November 24, 2014

Baking + Books = Kitchen Adventures! {Poppins Book Nook}

Here we are at the end of November. Can you even believe that 2014 is almost gone? Since it is November, it's also the last month of the year for Poppins Book Nook. We finished off a great year with the theme IN THE KITCHEN. This theme is a great one for this time of year, as I know I am in the kitchen much more often. This month we read some great books revolving around the kitchen and I had helpers assisting me bake some yummy things!
in the kitchen with books poppins book nook

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At first I was a bit befuddled as to what books related to the kitchen. But as I started thinking about it, I decided that if the book was about food or the making of it played a dominate role, then it worked. I went to the library and just started browsing titles...there are quite a lot about food in the children's section, did you know that?! LOL! I stayed away from the obvious ones (Green Eggs and Ham and Stone Soup for example) and tried to venture into some new ones. 

Here are the books that we read over the course of the month:
by Patricia Polacco

Grandma consoles her frightened granddaughter by telling her that the dark clouds of the impending storm are nothing more than the ingredients for a Thunder Cake. 

This is a great book to use with a day in the kitchen! The colors of the illustrations are fun and the story is interesting. My boys enjoyed it very much and laughed at some of the unusual ingredients. There is a recipe in the back for making your own Thunder Cake, and there is a great lapbook available for you to use with it.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
by Marjorie Priceman

An apple pie is easy to make...if the market is open. But if the market is closed, the world becomes your grocery store. This deliciously silly recipe for apple pie takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients. 

We love this book! It is so much fun to travel the globe and seek the different ingredients in this book. The illustrations are so beautiful! We like using our globe and finding the different places that she travels. The favorite though is Sri Lanka. The boys loved learning about cinnamon. It's one of our favorite spices in general. We examined some cinnamon sticks and tried to think of it as bark on trees.

This book is also part of the Five In A Row program which we have done in the past. This means there are a LOT of resources for it, including various lapbooks and activities which you can easily find with a search on Pinterest.

The Gingerbread Man
by Karen Schmidt

Run Run Run, Fast As you Can...Can't Catch Me, I'm the gingerbread man!

Everyone knows this book! But it was a fun one to read to Baby Britches for the first time. He loved being able to sing the chorus with me. We are going to be making some gingerbread men once I have found a good recipe. I really want to have one that works like sugar cookies, but tastes like ginger or molasses. I'm still looking around. If you happen to know of a great one to use, please link it up in the comments for me!

A Tangle of Knots
by Lisa Graff

In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born and it might end in peanut butter cupcakes.

I included this great chapter book because the main character is a hard core baker and spends a lot of the time planning out cakes and cake flavors for people. There is also a secret recipe for the worlds best peanut butter on the loose. I desperately wanted to eat cake after reading this book! There are even cake recipes in the back of the book for some of the fun flavors mentioned in the book.

Cranberry Thanksgiving
by Wendy Devlin

Every year Grandmother invited a guest for Thanksgiving dinner and allowed Maggie to do the same. "Ask someone poor or lonely," she always said. Thanksgiving was Grandmother's favorite day of the year. The cooking was done and her famous cranberry bread was cooling on a wooden board. But she wasn't happy to find out Maggie had invited the unsavory Mr. Whiskers to dinner. Would her secret cranberry bread recipe be safe with him in the house? 

This book is a tradition for us for this time of year. It's just such a fun story and the boys love it while I read it out loud. We did a great cranberry themed unit using the Cranberry Thanksgiving lapbook unit from One of the funnest things is doing bouncing cranberry tests. Have you done those before? We also tasted them. We discovered we aren't huge fans. Reading this book was a great time to re-watch our cranberry farm videos from Curiosity Quest. I think that this week, we will try making some cranberry bread like the book.

We had fun in the kitchen this month making various goodies...Baby Britches helps me more than Little Britches in the kitchen.
biscuits with mommy

baking and books
My best homemade biscuits recipe

The first three layer cake I ever made began here...

And it ended beautifully here
I was tickled to death to have adventures in baking this month. This three layer cake was the best and tasted so incredibly good. It was my biggest baking adventure yet! This cake recipe is the BEST--and I mean THE BEST and very old fashioned in taste.

It's fun to mix books with the kitchen. There are SO many books out there all about food or baking or spending time in the kitchen! I hope you will check out a few of these!

Feed Our Small World:A Cookbook for Kids Giveaway! 

Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook or product that ties in with our theme for the month. This month one lucky entrant will win a copy of the book Feed Our Small World: A Cookbook for Kids for the theme of To The Kitchen!

Entrants must be 18 years or older and reside in a country that receives U.S. Postal mail. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms and conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom's disclosures found here {}.

Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The wonderful bloggers that participate in the Poppins Book Nook are:

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God's Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy's Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ My Bright Firefly ~A Mommy's Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~Where Imagination Grows ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A Peace of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am  ~ Simple Living Mama

Have you written about ways you used books and cooking? Maybe you enjoyed exploring a cookbook with your family? Please feel free to link up this month:

Thanks for joining us this month! We will be taking December off to enjoy more time with our families, but don't forget to join us again in January for a new year and another book club theme!
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November 23, 2014

Linden Flowers and the Cough Kicker Tea {Fresh from the Cabinet}

Plants. They are all around us. They provide us beauty, fresh air, and a lot of natural remedies for every day issues. I have really enjoyed diving into the world of herbal remedies and discovering new and exciting ways to use the many herbs and flowers that grow on our earth.  One of the plants that I have had fun exploring recently is the Linden tree--also known as the common lime or basswood-- a native tree to most of the middle and eastern United States. Known throughout folk medicine for its fever reducing properties as well as a long list of other health benefits, the flowers (also called lime blossoms) from this tree  are a valuable everyday remedy for any home.
Learn more about Linden flowers and Cough Kicker Tea

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links.

Let me start with a HUGE disclaimer: I am not a botanist. I am not a medical provider. I am not an herbalist. I am {just} Doctor Mom with an unquenchable thirst for trying to find ways to keep my family healthy, without relying on many of the side effect filled over-the-counter drugs being used to treat everyday problems. As always, please use common sense and wisdom. Consult your health care professional before undertaking the advice shared here, to best assess your individual needs, symptoms and treatment. This information is intended to just provide you ideas about more natural ways you could deal with everyday issues in your health and home. I have included all sources that I have studied for this article at the bottom of this blog post for further reference.

Linden Tree--aka common lime---aka basswood

linden flowers
The Linden tree (also known as the common lime or basswood) is a native species to a most of the eastern United States. It is a deciduous tree with soft, green, heart shaped leaves and clusters of tiny drooping lemon colored flowers. The flowers show up starting about June and will give way to a small velvety green fruit during the fall. These flowers are very pleasing (and strong!) to smell and bees love them. The flowers (also called lime blossoms) hang down from the tree in clusters. 

The tree is said to be able to grow up to 130 feet tall and can live up to 500 years. It has dull gray bark when young, which browns up slightly as it matures.

I asked Love-Of-My-Life about them...he knows them by their name Basswood, but says he only knows of one in the area at his uncles property--there aren't as many around here any more, though they are native to this area (Kentucky).

The tree is very pleasing to the eye and is used in decorative landscaping (and as a shade tree) frequently. It's wood--more familiarly called basswood--is used in making models and for carving due to its light density. Did you know it's used for making musical instruments and for artist's charcoal? Even the inner bark can be used for things like rope, baskets, mats and other woven crafts. 

The tree is amazing...and we aren't even to it's homeopathic uses yet!
Linden Flower Tea

It is commonly known in the homeopathic world that the linden flowers (aka lime flowers) have many medicinal uses.  The flowers are best known for containing a high amount of the curative plant fiber mucilage--great for dealing with respiratory complaints. Natural healers have been taking advantage of the warming properties of the trees blossoms for years in making fever reducing tea. Drinking a hot linden-flower tea is known to induce sweating--which as you know is the body's way of cooling itself...thus linden-flower tea is known throughout folk medicine as "fever tea".

But that's not all! 

Remember when I said that it was a must have in your house for everyday remedies? Here is a "short" list of what linden-flower tea is also known for:

*alleviates respiratory ailments including coughs and the byproducts of the common cold
*stimulates the appetite, promotes healthy digestion, and soothes intestinal disorders
*helps calm the nervous system, thus reducing symptoms of anxiety
*to help promote natural sleeping
*eases painful cramps
*skin health and regeneration
*swelling reduction
*a mild diuretic and good for easing the symptoms of gout and rheumatism.

I think you can see the benefit of having linden flowers at your disposal! I have also read that linden flower honey is delicious! I'm a big fan of honey in general, so I would love to try some!

You aren't limited to using it medicinally! The fresh tender leaves of the linden (lime) tree can be added to green salads. You can even remove the stalk from the leaves and add them to your next sandwich. 

Obviously, you have to make sure you are really harvesting a linden tree before you ever consume anything from it...and if you find one, make sure it's not anywhere near a place sprayed with pesticides/herbicides. You don't want those added to your diet!

But if you are like probably just want it already harvested for you. If so, you can buy the linden flowers from most herbal suppliers. My personal favorite is Mountain Rose Herbs. They have excellent prices and are careful to make sure they only provide you herbs that are either organic or cultivated without chemicals or synthetic products--and aim for ethically harvested plants in the wild when available. But, if they can grow it themselves, they do!  Here is the link to purchase dried Linden Leaf and Flower like what I use in our home.

How can you use it to benefit your health?

If you do a search on Pinterest, you can find all sorts of herbal recipes with Linden Flowers in it. I have found many in the books I have read. Linden flowers can be used on their own or mixed with complementary herbs. They are definitely a common denominator of ingredients in the herbal recipes I have checked out.

To use the Linden Flowers as a tea, the most basic recipe is this:
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp of linden flowers, and then steep for 10 minutes. Be careful not to steep too long or the flavor will be lost.

*Sip it (as hot as you can stand it) three times a day to reduce fever and to promote perspiration.
*Drink a cup or two of the tea each day to help break up mucus buildup and congestion, relieving bronchial problems and to help eliminate painful cramps.

I will throw out this note that as I was reading I learned there are contrary arguments regarding drinking large amounts of linden-flower teas. Some sources believe it might damage the heart, while others claim it's safe. Those with heart disease may want to limit their intake to be safe. 

How about a great facial?
Clean your skin and pat dry gently. Place 4 tbsp of linden flowers in a bowl and add 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) of boiling water. Lean over the bowl and cover the head with a towel to trap in steam. Remain in this position for a least 10 minutes to allow the steam to open and cleanse the pores. Then wipe your skin with a cool damp cloth. Pat dry and allow the skin to cool down naturally for about 30 minutes before heading outside.

Simple and oh so effective for a great deep cleaning feel. I like to do this when my skin is at its oiliest. It makes my face feel so good!

Have puffy eyes?
To decrease swelling, simply soak cotton balls in the tea (cooled down of course) and place them on the eyelids for about 20 minutes. The flowers are said to reduce swelling, so this a simple and quick remedy.

How about dealing with sleep issues?
Make a tea by boiling 2-3 handfuls of linden flowers in 1 quart of water. Strain this mixture and pour it into the bathwater (or put the handfuls in a muslin bag and toss into your bathwater). Bathing in this will help calm nervous tensions, fight insomnia and is effective for calming children and babies before bed.

I'd even throw in some lavender blossoms (or a couple drops of lavender essential oil) for a truly delightful and soothing bathtime soak.

As I did my searching, the ultimate goal was to find a great recipe to help my boys with the nasty wet cough they have thanks to this nasty warm-cold-warm-frigidly cold-warm bipolar weather we are having this year. A sign of the month of November it seems. I know we aren't the only ones dealing with it this month.

Once I learned that linden flowers had such a great amount of mucilage (great for breaking up mucus and treating respiratory issues)--similar to one of my favorite herbs Slipper Elm Bark-- I knew I wanted them in a tea. I looked at a lot of recipes and came up with the following recipe--I used it today and the boys not only liked the taste, but it I could hear the coughing ease as they drank their tea. I would say that they got a good 2 hrs free from coughing thanks to the tea--and it prepped them for a great night of sleep too.

This recipe is great for boosting the immune system and for alleviating all those annoying bronchial issues--especially the never ending cough! Only want one cup of tea? Just remember it's a 1:1 ratio on the herbs--with a smidge extra for the linden flower. You can adapt it to fill just a tea ball or a tea infuser mug. I don't really measure--I really do pinch! LOL!
cough kicker tea
What my herbal pile looked like before putting it in my tea pot. It's so pretty! 

*When I am giving the boys (age 4 and 8) herbal tea, I make one mug of tea and split it between them giving them about 3-4 oz each. This has always worked well and I would recommend a similar dosage of herbal teas for any child 4-10 years old.  

I get all my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and everything in this recipe can be purchased from them. This makes a delightfully rosy colored up of tea which just looks pretty too. And as always, LIBERALLY lace it with raw honey for extra flavor and help kicking the cough.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the amazing Linden flower. You can see why it is so valued in herbal medicine and I hope that you will consider adding it to your natural remedy "medicine" cabinet in your own home!

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*Ageless (website)
Botanical Encyclopedia entry for Linden Flowers (

*The Illustrated Book of Herbs (book)
by Gilda Daisley
Illustrated by Ingrid Jacob
Copyright 1989
"Lime" pg 86-87

*The Complete Guide to Natural Healing (book)
Copyright 1999
Therapeutic Teas (Group 2 Card 9)
Linden-Flower Tea

"Benefits of Linden Flower Tea" by Joanne Marie
May 17, 2014

*Linden Tea (website)

November 19, 2014

Blue Ribbon Awards 2014~ Our Top 10 Favorite Products

It is hard to believe that it's been a year since I received the incredible news that I was chosen to participate with The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew team for 2014. The reviews are done for the year and I get time to reflect back over what we did and what we enjoyed. Our team voted on all the products we reviewed (from 58 companies!) to award the Blue Ribbon Awards for 2014 in 27 different categories. I thought it would be fun to share which of the 33 products we were blessed with to review were our Top 10 Favorite Products!
top 10 favorite products for homeschool

Here are the ten products we reviewed this year that we loved the most. These aren't in any particular order, and I have noted which ones won the Blue Ribbon Awards for the whole crew. All of my links will be taking you to the reviews I wrote on the products.

Drum-roll please...............

1. WriteShop (won Favorite Writing Curriculum)
We love Write Shop and even though the version we had was too easy for my writer, it was an excellent program and one that I recommend to anyone seeking a great beginning writing curriculum. We loved it so much we will be continuing to use the curriculum in the future as well. We have WriteShop C to use this year and I hope to use some of the advanced ones later.

This was one voted by Little Britches as being one of his overall favorites for the whole year. It was enjoyable and fun. I also liked how easy it was for me to "teach" it and do up assignments for him. He wishes he still has access to it. 

3. CTCmath (won Favorite Math Program)
This is the one that we voted as our favorite math program AND the best resource we didn't know we needed. This program actually was like love at first sight for both boys. They both really enjoy the videos AND the program. We discovered that Little Britches did better with this program than he did with me teaching him a lot of the math. We ended up buying an 18-month subscription which will start once our free trial wears out. We highly recommend this and several friends have purchased subscriptions and have raved about it too!

4. ARTistic Pursuits (won Favorite Fine Arts Program/Curriculum)
This program was so much fun! Baby Britches just had a blast using it! It's a great program and so comprehensive for teaching and encouraging art. I can't wait to continue to use this. We will be considering using it as we continue homeschooling--just with higher levels.

5. Maestro Classics
Maestro Classics was a super fun product and the boys are STILL in love with their Mike Mulligan CD. It's a daily thing that they listen to while they get dressed and do their morning chores.

6. Veritas Press (biggest winner of 2014! Won Favorite History Program, Best Digital Resource AND All Around Crew Favorite)
Love love love. We LOVE this history program. Since the first day we did it, it has been a family favorite. This is one subject that I have no problems with getting Little Britches to work on. He asks if it's time to do it. The retention of the information is great and he just soaks it in like a sponge. I highly recommend this program (the only drawback is the price...the ONLY drawback) and we will be using it again in the future at some point.

7. Roman Roads (won Favorite High School Resource)
Roman Roads. I reviewed this history curriculum myself and it was AWESOME! I loved everything about it. It's definitely a great one for the middle school level at the very earliest--ideal for high school. I can't wait to bring this out again for the boys when they are old enough. I am still working my way through it just for pleasure because it is so well done.

8. My Student Logbook (won Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed)
This was a GREAT product. And I agree with the category it won in. It has made our routine so much easier since he is able to just look at what he has left to do and check it off. No more questions of "are we done yet?" or fights about how much is left. He can see it all right in front of him. I highly recommend this product and we will be continuing to use it.

9. Institute for Excellence in Writing: Fix It Grammar (won Favorite Grammar Curriculum)
I am so glad this product snagged a category win. It is excellent and so useful! We both agreed to keep it as part of our regular curriculum because it worked well and he loves it. No groaning on this product either. I look forward to continuing in the books as we progress.

10. Heirloom Audio Productions: Under Drakes Flag (won Favorite Book, Audio Book or Audio Drama)
Little Britches chimed in on this one. He really really loves this audio drama and asks for it every time we go anywhere of distance. It doesn't matter how many times he's listened to it. He loves it all the same. I am looking forward to purchasing the next one In Freedom's Cause which is available this month!
Well there are our 10 favorites for this year...there were more that we really enjoyed, but these 10 stand out as the best of the bunch. I hope you will check out my full reviews on each of them and consider making some of them a part of your own adventure! If you want to see what some of my fellow crew members chose as their favorites for the year, you can head on over and read about in the Blue Ribbon Awards 2014 post!

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