Hairdos, History, and St Helena Island


Hello Bloggy friends!

I have much to tell you.  HEAPS to tell you.  But the worst of it is that when we have a lot of adventures, there is little time to blog about them.

Here’s a quick peek at this weekend’s activities..

Off to a ball Friday night…

A couple of hours sleep, and it was time for the Abbey Tournament!  If you haven’t been to a medieval fair….go!  There is jousting, sword fighting, birds of prey, Turkish oil wrestling (yes! 😛 ), and.. and… one of the joys of my life.. a furrier!  I thought that nothing in the world could be softer than the beaver pelt I became attached to last time we went.  But!  When dragging a bunch of friends there today to see why beaver fur is a great passion of mine, one of my friends had the sense to ask the lady stall holder if there is anything softer.

Oh.  Friends.  I want a chinchilla.  I want a warm, live one to love and stroke, and conversely I’d like a bundle of them to wear. 😀

And because history is irresistible fun for us..  we recently went to St Helena Island.  If you are studying Australian History and you live in SE Qld, this is a great excursion.  Truly, this deserves a post all its own, but you may all have finished homeschooling before I get to it.  Have a look at Brisbane Bay Tours.  Brendan (the proprietor)  is very friendly, will transport you to the island,  provide a guided tour and a yummy lunch, and take you back all happy and exhausted.

You’ll see prison ruins..

There were wallabies about the ruins.. cute!

There is also a museum.

And.. one of the extra fun activities was feeding the fish at the end of the jetty before going home. The water is crystal clear, and we saw a couple of stingrays on the walk back to the boat, and some days you can see sharks.

And the good news? Brendan will offer a discount to homeschooling groups/families if you book during the quieter midweek time.  Sweet? Yes! Oh, and I must say: wear comfy shoes for walking. And the kind of clothes that are sensible for getting on and off boats. Just saying…  😉

That’s it for now folks. 😀


School’s In! (or.. homeschool for highschool)


People who don’t homeschool have always assumed that I wouldn’t dare homeschool for highschool.  Surely not!?

I dare.

What’s more, for those of you not there yet, be assured it is a very natural extension of schooling the primary grades, and my excess of panic about covering everything was all for nought.

My conflict has always been how to do all the things we had to do, yet still have time for the things that first influenced me to choose homeschooling – abundant time for music, art, reading, and a long list of things I consider no childhood is complete without.

It is ridiculously easy to make up the amount of credits required to complete senior, if that is your goal.  So ridiculously easy, in fact, that if I gave the Chicklette the same workload she has had for the previous three years of highschool, she would have nothing to do next year.

Joy!  We have time in the next two years to do some of the  delicious, “not required by the education board” type things.

The year 11 schedule (unless I change my mind again!) includes…

Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt.

(Read a chapter per sitting, take note of important points, attend weekly meeting with local businessman {her Da!} to discuss how world view and political persuasion effect our view of economic policy.)

With follow-up resources from Homeschool Economics if there is further interest in the subject.

Subscription to the following:

Australian Conservative

(Read, summarise, narrate!)

Salt Shakers newsletter – A little introduction to political activism.

 SAT question a day: This is just plain fun.  (Honest! You should try it.  There is even an iPhone app 😀 )

Maths – Algebra II, using ACE paces.

Science – Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Physics.  We haven’t used this curriculum before, but if it proves worthy, will follow it with the Chemistry book next year.  If it is not clear and well written, there is a wealth of teaching available at Khan Academy that we may use as a back up.

English – Participation in nanowrimo;  regular, on-demand, timed essays using SAT prompts (available prolifically online); our general reading schedule continued, peppered with some thought-provoking novels introduced for discussion.

Latin – Henle.  After Prima Latina, Latina Christian I, and Latina Christiana II, it’s on to Henle.  She didn’t look excited. It’s only a year.  She’ll live.

Logic – After Traditional Logic I with Martin Cothran, it surely makes sense to do Traditional Logic II, Advanced Formal Logic?  This elicited nothing but groans from the Chicklette.  Sigh.  No sense of adventure!  (Perhaps I will soften on that one.. have to wait and see… )

Music – Aim to finish AMEB grade six exams by the end of next year.

Art – Continuing our Art in the Park activities, with the difference that I will be requiring the Chicklette to complete the lesson before hand and facilitate the class on a regular basis, thus providing her with opportunity to  hone her public speaking skills, her time management skills, and her confidence leading a group.

Once a week she’s off to work in the office with her Da.  It’s been a practice for her to tag along for a couple of years now and make herself useful after she’s finished her school work.  Somehow, though, now that she looks old enough to go, it’s hard to watch her leave.  Childhood is fleeting!

And that’s it, folks.

Unless I change my mind.


Hope your year is off to a great start.  If you’re feeling that you haven’t quite recovered from last year and the holiday festivities, and if school looks overwhelming and undo-able, and the thought of another year of it makes you shudder…. read!  Start school a few days late and read a stirring read aloud to the children (one you like, or you’ll never see it through!), or read a bunch of inspiring homeschool articles on-line, or dust off those Above Rubies mags… 😀

Anything to remind yourself why you are sitting home chanting the times tables with your dear children while your peers are out sipping lattes and taking yoga classes.

You can do it! ♥

p.s. If none of that helps, and you still feel like hiding in bed with a bit of fluffy chick lit and a bag of baci kisses, then take heart: homeschooling can’t last forever. xx

Ahoy! It’s the HMB Endeavour


I swear, bloggy friends, it’s not just so I could have another post with pirate speak.  Truly!  The HMB Endeavour, a replica owned by the Maritime Museum, is in Brisbane.  If you live nearby RUN to see this before it moves on.  It’s that good.

If you don’t live anywhere near Brisbane, check the website to see if it will be at a port near you.  It’s recommended that you wear closed shoes – I had sandals on and survived, but there is some tricky climbing and the decent from the gangway is steep, so I grant that joggers or something more sturdy than sandals would have been better.  There are no prams or large bags allowed and children must be 90cm tall or over to be admitted.  If you take a camera bag or backpack, you may leave it in a locker and redeem it with a ticket (much the same as you would at the art gallery).

The staff are very friendly and offered to book us as a school group, which meant we could appoint a time to go through.  I recommend you go that route if you have small children, as the wait can be long if you go on a day when the schools are taking classes aboard.

The downloadable pdf self guided tour brochure is worth reading, even if you can’t make it to the ship.  Did you know the expression “Let the cat out of the bag” came from the cat of nine tails? It was kept in a baize bag and, obviously, removed when there was discipline to administer.  So too the expression “No room to swing a cat” came as below deck where the whip was kept was too cramped to apply it, and it had to be done above deck.  You can read these and other gems in the self guided tour brochure.

See how easily Blossy, who is 3, walks through to the Captain’s quarters?  Mr BB, all six-foot two inches of him,  folded up like a hanky to get through this space.  Most of the viewing of the lower deck requires stooping when moving between viewing areas.

The ship is set up to represent conditions during Cook’s voyage, and the rooms contain clothing, toiletries, books and weapons of the era.

If you are studying Australian history this year, this is a must see. If your children read historical fiction with a nautical flavour, this experience will lend flesh to the skeleton that is literary description.  Friends, it’s well worth a visit. 🙂

Farming, for the Faint Hearted


Have I mentioned we live in the city?  Our house is surrounded by established gardens, and by midday is completely shaded.  It’s delightful, but not helpful for budding gardeners who aspire to vegetable patch ownership.

For some time now, we have enjoyed fresh produce from our farming friends.  There’s something exciting about selecting your dinner from the garden, and checking for lady beetles before eating!  What’s even more fun, is when the farmers can be induced to let us play in their dirt. 😀

We’ve long been fascinated with the variety, the sheer weirdness, of seed selection from heritage seed companies.  It’s worth browsing even if  you have no room for a vegetable patch.  We bought several varieties of obscure-sounding goodies, and showed our un-farmer-ish-ness by purchasing something that it is already too hot to plant.  (Ah! We are novices. 🙂 )

Right along with our new experiences of creating a row, and spacing and planting seeds, and watering, we were able to share a new experience with the farmer. Every parent will know what I’m speaking of: that phenomenon of having a lot of little helpers, which somehow makes a job longer and more complex than when you work alone!

We’ve also been watching the progress of several of the farmer’s vegetables.  We didn’t recognise the lettuce when it went to seed, and none of us could guess the identity of a sweet potato plant when we were first introduced to one.

Each week we check on the corn…

This week, we thrilled to see the first little radishes peep through!  Hooray!

Why are we extra excited about the radishes, you ask?  Well!  😀

Have you tried radish chips?  Even the little souls at our house who endure radishes gobbled these up.  They are that good.  So extra delishy scrumptious!

Radish Chips


Slice those little balls of fire into thin chips.

Toss around in olive oil.


Spread on a baking paper covered tray, and grind a little salt over. Or not.  (But I like to live dangerously 😛 )


I used the fan grill function of my oven, and left them for 15 mins.  In a normal hot oven they may take a little longer.


And that’s it.  They actually taste nothing like radishes, and it’s hard to say exactly what they do taste like, but friends, if you have radishes available to you, this is a must try.  Seriously.

Stay tuned…  I’m sure I won’t be able to resist showing you the chocolate capsicums, or the rainbow silverbeet, or the purple carrots, or …. (you really should browse the seed site.  It’s fun 😛 )

Thanks for visiting, bloggy friends!



Argh Har, Me Hearties! (or.. Henty v’s Strang)


Herbert Strang, that writer of rousing books for boys, is a phantom of the ilk of Carolyn Keene, and Franklin W. Dixon.

Just in case you didn’t grow to adolescence on a steady diet of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon were pseudonyms for a team of writers hired by the Stratemeyer  Syndicate.   I was very disillusioned, later in my reading career, to find two of my favourite childhood “standby” authors were not, actually, two authors.

So before I begin extolling the virtues of Herbert Strang, I will undeceive you as to that character’s true identity.  George Herbert Ely (1866–1958) and Charles James L’Estrange (1867–1947) were members of staff at Oxford University Press, and put their hand to the task of writing adventure stories for boys, under the nom de plume, Herbert Strang.

With that shocking revelation out of the way, I will share with you some of the newspaper reviews of the time:

“Boys who read Mr Strang’s works have not merely the advantage of pursuing enthralling and wholesome tales, but they are also absorbing sound and trustworthy information of the men and times about which they are reading.” _ Daily Telegraph.

“He has won for himself a reputation at least as high as that of Mr Henty by work far more earnest and sincere”. _ Speaker, Dec. 8, 1906

“Herbert Strang tells a story as well as Henty told it, and his style is much more finished”. _ Saturday Review, Dec 8, 1906

How does he compare to Henty?  Not being a boy, I am perhaps not the best judge.  However, there were no passages I felt compelled to glaze over, and I confess that Henty’s tendency to describe in detail the strategies of war are sometimes trying to me.  In fairness, none of the five stories I have read of Mr Strang’s were about war, so it hardly seems a fair remark, though true.

The main characters, in line with Henty’s, are stout hearted, honourable boys of courage and daring, and I have found nothing in the stories to make a conservative, homeschooling mama flinch.

While there is historical detail to pick up in any story written during a different time period to our own, I believe Henty wrote more to the purpose of education than what I have so far sampled of Strang.  Still, if you are after an out and out adventure story, with arresting language and no boring bits, Stang is worth hunting up.

Before you do a used book search, you may want to visit project Gutenberg and have a read online to see if the writing style is to your taste, but if you have a boy who is a confident reader, and has enjoyed Treasure Island, or Henty, or that style, then these books should be appreciated.

After reading several of Strang’s tales back to back, entertaining as they were,  I am so ready for a girl-themed book. It might be time to dig out a copy of Pride and Prejudice, and leave the buccaneers, freebooters, shipwrecks and cannibals for another day..

Just a little off topic..


Hello Bloggy friends 🙂

Hope you’re all well.

It’s a mixed bag today, a little bit of a stroll through the cluttered room that is my mind.

I’ve been reading.

John Buchan’s Castle Gay…..Yawn.  I was seriously disappointed in that one, despite being a John Buchan fan.

The Rebel, by Hester Burton.   A story of a restless English youth with utopian ideas, who finds himself on the wrong side of the French revolution.  I generally like Hester Burtons novels, and this was no exception, though in the words of the Chicklette, it’s hard work reading a story whose main character has a contrary world view to your own (the main character was an atheist).

Today I finished  Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris. (Which, incidentally, you can purchase a hard cover copy of from the Book Depository for less than you will pay for a soft cover with postage from Koorong).

I’m not sure what I think of it yet.

They sound like charming young men, and certainly their blog, Rebolution is worth a wander through.   I am undecided  whether or not the book would hold real worth for my young persons, being that they are not victims of popular culture, and we have (hopefully) instilled in the children our own views on this time of life.

Some of the content, along with free teaching resources, can be viewed/downloaded here.

My only inclination toward caution is that it may perpetuate that Pentecostal mantra, “God has amazing plans for your life”; and possibly the idea that if you are not off doing something amazing, you have somehow missed the boat.

But.. my hesitation; my much less forceful manner of reviewing than usual, is aiming to give the book the benefit of the doubt, despite that pep-talk kind of easy to read motivational flavour.

Why?  Well, it could be that I am still in outrage mode over an article I read this week, in which case I could be prone to judge everything more harshly than necessary.  (Not the John Buchan book – it deserves a very derisory glance!)

I will spare you the rant I have already inflicted on the good folk over at Aussie Homeschool, but here’s a taste of what rankled, from an article on the common mistakes of homeschoolers:

As persuaded as I am of the benefits of homeschooling, I have counseled many wives who have been given permission, by their husband, to homeschool their children, not to do it.

This, if I weren’t so prone to expressing my uncalled for views, would have left me speechless.  But, I’ll resist, I will resist revisiting the subject…

On a much lighter note, have you ever wondered what to do with silverbeet? (That’s chard, for the out of town readers 😉 )  We were given some lovely, fresh, lady-bird laden silverbeet from our farming friends, and I was feeling adventurous.  So… we had lasagne without the pasta.  Yes, it was silverbeet lasagne.  (If Mrs P is reading, I’m sorry to offend your Italian sensibilities! 😛 )

But, it was good.  The family unanimously declared they would eat it again happily, and it is a remarkably inoffensive way to eat so many greens.  If you are brave enough to try it, make all as usual, though with less liquid, and substitute the layers of pasta with layers of green.

On to fun stuff… I’ve been playing with my camera. 😀

And this weekend, I will (God willing) be attending a photography workshop with a very talented and generous soul whom I hope to learn much from, along with meeting a great group of local photographers.  This most serendipitous occasion is the same weekend as the lifeline book fair, which I remind my local readers of with joy.



want to see my new boots?

Don’t they look fun?

And that’s it, folks.  (Well, I could go on, but I’ll stop before this tossed salad becomes a regular dog’s breakfast 😉 )

St. George for England


St. George for England is now complete and available as a free audio download from Librivox. (Hooray for Librivox volunteers!).

This is one you won’t want to miss if you’re currently studying the reign of Edward III; the Black Prince;  the battles of Cressy and Poitiers; the destruction of the Spanish fleet; the Black Death; and the Jacquerie rising.

As an interesting aside, we met in this book characters first introduced to us in “A Chaplet of Pearls”, by Charlotte Yonge, about the slaughter of St Bartholomew’s Eve (France, 1572).

If you are desiring to be immersed in the era, you can’t go past Ronald Welch’s “Bowman of Crecy”.  He doesn’t cover the battle of Poitiers, but you’ll never forget his account of Crecy!

Happy listening, folks!

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