Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese festival held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar (varying from late May to June on the modern Gregorian calendar). Commonly known as “Duan Wu” in Chinese, this unique occasion is grandly celebrated everywhere in China and also observed in various other parts of East Asia as "Double Fifth Day". In the West, it is popularly known as “Dragon Boat Festival” and is typically celebrated during the summer months with dragon boat races and competitions being the focus of the activities.  Dragon Boats are painted traditionally green, red, yellow, white, and black. Dragons are powerful of full of good luck, so the Dragon boat races spread good luck.

Here is a great coloring page of a Dragon Boat (here).
Crayola shows how to make Dragon Boat Puppets (here).
I printed out two Dragon Boat cut outs for the kids to color, assemble and race (find it here).

Children on that day wear bracelets of five different colors to protect against Evil, they are called the Five Poison or Wu Du charms.  It is the favorite decoration of this festival. According to Chinese custom, the "double fifth" is the hottest day of the month, when all the poisonous vapors are in the air, so every attempt is made to harmonize yin and yang so that danger and disease can be avoided. The Five Poison Charm is made up of a snake, centipede, scorpion, lizard, toad and sometimes spider. It was thought that the strength of the 4 poisons would counteract the poison of one. It is embroidered on clothing, stamped on cakes, engraved on charms, and used for decorations.  You can read more about the Five Poisons here and print a a Five Posions coloring sheet here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Experiment in Dehydrating

I still had a couple of pounds of zucchini that I got from Heather last week that I really needed to do something with before it went bad.... and I hate to waste food by letting it go bad.  I did an Internet search on my options and I discovered a few new things to try!

I normally shred and freeze extra zucchini for making zucchini bread but our freezer is still full of beef so freezing was not the best option.  Canning pickles was an option as well but I still have Bread & Butter pickles from last year to use up (I am the only one that eats pickles in the family).  I did find a recipe for Zucchini Relish which I might whip up with the next batch of zucchini I get.

What I did find that was interesting was dehydrating it!  My research found that shredded zucchini can be rehydrated and made into bread with great results.  It can also be added to spaghetti sauces, casseroles, fritters, etc.  So here is a tray of freshly shredded zucchini ready to be dried.

(photo to come)

I also found that the zucchini could be thinly sliced (about 1/8 of an inch), lightly salted and dried into chips!  I was so ready to try that as I love salty crispy things.  Here are my zucchini slices ready to become chips.

(photo to come)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Celebrating Flag Day

Today is Flag Day in the USA.

The kids and I worked on a 4-H project to help them learn about Flag Day.  I read them a short story about Betsy Ross and how it came about that she sewed the first flag.  McKayla colored a picture of Betsy Ross holding a flag (find it here).  In the story it talked about how a sheet of paper was folded and cut with only a single cut to create a five point star.  I found the directions on how to do this and the kids and I made stars.  They thought that was really cool.  Both Evan and McKayla colored pictures depicting the original 13 colonies flag sewed by Betsy Ross.

I also read the story of the Star Spangled Banner song to them.  We talked about what the flag means to our country and the feelings it invokes in people when they see it.  Finally, we made kazoos from recycled toilet paper rolls and played the Star Spangled Banner on them.

We recorded it all in our 4-H project book as part of our Civil Education portion of this year.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Zucchini Bread

I made two loaves of zucchini bread with some of the zucchini that Heather brought over on Monday.  I need to use some more of it up as the ends are getting soft.  I may bake up a few more loaves and freeze them for later.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.

2.Beat together eggs, sugar, oil and applesauce. Blend in the grated zucchini, and then the sour cream. Mix in the baking powder, soda, cinnamon and flour. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans.

3.Bake for 60-70 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

I also made homemade pizza for dinner tonight.  It is a family favorite around here!  Tonight was a cheese, a pepperoni and a carmel apple dessert pizza too.
McKayla's School today included the "F" theme in preparation for tomorrow's celebration of Flag Day.

Letter "F" Activity Sheet (here)
"F" Word Search and Find (here)
Color the pictures that start with letter "F" (here)
Fun with Fruit - shapes and counting (here)
Match the Opposites (here)
Finally, I helped her read through "The Great Race" Thomas & Friends book.

It is interesting to observe how she reacts to this structured learning that she has asked me to do.  She is excited to do her "school work" but about 15-20 minutes is about all she wants to do even though she says she wants to do an hour three days a week.  After about this much time she starts to fidget, not listen well and look for other things to do.  She boars easily if the things I have selected are too repetitive.  When I see her attention start to slack I always ask her if she is done for the day... she has always said "yes", so I send her on her way to play.  I can't imagine forcing her to sit for hours on end, for five days a week, working on repetitive worksheets.  But, I will keep these small  pockets of structure going until she asks me to stop.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New - to us- appliances!

Neil's parents are still slowly moving out of their home in South Carolina (they have been living in Virgina for over a year now).  His Dad just returned from a trip south and brought back with him the stove, washer and dryer from there.  Since they were going to be stored here in our hay trailer anyway we went ahead and swapped out the stove and washer from our kitchen to the ones from SC.

I am oh so happy with that as both our stove and washer were limping along and needed to be replaced soon.  The stove had a broken latch on the oven door that prevented it from opening most of the time and the electric burners were not responding well, the washer was being run by an extension cord across our kitchen and dining area floor as the outlet by the washer kept tripping the GFI outlet (even after we replaced it several times).  We ran a load of laundry tonight and it did just fine with the outlet so goodbye extension cord!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ellette Rangers 4-H Club Meeting

This afternoon we had our monthly 4-H meeting for our general 4-H club here in Person County.  We met at the park and held our meeting before the kids played for a while at the playground.

During the meeting we talked about Flag Day coming up on Monday.  The kids colored pictures of our flag while president Micheal told us about Flag Day and how it came about.  McKayla also reported on our activities at home for Earth Day (making birdhouses and bird feeders).

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Horse 4-H Meeting

Tonight we had our meeting for Horse 4-H.  We arrived at 6pm to hold our Cloverbud meeting before the regular meeting began at 6:30pm.  Heather and I went over the 4-H pledge and what each of the lines ment to the kids.  Then once the meeting started the Cloverbuds lead the group in saying the pledge... they did a great job!

4-H Pledge
I pledge my Head to clearer thinking,
my Heart to greater loyalty,
my Hands to larger service and
my Health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

The kids also worked on making covers for their 4-H Project Books.  Each month we will be working on a section of the project book and then adding the pages in.  At the end of the year they should have completed project books.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I put our alpaca stud Peter in the girl's pasture today to spit test the girl's.  Within minutes he had our female, Eloise, cushed down and breeding.  I knew Eloise was open but it slipped my mind when I put Peter in there.  Since Eloise is Black and Peter is Medium Silver Grey I can hope for a grey or black cria next June!?

The game hen that hatched out the five ducklings was missing from the barn this morning.  Evan went on hunt into the woods and found her scratching in the leaves with all five ducklings.  I wanted to collect them all up and put them in the chicken coop to keep the ducklings safe.  As I said she is a very protective mother and did not want me or the kids near her babies.  She puffed herself up and attacked me numerous times while picking up the ducklings.  I managed to get all the little ones and put them into a pet carrier... mother hen was then easy to get as she wanted to be with her charges and she went right into the carrier after them.

McKayla's School today included:

Count the Stars (here)
Trace and Write - Oval (here)
Number Match (here)
Count the Money (here)
Trace and Write - bear (here)
Color Name & Shape - Green Square (here)

I also put together a File Folder game that I found here.  I can make my own question cards so we can use it for whatever we happen to be working on.  The cards I made for it today are clock faces with hour and half hours on them.  I also made some single digit addition cards.  I will make more as time goes on.  McKayla LOVES to play games so this will help me feel a bit more "unschooly" during this current need of hers for structured school work.

Oh, I thought I should start recording the books that I am reading to the kids.  Last night I started A Pool of Fire by John Christopher.  It is the final book in the White Mountains Trilogy.  Neil owned these books from when he was a kid and fondly remembers reading them.  I had never read the books myself but had followed the animated story printed in Boys Life when I was younger.  I have enjoyed reading the series with the kids very much.

Monday, June 07, 2010

My friend Heather traded me three pounds of zucchini and summer squash for two dozen eggs today.

She had come over so we could discuss what we were going to do with the Cloverbuds (kids age 5-8) at the horse 4-H meeting on Wednesday evening.  It is the first "formal" Cloverbud program in the group and we have lots of ideas to make it fun for them.

Out in the barn I discovered two more ducklings under the game hen... bringing the total to five now.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Neil got the lawn mowed this morning and then tinkered a bit on the vehicles.  Now that we have our own Suburban back we need to get his parent's Suburban cleaned out and returned.

I discovered three newborn ducklings under our game hen in the barn this afternoon.  She is still setting on about six other duck eggs so I just left the ducklings under her for now.  She is very protective of her hatchlings no matter what species they are.  In the chicken coop I pulled six duck eggs from the pile that has been growing on the floor and put them in one of the chicken nest boxes for one of the hens to set on.

I made stuffed zucchini for dinner with the Patty Pan squash and green and gold zucchinis I got at the Roxboro Farm's Market yesterday.  It was a great one dish meal as I stuffed them with our farm raised ground beef and some Italian sausage.  Here is what I did:

Stuffed Zucchini

4 medium zucchini (I used 2 zucchini and four patty pan squash)
1 pound ground beef
1 link of hot Italian sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs Italian seasoning blend (I make my own)
Salt and Pepper to taste (I used about 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)
2 eggs, beaten
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.  Brown ground beef and sausage and add onions.  Cook until beef is cooked through and onions are soft.  Let cool while you prepare zucchini.  Cut zucchini in half the long way and spoon out seeds to create boats.
Reserve seeds to chop and add to stuffing.  Combine beef mixture with bread crumbs, parm cheese, seasonings, reserved seeds.  Stir in beaten eggs.  Stuff zucchini boats fully.  Spoon crushed tomatoes over the tops of filling.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with mozzarella cheese.  Return to oven and continue cooking for 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Today is a "school day" for McKayla.  We worked on rhyming words today.  We made a matching game out if it and she had fun.  Then she worked on a tracing wordlist that started with the letter "A" (find it here), a "what comes next" pattern sheet (find it here), single digit addition (find it here) and finally she worked on a clock worksheet (find it here).

Saturday, June 05, 2010

After breakfast the kids and I headed down to the Roxboro Farm's Market to see what fresh produce we could find.  There were four vendors there today but I could see that the town had poured the footings for the new shelter for the Farmer's Market.  Once the shelter is complete more vendors should start coming... I hope anyway!

I picked up 2 lbs of green and gold zucchini from one vendor, 5 patty pan squash and two heads of napa cabbage from another, and a bag of oatmeal raisin walnut cookies for the kids from yet another vendor.