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Monday, May 27, 2013

Solar Oven Experiment #1

I have been reading and studying ways to make an affordable solar oven. Today I actually tried it. I used lasagna that needed to be cooked. You know the meat and noodles are already basically cooked, need to heat through and melt the cheese. I took my ceramic crockpot, which is already black. Placed it on the darker bricks in the direct sunlight, with a black metal tray under it. I preheated the crockpot, starting at 2 PM, by placing the metal tray and the crockpot in the sun and leaving it there. The oven in the house was set to 350 degrees one hour later. I placed two good sized pieces of lasagna into the crockpot and put the top on tight, at 3PM. The top is glass, as you can see. The rest of the lasagna went into the regular oven also at 3. After one hour the regular oven lasagna was ready to eat. The solar oven crock pot, was still not warm all the way through. By 5PM it was. So, it took twice as long to cook the lasagna in the solar oven, than the regular oven. The temperature outside was 85 degrees in the sun. I have no idea how hot the pavement was, but I am certain it was not 350 degrees. In July and August the pavement is substantially hotter, you can't even stand on it more than a few seconds. The only thing I really didn't like was that a couple of little bugs had made their way into the solar oven. Now they probably got in when I removed the lid to check the food, but I still am not comfortable serving food that had some bugs flying around it. So, I still need to do some tweaking. Since I am in experimentation mode, I will only be doing samples in the solar oven, and the rest of it cooked inside, unless of course I want to use the crockpot lol. The lasagna cooked in the solar oven was very moist and juicy. The next time I try it I will be wrapping food in aluminum foil before it is placed in the solar oven. This will serve two purposes, to trap more heat inside the food, and to keep bugs away from it. It is nice to know you could cook food this way if you had to. Not ready to cook a whole meal in it, and not sure it would work real well in the Winter months even here in FL where it is still fairly warm. Caitlin got a real kick out of doing this with me. My husband and son just shook their heads like I was seeing unicorns or something. Ha!!!!!



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Summer Schedule, Terrariums and Outdoor Art Class

Yesterday, was our last 4H meeting of the year. DJ is technically in two now, because he joined the Archery group as well. Now we will have a banquet dinner in August. It was a good year, we covered First Aid as a group, and all the kids gave a short demo on something they learned. I was so proud of them all for doing this. It is not easy to get up in front of people and speak. DJ finished all the Photography books as well as FLVS Creative Photography, plus book two of Entomology for 4H. He has had a very busy and productive year. I am so proud of him. Caitlin finished her butterfly book for 4H. She too has been productive and equally proud of her. For the Summer moths, Earth Kids we will be taking off appx six weeks to get past portfolios, evaluations, family visiting and VBS. So, we will begin meetings again around the third week of July. Today's meeting was canceled due to bad weather in the area. DJ will continue Math and through the summer, until both segments have been completed. He is doing so much better and it is starting to click. Caitlin will also continue her Saxon Math through the Summer months. I am also adding an Art program to do over the Summer. This will be one or two days a week. As you can see from the pictures below, the terrariums they made at the last Earth Kids meeting, are beginning to grow. It is fun and exciting to watch something grow that you planted from a seed, and we have grapes already on the grape plant we planted about two months ago. Yesterday, I also moved a spare table out to the front porch so I could paint out there. Today, we held our first painting class outside. It was nice and cool in the morning hours and so relaxing and peaceful. I highly recommend it. Well that is it for now. It is thundering and I better get off before I lose all my work.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sick Day!

DJ is feeling under the weather today, and did not sleep well at all.  After the last week of super socialization, he probably caught a germ.  I really think it is just his Spring allergies kicking in though.  Mine have been killing me.  Anyway we will have no school today, and I should be able to catch up on a lot of things that have been neglected the last seven days. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Caitlin Turns 9

Yesterday, was Caitlin's 9th birthday. This year she opted to have a party with some of her friends. I don't do parties, well not usually, just not my thing. We usually go somewhere special. But, this year she wanted a party. We had it at the park, and it really was a nice time. I made the cake myself.  I did not do a test cake this year, like I usually do, so I am very thankful it came out awesome on the first try.  Since it was warm out I left the cake in the freezer until we left to decorate.  It thawed within the hour, and was moist and delicious. The weather was beautiful, a little warm at first, but it cooled off nicely. All the moms got to sit and chat, and the girls and DJ all had squirt gun fights and played on the playground. No bickering, just good fun. Caitlin was born on Mother's Day, so I always take this weekend off. I hope everyone has an amazing Mother's Day. This has been a super light week of school, with so many activities, and still two more birthday parties to go. Mostly just Math and Writing for Caitlin. We only have a few weeks left of school, so it will be basically this way until the end, since they have completed most of their curriculum.



Thursday, May 9, 2013

Upcycled Terrariums and First Day of Age 9

Today is Caitlin's 9th birthday. That means we have been in Florida for exactly eight years. Can't believe it. Each year we take a picture of the kids on the first day of that year, or their birthday, and the last day of the previous year. This is just something fun we do. Caitlin chose to stand in front of my very huge yellow rose bush for her picture. I need to tie it back again, because it has gotten so big. It currently has no flowers, but it will. On Tuesday, we had our Earth Kids meeting. This time we made upcycled terrariums. The first picture is a butterfly terrarium I bought for Caitlin as a school project. It cost 20 dollars, and as you can see it is growing nicely. It waters itself, and the holes in the top should attract butterflies once the flowers bloom. The ones we did at Earth kids were made with recycled jars, that were upcycled into a terrarium. The total cost for all the supplies was 10 dollars, and there were seven kids. You can see which one is more affordable. Anyway the Tide pod container was the perfect container for this project. However, the Tide sticker was almost impossible to remove, and it scratched the container in the process. I upcycle jars all the time, and have removed upteen labels and the glue, with not much difficulty. If you decide to use this type of container, it will be very time consuming. DJ put a car in his, so the flowers will grow around the car, and some colorful rocks. Caitlin put a few stickers on hers and a kitty and puppy figurine inside, with some glass stones. I will take pictures as the plants begin to grow and bloom. As long as you leave the top on these are self watering systems. Their own little ecosystem if you will. I found a page you can print and use in your class to help teach the kiddos why making a terrarium is educational. Have fun, we did! Next meeting we are doing hummingbird and butterfly feeders that hang in the tree. We have tried other ones with little success, but this one I think will be awesome, and it is upcycled as well. So stay tuned for that.





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