Education Gaps

I was recently reading the bi-monthly magazine published by the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, VaHomeschoolers' Voice. If you don't get this magazine, and you're interested in education, you're missing out!

(at the end of two weeks of art camp that she chose to go to)

In it, there was an article about education gaps that has really hung with me since I first read it a few weeks ago. Basically, the author (Stephanie Elms) talks about gaps in students' education upon graduation:

"I find it interesting that there are some areas (such as music, art, theater, sports, or even the "softer" subjects like history) where gaps don't seem to bother people as much as they do in areas such as math or science."

According to traditional education models, all students are expected to learn the same body of knowledge and, therefore, should leave school without any gaps.

Looking back at my own education through high school, I would have to say I had some gaps. Particularly in art, theatre, literature, and sports. By the time I left college, I still had gaps in those areas, but I also started choosing to have gaps in science.

Stephanie's article reminded me that we all will have gaps in what we know because we are not a computer. We cannot know it all. Period. Therefore, as adults, we figure out what we like and what interests us to decide where to have gaps.

So, my job as a homeschoooling mom is to make sure my daughter knows what she needs to know to function easily in society (ex: you need basic math to run a household) and know what she wants to know so that her life can really be her own.







Brownie Recipe (don't worry: it's not healthy!)

You know how some days you just need to throw "healthy" out the window and eat something chewy, fudgy, and chocolaty? Well, these brownies meet all of those needs!

This recipe is easy, cheap, quick, and only dirties one mixing bowl. If you line the baking dish with parchment paper, you don't even have to clean the baking dish! This recipe has never failed me, and it always gets rave reviews from friends.

They also freeze great! I make a batch and then wrap them individually in saran wrap to store in the freezer. When birthday parties come up for my daughter, we grab a brownie out of the freezer for her to have at the birthday party.


Ingredients:
4 ounces of unsweetened Baker's baking chocolate
1 1/2 stick of unsalted organic butter
2 cups white organic sugar
3 organic eggs
1 cup white wheat flour
(Optional: bag of chocolate chips)


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Microwave unsweetened chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl for 2 minutes or until butter is completely melted (stir frequently to make sure you don't accidentally burn the chocolate!)
  3. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  5. Fold in the flour and, if using, the chocolate chips.
  6. Line a 2 quart glass baking pan with parchment paper. 
  7. Spread batter into pan
  8. Bake on the upper-middle rack of the oven for 20-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with fudgy crumbs. (NOTE: the shape of your baking dish will impact the length of cooking time so start checking the brownies around 15 minutes)
  9. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then cut immediately using a serrated knife. 

Funny Video about the label "Natural"

Remember back in July, I shared a link to an article by NPR about the lack of meaning of the word "Natural," in regards to our food?

Well, in case you didn't read it, here's a video that comedically informs consumers about how the food industry tries to bump up food product sales by using the word "Natural" on packaging, even though it means virtually nothing!

Enjoy!




Berkeley's Version of the Food Pyramid


While touring the Smithsonian's American History Museum, I stumbled upon this version of the food pyramid. I hope you enjoy following its suggested "obsessive daily requirement" like I do!

I'm going to hop off the computer to grab my chocolate now...

Feeding Your Soul: Why I'm trying to not use the word "Busy" as a descriptor

I have a beef with the word "Busy" - it's a word I use to describe my life when people ask me what I've been up to but it doesn't actually describe anything, and it makes my life seem that it's outside of my control.

It's as though "busy" means that my life has been running me, instead of me running my life.

(Photo By: Moyan Brenn)

When someone asks me what I've been up to, I will try to respond: 
- I've been camping with some of our very best friends;
- My family and I attended every family program at the National Gallery last month;
- I've been cooking to stock the freezer to help reduce dinner-time stress;
- I had a picnic with my family and friends on the National Mall;
- I've been helping out our church with a new service project;
- I've been planning for the upcoming school year;
- I've been planning and creating our gardens;
- I've been helping with our scout troop;
- I took a walk to watch the sunset.

To just tell someone "I'm busy" doesn't express to them that the things I'm doing are intentionally chosen by me to feed my soul. They are activities and events that I deem as important to my family's growth and well-being.

Perhaps one of my favorite write-ups I've read about busy was by the NYTimes. You've probably read it before, as it came out a few years ago (I've even shared about it before); I feel, as fall is quickly approaching, it's an appropriate reminder to not be "busy," but be intentionally living.

Baking Soda v. Baking Powder

Do you ever wonder why it really matters which baking leavener to use: baking soda v baking powder?

If you'd like to read an interesting, fairly in-depth explanation of the differences between the two products (including side-by-side baking tests and information about crumb and flavor), then I suggest that you hop over to the Huffington Post.

(Photo By: Kate Ter Haar; Baking Soda reacting to an acid)

If you just want to have a basic understanding, here you go:

Baking Soda is a single ingredient baking base that causes lift and browning in your baked goods when combined with an acid. The reaction is immediate so you should only combine your acid to the base when you're ready to put the baked good into the oven. It does not expire.

Baking Powder is a three ingredient baking item that contains both the base and the acid. This allows you to add lift to you baked goods without having to balance acid to base ingredients in your recipe. Additionally, baking powder usually is "double-acting" which means there will be initial lift when the baking powder comes into contact with liquid and then another lift with the batter comes into contact with the oven heat. It does expire.

If you're curious about other leaveners, such as eggs and sugar, take a look at this summary by King Arthur.

Great Lunch Ideas for On-the-Go Eaters!

Recently, I posted about how excited I was to find the Ziploc lunch containers!


You can't imagine my excitement to find that a blogger I enjoy reading had an entire photo log of real-food lunches for her kids in the same containers!!!!!! If you're trying to gear-up for another school year of making lunches, you might get some great inspiration over at 100 Days of Real Food. 

Of course, Pinterest is also a source of school lunch ideas....so many it's a bit overwhelming.

Easy Lunch Boxes (a higher-end version of the Ziploc containers; I haven't tried them yet) has a photo log of lunch ideas, too, that's very helpful.

If you're a person who likes printables for cooking, you should hop over to to Don't Waste the Crumbs for a simple printable formula for how to make your own Lunchable for less than a dollar each day. 

And, here's my tip for lunches: Nutrition and healthy eating doesn't need to be complicated - keep it simple!