Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu Plan for January 31-February 6

     Breakfast-breakfast casserole and applesauce muffins
     Lunch -sandwich wraps, popcorn and apples
     Dinner-grilled chicken kabobs, baked potato, salad

     Breakfast-yogurt and granola
     Dinner-grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

     Breakfast-baked oatmeal and/or homemade poptarts
     Lunch-leftover soup or beans with cornbread
     Dinner-open face roast beef sandwiches and home fries

     Breakfast-oven pancake with cream cheese and strawberry sauce or plain pancakes and pancakes
     Dinner-baked chicken, roasted potatoes, carrots, onions and green beans

     Breakfast-applesauce or oatmeal muffins, yogurt, granola
     Lunch-sandwich wraps, popcorn, apples
     Dinner-homemade pizzas, salad and dessert

     Breakfast-biscuits, sausage, eggs, grits
     Lunch-chicken soup, grilled cheese sandwiches
     Dinner-bbq sandwiches, beans, cole slaw

     Breakfast-cinnamon rolls
     Lunch-baked turkey, green beans, squash casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy
     Dinner-with small group from church

Friday, January 28, 2011

True Treasures

I have been a homeschooling mama for many, many years.  In fact, I have been  homeschooling now for over 22 years!  I have read tons of homeschooling books and magazines over the years and the best resources I have found are NOT the ones that tell you which academic courses your child must have to get into college or how to schedule your day or even how to write a paper.  All of these things are important for  homeschooling families, but our family has come to the conclusion that training our children to love the Lord, love their families and love learning are the highest priorities.  The how-tos are secondary.

Just after Christmas I was sent True Treasures:  10 Years of TEACH Magazine.

This compilation is indeed a true treasure.  I have found articles written by many homeschooling mothers that I have been blessed by for several years including Marilyn Boyer, mother of 13 and author of many wonderful books.  Cindy Rushton has three great articles in this treasure trove and I am blessed to have had her as a guest in my home!  I even read a great article written by one of my on-line bloggy friends and the mother of twelve children, Laurel Daicogiannis.    Lynda Coats, the author of the curriculum that I use for my  daughters also has a great article included.  It was a real treat reading the words of so many who have blessed me through the years, but there are even more authors who have shared here in 
True Treasures that have written words that have encouraged me and convicted me  Words that have convicted me to spend more time focused on my marriage, to develop better parenting skills, and to be a better mom and homemaker.  

True Treasures has just over 100 pages and is divided into 6 chapters:  Jewels That Make the Heart Sparkle, Marriages of Solid Gold, Parenting Pearls:  Practical and Priceless, Homemaking That Dazzles Like Diamonds, Homeschooling Nuggets of Wisdom and Godly Living That Glitters.  Each article has such wonderful information and encouragement all backed up with references to God's Word.   I was greatly encouraged by "Slow and Steady" and had my toes stepped on by "Do Your Children Rise and Call You Blessed, or Grouchy?" Ouch!  I found sound advice in "7 Rules for Homeschooling and Loving It" and was convicted to really pray with scripture over my children in "Bible Verses to Pray for Your Children".  

I am sure that I am not the only homeschooling/homemaking mom who needs some encouragement, some admonishments and just a kick in the pants to set my priorities straight by focusing on what is most important for our families.  True Treasures will be just the push you need to set the tone for living a more God-centered life which will not only bless you but your family as well.  

For several years I received Lorri Flem's encouraging TEACH magazine through email, but I didn't know she had such a tremendous resource in her website at  I could spend several hours there looking over recipes, crafts, mom resources and Lorri's blog!  She has a ton of Godly wisdom to share with homeschooling moms.  

This is my first official review as a Gabby Mom.  You can meet more Gabby Moms here.  Now I have to let you know that I received this product for honest review from TEACH Magazine as a part of The Gabby Moms blogging program.  All opinions expressed are solely my own.  

True Treasures

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Keep It Simple, Stupid!!

When will I ever learn?  I have often said that God has blessed us with children for an almost 25 year span because I was a slow learner.  (I'm really just half-way kidding!  I am very thankful for the blessings that God has bestowed on  Jeff and me.  However, there are many lessons that seem to take a long time for me to learn.)

When I taught my oldest daughter to read, we were poor seminary students and I had a friend who had been a public school teacher who loaned me curriculum that was pretty simple to use.   She did well and continues to love reading.

When our second child was reading to learn to read we had a little more money and I invested in Samuel Blumenfield's Alphaphonics.  She also learned to read and this program was even more simple to use.  Just sit down together on the couch and read the page for the day.  We would also copy the page for handwriting and spelling practice.  For some reason, though, I decided to sell my copy of Alphaphonics after she had learned to read.  Mistake!

I have NO idea what I started using when my third child was ready to learn to read, but I quickly purchased  another copy of Alphaphonics.  That child loves to read as well and is even writing his own books these days.

My fourth learned to read with Alphaphonics, but needed a little more so we incorporated Explode the Code.  Guess what?  He also loves to read.

Enter the fifth child.  We were interrupted in her first semester of really buckling done with phonics because of preparing for our oldest daughter's Christmas wedding.  Come January, though, she hit the ground running with Alphaphonics and Explode the Code and is now my best ORAL reader and guessed it, LOVES TO READ!

Now we come to my sixth child.  I delayed formal instruction for him.  He is/was just too busy to sit down for any length of time other than having stories read to him or watching his favorite "history" movies.  He would much rather cut down trees, ride a bike or anything else.  He turned 6 in August and I really felt it was time to buckle down with him and get busy learning some phonics.  And guess what I did?  What's that?  You think I started him with Alphaphonics?  Well, you are much smarter than I!  No, that is NOT what I did.  I thought that since he was so very wiggly that I needed something that had lots of bells and whistles.  (This is where the stupid part comes in.)  Lots of bells and whistles just means lots of planning and preparing for mom.  Did you notice the title of my blog?  Yes, we are busy around here!!

When we started back to school this semester I was dismayed to find that my 6 year old didn't remember ANYTHING about reading.  Majorly frustrating!!   Last week it occurred to me that I could just put away the bells and whistles and blow the dust off my tattered copy of Alphaphonics.  Now we can sit together on the couch (which is always better for relationship building than sitting across a table from each other) and work on phonics in 10-15 minute increments.  And yes, I am seeing some improvement in the last few days.  I have no doubt that by this time next year he will be reading many books on his own.  This boy loves books and does sit down with several books each day to "read" to himself and is read to daily.  He already has a great love for books.

Now I have 3-4 years before I start working with my 2 year old, but you can be sure that I have learned my lesson and will KISS by using Alphaphonics with  him as well.  It only took me 17 years to learn this lesson.  Maybe I'll not take so long to learn other lessons.

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Phonics on the Go! Make Your Own Flip Book

A few years ago I saw some little phonics flip books in an educational catalog.  I thought they would be quite handy to slip in my purse for a phonics lesson in the car or in a waiting room or even in the kitchen as I worked.  I also decided that I could easily  make them for our own school using wire bound index cards.

I made two books:  one for short vowel words and one for long vowel words.  I cut each card up through the middle.  On the left side of the cards I wrote a consonant or a consonant blend:  b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, qu, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z ,  st, pl, fr, tr, pr, sh,  and so forth.  I did this for both of the little books.  On the right side card, I wrote word endings.  Short vowel:  am, an, as, at ax, and, en, and much more.  I took a phonics book (probably Alphaphonics) and using the lessons from that to adapt to the cards.

I started from the back to use the unlined side of the cards and used every single card in the booklet.  It has been very handy to take along with us and it is just the right size for smaller hands.

I wrote the title of our little books on the back cover.

The first pages...consonants on the left and word endings on the right.

Flip either side to change the beginning or ending of a word.

I have Jackson start at the beginning with "am" and change out the word beginnings.   Then we go to the next word ending and go through all of those new words.  Simple, handy, easy to make and fun to use!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This Day Is All Washed Out!

Oh, my!!  Yesterday our water turned a yucky brown.  We live in the country and apparently have an ill-prepared water system as this happens about every other month.   I stay prepared by keeping bottled water in stock so we can at least have drinking water, water to wash with and water to brush our teeth.  However,  yesterday was supposed to be a heavy laundry day, so I have several loads that didn't get washed yesterday.  We also couldn't do the dinner dishes, nor could we take evening baths.

This morning we also slept late (dear husband is out of town and apparently the children didn't set their alarm clocks....I don't have an alarm clock....dh uses his iPod and he has it with him).  So now we are very behind in our day and have lots of extra laundry, extra kitchen duty and everyone has needed a bath.  School will not get finished this morning or this afternoon as we will be heading out to work and piano lessons after lunch.  I will also be buying a new water filter for the refrigerator!  ; )   Maybe we can get some schoolwork in this evening.  Maybe!  It's one of those days that we must learn to be flexible.  Hope you all have a great day!  I will be spending the morning WASHING DISHES AND CLOTHES!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Plan for January 24-30

It seems that I really need to start planning each meal and not just the evening meals.  Our old schedule for breakfast hasn't been working out so we are making some changes there by preparing baked goods in the afternoons, mixing up the baked oatmeal the evening before, and freezing sausage biscuits for quick breakfasts.  I no longer buy boxed cereal.  The nutritional value is questionable and my kids tend to eat too much of it if it's around.  I have been making granola for the last several months and everyone seems to enjoy it.  It is a very simple granola made with no sugar or artificial anything.  Good and wholesome!  I love to put it in a bowl with a little milk and zap it in the microwave for a cold morning treat.

I am also trying to stay out of the grocery store this week and will almost be able to do it.  My grocery list for the week?

-frozen hashbrowns (three bags)
-frozen ravioli (two bags)
-salad veggies
-bell peppers

That should do it for us this week.  Generally I shop almost every week even though we might not NEED anything.  Sometimes we decide on a recipe in which we lack one ingredient so someone will stop by to pick that up and there are always a few more items we think we need.  I also stock up on sale items each week as we tend to keep  our cabinets and freezers pretty full.  Sometime soon I will do a post on preparedness and food rotation.

-breakfast-sausage biscuits from the freezer
-lunch-pigs in a blanket, baked beans and cole slaw
-dinner-hot roast beef sandwiches, carrots, hashbrowns and green beans
      (most of the food for today is leftovers from the weekend)

-breakfast-toast from homemade bread, eggs, sausage
-lunch-homemade chicken soup, air popped pop corn, sliced apples
-dinner-Sonic burgers with homemade fries (on special and daddy is out of town---Tuesday's are also our town days so I will pick them up on the way home)

-breakfast-baked oatmeal (recipe found at the bottom of this post)
-dinner-ravioli soup, homemade french bread, salad

-breakfast-applesauce muffins
-lunch-broccoli soup and baked potatoes
-dinner-chicken quesadillas, bean burritos, rice, salad

-breakfast-sausage biscuits
-dinner-homemade pizza, salad, brownies and rice crispie treats

-breakfast-biscuits, bacon, eggs, grits
-dinner-chicken spaghetti, English peas, corn

-breakfast-cinnamon rolls
-lunch-baked ham, purple hull peas, squash, sweet potatoes, hashbrown casserole, buttermilk pie
-dinner-with our small group from church

Baked Oatmeal

1/4 cup cooking oil                                    1 t. cinnamon
1/2 cup white or brown sugar                    1 1/2 c. quick or rolled oats
1 egg                                                         1 c. milk
1 t. baking powder                                     1/2 t. salt

Beat together all ingredients with mixing spoon; pour into buttered 9 x 13 pan.  You can top with fruit as well!

Bake at 275 degrees for 30 minutes or until done. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sunshine in My Soul

For the first time in weeks we actually have some sun today!!  Despite the gloom from the past few weeks and the attitude problems I have encountered this morning (yes, we too, have to get a grip on our attitudes in this house), this hymn of testimony has been in my head all morning.  The sun is indeed shining and THE SON shines even brighter!

Sunshine in My Soul by Eliza E. Hewitt, 1887

There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.

O there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in my soul.

There is music in my soul today
A carol to my King,
And Jesus, listening, can hear
The songs I cannot sing.

O there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in my soul. 

There is music in my soul today,
For when the Lord is near,
The dove of peace sings in my heart,
The flow'rs of grace appear.

O there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in my soul. 

There is gladness in my soul today,
And hope and praise and love
For blessings which he gives me now,
For joys "laid up" above.

O there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in my soul. 

One Dough: Pizza, Cinnamon Rolls and Stuffed Sandwiches!

We eat a lot around here!  I've been posting so many recipes lately so I am sure that was no surprise.  The following recipe is one for which I  get lots of requests.  I have shared it with several friends who use it to make their own homemade pizzas.  One friend recently was having a very busy day and was expecting company for dinner after arriving home.  She called and asked if I could whip her up some pizza crusts and sauce so she could quickly throw together some pizzas to share with her guests.  I was very happy to help her out!

This recipe originally came in the cookbook that accompanied my VitaMix 15 years ago.  I have adapted it to use in my Bosch Universal Mixer as I dislike making doughs in my VitaMix.   As is normal for my family, I generally double this recipe.  I use this pizza crust recipe to make pizzas, cinnamon rolls and stuffed sandwiches.  Recipes follow!

Pizza Crust

1 cup lukewarm water
1 T. active dry yeast
2 t. sugar or honey
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  (I use half all-purpose and half whole wheat)

In a two-cup measuring cup, mix water, yeast and honey.  Let sit to proof.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  When yeast has proofed add to the bowl.  Add the olive oil.  Mix with a heavy spoon (or with a heavy duty mixer/food processor).  When mixed well, knead by hand or machine.  Hand knead on a flour coated surface for about ten minutes or by machine for 5.  Check for elasticity by poking with your finger.  It shouldn't be too dry nor too sticky.

  Place dough in a greased bowl to rise for about 20 minutes.

Punch down.  Divide in half if using for pizzas.  Shape onto lightly greased pizza pans, pinching up a collar around the edge to hold the filling.  Prick dough in about 6 places.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Let dough rest for about 10 minutes while the oven preheats.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Top with your favorite pizza sauce and add other toppings.  Bake for 15 more minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Italian Tomato Sauce (Pizza Sauce)  from Once-a-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg

3 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes in puree
3 tablespoons sugar (I omit)
3 T. Italian seasoning
6 t. chopped, fresh parsley or 3 t. of dried parsley
3 T. dried basil leaves
3 t. garlic salt
1 1/2 t. pepper

Mix all ingredients into a heavy, large pot. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.    One cup of sauce will cover one medium to large pizza.  I freeze approximately 2 cups in baggies for later use.

Cinnamon Rolls

After you have let the dough rise, roll out the dough on a floured surface.  Make a rectangle that is about 1/4 inch thick.  Melt 1/2 stick of butter.  Spoon butter over the surface of the dough.  Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon.  Cover with brown sugar.  I don't measure!!   Starting away from you, roll the rectangle from the widest point towards you.  I generally slice my rolls about an inch thick with a knife.  Devin likes to use dental floss or thread for this.  She cuts of a piece about a foot long and places it underneath the roll.  She brings each side of the thread up and crosses them over the roll.  This makes a very clean cut.

Place the rolls in a greased baking pan.  Let rise for 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven.  Make an icing with powdered sugar and butter or with powdered sugar and cream cheese.  You may need a little milk if the icing is too thick.  We make several pans at one time.  We under bake the cinnamon rolls and then freeze them in the pans for later use.

Stuffed Sandwiches 

This dish was inspired by the West Ladies on  The Homestead Blessing Baking DVD.  Using this same dough, I can make a fabulous and filling hot sandwich.  One option you can do in making the dough for this sandwich is adding herbs and spices into the flour mixture.

While my dough is rising I prepare the filling.  Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large, heavy skillet that has been heated over a medium heat.  Add 1 1/2 pounds of ground meat.  (Remember I double the dough recipe and make two LARGE sandwiches.)  Chop the meat and let it brown.  As the meat is browning, add two minced cloves of garlic and 1/2 chopped onion.  Stir well as this continues to brown. Continue cooking as you add shredded vegetables.  We like to add a shredded carrot, a zucchini and a yellow squash.  I have added broccoli chopped up very fine, but the children prefer the squashes.  Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper, Spike seasoning, sage, basil, onion salt or whatever seasonings you prefer. My choices change each time I make this.

After your meat and veggies have cooked through, add one block of cream cheese.  Remove from heat and stir until cheese is completely melted.  On parchment paper, roll out the dough into a rectangle.  Pour mixture into the middle of the rectangle.  If you double this recipe, make two rectangles.  With kitchen shears, cut a strip from the outer edges of the dough to within 1/2 inch of the meat mixture.  Pull the strips up over the meat mixture while giving a little twist.  Do this until you have pulled all the dough over the meat mixture.  Place on a cookie sheet.  Let the sandwich sit for about 10 minutes for the dough to rise again.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until sandwich is lightly browned.


  Check out other bread recipes today at Life in a Shoe, Raising Olives, Smockity Frocks and The Common Room.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Read Aloud

Do you read to your children?   Do you share great stories of adventure?  Do you read stories to your children that encourage them to live lives that glorify God?  Do you read the Bible to your children?

Reading aloud to my children is  a big part of our day.  I generally have a historical fiction and a biography that I am reading to the children in addition to our daily chapter in Proverbs and Psalms.  Caedmon and Jackson get extra time as we snuggle on the couch to read picture books together.

I found this sweet poem that depicts a child's view of what happens when mother reads aloud and thought I would share with you today.  If you are not reading aloud to your children I encourage you to do so.  I have so many precious memories of time spent with my children and a good book.

When Mother Reads Aloud

When Mother reads aloud, the past
     Seems real as every day;
I hear the tramp of armies vast,
I see the spears and lances cast,
     I join the trilling fray;
Brave knights and ladies fair and proud
I meet when Mother reads aloud.

When Mother reads aloud, far lands
     Seem very near and true;
I cross the desert's gleaming sands,
Or hunt the jungle's prowling bands,
     Or sail the ocean blue.
Far heights, whose peaks the cold mists shroud,
I scale, when Mother reads aloud.

When Mother reads aloud, I long
     for noble deeds to do--
To help the right, redress the wrong;
It seems so easy to be strong,
     So simple to be true.
Oh, thick and fast the visions crowd
My eyes, when Mother reads aloud.

Now the little boys have removed the cushions from the couch and are preparing a nice, cozy spot on the floor for our time of reading together.  Grab a book and join us!!  Do you have a favorite book that you have shared with your children?  A book that has inspired you?  A book that has blessed your family?  I would love to hear about it!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Frugal Shopping

As I prepared for grocery shopping this week I checked my deep freezer and noticed that I was getting short on chicken.   I also needed milk, buttermilk, salad vegetables, dog food and several other items.   We have two Krogers in our town and I always shop at both of them.  Why?  One of them has a better selection of gluten free foods and carries the pretzels that my little guy snacks on throughout the day.  The other Kroger has their meats, produce and dairy products reduced more often.

I try not to spend over $2 a pound for meat.  Sometimes that can be a challenge.  Yesterday pork loins were on sale for $1.99 a pound.  I bought a nice sized on that  I will use this to make BBQ for sandwiches.  I also found thick cut pork chops for around $1.40 a pound.  These will be great on the grill.  A big ham for $1.49 closed out our pork purchases....this will make a great Sunday dinner with leftovers for several dishes.

Other great meat deals I found were whole chickens for 68 cents a pound.  I'll be using these chickens in many different ways.  Tomorrow I think I will put two of them (halved) on the grill.  One will be all we need for dinner and the other will go in the freezer for a quick meal another day.  Here are some other ideas for whole chickens.  All of these great meat buys combined with the beef from a butchered cow and one lone reduced turkey will keep us in meat for the next couple of months.

In the dairy section I found gallons of whole milk reduced to $1.75.  Milk freezes well and the whole milk will make a great yogurt in my crockpot.  I'll post about that another day.  Half gallons of buttermilk were reduced to $1 and they also freeze well.  Just make sure you shake them well after thawing.  I have some great buttermilk recipes here and I also like to make a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing for all the salads we are eating these days.

And I can't forget the Twinings tea I found reduced:  Earl Grey and English Breakfast Tea are two favorites around here and I found them for less that $1.50 per box.  On the same stand of clearance items I found dog food.  I brought home two bags for Kaelan's newly acquired pet who seems to have a hollow leg.

So, how do you think I did on my latest grocery shopping trip?  Do you shop for reduced groceries?  Where do you shop and what is your best price on meats?

This post is linked to Raising Homemakers today.  Check them out for more homemaking tips.

Raising Homemakers

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ravioli Soup--Um, Um, Good!

Still thinking about soup recipes over here and thought I would repost this recipe.  I haven't made it in a while and I probably should.  It is so good.  I think I will add some ravioli to my shopping list for today.  This would be great for the weekend and I will make extra for the freezer.

The following soup is a little unusual, but is very delicious and freezes well. In fact, the recipe comes from Once-a-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. I would love to try some new non-dairy soup recipes so if you have one or two, please share.


1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup soft bread crumbs (I eliminate)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 t. onion salt
2 t. minced garlic
1 T olive oil
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes in puree
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 14 1/2-ounce can beef broth
1 c. water
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t dried basil
1/4 t. dried thyme
1.4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 12-ounce package plain ravioli without sauce (frozen or refrigerated)
grated parmesan cheese

Brown the ground beef in a large pot; combine remaining ingredients except for ravioli and extra parmesan. Bring soup to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool, put in container and freeze. 

To prepare for serving, thaw soup base and put in a large pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Thaw and cook ravioli according to package directions until just tender. Drain ravioli; add to soup. Salt to taste. Serve with parmesan cheese. Makes 6 servings. BUT YOU KNOW I ALWAYS DOUBLE THE RECIPE!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Review of Stainless Steel Cookie Sheet

Originally submitted at CSN Stores


  • Cookie sheet
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Has a slight edge on three sides
  • Used for cookies, rolls or pizzas
  • Overall dimensions: 0.38" H x 12" W x 14" D

Not So Great for Pizza

By Busy Hands Busy Minds from Mississippi on 1/17/2011


2out of 5

This little cookie sheet looked great when I received it, but it didn't hold up well to our heavy duty pizza baking session. The pizza cutter left an imprint on the cookie sheet, so it is now divided into 8 sections. I am still using it, but it would look better without the dividing lines.


My Review of Nonstick Carbon Steel 12 Cup Muffin Pan

Originally submitted at CSN Stores

The nonstick surface of Farberware's muffin (or cupcake) pan makes paper baking cups optional and cleanup easy. Cleanup is more of a consideration in a muffin pan than many other bakeware pieces since it is really twelve little pans in one - if you choose only one pan with nonstick, ...

Easy Clean Muffin Pan

By Busy Hands Busy Minds from Mississippi on 1/17/2011


5out of 5

Not all muffin pans are created equal. I have had several muffin pans through the years and this one may be the best; even better than my stoneware muffin pan. This pan allows just the right amount of browning on the sides of the muffins and is very easy to clean. Muffins also are easy to remove without using paper baking cups. We make lots of muffins around here and this pan is getting some heavy usage. And it still looks new!


My Review of Bakeware French Rolling Pin in Beechwood

Originally submitted at CSN Stores


  • French rolling pin
  • Beechwood finish
  • Solid beechwood construction
  • Two coat nonstick system that resists abrasions and offers unsurpassed food release
  • Delicate shape
  • French inspired and richly crafted
  • Tapered design allow...

Beautiful Beechwood Rolling Pin

By Busy Hands Busy Minds from Mississippi on 1/17/2011


5out of 5

This is a great rolling pin. I have been using it to roll out biscuits, cinnamon rolls, hamburger buns and cookies. The length allows me to roll out a LARGE batch of dough at one time. And it is easy to clean. It's so pretty, I think I need to find a spot to display it on the wall instead of putting it in a drawer!


My Review of Twin Cuisine Gadgets Pizza Cutter

Originally submitted at CSN Stores

The sharp rotating edge slices pizza easily while holding toppings in place or cuts a straight edge on pastry doughs and pasta. The unique ergonomic handle design combines the comfort and sure grip control of soft rubber with the stylish accent of 18/10 stainless steel. These gadgets and...

Easy Cutting

By Busy Hands Busy Minds from Mississippi on 1/17/2011


5out of 5

This pizza cutter easily cut through my homemade whole wheat pizza crusts. My crust is not soft, so it really takes a great cutter to make the perfect slice of pizza. Really made a nice cut and is very easy to clean.


My Review of Small Cookie Scoop

Originally submitted at CSN Stores

For easy scooping and consistently round cookies, try the OXO's Good Grips Cookie Scoops. The Small, Medium and Large Scoops all have soft grips that absorb pressure while you squeeze to easily release your cookie dough.


  • Scoop
  • A simple squeeze of the sof...

Just the Right Size!

By Busy Hands Busy Minds from Mississippi on 1/17/2011


5out of 5

This cookie scoop is perfect for cookies that aren't too big. We also use it to scoop up muffin batter for miniature muffins and to make meat balls. Multi-uses and easy to clean as well.


Menu Plan for January 17-23

Monday--veggie night:  purple hull peas, sauteed yellow squash with onions, onion soup rice (made with leftover onion soup) , glazed carrots, corn bread and broccoli salad

Tuesday-- grilled flounder, grilled corn on the cob, garlic roasted potatoes, green salad

Wednesday--stuffed sandwiches and salad

Thursday--Greek chicken strips, green salad, vegetable rice pilaf, baked garlic, flat bread, hummus

Friday--homemade pizzas, salad

Saturday--slow cooked roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, green beans, homemade bread

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Two Year Old "School"

What do you do with the little guys while you are teaching the older ones?
 I need to do some kind of learning activities with my toddler, but I have no idea what to do?

When you get busy teaching the older children it is often easy to overlook the educational needs of the little ones.  Yes, we make sure they are clean and fed, but some days it is easy to stick in a video or two for a couple of hours of peace while we teach the older children.   One way to make sure you are incorporating fun, entertaining and educational activities for your little ones is to make a plan.

Go through  your preschool toys and games and make a list of everything  you have that will make up a fun learning experience for your little one.  This is my current list of things my 27 month old son, Caedmon, can do by himself or with help.

1.  Lauri lace up animals
2.  a magnetic board with magnetic shapes of various colors
3.  Discovery Toys Giant Pegboard  for color sorting, stacking, counting or stringing....the back of it can be used as a pegboard with rubber bands
4.  bean bags tossed into a basket or bucket
5.  jumbo Cuisenaire rods
6.  Wee Sing tapes  (ok, I have cassettes--I have had preschoolers for over 20 years!!)
7.  board puzzles--Lauri, Melissa and Doug and Discovery Toys
8.  stickers and paper--I may draw a shape or a letter and have him place stickers to outline the drawing
9.  Color Wonder fingerpaint
10.  Color Wonder markers
11.  What's That Sound?--Discovery Toys listening lotto game
12.  attribute blocks- sort shapes, colors and sizes
13.  exercise CD or video
14.  make pictures with rice, dried beans, pasta or cornmeal
15.  tear construction paper and glue on other paper to make a collage
16.  Duplos
17.  Builders and Benders from Discovery Toys
18.  Little People
19.  Measure Up Cups (Discovery Toys) with a large pan of rice and a funnel
20.  play dough and cookie cutters
21.  large lace up beads from Melissa and Doug
22.  plastic nuts and bolts
23.  Trace and Place puzzles from Discovery Toys
24.  pattern blocks---match colors and shapes, make simple patterns, make designs
25.  small dry erase board and marker
26.  Melissa and Doug box shape sorter
27.  Melissa and Doug stacking blocks
28.  Melissa and Doug pegged shape sorter
29.  Mini Motors from Discovery Toys for sorting and playing
30.  file folder games from
31.  activity bags from
32.  books, books and more books!!
33.  Sounds Like Fun tape from Discovery Toys
34.  toy instruments from Melissa and Doug
35.  play food

As we do many of these activities we will be talking together about various things.  Naming objects, colors and shapes.  Sorting objects also can help teach counting.  Talk about same and different as you sort.  Opposites are fun to teach.  Caedmon is really funny these days as he makes a happy face and then a sad face as requested.  We sing or count as we roll a ball back to each other on the floor.

Children at this age also love to help with various chores.  There is a good bit they can help with if you take the time  to enjoy and encourage their efforts.  Caedmon loves to help load clothes in the washer or dryer.  He can also pick up toys and help vacuum.  A cleaning rag is great fun for him as he wipes down the fronts of kitchen appliances.  With a spray bottle of plain water and a cleaning rag he can clean a spill or a sticky spot in the floor.  With a damp rag he can dust low pieces of furniture.

When we were "poor" seminary students I borrowed several early learning resources from the library.  As I came across an idea that I thought would interest my children I copied it onto an index card.  I have a file box full of fun activities for early learning in all subject areas:  science, physical activities, language, crafts, etc.  Other resources that I have used in the last few years include Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander and The Preschool Primer:  101 Ideas for Learning and Doing.

Now that I have resources and a list of activities I am ready for the planning session.  I have a small plastic set of six drawers.  Each drawer is labeled for each of the five school days.  The extra drawer will contain quiet activities for family worship time.  I keep 4-5 activities in each drawer.   Many items on my list will not fit in the drawers, so I will tape the list to the wall next to my desk.  As I make out my lesson plans for the older children I can easily write down 2-3 activities from the list on my plans for Caedmon. I am hoping that being a little more organized with his activities will keep us all a little less frazzled and Caedmon a little more content.

If you have any questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  Do you have a terrific resource for the early preschool years?  How do  you incorporate your littles into  your school day?

This post has been submitted to Helpful Homeschool Hints.

Raising Homemakers

Hip Homeschool Hop Button 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Onion Soup: Hot Soup on the Stove for a Cold Day

The snow is not melting very fast around here.  Today we can really see more ground, but up until yesterday all these brown spots were still snow covered.  It snowed 6 days ago!!!  

The barn roof still has a good bit of snow on it.

I think the dog is glad to see the snow finally melting.

Someone has been walking through the woods.

Robert Frost--Stopping by  Woods on a Snowy Evening right in my own backyard.


2 large yellow onions, sliced very thin
5 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
64 ounces organic beef broth
2 tablespoons Beef Better Than Bouillon
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon Spike seasoning

Cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil.   Let the oil heat up.  Add onions and garlic.  Cook until slightly browned.  Add broth, bouillon and seasonings.  Let simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve with homemade croutons floating on top or with mozzarella cheese toasted on a small squares of bread.    Leftover soup is delicious when added to rice.  If you have 4 cups of soup left, add 2 cups of rice for a wonderful side dish.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Boy and His Bow

Intense concentration!

Jackson asked for a bow and arrow for Christmas.  He had been using an old one of Aaron's, but he really wanted one of his own.  Actually, he wanted a cross bow, but I don't think he is quite ready for that.

Checking out the target.

              He has been shooting bows and arrows for the last couple of years.  We always have some stray arrows around the yard and a target or two.  Jackson has very good aim with the bow and with his BB gun.   The guys have even set up a shooting range out behind the barn.

This target has been shot so many times the plastic is almost off and the styrofoam is falling out!

Love his expression here!

I do believe he hit the target!

We still have several inches of snow on the ground here.  The other day Jackson and Aaron built snowmen on the back deck.....and shot them with arrows.   He also decapitated Kaelan's snow man with a sword.  He warned us before the snow came that he was going to build a snow man and cut his head off.  Do you think I need to worry?  All of this is just practice at the art of defense.  Oh, and last night I had to physically remove the bow from his hand.  He had it with him in his bed.  He was going to be ready to protect us during the night!

When my oldest son was little I didn't allow him to have play weapons.    By the time we started studying American history with him and needed to reenact battle scenes from the Revolutionary War, I changed my tune.  Muskets, cannons and pistols filled our arsenal then.  With the middle ages came swords and shields.  It seems they make weapons from anything they can anyway!!  Legos, crackers, sandwiches and sticks all become weapons of some sort.  Now we buy them weapons and teach them to use them correctly.

Yesterday we were reading aloud from Ballantyne's The Gorilla Hunters and came to this passage which was very thought provoking to me.  Ralph Rover and his companions are in Africa in the mid-1800s hunting gorillas and tromping through the country.  Just before this passage they were caught in a dangerous situation as they were confronted with an angry bull which they managed to kill and then were almost attacked by a leopard which Ralph, despite his fear and bumbling killed as well.

As we walked along I could not help meditating on the uncertainty of this life, and the terrible suddenness with which we might at any unexpected moment be cut off.  These thoughts led me naturally to reflect how important a matter it is that every one, no matter how young, should be in a state of preparedness to quit this world.

I also reflected, and not without a feeling of shame, on my want of nerve, and was deeply impressed with the importance of boys being inured from childhood by trifling risks and light dangers of every possible description, such as tumbling into ponds and off trees, etc., in order to strengthen their nervous system.  I do not, of course, mean to say that boys ought deliberately to tumble into ponds of climb trees until they fall off;  but they ought not to avoid the risk of such mishaps.  They ought to encounter such risks and many others perpetually.  They ought to practise leaping off heights into deep water.  They ought never to hesitate to cross a stream on a narrow unsafe plank for fear of a ducking.  They ought never to decline to climb up a tree to pull fruit merely because there is a possibility of their falling off and breaking their necks.  I firmly believe that boys were intended to encounter all kinds of risk, in order to prepare them to meet and grapple with the risks and dangers incident to man's career with cook, cautious self-possession--a self-possession founded on experimental knowledge of the character and powers of their own spirits and muscles.  I also concluded that this reasoning applies to some extent to girls as well as boys...those who have been advised from the earliest childhood to "take care of themselves and carefully avoid all risks," will probably fall victims to their nervous alarms and the kind but injudicious training of parents or guardians...... I beg then, that it will be  understood that I do not by any means inculcate hare-brined recklessness, or a course of training that will foster that state of mind.  On the contrary, the course of training which I should like to see universally practised would naturally tend to counteract recklessness, for it would enable a boy to judge correctly as to what he could and could not do.

A very interesting aside in the adventure story, but it does make me consider even more the times that I discourage my guys from having their own adventures....My admonitions to take care.  Don't get in the creek.  Don't climb up that high.  There is such a balance that needs to be used in teaching and training our boys.  One day they will be men who may be called upon to do hard things.  Things that they need to be preparing for now.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Devin's Chicken Tortilla Soup

The Four Mom's are doing a link-up today for easy recipes for lunch.  While this may be a little more involved, it makes a lot of soup....which can either be frozen for later use or cooked for an evening meal and served for lunch the next day.  What makes it even easier for me is that I don't cook it!!  Devin does and as always it is so very delicious!  Enjoy! Check out other recipes at Raising OlivesLife in a ShoeSmockity Frocks, and The Common Room.

Devin's Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 cloves of minced garlic
half an onion, chopped
3 T butter
2 T all-purpose flour
3 14 oz cans chicken broth
4 cups half-and-half
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel
2 cans Cheddar cheese soup
6 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and skinned (tonights with chicken leg quarters that were on sale a few weeks ago)
2 t cumin
1 packet fajita seasoning
3 T chopped fresh cilantro

To serve:
tortilla chips
shredded monterey jack cheese

In a large pot over medium heat, saute garlic and onion in the butter for 5 minutes. 

Add flour and stir well, cooking for 1 minute more while adding in a little of the broth to keep from scorching.

Add the rest of the broth and half-and-half.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Add the soup, Rotel, chicken, cumin, fajita seasoning and cilantro.  Stir and continue to heat for 15 minutes.

Serve hot with crumbled tortilla chips and cheese on top.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Making Applesauce in the Slowcooker and a Recipe for Applesauce Muffins

I've recently been experimenting with using my slowcooker for more than just dinner recipes.  Here is a quick and easy way to make your own healthy applesauce.  It's so very easy!!

For this batch of applesauce I purchased several pounds of Granny Smith apples which were reduced for only 99 cents for 3 pounds.  I used about 5 pounds in this batch.  Wash, slice, core and peel the apples.  Add to your slowcooker.  Turn on high.  Simply let the apples sit for 3-4 hours and stir them occasionally.  The apples will simply fall apart as you stir them and turn into sauce.  If you don't like a chunky sauce, simply run the apples through your blender or use a stick blender straight in the slowcooker.   These 5 pounds of apples yielded almost 2 two quarts of applesauce that is now in my fridge ready to enjoy.  You can also can in pint sized jars using a water bath method for 10 minutes.

You could cook a little longer and add cinnamon and allspice to make apple butter.  Just cook until it thickens considerably.

Applesauce Muffins

1 cup softened butter 
2 cups sugar (I actually use 1 1/2 cups with no change in taste)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 cups of homemade applesauce or natural unsweetened applesauce from the store
2 tsp. soda
2 cups unbleached flour
2 cups fresh ground whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Cream sugar and butter; add eggs and vanilla.  Beat well.  Sift flour and  cinnamon together.  Heat applesauce; remove from heat and add baking soda.  The applesauce with puff up a little!  Add applesauce and flour alternately to butter and sugar, mixing well after each addition.  Place batter in greased muffin pans and bake for 15-20 minutes in 350 degree preheated oven.  When done, roll in powdered sugar.  This batter will keep in the refrigerator several days or you can freeze baked muffins.  Makes 7 dozen miniature muffins.  You can also make larger muffins and even bake it in loaf pans.

You can definitely leave off the powdered sugar, but kids really enjoy them with the extra sweetener and it makes them look extra special!  If you decrease the sugar in the muffins perhaps you won't mind adding a little extra on the outside.  : )   I get rave reviews and recipe requests when I take these anywhere.  Enjoy!!

 This post is linked to Raising Homemakers today.  Head over and check out lots of great homemaking tips from other moms.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...