Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!


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Baking with Corde

Okay, maybe it was just a mix, but Corde got some baking in yesterday. It was a Hershey s’mores cupcake mix that a friend gave us. It was a pretty simple deal, chocolate cupcake with a graham cracker bottom crust and a marshmallow filling. Corde couldn’t wait to make it.

Corde wasn’t alone in her baking. Luca decided to help her with the mixing. The two looked so cute together at the table. Corde mixed up the graham crust mix while Luca mixed the cupcake batter. Then they both worked together to fill the cupcake cups.

While they were waiting things got a little crazy. Corde decided to prove she could walk on the half wall to the stairs and Luca, Sander, and Beekee went nuts playing LEGO Batman. They had an awesome time.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the finished product. We all ate them too quickly and I forgot. Even I had one, and they managed to save one for Oz. They were definitely good and gave Corde some ideas for her own baking future, which is always a win in my book!


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Making Muffins

Corde has just started on the baking thing again.  Granted, part of that was lack of anything else easy for breakfast.  She was offered the chance to bake, so she took it.  Otherwise I was going to do it myself.  Corde wants to be a baker, so I’m not surprised that she wanted to bake this morning.

Granted, this wasn’t the big, fancy baking project so many other people do.  We didn’t bust out flour and everything to bake from scratch.  We used a box with instructions.  Corde melted the butter, cracked the eggs, mixed in the milk and the mix.  I helped Luca put the muffin mix into the cups with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, then into the oven they went.

img_20170219_102243_647Those muffins rose a surprising amount.  I didn’t expect them to puff up so much.  Had I known that I would have put less in each muffin cup to begin with.  We’re using some silicon muffin cups that we got at Ikea.  I love these things, but they’re a little toasty coming out of the oven.  I have to let them cool much longer before I can squeeze them out of the muffin cups.  I did that for the first batch because they were still far too toasty warm when I tried to pop them out.  Next time I go to Ikea I have to pick up some more of those things, that way we can do a whole dozen at once.

img_20170219_105308_066Of course, the best part of Corde making her own muffins was being able to sample them when all was said and done.  Even I got to have one.  They weren’t all that bad, and that was of no fault of Corde’s.  The muffins were plain with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top, which gave them a pretty basic taste.  Plus they were gluten-free, which is something I’m not entirely used to yet.  There’s definitely a taste difference between gluten-free and regular foods.  If it wasn’t for the fact that gluten is death for me, we’d just keep the regular stuff in the house.  All in all, for gluten-free muffins, they were pretty darn good.  All compliments to the baker!

I can honestly say that was a successful morning.  Corde got to bake.  Everyone got yummy muffins.  All together it was a pretty good start to the day.  I’d call this a victory over breakfast, and hopefully Corde will get many chances to experiment with other flavors and maybe even making them from scratch!


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Baking Goodies

It’s been a while since we’ve done anything special. Not having an oven kind of ruined our ability to make much fun stuff. Most of our cooking was for the practical purpose of meals.

Thinking back to my own childhood, one of my own favorite memories is baking cookies with my mom. Our kitchen was the old-fashioned kind, with a pantry and no cabinets or counters. My sister, my mom, and I all gathered around the kitchen where we would mix, set out the cooling racks, and decorate when we had that task in mind. My mom had these old plastic mixing bowls that were always a clue something good was coming, whether it was homemade meatballs or cookies and cupcakes. A bowl would sit out all day with butter when we would bake cookies. Sometimes she would pull out this giant tome full of yummy recipes. Other times it was just off the back of the chocolate chip package. Whatever it was, baking days were always good, especially the part where we got to lick the beaters.

When I got out on my own and had my own kids, I found baking to be a chore. I didn’t have the money for a mixer, so I did it all by hand. If the butter wasn’t quite soft enough it would be hard to mix. Even with softened butter, my arm just got tired from all the mixing. It was so much worse after I broke my elbow. I gave it up because it just wasn’t worth it for anything but special occasions.

It’s amazing what we take for granted. Having had to hand wash clothes and diapers, then put them on the line really woke me up to that. Honestly, I kind of started to prefer it. I grew to appreciate the role women had in the home and why gender roles became so essential in early life. I could easily see how women would work all day in the house. Cooking, laundry, cleaning, and minding the children was a full time job. I almost wish we could go back to those times. My time would be so much more productive. Living like that leaves me feeling like I truly accomplished something.

Recently I’ve been missing home. It’s always hard for me in the fall. The leaves would be crunching on the ground. Scarves and hats start showing up everywhere. It’s rough to live in a place where fall just means the heat of the summer has broken.

Instead of getting all sad, I’ve decided to capture other aspects of fall. I got pumpkin coffee and pumpkin eggnog for Oz. We had apple cider. Now I’m starting to bake again. I forgot how much I missed it. It’s something I can share with my kids like my mom did with me.

Today wasn’t anything special. We planned to make Reese’s peanutbutter chocolate cookies. Corde read off the ingredients and the directions. She helped me gather the ingredients and measure everything. Sander had to pour in the sugar. They all helped with the mixing. Even Luca had a turn. It was fun!

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I did all the actual baking. Things had degraded into chaos by then, and even just asking the kids to put the right sized lumps of dough on the sheet would have been a disaster, between trying to get them all the same size and letting everyone have a turn. I’m sure that was easier for my mom with only two kids and both so close in age. It will be easier when I can work in my own kitchen and let them each manage their own cookie sheet.

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The cookies turned out great. The first dozen disappeared almost as soon as they were off the cookie sheet. Surprisingly, for the first timeline my life I got about the right yield. Usually I’m short by nearly half. I guess I normally make some huge cookies!

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I still haven’t had any, but I packed up the rest of them for now. I bet we could make these last all week. It makes me wish I had an old-fashioned cookie jar to stock them all away in. That thing would never be empty. My mom always used cookie tins, which were better in a lot of ways, but I’ve always been more partial to jars.

I think from this point on I want to start baking cookies every week. I still need to do the math and see if making homemade cookies is actually cheaper, but the result is so much more enjoyable. I get time with my kids and get to see them enjoy a yummy treat, even though I’m finding I’m not much on sweets.

We may just bake again tomorrow. Oz wants white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. We have the stuff to make oatmeal scotchies. Then there’s Beekee’s Halloween chips for cookies…we really need a cookie recipe book, and a few more people to eat them all!


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Is Making Cupcakes an Art?

We’re having a chill day.  No one really feels like doing anything mentally stimulating, at least obviously so.  The kids just want to kick back and veg, and, honestly, so do I.  We’ve had a lot of things going on the past few days.  We’ve had friends over.  We’ve done lots of crafts.  There’s just been a lot of stuff going on in general.  Sometimes a day of kicking back and watching Netflix really is the order of things.

Netflix has apparently changed it’s system.  It used to log in and send you straight to the informational section.  Now it has an option of choosing to browse “Just for Kids”.  I was hoping to find some educational entertainment on there, but most of the listings were general cartoons and stuff geared towards preschoolers.  There were a few PBS shows that my kids loved, but I didn’t see them while I was scrolling around today.  I didn’t feel like looking through everything like I did last night, so I was ready to give up and start scanning documentaries and other things I might like watching.

Of course, just as I was about to give up, Corde cried, “Cupcakes!  There’s a show about cupcakes!”

I looked at the currently highlighted movie, squinting a little because I’m a bit on the blind side without my glasses and I don’t have the money to get new ones right now.  Sure enough, she was right.  There was a show about cupcake bakers.  I selected that and off we went, watching all about these cupcake bakers.

DC Cupcakes is really a great show for anyone who wants to be a creative baker.  My daughter thought it was cool because it was about cupcake bakers, so she didn’t expect to be drawn in for more than one episode.  Instead she found it to be an incredibly entertaining show and both she and Beekee have been sucked in.

It’s not just about baking cupcakes, though that’s pretty cool.  Corde now wants to learn how to bake cupcakes.  I think I’m going to have to see about getting her a cupcake maker because it’s so much easier than setting up for baking.  I really liked the cupcake baker that her friend had.  Then we can work on cupcakes.  I just have a feeling I’m going to have to search for some really good deals on stuff for my baker with big dreams!  I have a feeling we’re going to be buried in cupcakes and fondant if I let her run with this.  I hope she makes a lot of friends so she can give them all away!  Otherwise we’ll all be getting fat!

The wonderful thing about DC Cupcakes is the way it’s inspired my kids.  She’s learning about baking.  She’s learning about the things that go into making new cupcake flavors.  Best of all she loves the crazy art pieces they create in each episode.  They’ve made a Mardi Gras mask, a glow in the dark guitar, a fire truck, all out of cupcakes.  She said they’re like crazy cupcake artists.

Not only that, Corde is getting some ideas on what they go through to run their business.  These women both quit their regular jobs to pursue their dream.  They’re living the life they want to and have taken a huge risk in the process.  It’s not a small thing to give up “success” to start a business that realistically could fail.  It’s more important to live the way you love than to do what the conventional world calls “successful”.  She thinks this is the best show ever.

I think after this I’m going to have to be prepared for Corde to take on a whole new direction in life.  I know she hasn’t really found a strong focus in her life.  She’s just interested in art in any and every form.  First it was traditional art and drawing.  After that it was painting.  She found knitting and sewing after that.  Cross stitch was her newest love until now.  She’s now stuck on cupcakes.  I have to wonder if she’s going to find some way to string it all together into some fantastic new vision.

I guess I need to start thinking ahead for Christmas already.  I wonder if I can get figure out some way to make sure she’s got a  cupcake and craft themed Christmas this year.  I’m going to have to do some price shopping.  I’d love to inspire her to try as many forms of art as my little artist can take!