our day flows. I'll be sharing a more in depth look into our projects and curriculum in another post so stay tuned if that's something that you're interested in. 

Our family very much believes in having a steady rhythm to anchor us throughout the day. We do not have a rigid schedule as to allow for creativity and imaginative play but we do know what to expect next during our day because each day it's roughly the same. 
After our children get up, eat breakfast, brush & wash, and do their morning chores they all meet back in the living room for what we call our "family meeting". Other homeschooling families refer to this time as "circle time" but since two of my children are older they preferred the name family meeting instead. During this time we come together to light a candle, say our morning memory verse, discuss the weather and record it on our Little Oak Learning weather wheel, and then chat about our plans for the day. I usually read a story or two out loud to finish up while the children cuddle up together with me on the couch. I love starting our days off with this sense of connection and togetherness before each of the kids do their individual lessons. 

For my oldest who is in her fourth year, that looks like grammar, cursive writing, and mathematics. For my son who is in his first year, that looks like getting familiar with his letters, numbers, and beginning reading. My youngest who is a toddler uses this time to play with her playsilks, make pretend meals in her kitchen, or color at the table with her siblings. We usually only spend about 30 minutes on each of these subjects before moving on to the next thing. After all of their individual lessons are done we move on to the work that we all do together. 
One of the greatest resources we have incorporated into our days over the last few years has been our Whole Family Rhythms guide books. They are seasonal, Waldorf based guides that provide you with crafts, recipes, stories, and more that you can use to enrich your family's rhythm. For every day of the week there are activities for that helps your children get in touch with the season and nature. I love that these guides can be used year after year with your children to create wonderful traditions and memories. Some days we watercolor or model with beeswax, other days we create seasonal crafts. Since today was Wednesday, we drew pictures together with beeswax crayons in wintery shades. 
Afterwards, it's time for our main lesson block. For this block, I decided to choose a theme that would be great for both older and younger grade levels. My oldest hasn't done her third year fiber, farming, and shelter unit yet so we decided to work through that for the next few months. We started off with wool and discussed the process from sheep sheering to carding and spinning into yarn. We made art to provide us with visual representations of this process, did writing to correspond, and read a ton of wonderful picture books that fit our theme. One of my favorite parts of these main lesson blocks is to search for children's books that will enrich the lesson and provide more connection to what we are learning. We do our main lessons inspired by the Live Education Waldorf curriculum and in this season of our life I am very happy with our choice. My oldest is working on weaving and knitting and my son is picking up knitting needles for the first time and exploring the process with me as his guide. We usually spend about two hours on our main lesson because it incorporates so many bits & pieces and then we finish the day with either form drawing or science. I love the concept and process of form drawing, it's something that is essential to the Waldorf curriculum and is a great introduction into geometry. I use the Creative Form Drawing Workbook 1 with my children and we work through the lessons for about 30 minutes three times a week.  

Once our work is done for the day my children know to clean up all of the supplies and books we used and return them to their homes. We look at chores & responsibly as crucial parts of our children's day, just as important as reading or math. They need to practice the skill of keeping things clean and it's great to have them contributing to the family as a whole. Everything gets tidied up and then our homeschooling day is over and our children are free to play outside, read, build, draw, create, etc. while I accomplish my daily tasks and prepare meals for our family. 

I hope this gave you an idea of the way our family structures it's homeschool day and that it inspires you & puts you at ease. We don't have a six hour school day, we don't try to cram a lot in, and there is still plenty of time for nature and creativity. I love that it's something we can recreate no matter the season or the subjects that we are studying and that it meets all of my family's needs. Our days look so different from when we started this journey seven years ago and in another seven years i'm sure it will take a new form. I love that with homeschooling, that's totally okay. Not only okay, very much encouraged!!
Do you home school? What does your typical day look like? I'd love for you to share!
Not homeschooling yet but thinking it may be right for your family? Did this post help you at all? Let me know!
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