Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hearts for Home Link Up - February 26

It's time for this week's Hearts for Home link up!

Last week's most clicked-on posts were:

Brush, Brush, Brush Our Teeth! from The Hoggatt Homeschool

Backyard Bird Watching from A Nest in the Rocks

And some other fun posts you might like:

Homeschooling Without a Printer from A Little R&R (Is that even possible?!?)

Create a Recipe Notebook from Day to Day Adventures (I'd like to do this with my girls)

Mexican Monday - Chimichanga Recipe from Apron Strings and Other Things (Always looking for good new Mexican recipes!)

    An InLinkz Link-up

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hearts for Home Linkup - February 19th

It's time for this week's Hearts for Home Linkup!

Last week's most clicked on post was the Handel composer study from Year Round Homeschooling!

Some fun posts from last week:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Knitting Class

Some friends of mine at our little book club asked me to teach them knitting, and I was honored to do so. I have never taught anyone to knit before, really, but lately I've noticed that I've been knitting long enough myself that I really understand how the stitches work, and what happens when you make them. It's pretty cool. Another ten years, and I might be ready to design a pattern! Ha!

I talked with my friend, the marvelous Mary, at my local knitting shop, and asked for tips. I thought I'd share them with you, in case you want to teach knitting, too!
  1. Cast on for your student(s), and have them practice the knit stitch, before teaching them to cast on. Brilliant tip, actually. The knitted cast on is just like knitting, but it's a little tricky when you're first learning. Once they are comfortable with the knit stitch, it's much easier for them to learn the cast on.
  2. Start with cheap yarn. Red Heart Super Saver is a good option. You can make several small things with one skein, and it's not a huge investment. You don't want to buy expensive yarn before you know if you will enjoy knitting. I start by teaching my students to knit a dish cloth. I make them with cotton yarn, usually Lily Sugar and Cream, because it's (a) fairly inexpensive and (b)goes on sale often and (c) is readily available at craft stores, and even Wal-Mart. However, Marvelous Mary told me that one can make a dish cloth using Red Heart, and it turns out more like a scrubbie. Red Heart comes in all kinds of garish bright colors, so you should be able to find something for just about everyone.
  3. Limit the number of students. Knitting is almost a one-on-one thing. It's hard to teach more than one brand-new student at a time, because you never know exactly what they will have trouble with and how you'll need to tweak the lesson. It's good to be able to sit with someone and watch what they're doing, so you can catch any errors before they become habits. I was fortunate to have one of my daughters who knows how to knit there with me, so she could help some of the other students. Also, two of the girls knew how to knit already (one just needed a little refresher) so that helped a lot.
  4. Teach students the rhymes for the knit stitch and the purl stitch:

I took pictures of the steps for the knit stitch rhyme, so I could show you:

Thank you to my lovely assistant, my daughter, for being the model. :-)

One thing I hadn't thought about ahead of time was the possibility of left-handed knitters. I had no fewer than three. You wouldn't think it would be such a big deal for either them to watch facing me, or for me to simply knit left-handed, but that was a real mind-bender for me. Even the poem came out incorrectly as I tried to teach them. I had Jack coming in through the window and out through the front door instead of the other way around. I am going to practice left-handed purling before our next session so I can teach it better.

I encouraged my students to practice every day,  just for 10 or 15 minutes. That's the best way to become comfortable with the stitch (just like anything else). When we get back together this month, they will learn the purl stitch. If we lived closer together, we would meet more often, and we might still try to do that, but our first meeting was at our monthly book club gathering and we didn't make plans for another time outside that. Meeting weekly would be ideal, but I live about 45 minutes from where our book club meets, so we'd definitely have to plan a get-together; it's not as simple as just meeting up locally.

The two students who were already comfortable with knitting started making small dish cloths. They used this pattern, which is a very common one and a great beginner's project. In addition to knitting practice, it teaches yarn overs and decreases. Those two were so funny! They knit like gangbusters so they could get the first half done, so I could show them how to decrease for the second half before they had to go on to their other class.

I haven't quite decided what we're going to do next. Knit Picks has their 52 weeks of free dish cloth patterns (something for both knitters and crocheters), and I think it might be just the ticket for our little group. Dish cloths are small, manageable projects, and they would have the opportunity to learn several different patterns that way. I've had a request to learn to make a headband, too, so that's a possibility. I'll keep you posted on our progress.

Here's my group:

Aren't they great? :-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Winter Eden

We've had some cold weather lately, and I know some parts of the country are getting snow dumped on them. I found this poem by Robert Frost and thought it might inspire some positive thoughts about our wintry weather. 

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Pizza Bible: Learn to Make Great Pizza!

This post contains affiliate links.

I love pizza. At my house, we have pizza for dinner almost every Friday night. Sometimes we get to order out, and I love that, because I don't have to cook. However, most of the time, I make the pizza, so I'm always on the lookout for good recipes, tips and tricks. sent me a copy of The Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani for review, and I'm excited to try out his methods. He owns seven restaurants, co-owns the International School of Pizza in San Francisco, and has been making pizza for 20 years. I'd say he's qualified to teach people how to make good pizza!

When the box with my book arrived, I had no idea what was in it. It was heavy! I thought, "Wow! The only things I'm expecting are a couple of books to review. What on earth is this?" It was my Pizza Bible. Goodness. I'd be tempted to get the Kindle version of this one, because it's a monster. On the other hand, it's a beautiful book with fabulous pictures, including instruction images. As a visual learner, I appreciate the photos, and while I know they'd still be there in an ebook, I like having this cookbook in my hands, big as it is. The one issue I have, aside from the weight of the book, is that the cover is made of porous paper. If I spill something on it when I'm working in the kitchen, it will most certainly stain the book and I won't be able to wipe it off. I don't like that.

Mr. Gemignani has assembled an impressive collection of recipes in his cookbook.  He has regional American, Chicago style (both deep-dish and cracker-thin), Sicilian, California style, Napoletana, regional Italian, global, grilled, wrapped and rolled, and focaccia and bread pizza recipes. I have to believe there is something in here that everyone will like!

I am personally most excited about the "Detroit Red Top" recipe, which is the style made at Buddy's Pizza, our favorite pizza place in Dearborn, Michigan (where my husband grew up). I have two blue steel pans on order and am anxiously awaiting their arrival so I can try my hand at making some!

Tony discusses three things that help you make great pizza : ingredients, tools, and time. The most surprising thing to me? He says pizza dough needs to rise slowly, in the refrigerator, for 36-48 hours. That's going to require some significant changes in my pizza-making routine. I guess I will have to schedule dough making on Wednesday if we want to have it for dinner on Friday.

If you're interested in learning to make great pizza, you have to give this cookbook a try!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this information in accordance with FTC regulations.