Use it up: ways with leftovers

I recently bought yet another cookbook, on the recommendation of several readers at my regular blog. The book is Extending the Table. It follows the same format as an old family favorite, The More With Less Cookbook, by Janis Longacre, whose husband wrote the forward for Extending the Table. Although I disagree with some of the theology, most of the politics, and much of the nutritional advice sprinkled throughout the books (they call for reducing fats and proteins, and substitute margarine for better and suggest pulling the skin off the chicken), I really like these books, very much.

The recipes in Extending the Table are gleaned from missionaries and their friends from around the world. They are adapted where need be to fit the ingredients, kitchens and customs of North American cooks. Most of the recipes include stories. As the author says in the introduction, telling children stories and involving them in food preparation may pique a child’s interest, and it helps to open up both their minds and hearts to trying new foods. If you are preparing an Indian dish and you know an Indian family, the introduction might be as simple as, “This is the sort of food Mr. and Mrs. Singh’s family in India might eat.” Or if you have recently watched Anna and the King of Siam, you might prepare a Thai dish and say, “This is the sort of food that the King of Siam’s great – great- grandchildren might be eating today.”

Some of the stories within the pages of this book are sad, others are amusing, most are thought-provoking. One contributor (of a recipe) tells of a church service attended, where the lesson was on loving your enemies. At the conclusion of the sermon, a member of the congregation stood up and explained the lesson in context. When your children are crying and sobbing at your feet because they are hungry, and they have tied tight bands around their empty bellies to reduce the hunger pangs, and you walk to your garden a few miles away to pick the last mangoes off the tree, and discover somebody has stolen them, that is when you must remember to love your enemy, this stranger who has stolen the food from your children.

Another story is about the custom of the cooks in Honduras, when they buy pineapple, they do not just eat the succulent fruit in the center. They peel the pineapple and then simmer the peelings with a bit of rice and some spices. After simmering it for a while, they strain it and chill it, having it later for a filling and refreshing beverage made from ingredients we throw in the garbage. Another story tells of a missionary who thought she and her children were good at not being wasteful. They were served a chicken dinner at a friend’s home in some third world country, and she felt they did full justice to the chicken. Later, she passed through the kitchen and saw that her hostess’s children had taken her family’s leftover bones and sucked them so clean of all meat and fat, that they were white. Possibly the next step would be to break them apart and simmer them for hours for a rich, nourishing bone broth soup.

Meanwhile, I read an article this week about why serving our own children leftovers is second-best, they ought to just be thrown away. I understand the frustration with being told ‘there are children starving in AFrica, so clean your plate.” I don’t consider it productive to sink beneath the burden of guilt over the fact that I was born in a rich country full of blessings, and most people in the world weren’t. I don’t really believe it will make a lick of difference to starving children in Haiti or the Congo if I save the onion and garlic skins from those root crops and simmer them with broken chicken bones and bits of wilted cabbage, green beans, and a handful of well scrubbed carrot tops or if I just toss all those things in the garbage.

I do believe, however, that throwing away food is bad for my character and for my children’s. I do believe that taking our abundance of food for granted to the point that we throw away perfectly edible foods because we don’t do leftovers is not the best way to show gratitude for those blessings we have, or to show kindness towards those poorer than us.

Jesus, as I have mentioned before, performed the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, creating abundance where there were only five small loaves of barley bread and two small fishes. There was plenty more where that came from. And yet, when it was all over, he had his disciples gather the fragments and report to him how much was left. I don’t know what he did with those ‘fragments (there were bushels full), but I doubt he just threw them all away.

Here are some fragments you might gather:
The leafy greens of beet and turnip tops are edible. Beets and turnips are in season right now (in my hemisphere, and possibly it’s cool enough in early spring on the other side of the world that they are ripening now). When preparing these vegetables, slice the top part off (just about 1/8 of an inch thick), and put it cut-side down in a shallow pan of water in a sunny window (it doesn’t really need to be that sunny). The greens will grow further, and in a week or two, you can cut them off, steam them and serve with butter and salt. You can also cut them up and fry them bacon grease, or cut them small and have them in green smoothies or soups.

Stir leftover corn into cornbread- add some cheese for extra zip, and some green chiles for even more zing.

Save leftover vegetables in a container in the freezer and add them to soup. We recently had a pumpkin dish for lunch that wasn’t the greatest success. It wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t that great. I put the leftovers in the blender and stirred them into a lamb rag-out in the crockpot- it was a wonderful combination.

Leftover mashed potatoes- can be used for bread dough, or make potato noodles:
combine 2 cups mashed potatoes with one beaten egg, 3/4 cup of flour, and salt to taste. Mix well. Roll dough out about 1/4 inch thick and cut it into strips about an inch wide. Fry them in about half an inch of hot oil, drain, and serve as a side dish, or with a meat sauce over them.

Add leftover meats to stir fries or quiches

Make melba toast with the last few slices of home-made bread- slice the bread and put the slices in an oven on very low temperature until the bread is thoroughly dry- essentially, you are dehydrating it. This dried bread is good with spreads and meat salads, and toddlers love to chew on it.

Leftover oatmeal can be kneaded into whole wheat bread or mixed into muffins.

Leftover cream of wheat or farina can be put into a greased loaf pan and chilled until firm, then slice it the next morning and fry gently in hot oil, turning when one side is brown and frying a minute or two longer. Serve hot with jam or top with a cheesy white sauce.

Freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays and use them in you blender to make coffee flavored drinks.

Fry leftover spaghetti or linguini noodles in this Thai style pork noodle toss.

Reusing leftovers isn’t a punishment or a shameful thing. It’s a privilege. Get the most out of your food dollars with joy and an attitude of thankfulness for your circumstances and compassion for others. It’s also a chance to be creative.

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Two Good Reads

Fascinating:  A microbioligist and a medieval scholar got together and tested an old Anglo Saxon remedy for the eye sty.  It seems it could be extremely effective on MRSA.

The whole thing is pretty cool, but two things really stood out to me:

They had to hope for the best with the leeks and garlic because modern crop varieties are likely to be quite different to ancient ones – even those branded as heritage. For the wine they used an organic vintage from a historic English vineyard.

Modern crop varieties are likely to be quite different?  What’s that?  Modern plant crops might lack something that older crop varieties had?  Isn’t this just exactly what those food greenies have been saying (and been mocked for)?

And this:

Unexpectedly, the ingredients had little effect unless they were all brought together. “The big challenge is trying to find out why that combination works,” says Steve Diggle, another of the researchers. Do the components work in synergy or do they trigger the formation of new potent compounds?

Using exactly the right method also seems to be crucial, says Harrison, as another group tried to recreate the remedy in 2005 and found that their potion failed to kill bacteria grown in a dish. “With the nine-day waiting period, the preparation turned into a kind of loathsome, odorous slime,” says Michael Drout of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.

Reminds of of what Michael Pollans has said about the nutrients in food- quite often the sum is greater than the parts- basil alone has some nutritional benefits, tomatoes do as well, so does olive oil, but when you mix them together as mediterranean housewives have done for millenia, you don’t get 1 plus 1 plus 1- you get a whole new combination of GOOD STUFF.

I also find it really delightful that this research came about because two people in two vastly different fields fell to talking- and wondering.  Which brings me to my next link:

We need more people who wonder:

Of course, we do not need and cannot have an expert’s knowledge of every possible subject. Rather, we need to cultivate the habit—which is to say, the virtue—of regarding knowledge as interconnected and making an effort to understand new ideas and information within the context of the whole. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that given the current patterns in schooling, most students who don’t plan on becoming veterinarians would ever see much value in dissecting a squid. We teach our students a range of subjects, assuming this will magically make them “well rounded,” but never give them the tools for bringing to the surface the questions that naturally arise in the course of their studies, and relating them not simply to a potential profession, but to their personal and even spiritual lives.

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Adding Value

Several years ago, we kept hens, and we had a surplus of eggs. We could sell our eggs to others for a dollar a dozen (it was several years back). Or we could get between 12 and 24 dollars a dozen if we pickled them first and sold them at one or two dollars an egg. My husband pickled them and sold them to a bar in town, and to his co-workers, hence the different prices. The bar paid a dollar, the co-workers paid two.
Pickling eggs did not take very much time, and it did not cost us a dollar an egg to pickle them.

Directions and recipes here.

We added value for the customer, and that increased our profits as well. People will pay more for convenience. And while the cost per egg seemed outrageous to us, many a single person preferred to pay more per egg just to have a single pickled egg as a treat, rather than a dozen of them that had to be finished.

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Copywork from Five Little Peppers

Click to enlarge. Set paper orientation to landscape, margins to .5

For some tips on how to use these (or other sentences) for copywork, see here.


copywork grade 2 five little peppers 3 copywork grade 2 five little peppers 4

copywork grade 2 five little peppers 5


I chose the sentences I chose with two views in mind. One was, did the words evoke any kind of picture in the mind- even so simple and homey a picture as a dish of cold potatoes in a little girl’s hands.
The other was, do these sentences include practice in the sorts of skills a grade two child required to take mandated state test might see on such a test? That would include things like quotation marks, the three basic punctuation marks for ending a sentence, some basic capitalization, and some use of commas. There are some Mother Goose rhymes that also lend themselves well to that sort of thing. I have some listed here.

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Printable Copywork: Aesop’s Fables

There are slightly more than two dozen free printable copywork pages from Aesop’s Fables here. The selections are suitable for first or second graders who have mastered their letter formation skills. With possibly one except, the stories I used for these copywork pages are the ones assigned in term one of AO, but you don’t have to use AO to find value in copying sentences from Aesop’s Fables.

To save space, I just posted the partical images here- thumbnails.   Right click, then select ‘open in new tab’ and then print or save the image to the file where you store these sorts of printables.

To print, set your paper orientation to landscape, margins to .25. You can center it on the page, but that’s not necessary. I always check it with print preview before I print anything.

Set the timer for ten or fifteen minutes and stop the copywork as soon as the timer goes off, then have your child check it carefully.

copywork aesop's fables wolf and kid

copywork aesop's fables tortoise and ducks

copywork aesop's fables who will bell the cat


copywork aesop's fables boy filberts

copywork aesop's fables Hercules and Waggoner

copywork aesop's fables wolf and kid 2

copywork aesop's fables country mouse

copywork aesop's fables fox and grapes

copywork aesop's fables bundle of sticks

copywork aesop's fables ass and his driver

copywork aesop's fables oxen and wheels

copywork aesop's fables lion and mouse

copywork aesop's fables boy who cried wolf

copywork aesop's fables boy who cried wolf moral

copywork aesop's fables gnat and bull

copywork aesop's fables plan tree

copywork aesop's fables stork and the cranes

copywork aesop's fables the sheep and the pig

copywork aesop's fables travellers and the purse

copywork aesop's fables lion and ass

copywork aesop's fables frogs who wanted a king

copywork aesop's fables frogs oak and reeds

copywork aesop's fables frogs frogs and boys

copywork aesop's fables frogs frogs and boys 2

copywork aesop's fables frogs frogs and boys 3

copywork aesop's fables crow and pitcher

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Sushi Rice

2015-03-29 10.01.04Sushi is picnic food in Japan and Korea. only in Korean, it’s not sushi, it’s kimbap/gimbap/김밥
, and 김밥 doesn’t usually include vinegar, but does have sesame oil. A lot of sites say another difference is there is no raw fish in 김밥, but I never had raw fish in sushi when I lived in Japan, either- that would be sashimi.  I hardly ever had any seafood at all in it.  Mostly, I had vegetables- cucumbers, pickled ginger, takuan (pickled daikon radish, it’s very yellow, pungent, and delicious, oh, so delicious). Sometimes I had it with other vegetables, sometimes eggs, and sometimes even hotdogs or spam.

It’s great picnic food because the vinegar in the rice for the Japanese sushi means it doesn’t really need to be refrigerated- which is great since refrigeration dries out the rice grains and makes the sushi messier to eat. Of course, that’s assuming there’s any leftover to refrigerate, which we almost never have.


Here are two recipes for the vinegared rice which is the main ingredient for sushi:

To make six cups of sushi rice in advance:
3 1/2 cups short grain brown rice (short grain sticks together better)
4 cups of water
a 6 inch piece of kombu (dried kelp)

one or two hours before you want the sushi rice:
Wash the rice. Drain and air dry (optional) wash the kombu to remove excess salt. Put the kombu and water in a heave 2 quart saucepan. Cover, bring to boil. Remove the kombu (save it for a pickle recipe which I’ll give below), add the rice, stir, cover pan, return to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until all water is absorbed. During the simmer time is the time to start your sushi liquid (see below). Remove from heat and allow to sit ten minutes.

Turn your rice out on a large shallow dish, platter, or tray.

Meanwhile: Combine in a small saucepan:
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 T mild honey (you can use sugar)
1 1 /2 tsp salt

Mix well while heating, but don’t bring it to a boil. When the salt is dissolved and the honey (or sugar) well blent into the water and vinegar, set aside to cool.

When your rice is spread out on the platter, pour vinegar mixture evenly over it in a steady stream (you *can* just quickly mix it all in your rice pan, which is what I usually do)- fan the rice to cool rapidly while stirring and cutting in the vinegar mixture with a spatula, a wide wooden spoon, or the special spoon that comes with most rice cookers these days. You want to slightly break down the rice grains so they will be even stickier. You can store this in a container for a couple of days (you don’t need to refrigerate).

Your young children or grandchildren who like to get in on the action can help with the fanning, and occasionally snack on the pickled ginger and takuan with you (this boy: “Oh, that’s spicy!”  a second later, “Ooooh, that’s a *good* spicy!”)  You really can’t start too early getting them used to tasty foods.

2015-03-27 22.06.35

Use this rice to make norimaki, inari, chirashi, and sushi. The ‘how to’ videos you can find at manchii and youtube are probably the best way to learn how to roll it, unless you have a friend who can show you in person, which is how I learned.    For the kimbap version, and directions for rolling and ingredients that will work for kimbap or sushi, see here.

Recipe Two- this is a good one for when you have leftover rice and you suddenly decide you want some sushi:

2 or 3 cups of cold cooked short grain brown rice (it can be white, but it really needs to be short grain)

4 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tsp salt (You can adjust these to taste)

Steam the rice for 3 or 4 minutes in order to reheat and rehydrate the grains. Dried out rice doesn’t work for sushi. You can try microwaving it with a sprinkling of water (about a tsp) in a container you cover tightly with saran wrap (about a minute), or you can put in a steamer basket over a pan of boiling water.

Heat the vinegar, honey, and salt as above (in a saucepan, don’t bring it to a boil) cool slightly, pour over rice and mix well.

When you want to make sushi, you should have the fillings ready to go. Of course you always need the lavered seaweed sheets to wrap your sushi in.

I line my bamboo mat with saran wrap, put the seaweed laver on it, spread that with rice, and then I put another layer of saran wrap on top of that.  I press down on the rice with a cutting board or cookie sheet so that it’s firmly pressed, the grains smooshed together (that’s an official cooking term, smooshed, yes?) tightly so it stays together nicely when you roll.

Then remove the top layer of saran wrap and put your fillings in, and roll.  Roll tightly, tucking it under as you roll, roll, squeeze, roll squeeze.  Sometimes you need to brush a wet finger tip along the edge of the seaweed at the end of the roll to help it stick closed, but I usually don’t.  I just set it seam side down on a platter and by the time I’ve finished rolling 3-5 rolls, the seams are nicely closed.

Here’s what my book says to do about the rolling:

2015-03-29 10.57.29

The extra liquid is to dip your hands or utensils (basically, anything other than the food that you’re going to use to touch the sushi rice or roll).  I don’t do this.  I do sometimes dip my knife in water before cutting the sushi.

Here’s a secret- you don’t have to cut it.  You can just eat a roll instead of a sandwich for lunch sometimes:

2015-03-29 10.00.12

Here are some fillings:

thin strips of cucumber, carrots, zucchini (if you soak the carrots or zucchini the day before in pickle juice, that’s extra yumminess)

green onions


pickled ginger (it’s not really sushi for me without this)

takuan (and it’s not really sushi for me without this)

hot dogs or spam sliced in long thin strips

Fake crab strips


A thin egg omelette, cut into strips


Here’s what to do with your leftover pieces of kombu, or kelp, used when making soup stock or sushi rice:

combine 3 pieces about 8 inches each of leftover kombu with 4 cups of water and 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, a cup of soy sauce or amino acids, 4 Tbs honey, and 2 tsp fresh ginger root, grated.

Bring this to a boil and cook for about ten minutes, uncovered.  Cover the pan, and reduce to low and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed (about an hour). Stir frequently to prevent burning and sticking, but be gentle.

When the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and chill, then cut into strips.  You can toss this with sesame seeds.  Keeps in the fridge quite a while, according to the cookbook.  I’ve never made this, but I love to eat it.=)

The cookbook-  Natural food feasts from the Eastern World.

I’ve posted about another of her Asian cookbooks here- I really love her recipes and the way she explains them.  I especially appreciate the fact that she doesn’t compromise on convenience foods (partly because they weren’t available at the time)- she tells you how to make everything from scratch, from eggroll wrappers to various congees and more.   She uses honey rather than sugar for most of her recipes.  And she tells you how to find substitutions for hard-to-find ingredients.   There are over 800 recipes in Natural Food Feasts – it’s one of my cookbooks that just cannot be duplicated by the internet, when so many internet recipes feature convenience foods and processed ingredients.



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Charlotte Mason and Religion

Notes taken from my first read through volume six some 17 years ago- this section of my notes focused on religion and CM

Basic principles: According to volume six, and probably every other book, Charlotte considered the children’s relationship with God first and foremost in their development of the ‘science of relations.’  “The initial difficulty is the enormous field of knowledge to which a child ought to be introduced in right of his human nature and of those “first born affinities” which he lives to make good. First and chiefest is the knowledge of God, to be got at most directly through the Bible;”253-4

“The knowledge of God is the principal knowledge, and no teaching of the Bible which does not further that knowledge is of religious value.  Therefore the children read, or if they are too young to read for themselves the teacher reads to them, a passage of varying length covering an incident or some definite teaching. If there are remarks to be made about local geography or local custom, the teacher makes them before the passage has been read, emphasizing briefly but reverently any spiritual or moral truth: the children narrate what has been read after the reading.”272 This method is especially suitable for reading the Gospels, but “the law and the prophets still interpret the ways of God, and we shall not do well if we tacitly treat the Old Testament as out of date as a guide to life. 273

I can testify to the truth of this myself. With my oldest four, we used a very plain, rather ‘dry’ Bible curriculum, have forever, and my children,  just ate up the straightforward approach to good, plain, Bible.  We use ‘Suffer Little Children,” which has a brief introduction to the text, lists the actual Bible passage to read, and then sometimes gives mapwork to complete. My children, even the 8 and 9 y.o., simply read the Bible for themselves. Before they could write, I had them narrate by drawing me a picture from the story.

Assuming that knowledge of God, man and the natural world are the proper fields of knowledge for study, then, she says, literature would “constitute the container” for these things. One cannot think without words And all these things must be conveyed to us through the medium of language, of words. She says it is no accident that the idea of the Logos came to the later Greeks, or that “The Word” applies to the second person of the Trinity, or that Jesus taught by means of story, and more. Jesus says He has given unto us the words which God gave Him. He has the words of eternal life.

Words are more than just tools to describe things and events, they are the clothing of ideas, and these ideas are what motivate, cause people to change, stretch our minds. We must bring a new zeal and a new method to our studies; we may no longer dip here and there or read a perfunctory chapter with a view to find some word of counsel or comfort for our use.337

The arrogance which pronounces judgment upon the written “Word” upon so slight an acquaintance as would hardly enable us to cover a sheet or two of paper with sayings of the Master, which confines the Divine Teaching to the Great Sermon, of which we are able to rehearse some half-dozen sentences, is as absurd as it is blameworthy. Let us give at least as profound attention to the teaching of Christ as the disciples of Plato, say, gave to his words of wisdom. Let us observe, notebook in hand, the orderly and progressive sequence, the penetrating quality, the irresistible appeal, the unique content of the Divine teaching; (for this purpose it might be well to use some one of the approximately chronological arrangements of the Gospel History in the words of the text)” 337,8

With the notebook in hand quote in mind, I think the CM teen should be taking notes of her Bible studies, outlining scriptures and taking notes of Sunday Sermons, too, perhaps outlining them as well (although how successfully depends also on how organized the minister is;-D)

“If we believe that the fundamental knowledge is the knowledge of God, we shall bring up our children as students of Divinity and shall pursue our own life-long studies in the same school. Then we shall find that the weekly sermons for which we are prepared are as bread to the hungry; and we shall perhaps understand how enormous is the demand we make upon the clergy for living, original thought.” 338

40 Our business is to give the children the great ideas of life, of religion, history, science; but it is the ideas we must give, clothed upon with facts as they occur; “Children “experience all the things they hear and read of; these enter into them and are their life; and thus it is that ideas feed the mind in the most literal sense of the word ‘feed'”.

The only valid education has “mind for its objective.” 253

I also came away from reading volume 6 with the idea that teaching religion is not just a separate subject, it is part of every subject. The fact that 2 and 2 are four will teach us something about the Creator, all of creation will provide an opportunity to see some basic principle of conduct, of reason, of the Laws of God.

We endeavor to bring records contemporary with the Bible before children, using the contents of certain rooms of the British Museum as a basis.273-4 Also see the sample test questions in volumes 3 and 6 for further indication of the way world history contemporary with biblical accounts fleshed out Bible study.

Our goal should bring up our children to have “self-sustaining minds” to “awaken and direct mind hunger” so that every adult will continue to learn and to love to learn, to think carefully about each idea that he meets, to read and to read well. Education should “make our boys and girls rich towards God towards society and rich towards themselves.”

She considers her form of education to be a “humanistic education in which the knowledge of God is put first” and one which will develop character and conduct, intelligence and initiative. 287

She stresses the importance of familiarity with the whole Bible, the prophets, the gospels, the letters, and the historical books of the OT.

It is not enough to teach reasoning, logic, we must have knowledge of character, of principles, of God most of all, because “without knowledge, Reason carries a man into the wilderness and Rebellion joins company.” 315

We cannot do a greater indignity than to substitute our own or some other  person’s rendering for the fine English, poetic diction and lucid statement of the Bible.” 160

“A normal child of six listens with delight to the tales both of Old and New Testament read to him passage by passage, and by him narrated in turn” 160

“It is probably true that the teaching of the New Testament, not duly grounded upon or accompanied by that of the Old, fails to result in such thought of God, wide, all-embracing, all permeating” 161,162

Give them a “full and gradual picture of OT history that they perceive for themselves a panoramic view of the history of mankind”162

Introduce the children to “some thoughtful commentator who weighs difficult questions with modesty and scrupulous care.” 162 She suggests one by Canon Paterson Smyth (The Bible for the Young). From 6-12 the children should have covered all the OT, reading the prophets and the kings of whom they were contemporaries at the same time. She begins by reading from the commentary, which seems to have provided some of the same info as you might find in a Bible Dictionary or Atlas or book of Bible customs, then read the Bible passage, ending by bringing out such “new thoughts of God or new points of behaviour as the reading has afforded emphasizing the moral or religious lesson to be learnt rather by a reverent and sympathetic manner than by any attempt at person application.

She points out that the Bible does not always label actions as good or bad- use stories like these to teach the underlying principles, or to give the children the opportunity to exercise those principles you’ve taught them.

More specifically:

From 12 to 15 the children read for themselves the whole of the OT, not directly from the Bible, but from something called OT History by Rev. H. Costley-White, because of his ‘wise and necessary omissions’ I would assume she means the omission of stories like Lot’s impregnating his daughters, and the concubine thrown by her master to attackers in order to save his own life, and then chopped into twelve pieces I am also guessing, based on what Miss Mason says about not substituting our words for the excellent prose of the Bible that the actual biblical words are here, but some accounts are absent. They also read the Prophets and poetic books as they are contemporary with the time period being covered in the OT readings.

From 15 to 18 they use Dummelow’s One Volume Bible Commentary, a book I could find nothing about.

NT is a different subject of study, but approached in the same way, same commentaries, followed by reading of the text and narration. There are final exams at the end of each term, examples of questions asked are provided in volumes 3 and six, and would be useful in determining what sorts of questions we want to include on our own final exams, if we decide to give them. One example is” the people sat in darkness I am the light of the World.’ Shew as far as you can the meaning of these statements.”

Write an essay or a poem on the Bread of Life.

Older students read The Saviour of the World volume by volume combined with a chronological reading of the scriptures. Younger children read each of the synoptic gospels (that’s Matthew, Mark, and Luke) the middle group reads John and Acts, using some commentaries by a Bishop Walsham How. The oldest students read the epistles and revelation. They also cover the catechism, prayer book, and church history, often using Sundays, together with the “time given for preparation for Confirmation” for these last subjects. My own fellowship has no catechism, no creed but Christ, and no statement of faith other than the Bible, so we won’t be doing this, but I like the idea of using Sunday afternoons for a quiet study of church history, a period of time to read aloud books about missionaries and martyrs.

We’ve discussed character building and habits before, but I think it worthwhile to discuss them again in connection with religion. About the importance of the habit of attention much has been said- it is a familiar concept to CM devotees. IT remains important in the high school years. The children must continue to do their own work, to read, or listen to others read, one time only, and then to tell what they have read or heard read.

The development of good habits should also be continued into the teenage years, indeed all our lives. “A chief function of education is the establishment of such ways of thinking in children as shall issue in good and useful living, clear thinking, aesthetic enjoyment, and above all, in the religious life.” As Charlotte points out, “habit is inevitable. If we fail to ease life by laying down habits of right thinking and right acting habits of wrong thinking and wrong acting fix themselves of their own accord.” (101)

In volume 6, Charlotte says, with some humour I think, “It is unnecessary to enumerate those habits which we should aim at forming, for everyone knows more about these than anyone practices.” However, she does mention habits she thinks it important to develop in volume 3.  I would also recommend reading Children of a Greater God, by Terry Glaspey. He, too, discusses at length the value of developing habits of will and of discipline, the habit of right desiring. He suggests developing habits of fortitude, temperance, saying no to excess, justice, prudence, faith, hope, love, humility.

And I will close with some quotes I thought especially profound, and relevant to our times (from pages 149 and 150): ***Help the children towards a proper understanding of what religion is. Miss Mason quotes a Bernard Bosanquet, D.C.I. from _What Religion Is_:

“Will religion guarantee me my private and personal happiness? To this on the whole I think we must answer, No; and if we approach it with a view to such happiness, then most certainly and absolutely No.”

Neither, according to Miss Mason, is ‘ease of body,’ ‘relief of mind,’ reparation of loss,’ the proper focus of our religion. She talks about religious charlatans of the day who prey on the masses- mediums, spiritualists, and faith healers who promote ‘the power of a Healer who manipulates us,’ and those who insist that ‘sin is not for us, nor sorrow for sin,’ (today’s psychologists?).

“We may,” says Miss Mason, ” live in continual odious self-complacency, remote from the anxious struggling souls about us….” believing that “religion will ‘guarantee me my private and personal happiness,’ will make me immune from every distress and misery of life; and this happy immunity is all a power of my own will; the person that matters in my religion is myself only. The office of religion for me in such a case is to remove all uneasiness, bodily and spiritual, and to float me into a Nirvana of undisturbed self-complacency. But we must answer with Professor Basanquet, “absolutely NO.”‘

And here’s the most interesting observation of all (to me), “True religion will not to this for me because the final form of the worship that will do thesese things is idolatry, self-worship, with no intention beyond self.”

She and professor Basanquet agree that the proper question is not, “What will religion do for me,’ but rather, ‘does it make life more worth living?’ to which the answer is, “it is the only thing that makes life worth living at all.'”

The focus of our teaching Bible and religion to our children ought to be that they understand, “I want, am made for and must have a God.”


Charlotte Mason bookmarks colour borders Christian

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Printable Copywork Sheet

I’d use this with a student somewhere from 7-8, depending on their reading level.  Click to enlarge to full size.  Set your margins to .5, paper orientation to landscape.

copywork grade 2 five little peppers 1



If you print the one above with your paper on portrait orientation, you should have a lot of room at the bottom for your child to draw his own illustration.

copywork grade 2 five little peppers


Read it over together once, with expression.

To get the full benefit of copywork, it needs to be done word by word rather than letter by letter.   To help your child do this, cover the words with stick it notes.  Have them remove just enough of the paper to look at one word at a time.  Instead of copying letter by letter, have them look at the whole word until they are sure they have it, then cover the word up again while they write from memory.  This helps with spelling later.

If they need help with spacing, I always told my children to put the left index finger on the paper at the end of each word, and start the next word just to the right of that.  I put more spaces than usual between the words to give young writers more room for their letters.

It also helps to set the timer for ten minutes, or fifteen.  They can stop when the timer goes off, and pick it up again the next day.  This way, the amount of work they cover naturally increases naturally as their ability to do more work grows.

As they increase in confidence, uncover two words at a time, then three.

Once they’ve finished, they can uncover everything and go over it, correcting for punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.

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The best ideas

The boy and I were discussing Fahrenheit 451.  He complained that a certain idea took three paragraphs to explain and he felt like it should have been simplified.

“The best ideas are like that,” I said in full sanctimonious Mom Has a Teachable Moment mode (not proud of it), “they are complex and deep and take time to think about.”

“Mom.  SOME good ideas are like that.  But I don’t think you can say the BEST ideas are like that.  I mean, I can think of a bunch of the best ideas that can be summed up in 3 words or less.”

“Really?”  I shouldn’t have said that.  I should not have said that. Now he was on a roll in best Boy style shooting out words like brain bullets:

“Time to sleep.’ That’s 3 words and it’s an awesome idea.  ‘Let’s Eat,’ one of the best ideas ever, anywhere, anytime, and that’s two words.  Same with ‘Let’s skip school,’ 3 words, and you know what else?  ‘Freedom.’  One word. ”

He didn’t say, “I win,” but I could tell he knew he had. I responded with the best idea I could think of at the time.

“I surrender.”


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Poets through the ages

all poets contemporaries” ‘A great poem,” it has been truly said ” is a fountain forever overflowing with the waters of wisdom and delight, and after one person and one age has exhausted its divine effluence, which their peculiar relations enable them to share, another and yet another succeeds, and new relations are ever developed, the source of an unforeseen and an unconceived delight.’ (Defense of Poetry, Shelley)

It must be remembered, however, that poetry, like science, will yield up her treasures only to her faithful votary. Robertson has truly said that

”the higher kinds of poetry demand study as severe as mathematics; the dew-drop that glitters on the end of every leaf after a shower is beautiful even to a child, but I suppose that to a Herschel, who knows that the lightning itself sleeps within it, and understands and feels all its mysterious connections with earth and sky and planets, it is suggestive of a feeling of far deeper beauty.”  (Frederick W. Robertson)

The propriety of this illustration will be at once apparent when we contemplate poetry under its higher aspects, as the bright consummate flower of the age and country which gave it birth, drawing its nourishment from the deepest roots of the national life, and at the same time concealing beneath its delicate petals the germs of the future. Hence every great poem requires, for its full elucidation, to be studied, not only in connection with contemporaneous history, but also to be brought into comparison with the kindred productions of other ages and nations.

All hail, then, to the world’s inspired singers, of every age and every clime, who, how remote so ever they may be from us and from each other, are nevertheless in a certain sense contemporaries of each succeeding age.”


From Poets: Interpreters of Their Age, by Anna Swanwick

I agree with her in general- there are treasures in poetry that can only be mined through deep digging and serious study.  I demur if she means it’s only worth reading .  I just would say that poetry still provides beauty worth having and  plentiful blessings and inspiration to those who have not the time or inclination to devote to a study as severe as mathematics.

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