Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Home Ed - Cooking Workshop

Last Wednesday we had our regular Home Educators meet up with our local Worthing group.  Last themed workshop was 'Family History'.  This one was a 'Cooking Workshop', and it was just as successful as the Family History one!  The big difference was the take-home items from this workshop were Yummy & Edible!

I pre-baked 22 small pizza bases the night before (in foil cases), as well as 22 chocolate chip cookies. (whew!), and also chopped up the fruit for our Fruit Kebabs.

We started the Workshop off with the Pizza Making Table. But before everyone embarked upon making their own scrumptious pizza, I did a little pitch about how Cooking involves Science, Language, Math and History. I handed out a little pamphlet I printed out at home, that had a Science Experiment using the same ingredients you make pizza dough with, a few puzzles, a temperature conversion table, some information on Nutrition and Vitamins from fruit & veggies, and the recipes I used for the Pizza and Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Further below I put a link to the pamphlet which can be used by anyone who would find it useful for their own home ed (or other) group.  The artwork on the pamphlet was created by one of our young Home Ed children (isn't it fabulous!)

I also just so happen to have some refrigerator reference magnets from a business I started years ago (and am trying to revise these days!), one magnet was a 'Cooking Conversions' table (since my measurements are always cups/spoons but here in England it's weights/volume), and the other was a 'British Seasonal Produce' magnet listing all the local seasonal produce by month.

Okay!... so back to the Pizza Making table.....after the children got a squirt of anti-bacterial hand wipe on their hands (Health & Safety!), the each got a pizza base and then headed to the table where they added sauce, cheese and toppings of their choice.  Everyone really enjoyed making their own pizza, especially the young lady who shaped her tomatoes and bell pepper in to a happy face, putting the fresh spinach as hair :)

After Pizza, everyone got to make a Fruit Kebab, because, as I mentioned at the Workshop, we always make sure we eat the healthy snacks before the Cookies!

After Kebabs, everyone ran off to enjoy some Birthday party games that another Home ed Mum had brought to celebrate her daughters birthday.  This was great timing for Pass-the-Parcel, because it allowed me to clean and and get ready for Chocolate Chip Cookies!.

For the cookie making table, each child got to put an ingredient in the bowl.  One young man impressed us with his ability to separate an egg! (he did it so gracefully).  When it came time to putting the chocolate chips in, I knew there'd be some problemo's if one child got to put those in and not the others.  SO, I acted quickly and handed the person to my left a tablespoon and said 'Here, put a spoonful in and pass the spoon', and it worked perfectly!  Each and every person around the table got to throw some chocolate chips in the dough, so was smiles all around.
Thankfully, I had pre-baked some cookies that morning so everyone could eat one then and there.  I put some dough in foil containers I brought, so each family could bring dough home to cook later.

Well that was it!  Pizza, Cookies and Kebabs.....a winning combination for a 2 hour Workshop.  Hopefully, everyone is enjoying their pamphlets and magnets as well.

Next Workshop is a 'Detective Academy' where kiddo's will complete detective courses for Fingerprinting, Invisible Writing, Decoding and Handwriting well as complete a challenging obstacle course.  Once completed, they receive a Certificate of cool is that!

But that's a week away from now.  In meantime, I must get back to my businesses I'm determined to launch sooooooon.

Here's the Cooking Workshop Pamphlet. I printed back-to-front then folded as a booklet.

Cooking Workshop Pamphlet - Cover Cooking Workshop Inside 1 Cooking Workshop Pamphlet-Inside-2 Cooking Workshop Pamphlet - Inside 3

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Secret Agent Birthday Party

Ooohhhh, I have SO much to catch up on posting.  It was a wild and crazy few weeks getting things ready for Indigo's 9th birthday, followed immediately by putting on a 'Cooking Workshop' for our home ed group. Whew!

Indigo's 'Secret Agent' birthday party was a big success. She had five of her girlfriends and Cypress attending (Zephyr opted out) for a day of being 'Secret Agents'.  Of course, this meant yours truly had a LOT of work to do setting it all up! And I didn't get many pictures of the actual day because I was busy running around with 7 clever detectives that day, solving the 'Case of the Stolen Gems', which they successfully found in the end :)
I found the I-SPY DETECTIVE AGENCY Logo on another website and I'm trying to find it again so I can post up credit for it here!  I'll add later. The rest of the ideas I came up with by myself.

Invitations I made. I cut some file folders down to size, decorated as Top Secret, then inserted the invitation (see below)
I also included a 'Secret Agent Security Badge' with each invitation, that had a picture of the Secret Agent (since they've been to previous birthday parties, I had photo's of each agent on hand!), their 'Years of Service' (their age) and the date the badge was effective (Indigo's birthday).  I laminated the badges then hole-punched a hole on each side, slipping a pretty ribbon through for the necklace part.

Look closely you can see 'Security Badges'.
Oh, and Indigo got some Face Paints for her b'day so she has a rainbow on her face
(that's her holding her birthday flowers from a friend :)
I also decorated the outside of our front door to look like official 'I-Spy Headquarters'
complete with red warning 'Authorised Personnel Only' signs
but I can't seem to find a picture of my cool door

When the guests arrived, they decorated their own 'Spy Journals' with some craft materials (pretty papers, stickers, glue, tape, etc.) I had laid out on the table.  I made the journals by cutting some bright red file folders I happened to have on hand, then I folded in half and stapled printer paper inside for the perfect sized 'Spy Journal'. 

Decorating Spy Journals

I then read the 'Spies' this letter that was sent for them
Dear Secret Agents

The note above also had a handwritten in red pen: ''P.S. Agent X asked me to give you this puzzle piece, he said you would need it later today''
(I had hand painted an old puzzle the night before then wrote the last clue in huge text, so the Agents would be collecting all 17 pieces throughout the day to get to the last clue)

Then one of our guests went to the loo and found this note taped to the mirror

Dear Secret Agents, This is Agent X. Your First Clue is hidden in the
front garden. You will need to pretend you are trimming the hedges, but look closely
and you will see the hidden strings that contain your next clue.
Thankfully, one of our Agents is very clever and figured out to hold the message up to the mirror to read!

All the Agents quickly went to the front garden and 'pretended to trim the hedges', and sure enough, there were 7 ends of dark green string poking out for them to pull. Each Agent pulled a string, and out popped another clue taped to the end of one of them.  The other 6 strings had a puzzle piece taped to the end.

The clue read

"You've found the next clue! Now head to Goring town centre and make sure you take the Woodlands. The Golden Arrow will direct you to the next clue''

Then I was off chasing after 7 Secret Agents who ran towards the woodlands.  

There, they found many arrows scattered around, made out of sticks, pointing towards various Oak trees, but none led to a clue. FINALLY, one of the Agents spotted the Golden Arrow, which pointed to an Oak Tree containing a small colourful box with the next clue!
(Golden Arrow was 3 large sticks painted gold then sprinkled with gold glitter and wired together in to an arrow)

The clue inside the box contained a Cipher Wheel  (<--I created!) and a message saying 

"Great Job Secret Agents! You'll need this Cipher Wheel for your next clue which is at the Coffee Shop where one of our Secret Agents is waiting for you now, but you'll need to give her the secret password again. Do you recall what it is? When you get the next clue make sure the Cipher Wheel is set at Code Z''

My Mother-in-Law was waiting at the Coffee Shop with 7 Party Bags filled with surprises, AND each bag had a piece of the next clue, which was written in code. We took a break (I grabbed a cuppa to go!), then the Agents put all clues together and deciphered them


So off we went to the Cake Shop.  The Secret Agents repeated the secret password 'Birthday Party' and the cake shop lady handed each Agent a bag of chocolate golden coins.  Taped to the tag of each bag was a portion of the next clue, which the Agents had to put together in order. Once they figured out the order, the clue read

"An Apple a Day keeps the Doctor Away. Who on the High Street would have an Apple?''

The Birthday Girl declared "The Green Grocer!', so we walked across the street to the Green Grocer, who handed each girl a paper bag each that contained a big juicy apple. 

And taped to each apple was the next clue!  It read

"Take the Footpath.  X marks the spot'

So off the Agents went down the footpath, 

and sure enough there was a big orange X on the ground. At first they couldn't find the next clue, but then one of our clever agents found a green jar hidden behind the lamp post, and taped to the jar was a message that read

"You've had the next clue all along! Pour this secret purple potion on page 4 of Agent GoDini's Spy Journal to find the hidden message''

Sure enough, the agents poured the potion on page 4 (which I had secretly written the night before and had to make sure that Agent GoDini decorated that particular journal and took it with her!)

and there the secret message was revealed reading ''Head Back to Headquarters''

Agent Niky found the Secret Purple Potion! 
Secret Message Revealed (message was written in baking soda/water mixture
purple potion was just lemon juice with splash of Ribena)

So the Agents ate their delicious apples (some ate their toffee's, that the Agents explained to me were the BLECH toffee's....I apparently need to learn more about Yummy toffee's!) on the walk home, and when we arrived we found an envelope taped to the door that read 'FINAL CLUE'

Inside was just 1 puzzle piece, and a message saying 'The Final Piece to the Puzzle. you know what to do next!'

Secret Agents then spent many quiet moments working together to put the puzzle in place, 

then they read the final clue which was 

"The gems are hidden in a book where the wild things are, and it was my idea''

Well, a few days before the party I had carved out a secret nook from an old book I no longer wanted called 'The Idea Catcher', and I hid the shiny (acrylic) gems inside, then placed it on my daughters bookshelf next to 'Where the Wild Things Are' book. 

The Agents raced upstairs, found the book and Voila! found the gems.

At about that time their Mums showed up with the brothers (Zephyr returned home), and we had Tea and Cake whilst all the kiddo's ran around playing for awhile.  I went overboard with my baking (as usual) I baked Lemon Bars, Jammy Dodgers, and Chocolate Chip Cookies, plus the scrumptious chocolate birthday cake (some recipes are further below).  

But Indigo (errr, I mean 'Agent GoDini') had the best birthday. At least that's what she tells me :)
Oh, and in case you were wondering, here is Agent X
Zephyr (aka: Agent X) went out with his Daddy right before the Secret Agents went on their Spy adventure......and he hid all the clues. (his face here is painted thanks to Indigo getting Face Paints for her b'day)

Jammy Dodger Recipe (aka: Linzer Tarts)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Hogwarts School

Today my children got to go to Hogwarts School!

After getting their Magic Wands, they completed all their lessons successfully, including Divination, Potions (which Zephyr actually drank!), Transformation, Charms, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, and battling Dark CreaturesAfter wearing themselves out with such incredible fun, My Griffindor's (Indigo & Cypress) and Hufflepuff (Zephyr) got to enjoy a magical feast of Bat Sandwiches and other yummies, including some Butter Beer from the Leaky Cauldron.
I didn't capture nearly enough photo's of the entire event. I'm hoping some other guests post pics of the Sorting Hat and also those incredible Lesson  Books and stickers.
Well, Hats Off to our friend Dee who put on this incredible party for her son, Harry. My children ADORE Harry and wish him the happiest birthday ever.
For now, they are sitting here in the complete darkness with me trying to get to sleep.....whilst playing with their neon glowing bracelets they picked up at Transformation class :)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Sea Classics

Our recent interest in Family History has me inspired to collect information about my side of the family to share with my children.  Since we now live thousands of miles away from my family, I try and do little things here and there to keep memories alive, because, quite frankly, we can't afford air fare for a family of 6 to just pop back home to visit. Like last  year for Christmas we decorated 25 envelopes I hung from clothespins as an Advent Calendar.  I assigned each envelope to a family member and then stuffed the envelope with pictures and written stories, newspaper clippings, etc. about that family member.  Each day as a countdown to Christmas, my children opened an envelope and learned some Family History. (oh, and there were also candies and crafts in the envelopes too:)

We recently decorated Family Questionnaire booklets to send out to family members back in the states, which I hope to do this weekend. I can't wait to show you the artwork my girls did on the booklet covers, hand decorating each one.

I also do a LOT of storytelling with my children. Often making up magical fiction stories, but also find time to tell family history stories to not only educate my children about their ancestors but also to remind myself of fond memories I have of my own family.

My maiden name is Howard, an English name though the family was in Cajun country coming from Daisy, Louisiana (look it up on's in middle of nowhere near Port Sulphur, Louisiana) before settling in 9th Ward, Louisiana. My mother's maiden name was Lafferty (Irish, settled in Mississippi), her mother's maiden name was Southern (I'm told she came from a Scots-Irish family) and my father's mother's maiden name was Brown (English, from Mandeville, Louisiana area, I'm told were gypsy's who travelled in tents and sold homemade candy until settling in New Orleans), with her mother's maiden name as Thibodeaux (as Cajun as Cajun can be). So if you're reading this and you come from any of those families, holla!

I'll leave you with an interesting article my Dad's brother, my Uncle Ragan Howard, published about my Great-Great-Grandfather Howard, in a magazine called 'Sea Classics'. I recall reading this article in a magazine when I was a teenager, but looks like it was republished back in 2003. I had no idea back then that I would be living so close to all the places my GGGrandfather Howard came from. I've been to a few places mentioned in the article, and hope to make it to a few more. Maybe I'll discover some other interesting family members to wow my children with stories of :)

Uncle Ragan Howard's Article

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


We celebrated Halloween a bit early today, but WOW, what a celebration.
One of the mums from our little HomeEd group put on the most fantastic Halloween Party this evening, and I only WISH I had taken more photo's that captured the entire experience.
All three of my children have declared that this was the best day of their Life (wow!)
Lots of lovely nibbles, pumpkin carving, lantern decorating, face painting, fire pit, roasting marshmallows, trick-or-treating through the woods via a lantern lit walk, hot cocoa.....and best of all time spent with great friends.
Sending our Home Ed group a big hug tonight.....they truly are spectacular people.
And an extra hug to the mum who put on this amazing event. Indigo, Cypress and Zephyr will most certainly remember this always as a lovely childhood memory.

Making Spooky Halloween Cookies

Spooky Halloween Cookie Making

Cypress wanted to be a Cowgirl for Halloween.
I made this outfit for her with a charity-shop ladies dress I cut up

Indigo wanted to be a Native American, so I made this
outfit with some old fabric I've had for a decade or so


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Zephyr decided to be....this

I gave birth to this

Oh, and Cypress made this 'gun' for her costume (recognize the toilet paper rolls?)

We made some 'Ghosts' to hang in the woods for the party

The food table (check out the spider web in background...)


The cookies (or biscuits) the children made

Most fantabulous outfit this evening

Drink Table



A few of the carved pumpkins

Indigo and Zephyr's pumpkins

All da pumpkins

Just before we set out for the Lantern Walk/Trick-or-Treatin