Category Archives: Studies


vanilla ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis week I was researching homemade vanilla extract. I had previously learned that you can make your own vanilla at home by placing a vanilla bean pod in a skinny jar with some alcohol; vodka is recommended. Then it sits for several months in a cool dark place.

Recently a friend said she’d made alcohol-free vanilla extract and I was intrigued. She said she uses food grade glycerin and vanilla bean pods in her instant pot. Of course that made me wonder about food grad glycerin and sent me off researching.

Vanilla ~
By Hans Stieglitz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

My travels landed me on where I found out a most surprising truth: Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the orchid! In the words of my son Sean, How did I not know this?

I was shocked! I also did not know that the orchid is the largest family of flowering plants, with over 20,000 species. There are at least 150 different varieties. To find more interesting facts, check out the FAQ at

If you want to give your hand a try at making your own vanilla, here’s some recipes I found:

Of course, no talk with young children about vanilla would be complete without pointing out that vanilla is not sweet. ;)

To complete this little foray into vanilla, make something that includes it in the recipe. It could be so many things but a good vanilla pudding from scratch would be fun. I’ve got a vanilla base pudding that I make for banana pudding here.

I hope you found this interesting. It sure surprised us!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Pluto and our Solar System

Solar System ~ Lifeofjoy.meI was one that was taught that our solar system had nine planets. See that tiny dot on the right end? Pluto. Yes, the planet Pluto.

So, after doing a little research for my sissy, I found that from 1979-1999 Pluto was the eighth planet from the sun because of its odd orbit. This orbit is one of the things that has caused the controversy over whether to call Pluto a planet or not.

When they demoted it to a Dwarf Planet in 2006, I did not like it at all. I believe when we did anything with planets any time after that, I told the children that I’d been taught it was a planet and now they say it isn’t. I don’t believe we went into it too much because although I am open-minded, I am a bit stubborn. ;) But it has now been 10 years and they haven’t changed their minds, so I guess it’s time to bend. ;)

I found a good and informative but easy to ready website to help with this information. Here’s a link to the page on It’s really good because it puts the info about the reasons behind Pluto’s demotion right up front, followed by info about dwarf planets, and then a bit more down near the bottom with the information on Pluto itself. It also has a few details about each of the planets. I found it quite interesting.

I felt that was enough information but if this topic is interesting to your child, you might want to let him/her check out this website. Now, I will tell you that right on the main page it says that Pluto is the ninth planet. It was last copyrighted 2015, so I think this may be the reason why. However, it does mention that some don’t consider Pluto the ninth planet and talks about it more on the page dedicated to Pluto. I think it would be good to show this to your children because then you can talk about why it might have different information, how you cannot just take the word of one website, and show them how to look for the copyright (usually at the bottom of the page). All of this helps with critical thinking and teaching them not to take everything they read as fact. This website also has some coloring pages and a planets quiz.

While I was looking for a picture to post with this post, I found some other interesting pictures. Some of them would make a great picture for your children to make up a story about. You can put whatever requirements you want on the paper/story they write or you can just let them go wherever their imagination takes them. Maybe they’ll just use the picture as a basis for some imaginary playtime later, or maybe they’ll want to use several of them. There really are some nice ones here.

I hope you enjoy and I hope this helps, Little Sis!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº