Thursday, May 31, 2012

What's on your night-stand?

SLO Classical Academy took to the playground and asked our parents: What books are on your night-stand?  Here are their answers!

Cindy Hilton
Rome 2012, Italy 2011, A Travel Guide to Renaissance Italy, Book of Cities

Gennis Emerson
Darth Vader and Son, The King's Blood, The Pursuit of Italy, How to Get Your Children off the Refrigerator  and on to Learning

Meghan Smith
One Thousand Gifts, The Five Love Languages of Children, Cooking at Home

photo by Taylor Tucker

And, just for fun, a photo of a "hair train" that spontaneously formed on the playground one day.  Happy Thursday, friends!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's for Dinner?

White Bean Ragout with Toast

photo by Joy Newman

It might seem strange that I'm posting such a warm dish in this weather, but we all know the coastal fog that frequently comes with warmer weather. This would be a perfect warm, satisfying meal in foggy weather.  Now, at the risk of sounding like a braggart, I can't really speak to the ease of preparing this dish since my husband made it for dinner. However, I can attest to the deliciousness present in my bowl!  We decided to change the recipe a little to use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth (so this is actually a vegetarian recipe in its original form) and to add more of the soffrito (a Italian mix of aromatics.)  Be sure and use good bread, too.  The recipe looks a little long, but it doesn't involve complicated cooking techniques.  Bon Appetit!

White Bean Ragout with Toast
Bon Appetit, May 2012
4-6 servings

3 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c olive oil, plus more
salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, 3 finely ground, 1 halved
2 t tomato paste
4-6 1" slices grilled or toasted ciabatta
8-10 T finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1-15 oz. cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
4 c chicken or vegetable broth, divided
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
2 T chopped Italian parsley

1.  Pulse onions in a food processor until finely chopped but not pureed (it should be about 2 cups).  Transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse bell pepper in processor until finely chopped but no pureed (should be about 1 cup).  Add to the onions and mix well.

2. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add onion mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are completely softened, about 30 minutes. Add finely grated garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste begins to turn deep red, about 3 minutes.  Measure 1/2 c (we used 1 1/2 c) and set aside; reserve skillet. Transfer remaining soffrito to a container and let cool completely.  Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

3. Preheat oven to 375 (if using oven to toast bread). Rub bread slices with cut sides of a garlic clove.  Place bread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 T of Parmesan over each slice.  Toast until cheese beings to brown.

4.  Heat reserved soffrito and beans in same skillet over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in 3 c broth and bring to a boil. Simmer, scraping up any browned bits, until liquid is slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Add tomatoes and remaining 1 c broth; simmer until tomatoes are tender, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in 2 T Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

5.  Divide bread among shallow bowls. Top with some bean mixture and broth. Garnish with remaining 2 T Parmesan and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Organizing School Papers

As we approach the end of another school year, you might be wondering what to do with all of the papers and projects from the year.  (Or, maybe you don't wonder because you'll be promptly filing them in the circular file.)  If you are more of a saver, here are a couple of ideas.

A clean, empty pizza box is nice and flat and probably won't hold too much (a good feature for those tempted to keep everything.)  Label the box with the child's name and year of school. Another plus is that the boxes will stack tidily in the attic.

A large paper file box like this is also handy:

Click to her blog for some free printables.

A closely related idea is these plastic bins, labeled for each child:

Are you a saver or a tosser? How do you store special papers from your child?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Many people think of Memorial Day as just a holiday--a long weekend, a holiday from work and school, time to BBQ or go camping.  Did you know Memorial Day was formerly Decoration Day and began after the Civil War to commemorate fallen soldiers?  (Read more here.)  

Since we have a school holiday tomorrow as well, this would be a great time to educate our children on the history of Memorial Day.  Take a moment to discuss all of the men and women we have studied this year--the scientists and inventors who were considered crazy for their new ideas; the hardy explorers and adventurers willing to get off the boat in a new world; the men and women in pursuit of a better life for their families.  Pay homage to the great (and the not so great) people who have gone before us and paved the way.  Standing on the shoulders of giants affords quite the view!  Semper discentis.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Free Friday

photo by Joy Newman

It is Friday and Memorial Day is Monday.  What will you do over this long weekend?  Arroyo Grande hosts its annual Strawberry Festival Saturday and Sunday.  Maybe something involving fewer crowds is more your speed. Whatever your weekend looks like, remember to be Free by Five o'clock and step away from your electronics.  Be eyeball to eyeball with those around you and invest in real-time relationships.  

Monday and Tuesday are school holidays--what a great opportunity for some Education and Enrichment time.  Happy weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


"Creativity is not a talent.  It is a way of operating."
John Cleese

Do you agree or disagree with this quote by John Cleese?  If you agree,  do you have any suggestions on how to make creativity a way of operating?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Fish Taco Sauce

My husband found this recipe online and it has revolutionized our dinners. Okay, maybe that's too strong of a statement, but we now actually eat fish tacos at home--even the kids!  This sauce is delicious and could be thinned and used as a salad dressing, too.  Some like it hot, so adjust the spices to your family's tastes.  Chipotle chili powder has a wonderful spicy, smoky flavor that really gives this sauce its flavor, so I wouldn't recommend substituting regular chili powder.

Fish Taco Sauce

1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 lime
1/2 t each of cumin, ground coriander, dill, oregano
1/4 t chipotle chili powder
1/2 t capers, minced
1 jalapeƱo, seeded and minced
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped

Whisk sour cream and mayonnaise together.  Add the juice of 1/2 the lime.  The sauce should be pourable. If it's too thick, add more lime juice, and if it's too thin, add more sour cream.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Cover and chill for 1 hour before using.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why SLO Classical Academy?

Many of you have already seen our newly released video, "Why SLO Classical Academy?" If you haven't seen it yet, or even if you have, take the time to sit and soak it in, to be reminded of why you have chosen this path.  Feel free to share this video with family and friends to help explain the magic and passion of our school.  (The video is also posted on our website.)  Enjoy!   

Monday, May 21, 2012

Magical Moments

Last Wednesday and Thursday nights, our Jr. Kindergarten through Primary classes participated in SLO Classical Academy's annual Recitation Night.  Recitation Night is truly a magical event as our youngest students walk on stage in front of peers, families and strangers and recite poems from memory.  An event that might leave the steeliest of adults breaking into a cold sweat and wishing for a root canal instead, is handled with grace and poise by our young scholars. Poetry selections included nursery rhymes, "Casey at the Bat" and "Paul Revere's Ride" just to name a few.  

Thank you, students, for a wonderful evening!

photos by Sage Theule

Friday, May 18, 2012

Free Friday

photo by Joy Newman

It is Friday once again!  This final trimester is just whizzing by.  We'd like to remind you to be Free by Five o'clock and put away your electronic devices.  Take a walk as a family and enjoy our beautiful spring weather; Saturday learn about beavers in the Oceano Lagoon or learn about May flowers at the Morro Bay Natural History Museum (; or, maybe some good ol' fashioned R&R is on tap for your family. Whatever you do, happy weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


As History Day approaches, there is much discussion about costumes for our Wax Museum.  This is an excellent time to model resourcefulness.  What items of clothing do you already own that will work?  Can a trip to the thrift store be helpful?  Maybe trade items with a friend.  Costumes need not be expensive, nor elaborate replicas of the time period. Bed sheets (cut, pinned, draped, or sewn) are wonderful starting points and remember that suggesting the era with hairstyle, fabric or props can suggest the appropriate time period and character.

Let's not lose the magic of History Day amongst the many details of pulling it all together. Semper discentes.

Photos of previous History Days

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Chicken in Plum Sauce and Super Slaw

My wonderful mother-in-law, Ginger, introduced me to chicken in plum sauce.  Steak in plum sauce is also delicious!  The sauce pictured below is the best brand as not all plum sauces are created equal.  I have only been able to find this particular brand locally at the San Luis Oriental Market on Monterey Street, but it's worth the extra trip.

 photo by Joy Newman

Chicken in Plum Sauce

Plum sauce
Chicken--I like to use tenders

Place chicken tenders and plum sauce in a resealable bag or bowl.  Stir to coat well and refrigerate--overnight is best.  Turn the chicken periodically.  When ready to cook, skewer the chicken and grill.  Super easy and delicious!

Super Slaw
Bon Appetit, serves 4-6

If you make this slaw, you will receive many compliments and people will follow you around until you give them the recipe.  It's a fact. At least, that's what I did until my friend, Janell, gave me the recipe.  Crunchy and cool--this dish is a winner.  If I'm short on time, I'll use the bags of pre-cut cabbage and carrots. I snapped this photo before the carrots were added, but they add great color and flavor!

For the dressing:
6 T rice vinegar
6 T sesame oil
5 T creamy peanut butter
3 T soy sauce
3 T packed golden brown sugar
2 T minced, peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 T minced garlic

Whisk ingredients in small bowl to blend.  Dressing can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing.

5 c thinly sliced green cabbage
2 c thinly sliced red cabbage
2 large red or yellow bell peppers, cut into matchstick-size strips
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
8 large green onions, chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper as needed, and serve.

photo by Joy Newman

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lunch Notes

Packing lunches can be such a chore. Why not kick it up a notch by including a little note of love and encouragement?  If two of your kids seem to be argumentative these days, have them write  lunch notes to each other for a week. Or make it a regular family occurrence.  Post-it notes, napkins, or plain paper will all do just fine, but if you want a little extra pizzazz, here are a few fun ideas:

 Make these any color you like and there's even room for a sweet treat.

Revive the notes of yesteryear. (Do you remember how?)
Hey, it's new to our kids, right?

These fun napkins come complete with folding instructions. 
Include a few extras for friends.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned above.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Commedia dell'Arte

Last Monday, we saw these wonderful masks:

Did you wonder about them?  Today, Catherine Pardeilhan, explains them to us.  Catherine is in her first year of teaching Lower Middle School Art (both tracks) at SLO Classical Academy.

The Commedia dell'Arte began as improvisational street theatre for the common people in Italy in the early 16th century. It quickly spread in popularity all over Europe, and has evolved over the centuries to include a set of archetypal characters which have laid the foundations for modern comedy and theatre today. Many of the popular plot lines which began in commedia dell'arte have been used by writers such as Shakespeare & Moliere.  Characters have appeared in operas and ballet compositions by Mozart and Stravinsky, to name a few. SLOCA students even found some modern examples of characters, including Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter (Il Capitano), Han Solo from Star Wars (Brighella), and Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers (Arlecchino)!

Our mask project started with a stock "blank face" papier-mache mask, on which SLO 5th and 6th graders began to sketch. Facial features were based upon the particular emotional expressions typically seen in their chosen character. They then modified eye shapes and added prosthetic noses made of cardboard from a cereal box, applied with glue and papier-mache. Next, they fleshed-out the eyebrows, noses and other features with Sculptamold sculpting medium, a commercial lightweight paperpulp-plaster mix. For fine finishing and smoothing, they used fine dental plaster (and lots of sanding!). Then they applied gesso and paint, antiquing the features with shadows and highlights. Lastly, some students added hair mustaches and eyebrows for added texture. Then we put them on and acted silly!

photo by Catherine Pardeilhan

Friday, May 11, 2012

Free Friday

photo by Joy Newman

Another week has come and gone.  Hopefully, you are able to look back and breathe a sigh of relief for a week well-lived.  Most likely it wasn't a perfect week, but savor the high points, seek to improve upon the lower points, and keep on moving forward.

Since it is Friday, we'd like to remind you to be Free by Five o'clock.  Turn off your smartphone, put down the iPad, step away from the computer and invest in the relationships physically around you.  Saturday's events around our community include a hike at the Los Osos Oaks Reserve, a presentation of Great Blue Herons, Egrets, and Other Rookery Wonders, and a Black Hill Trail hike.  Coming up on May 18th is an Early Music Ensemble: Treasures of Tudor England at the Performing Arts Center.

Sunday is Mother's Day--Take time to lavish respect, gratitude and kindness upon all of the motherly figures in your life.  Thank them for their responsibility and courage. Happy Weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


We asked our teachers to tell us about a teacher in their own lives they would never forget. Today we hear from Sarah Weinschenk.  Sarah has been teaching Latin at SLO Classical Academy since the very beginning.

The most influential teacher in my education was Professor Philip Lockhart of Dickinson College, who is directly responsible for my becoming a Latin teacher.

To read the rest of Sarah's tribute to her inspirational professor, and to be reminded of why we value Latin studies here at SLO Classical Academy, click here. 

photo by Joy Newman

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Mother's Day Edition

Mother's Day is Sunday, so men, you might want to pay attention. Whether you're cooking for your own mother or your wife, or both, just be sure and do the dishes as well.  A tasty meal is a nice treat but a tasty meal AND no dishes?  Well, that's darn near heaven on earth.  Enough nagging.

Today's recipes are actually for breakfast and not dinner, but really, Swedish Pancakes and bacon would be good any time.  Another bacon recipe, you ask? I guess I like bacon. A lot.  The pancake recipe is from my mom, so I'm not sure of its original source.  If you multiply this recipe by three, it feeds a family of 7 as that's what my mom's recipe card says. The best way to serve them is to slather butter on the hot pancakes, sprinkle sugar on top and then roll them up, like a crepe, but I'm sure some jam would also be a delicious addition.

Swedish Pancakes
Joy's mom

3 eggs
1 1/4 c milk
1/2 t salt
3/4 c sifted flour (don't skip this step!)
1 T sugar
splash of vanilla (my own addition)

Beat the eggs with an electric beater until thick and lemon colored.  Stir in the milk. Sift the dry ingredients and add to the mixture.  Beat until smooth. The batter is really thin, resulting in crepe like pancakes.

Brown Sugar Glazed Bacon 

1 lb. bacon
1 1/2 t ground pepper
1/3 c firmly packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper for easy clean-up; place a wire rack on top of each sheet. Arrange bacon in a single layer on the racks. Evenly sprinkle pepper and sugar over the bacon.

Bake until bacon is crisp and browned, rotating sheets halfway through, 30-35 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

I Wonder Why...

"Why do camels have humps?" "How do you make plastic?"  "Why are my eyes brown?"

Do you often hear questions like these?  We long to honor and nurture our children's curiosity, but it can be difficult finding time to research and answer such questions.  

Amanda Soule, in her new book The Rhythm of the Family, suggests an "I Wonder Why" bulletin board where questions are posted to be researched and possibly answered at a later date.  What a great idea to let our children know their questions are welcome and it addresses the more practical matter of remembering to answer them.  If you don't have space for a bulletin board, what about putting questions in a jar, a pretty bowl, or hanging them from a tree branch?  There are many ways to easily incorporate an "I Wonder Why" space into our homes.  

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with Amanda Soule.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Magical Moments

Have you wandered through our library lately?  There is some amazing art work:

Go take a look and experience first hand, the magic of our students' work.  You will also want to spend some time looking at  the impressive and inspirational time line of SLO Classical Academy.  Start at the very beginning and follow the growth of our school.  Be reminded of our own rich history and how we each add to our dynamic community.

Happy Monday, friends!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Free Friday

photo by Joy Newman

It is Friday again, Friends!  Just a reminder to be Free by Five o'clock and turn off your electronics by five o'clock tonight.  Revel  in the wonder of new life that comes with spring.  Take a family hike, go tide pooling, or have a dinner picnic at home.  Wishing you rejuvenation and refreshment this weekend!

Thursday, May 03, 2012



Resourcefulness: to act effectively and imaginatively, to use information and available resources wisely and efficiently (from the SLO Classical Academy Parent Handbook)

When compared with other character traits such as gratitude, kindness or responsibility, resourcefulness seems difficult to intentionally practice.  Let's start a conversation and share practical ways of purposefully cultivating resourcefulness within our community.  Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Bacon, Sausage & Ham Breakfast Kebabs

If you are a vegetarian, look away now! If you are not a fan of meat on a stick, look away now! All others, feast your eyes.  Call me crazy, but these look delicious--perhaps for Mother's Day? And, remember, breakfast isn't just for the morning.  I haven't tried this recipe (yet) but I think it will be a winner. Let me know what you think!

Bacon, Sausage& Ham Breakfast Kebabs with Marionberry-Cinnamon BBQ Sauce
makes 6 kebabs, Noble Pig

For the Sauce:
1 c purchased BBQ sauce
4 T Marionberry jam (or other berry jam)
1/4 t cinnamon

For the Kebabs:
6 pork sausage links, cut into 1" pieces
6 strips thin-sliced bacon
8 oz ham steak, cut into 1" pieces

Preheat oven to 350F; line a baking sheet with foil and top with a cooling rack.  Spray the rack with nonstick spray.

Combine barbecue sauce, jam and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer until jam melts and sauce is warm; 2 minutes.

Thread sausage pieces, bacon and ham pieces loosely onto six 10" long skewers.  Brush kebabs with sauce and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Roast kebabs until all meats are browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Baste and turn the skewers every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Last Wednesday, SLO Classical Academy hosted our Legacy Breakfast. There were several amazing speakers who shared their hearts with attendees.  One of the speakers was Audrey Raj, one of our high school students in her 6th year at SLOCA.  She wrote (and read) this letter to her parents and it is with her permission that we share it today.

Dear Mom and Dad,
 I am writing this letter to you to say Thank You. There are a whole bunch of people listening in as I read this to you, but don’t mind them. I am thankful for many things. I thank you for giving me life, home and love. Thank you for making every effort to grow me into who I will be. I am very grateful for the gifts you have given me. One of these gifts I am especially thankful for: My education. I remember when we decided to attend SLOCA. I was 10. At first what drew me was the social aspect. Having been homeschooled since preschool, going to school with other children was a novelty. I distinctly remember the first thing I said to the girl sitting next to me. “Hi, I’m Audrey! I think we’re going to be good friends!”
 I remember, and I hope you don’t, how it was a bit a chore then to get me to do my work. I remember complaining about writing and math. I was not a bad student. I was just a somewhat less enthusiastic one. But something strange happened over the first two years I attended the school. I began to love math. Oddly enough, it began to be pure fun to solve an algebraic expression. I began to read extra history in order to discover the amazing gilded secrets of knowledge. I marveled at how lovely, and occasionally read in horror, the beautiful tale of our world, and slowly I began to build a little store of knowledge in my mind. I would take these pieces of information home with me and sit on my swing in the back yard and turn them over in my head and turn them over with you. Year after year I grew, changed, and matured I added more and more to my store of knowledge. It is no longer small, but it is my no means complete. For lo and behold I have become a lover of learning! And have never quite learned enough. I am still friends with many of the people I met my first year here. I still swing in my back yard and I look up at the stars, grinning at the constellations, which have stared down from sky and witnessed all the history I read about. And I know I should be more humble, but I am very proud. I am proud of what you have made me. I am proud of what this school has made me and I am proud of what God has made me. I know you are proud of me too. Thank you for supporting me, teaching me and growing me. Thank you for letting others teach me and grow me as well. And thank you for allowing me to teach and grow myself, so that I will be prepared to become a bright thread in the great woven tapestry of the story of the world.

Your daughter, 

“There are two things children should get from their parents:
 roots and wings.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe