Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Month: August 2014

Recipe Share: Rock Salt Roast Chicken

Rock Salt Roast Chicken

Sounds weird doesn’t it? Isn’t rock salt is for ice cream freezers? Trust me, it is incredible. The meat is moist while the skin is crispy, and the whole house smells amazing while it roasts. This recipe came from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, one of my favorite blogs for great food.

I spread the rock salt in the bottom of a large roasting pan then cleaned two roasting chickens. I stuffed each with half an onion, three cloves of garlic, and half an orange.  Then, I lightly coated the outsides of the chickens with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

The chickens cooked at 400 degrees F, on top of the salt, for 80 minutes. We ate one immediately for dinner and saved the other to be used for chicken pot pie the next night. Two birds with one box of salt. Perfect!

My kids want me to try the same cooking technique with chicken legs. I’ll let you know how it turns out:)

A Year Later

A little over a year ago I was driving to Ikea with tears streaming down my face. I was picking up the last of the homeschool furniture and questioning our decision to pull the boys from public school. Am I going to ruin my kids? Am I jeopardizing their future? Are all of those people who question me constantly about my ability and right to educate my boys correct in their judgements?

A year later I can confidently shout No! to all of those questions.

We made it through a whole school year and we still like each other. In fact, we are doing it again this year!

Our house is filled with much more laughter and much less yelling. The kids are beginning to take pride in their school and house work. They learn as much from everyday life as they do from their studies. In general, things are calmer and slower paced than ever before … as long as I keep reminding myself that it’s okay to say “no” to all those things/people/organizations that will happily steal my time from what is important at this life stage.

What’s important you ask?

Raising three good men.

I frequently have people ask what curriculum we use, so after some tweaking to last year’s curriculum, here is the list for 2014/2015:

9th Grade Curriculum

History/Writing/Literature: TRISMS Discovering the Ancient World

Grammar: Winston Grammar Beginner

Math: Teaching Textbooks Geometry and Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2

Science: Apologia Biology

Computer Language: Homeschool Programming: Java

Foreign Language: Scottish Gaelic from Mango Languages

Vocabulary: Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Roots books 3 and 4

PSAT Prep: College Prep Genius

6th Grade Curriculum

History/Writing/Literature: TRISMS History’s Masterminds

Math: Critical Thinking Company’s Mathematical Reasoning Level G Sixth Grade

Science: Apologia Land Animals

Vocabulary: Vocabulary from Latin and Greek books 3 and 4

Foreign Language: Scottish Gaelic from Mango Languages

3rd Grade Curriculum

History/Writing/Reading/Spelling: Trail Guide to Learning Paths of Exploration

Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting Transition to Cursive

Math: Critical Thinking Company’s Mathematical Reasoning 3rd grade

Science: Apologia Land Animals

Foreign Language: Scottish Gaelic from Mango Languages

All Grades

Music: Travis Academy of Fine Arts and private lessons

Art: Art Lab

PE: The Ultimate Homeschool Physical Education Game Book

We also get a lot of questions about where we homeschool. Since Hubs works from home, we decided that we needed a designated school room that was far away from the office. A second-story loft over the master bedroom became the perfect place to learn and has the added benefit of being out of the way so that I can leave school there and not be reminded of how much work awaits me:)

The room has only one small window and absolutely no storage, so we mounted Lack Wall Shelves horizontally for loads of book storage that doesn’t gobble up precious floor space. The window covering is a $7 roller shade from Lowe’s that I decorated with wall decals.

homeschoolroom4

The art display is a Dignitet Curtain Wire with Riktig Curtain Hooks. School supplies are held in three sets of Fintorp Rails that hold three Fintorp Buckets each. The Magnetic Wall Pocket came from the Container Store in the office section and I used Magnetic Spice Tins from the kitchen section to hold paper clips, staples, and such.

homeschoolroom2

A large Kallax Shelving Unit holds everything we could ever need. These can be bought second-hand on Craig’s List but we couldn’t get a pre-assembled one up the spiral staircase. If you do buy a new one, use the assembly instructions here  instead of following the ones in the box.

homeschoolroomlockers

The lockers were in our garage. Hubs gave them up so I could refinish them with chalkboard paint. The kids use these to hold their everyday books and folders.

The best way to sum up our lives the last year would be with a theme song: Thrive by Casting Crowns

Joy Unspeakable

Faith Unsinkable

Love Unstoppable

Anything is Possible

-Casting Crowns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Positive Side of Storms

“My open wounds have healed. I need a new project.”

I rolled my eyes at Hubs. “It’s too hot outside.”

“What about an inside project? Bill-The-Mill-Guy just called and said he finished milling the pecan tree that fell during the storm.

Lightbulb!

And just like that *snaps fingers* the metal spiral staircase in our master bedroom got wooden treads.

spiralstairsprestain

The pecan treads after Hubs cut and routed them.

Okay, so maybe it took a few days.

Hubs cut out, routed, and rough-sanded the treads and then handed the project off to yours truly. I finish-sanded, stained, and sealed them. Thankfully I tested out the floor stain on the treads before working on them. Turns out, pecan wood does not stain the same as white oak. After several trips to the hardware store, I found that Minwax Provincial was a close match to our wood floors. I top-coated with Minwax Fast-Dry Polyurethane in Satin.

sprialstairsdown

View from the schoolroom looking down.

Hubs installed them and now the entrance to our schoolroom is gorgeous. And we can wear socks while climbing the stairs without fear of paralysis or painful death.

spiralstairscloseup

Did I mention I love Hubs’ carpentry obsession? I wonder what he’ll build next…

spiralstairsfar

View from the master bedroom. Our music-practice-station sits behind the staircase.