Friday, July 1, 2011

Homeschool and Harvesting: Prep-work that keeps me sane!

My month vacation is officially over. I tend to be quite lazy for the month of June. School's out, the weather is calm, the garden still needs to be tended but, all in all, it's a pretty relaxing month for us (and I randomly wander around and take pictures of interesting critters...I believe this guy will soon be a swallowtail butterfly. I can't wait to see him flitting around my yard!!)

BUT June is over...July is here and there are less than two months until school starts and even fewer days before everything-in-the-garden-is-ripe harvest-time will be here. This week, I began to tackle the organization of my school supplies AND my pantry. Those of you with ADD will understand the need to have more than one project going at a time. I don't think I'll ever be able to focus on just one thing at a time. What fun would that be? Anywho...

In the coming school year, I will be teaching three levels; fourth grade (GASP!), Kindergarten (sniffle), and preschool(sigh.) I have my list of supplies and curriculum needs ready and now I only have to figure out what I already have and what I still need to buy. This might not sound too difficult but with my unorganized thought processes and three darling children it can be quite challenging. The first step is to group all school related items together. Then I need to group like items together (art supplies, penmanship workbooks, etc) and decide what needs to leave and where a 'place for everything' will be. <<<That's the part that scares me...So far I have a section of boxes that is three feet deep, five feet wide and three feet tall. I am going to be working away at getting it all sorted and pared down. Prayerfully, it won't take me very long. I want to have everything we need for school organized by the end of July.

I have dreamed of having an actual school-room for quite some time but I KNOW that my dream won't be accomplished this school year. There are too many other things on the honey-do list for now. Thanks to some creative re-arranging, I will be turning my dining room into a pseudo-schoolroom. We'll use the dining room table as our school table and I'll be claiming an entire wall for school storage. Last school year, I only had one student and I didn't need quite so much space! This year will be quite a bit different for us.

 Today, I also began organizing my pantry. I moved all of the empty canning jars to the upper-right of my pantry and all the jars that need to be eaten moved to the lower left. I discovered that we are on our last jar of jam! My goodness, it's a blessing that my raspberries are almost ready to be picked. I haven't bought a jar of jelly or jam in over four years and I don't plan on starting now. I rotated all of my canned-goods and checked for contamination and expiration. Between couponing and canning, I keep a good stock on hand and I try not to let anything go to waste. (Things go to waist, just fine though...) I found my first 'bad' home-canned jar today. One of my jars of nectarines has nastiness growing on the top of it. I checked all the rest and they are fine but I do remember knocking one of the jars against the shelf a month or so ago and I think I nudged the lid just enough to let the yuckies in. One bad jar in four years of canning isn't so bad though.
This set of shelves is about 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Hubby bear built them for me. Each shelf holds a dozen quart jars or eighteen pint jars. The taller shelves are designed to hold my largest Tupperware containers and the family size boxes of cereal.

I also decided to create a giving shelf. This shelf would hold the items that I buy to bless others. Currently, it houses pasta and store-bought spaghetti sauce. We haven't had store-bought sauce in our at home dinners since early 2009 but I have found that it's easier to give someone a jar of pre-made sauce than it is to make it from scratch and package it for them. People are less likely to freak out when you give them store-bought food too. Having someone show up with a blessing basket of groceries that they grew, harvested, and preserved seems to make others a bit more overwhelmed. The food on this shelf is more convenience based than I normally would buy. Often when people are down on their luck or with their health, they don't have the enthusiasm or energy that it requires to cook the way I do. Honestly, most people don't enjoy cooking from scratch much at all. They see it as a chore, I see it as therapy! I try to keep a good stock of convenience items on hand just for giving though. I've been blessed to be able to reach out to several families this year and, of course, blessing the food pantry with my overages.

Keeping my goals simple helps me to stay more focused. August is our biggest harvest month, the tomatoes and peppers will be ready to be turned into spaghetti sauce AND school will be starting at almost the same time. If I sat back and enjoyed the calm of July then I would be a raving lunatic by the time I had my sauce preserved and my homeschool year started!!


  1. I would count food preservation as school...the wonder of homeschool.

    It involves math, science and home economy (which is only taught on the tube by Martha and Rachel anymore)...and language arts if they write about the experience...

  2. :) We do consider it as life skills. We always have half days during harvest time. The strain comes in from having SO much going on, that I tend to lose it periodically. So the prepwork really helps. :)

    HI MEL!! :)

  3. So, I've been looking through your past blogs, and I am both impressed and jealous. Can I come live with you for a week and you teach me your ways? lol

  4. lol,I'm not sure where we'd put you by why not? ;) I actually started writing the blog because I had quite a few people tell me to write a book...I'm not organized enough to do that BUT I think I can manage a blog. :) Glad you stopped by!