Welcome!
I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. An advocate of slow food and simple living. A keeper of memories, a collector of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

With a family of seven, it is difficult to find a recipe that we all RAVE about. Sure, there are plenty that we all like and will all eat. But inevitably, someone would prefer more tomatoes on their salad and others would prefer less. Some like their chicken topped with gravy and some do not. The more people that are sitting at the table, the more taste buds and preferences I have to consider.

But THIS recipe? 
This is one of those rare everyone-begs-for lunchtime treats. It was a recipe that the Radio Announcer's wife stumbled upon when planning for a Germany unit for our Geography club a couple of years ago. 

Truth be told, if my jiggly thighs weren't an issue, I think I could eat these babies all-the-live-long-day!

With their salty outside and their tender inside, these yummy pretzels always seem to conjure up a flood of memories of days-gone-by...
high school basketball games 
movies theatre visits with girlfriends
family state fair trips...
lots of memories packed into each and every bite.

Sheesh...a girl could get a little weepy just sitting here thinking about it. But, I digress. Back to the recipe. 

Preheat oven to 400˚.

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Dissolve 3 tsp. of yeast and 1 1/2 T. of brown sugar with 1/4 c. warm water. Let sit for a minute while you gather the rest of your ingredients. The yeast will not bubble like in other yeast dough recipes. 

Stir in an additional 2 c. warm water. 

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Add 6 3/4 c. flour and 1/4 tsp. salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir together to combine. The dough will be a bit dry. (The wooden spoon isn't necessarily a MUST. But, should you decide to use a flimsy plastic one, please give my apologies to your triceps.)

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Knead together for a minute or two. A ton of kneading is not necessary. You are mostly just wanting to thoroughly mix the somewhat dry dough.

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Shape the dough into a round ball and cut into 12 even pieces.

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

This is when third grade fraction skills come in handy.

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Roll each dough ball into a long snake (about 1 1/2 ft. each).

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Grab both ends of the "snake" and twist around and across the middle portion.

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

This should create the traditional pretzel look. 

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Set the uncooked pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set aside.

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

In a saucepan bring 3 c. water and 6 T. of baking soda to a boil. Boil a few minutes until the baking soda is completely dissolved. 

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Remove from heat. Carefully drop one pretzel into the soda bath. Soak for 10-15 seconds on each side. 

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Using a spatula, remove the pretzel from the water bath and return it to the parchment paper. Cut small surface slits around the top of the pretzel to accommodate for swelling during baking. 

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt. Repeat the soda bath process with the rest of the uncooked pretzels. 

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Bake on the middle wrack for 15-18 minutes. 

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

And then, you indulge!
(Mmm...'xcuse me while a salivate over all this gluten goodness.)

Lunchtime Soft Pretzels {The Unlikely Homeschool}

I like to serve them up with some cheese dip (with a few tablespoons of diced jalapenos mixed in for kick), diced ham, and fruit. While it's not exactly a well-rounded meal, it's at least oval-shaped, I think?!

Ingredients

Pretzels

3 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 T. brown sugar 
2 1/4 c. warm water, divided
6 3/4 c. flour
3 T. and 1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt, divided

Baking Soda Bath

3 c. water 
6 T. baking soda

Directions

Preheat oven to 400˚. Dissolve yeast and brown sugar with 1/4 c. warm water. Let sit for a minute or two. Stir in the rest of the water. Add flour and 1/4 tsp. salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir together to combine. The dough will be a bit dry. Knead together for a minute or two until the dough is thoroughly mixed. Shape the dough into a round ball and cut into 12 even pieces. Roll each dough ball into a long snake (about 1 1/2 ft. each). Grab both ends of the "snake" and twist around and across the middle portion to form the traditional pretzel look. Set the uncooked pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set aside.

In a saucepan bring 3 c. water and 6 T. of baking soda to a boil. Boil a few minutes until the baking soda is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Carefully drop one pretzel into the soda bath. Soak for 10-15 seconds on each side. Using a spatula, remove the pretzel from the water bath and return it to the parchment paper. Cut small surface slits around the top of the pretzel to accommodate for swelling during baking. Sprinkle generously with the remaining coarse sea salt. Repeat the soda bath process with the rest of the uncooked pretzels. Bake on the middle wrack for 15-18 minutes.

Dip into jalapeno cheese dip and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer Gentle Schooling 2015

Summer Gentle Schooling 2015 {The Unlikely Homeschool}

While the notion of Sabbath schooling with its Biblical balance of work and rest compels me to tweak our school year schedule each-and-every year, I continue to stand firm with tradition. I continue to cling to the normal nine-months-of-school-and-three-months-of-summer-break pattern that most homeschoolers embrace. 

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

I'll be honest, every year as Saduary...I mean, the bleak month of January...approaches, I really begin to second guess my decision NOT to schedule in a Sabbath-rest week. The winters are long here in the tundra and school can sometimes feel long too. But, in May, as summer slowly peaks around the corner, I am so very glad for the welcome break. I am reminded of why the nine month school year is a MUST for us.

The sun calls us out-of-doors and the warm June breeze whispers of great possibilities.

For three months, the school books are abandoned and the school table is deserted. But don't be fooled by the uncluttered schedule; the learning is still happening.

It just comes at a slower pace--an unhurried, unrushed pace.

Our summer schooling is gentle.
Purposefully gentle, and intentionally long.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Core Values: Giving Your Family Meaning and Motive

Core Values: Giving Your Family Meaning and Motive {The Unlikely Homeschool}


21st century living is messy.
It's busy.
And with the never-ending barrage of media, it's also very noisy.

The world shouts more. More. MORE! and attempts to pull a family in a million different directions.

The constant stream of pressure poured out on social media has us, all, convinced that we're not doing enough, we're not buying enough, we're not fill-in-the-blank enough.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

And so, we put our kids into multiple extra curricular activities to keep up with the Harvard-bound kids up the street.

And we bake homemade bread with wheat that we've grown and ground ourselves in hopes of getting the approval of all the have-it-all-together mommas.

And we invest in a pricey new boat that we can't afford because we've convinced ourselves that we deserve it.

And we clamor for more. More. MORE.

The 21st century, with its fish-bowl Facebook living, has put an entirely new spin on "keeping up with the Joneses."

The world seeks our attention. But, while we continue to ADD more to our plates, we DIVIDE our time, energy, resources, and talent. We end up with lives defined by average because we haven't carved out room for the things that really matter.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

10 Last-Day-of-School Ideas for Homeschool

10 Last Day of School Ideas for Homeschool {The Unlikely Homeschool}


Can you keep a secret? I've got some fun plans up my sleeve. But, the kiddos don't know about them. So, mum's the word!

Our school year ends in T minus 15 days, 4 hours, 32 minutes, and 22 seconds...but, who's counting?! (Scratch that last part. It kind of sounds like a momma desperate to reach the finish line in one piece. And while that MAY or may not be the case {ahem!}, I probably don't need to tell you that, right?!)

Anywho...back to the big plans...

I've made a reservation for the kids and me (along with our co-op families) at a living history museum located about two hours away. We will spend the afternoon helping to run a REAL working 1860s farm. We'll feed the pigs, milk the cows, and help "Ma" make supper on the wood stove all while gleaning lots of historical tidbits from our tour guide.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How I Use goodreads In My Homeschool

How I Use goodreads In My Homeschool {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Can I confess something to you?

If we are going to be friends, there is something you MUST know about me...a dirty little secret, if you will, that I must get off my chest if we're going to continue this relationship with honesty and forthrightness.

I am a book-a-holic.
There. I've said it.

"Hello. My name is Jamie and I am a book-a-holic."

It's a sickness. Really.

Friday, May 8, 2015

How We Teach: A Peek into the Lives of 25 Homeschool Veterans

How We Teach: A Peek into the Lives of 25 Homeschool Veterans


Recently, a homeschool momma friend of mine was sharing with me a few of her fears for the upcoming school year. She confessed that she has always held to the traditional approach of education, but has been compelled to branch out...to try something new...to shed the worksheets and test packets for a more gentle approach.

The only problem is, she's just not sure how.

She's overwhelmed by choices and can't decided which style would best fit her family. And once she finally picks a method of education, she's afraid she'll lack the confidence in knowing how to implement it all.

The Charlotte Mason method sounds nice because who doesn't love great books and nature walks? But narration and dictation? Those sound like two unruly twins from the Elizabethan age. 

The Classical approach with its deep roots of foundational learning is also appealing. Studying The Greats is certainly a noble goal. But all the memorization! Who has the time to drill the Preamble of the Constitution when the toddler is currently pouring Cheerios into the toilet bowl?

And then there's the Montessori method.
Montessori? Is that some kind of dinosaur?

She's paralyzed...temporarily stuck in place because of all the unknowns.

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