How We Came to Homeschool: a Rather Long Story
The Pantry Cupboard: Before & After

Gingerbread & Cider: A Back-to-School Tea

Yesterday afternoon the boys and I had a little teatime in celebration of our first week back to "school." After our summer-send off last week, I wanted to serve something that just said fall - in spite of the soaring temperatures outside, lol - so first on the menu, in place of hot tea, was fresh-pressed apple cider. (It's back in the markets again - have you seen?!) I offered to warm it up but it was unanimously decided that cold crisp cider was just the ticket for such a warm September day.

Now for the snack ... I was thinking of an alphabet theme, especially for Earlybird who's beginning kindergarten at home this year. He just loves letters! Well, paging through one of my old journals the other day, I came across a clipping I'd saved from Family Fun magazine. According to the article, in Colonial America, when children learned the alphabet, their families celebrated by making gingerbread letters.

Well that sounded good to me! Any excuse to make gingerbread, right? :) And to use these lovely cookie cutters I've had for years and hardly used at all:


I bought our set at Williams-Sonoma years ago. They now come in a smaller tin which you can see here. These are great for cookies, obviously, as well as play dough (though I have a separate plastic set for playtime). A nice idea at the holidays is to give a beautifully wrapped box of iced cookies, spelling out a warm greeting such as PEACE or NOEL. (That is a Martha tip, as you probably know.)   


All the boys helped with the dough, which I made from a recipe that came with the tin. (I wasn't all that pleased with it, to be honest. No eggs and no molasses, rather stiff ... but it was ok for today!)

Above you see Bookworm helping with the rolling out of the dough. He really loves to cook and asked me if this year "cooking" could be one of his subjects. Hmmm, I thought, that fits in nicely with our chemistry study! (And then I envisioned biographies of famous chefs, a field trip to a bakery ... oh, the rabbit trail I could make out of this!)

Initially, our idea is to compile a binder for Bookworm filled with kid-friendly recipes that he can learn to make on his own through the year. In a future post I'll be soliciting such recipes from you all! ;)


The younger two got in on the action too, of course. Actually this was taken near the end of baking when the scraps were left to be played with.

Earlybird enjoyed shaping letters himself and then finding those cookies in the baked batch! His favorites were E, H and Z. :)


This is the smile of a boy who is thrilled it's apple cider season again, a culinary delight second only to the appearance of eggnog in late October.


I shooed the boys off to play and set up the table - the platter is a wooden pineapple tray that belonged to my grandmother years ago. The pineapple was a traditional symbol of welcome in Colonial America.

The cookies looked (and smelled) good, but it was the brightly wrapped package that caught the boys' attention first.


What could it be?


A back-to-school gift from mum and dad: The Dangerous Book for Boys! The boys were intrigued by the title ...

"Dangerous? What's so dangerous about a book?" asked Crackerjack.


They dug right in to find out. ;)

And so our new year was officially kicked off, and as if on cue, the mail arrived just as we finished up tea - bringing with it our approval letter from the town. What great timing!

That letter will be stored securely in our files, but the memories of today will be filed away too - slipped inside the yearbook of our hearts, a book I hope will grow fat with experiences all year long.

It is my job to envision and prepare for such experiences - to lay the groundwork and then to step back and watch. I am, after all, headmistress of a rather dandy (and not too dangerous) school for young boys ...

I seriously doubt I will ever lack for material. :)