The View From Our Table: What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street

The view from our table will be a feature where we look at some fun things we have done in our homeschool.

We are the kind of homeschool family that homeschools in the summer. It is less formal and much shorter, but we are a family that is constantly learning together. One our favorite times is “Morning Time.” We often start our homeschool days at the dinner table with our basket of books. Mama reads while the littles keep their hands busy with handicrafts. We love it.

This summer we decided to read, What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street by Felicita Sala (can be purchased here – non affiliate link). This book was given to us by a dear friend who thought that we would have fun with it. We had so much fun!

Each page introduces the reader to recipes from all over the world. Salmorejo (a cold soup served with ham and boiled eggs), Little Trees (stir fried broccoli), Sole Meuniere, to name a few. Each day, we reread the book and then we chose a recipe we wanted to try. (I even discovered a mild allergy to pine nuts lol).

We had a such a blast trying flavors from all over the world and felt like we were joining the neighborhood for their pot luck feast at the end of the book. The illustrations are lovely and recipes rich and flavorful. So far this is one of the tastiest and fun books we have chosen for our morning time adventures.

If you are looking for something fun that will introduce your palate to flavors from many cultures, we highly recommend this favorite from our table. It has been a great way to try foods and cook with the three wild and three free and me!

We Are a Read Aloud Family.

What is a read aloud family you ask? Just as it sounds, we read aloud together. Every morning as a part of our daily rhythm we read aloud while the kids do handicrafts. We have scripture reading then we read a chapter book. Last month was the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, this month we are reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (of course to be followed by their very first viewing of The Chronicles of Narnia movie). They love read aloud time, in so much that they often request it goes longer or happens again later in the day. They even like the voices that I do, even though I feel silly, they only feel the magic of a character’s voice speaking to them.

I have always been a sucker for literature. I remember loving storytime in early elememtary grades, and with a sixth grade teacher who was obsessed with William Shakespeare (shout out to Mrs Matheson of Amherstburg Public School, you literally changed my life) I had read the entire works of Shakespeare by the time I was 13.

Every year at Christmas Little Women is a book I consume, and every January I follow Little Women with Jane Eyre. It is incredible how I can read these books over and over and I still cry in all the same places; marriages devistated on the alter, hidden secrets, and the death of a beloved. The aches from the first times my tears fell turning page after page ripples back up like an old friend that I had forgotten about until the sting of the words reveal the emotion again.

I love being read to; in full disclosure I have to admit that the last two years both of my favortie books listed previous have been read in audiobook form. No wonder I love sharing read aloud time with my children, I have it all the time for myself. While I fold laundry, wash the dishes, go for walks and even traveling – I am constantly being read to. This year is the 100th Anniversary of Agatha Christies’s Hercule Poirot and I am slowly making my way through the whole series. During the past COVID quarantine, I had been more on a self improvement book kick with an occasional “Agatha break” but as of June, I began The Mysterious Affair at Styles in honor of Poirot’s 100 years I have stuck to this egg-headed detective.

When I think of the adventures I have been on, the people I have met and the countries I have been. Through literature I have experienced life and death, marriages and ruin, love and loss; never having to leave the pages before me. I get so excited watching my children head out on those same adventures to the sound of my own voice. Reading aloud has been something we did informally all the time, but with home learning we now make it a part of our day. It is a daily family adventure that often leads to the hope of “just one more chapter before we start school.” We love it.

Deadly Poppy Fields…and other anecdotes.

We are six weeks into home schooling. During that time I have had surgery, 3wild3free-dad’s work schedule has had him gone 10 hours daily, we brought home a little pup and I quit coffee (this last item being a huge deal for me since coffee has been a great love of mine for decades, alas health trumps in this instance). We also read The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum followed by the movie; as I am a firm believer of reading the book before watching the movie, went on a field trip to a horse ranch, had the Young Thomas Edison video call us for a biographical lesson (thank you to my amazing brother for that!) and had my three year old ask Alexa to play Bach! So far, this has definitely been a wild ride.

To be honest, most days I feel like I am winging it. I have a planner, I have daily plans…then life sweeps in and we end up rolling with it. Homeschooling has been so liberating, stressful at first but now that we are getting into the groove of things – there is so much freedom in being able to do our own thing.

It so happened that while we were reading the Wizard of Oz, we ended up studying Claude Monet in our art lessons. Claude Monet is one of my favorite artists and I have a print of Poppies framed in our hallway, that same week we read the chapter The Deadly Poppy Fields in the Wizard of Oz. As we researched and made our own Monet sketches, I brought the kids into the hallway to see our Poppies print. My eldest exclaimed, “We have an actual Monet?!” and my middle little cried out, “Poppies?! Are the deadly?!” So far this has been one of my favorite moments; just like that, not only did they actually see an artist’s work that has hung in our homes for the last 12 years – but they also were able to connect the Wizard of Oz to it. This evolved into asking many questions of poppies which led to discussions and research from the flowers, to the seeds we have in the spice cupboard, to why we wear poppies on November 11 in Canada (yes, we are in the USA but I am a Canadian and observe a moment of silence at 11am on 11/11 every year).

This learning happened so naturally, so easily that it helped me to see that homeschooling is a constant. We are continually as parents, taking our life and applying it to where they are in their curriculums. This was an unknown element to me until a few weeks ago. I am now looking at planning from a completely different angle: how does this correlate into our current family life? I am thrilled to have this freedom.

We are now incorporating the women’s vote since it is the 100th anniversary plus an election year; we have a family field trip to Kentucky to see the Ark so the water cycle plus the book of Genesis are in our lesson plans; with family in Canada and no schoolmates to present to – my eldest will be doing virtual presentations on his science, geography and history projects to family we cannot see but online. My kids have recently watched The Greatest Showman and are obsessed, so along with our Edison era history studies I have included a study on the Barnum family and how the circus began. They learn so much more when they are interested and enjoying what we are doing. I feel like I am having as much fun as they are because I am learning too.

We do have our off days, as most do but that is life. We have the freedom to hit the brakes, enjoy tea and cookies in our jammies with extra read aloud time, and make up the math lessons later that week! When I feel like maybe we are not doing enough, I walk past our Poppies print and remember how much they are learning, even when I am not seeing all the dots connecting.

Many of the worries and fears that I had going into homeschooling are slowly fading into the background. I am leaning more on our life, values and experiences to lead our learning versus trying to fit us into some mold that resembles what school the institution says it should look like. This homeschool journey is growing me, taking me places I would have never expected; and it is incredible.