Saturday, September 29, 2012

7 Is the Magic Number

I know it's really 3. I have the Schoolhouse Rock DVDs. Let's hope I make it to 7.

  • Dinner was extra scrumptious tonight. Hubby made gravy! Believe it or not, I am gravy challenged. Sometimes I make good gravy, but sometimes not so much. I made a pot roast. In years past I would use a can of cream of mushroom soup and a packet of onion soup mix. Not anymore. I did use homemade chicken stock and fresh basil when I cooked the roast, though. I made mashed potatoes and they needed gravy. So hubby worked his gravy magic. Even the picky baby ate it, and she doesn't like gravy. Oh, to have a sweet potato biscuit... 
  • My SIL that I get along with posted a math problem on FB. She needed help solving it. Several people tried, including me. I got 432. I got it right! But, really, the big girl and I just got done with that in her math. If I hadn't gotten it right, then shame on me. 
  • We have bell peppers galore in our garden right now. We picked several the other day for stuffed peppers. We must have 7 or 8 that are almost ready to pick. Loving that! We have okra. Unfortunately, we only have 3 okra plants right now, so there will probably only be enough for one person. Or I could be nice and share with hubby. We have more started and we originally planted 6 okras. 3 died and one is very small. It still has little okras on it. Our broccoli is getting big. We are excited for that. We have brussel sprout sprouts ready for the tower. Our sweet potatoes and yukons are growing like gangbusters. Hubby wants to train the sweets to grow up then put them in a big pot, like at Epcot. We don't really have the growing room that they need, but we make a lot of things from sweet potatoes and would like to grow as many as we can. Our bok choi looks so cute. Now, if we can make it to harvest, we'll be ecstatic.
  • The baby has switched jazz classes. She tried the one after her tap class and loved it! That makes me happy. I wasn't sure she'd like it since it's a bigger class. She has her most of her tap friends in her jazz class so that makes her happy. We're in town one less day so that makes my gas tank and wallet happy. Happy for small favors right now. 
  • We have a couple of field trips coming up. We like field trips. We're going to the Museum of Natural History with a group. It happens to be where a dear friend moved a couple of years ago. We miss her and her family. They're coming, too! SO excited to see them. Before that we have a field trip to the zoo. They are having a bee keeping class. We aren't going to get bees, but what a cool thing. We get to see their hives and watch the bee keeper handle the bees and eat the honey! Oh, the honey! It is so nice to have field trips in the books.   
  • We have finished our book Missing May. The last chapter was a little hard for me to get through. Then the last couple of pages just wore me out. The kids took it hard, too. It was a great book just in case you're interested. It wasn't what I expected, but it was still good. We are reading a 39 Clues book now. We had started this one, but had to turn it in when it was due. I backed up a couple of chapters to help refresh our memories. I picked a second book for the big girl. I am trying to get all the kids out of their reading ruts. The baby isn't that bad. She reads all kinds of stuff. The boy and the big girl tend to get stuck in one genre. She said it was funny. I'll take that. I picked Hatchet for the boy. I can almost guarantee you that he hasn't gotten past Chapter 2. That'll change tomorrow. 
  • School is pretty great right now. I think the change in classes and feeling a little less stressed about it has helped us hit a groove. The big girl is still working into the afternoon, but that won't change any time soon. I have cut her back as far as I can and she knows that. She has been very good about it. The boy has decided he wants to do the science that the baby is doing. That's actually ok. The curriculum we're using is made for a wide range of grade levels. I also have a ton of stuff on all levels to supplement. I do need to look up a couple of experiments for the big girl, but I have a ton of those, too. I made myself promise that I would get better at grading the kids stuff in a more timely manner. I did until Thursday. After a busy long day, I forgot. I had gotten some of it graded earlier. Then we did Saturday school. I had the stuff graded by then and there wasn't anything they needed to work on from the previous lesson, so all was good. Saturday school got whines, but that's what happens when you don't get Friday's work done. Good thing hubby was working or that could have gotten ugly. I would have had to rebel and cancel school and set a bad example and we can't have that, now can we?               
Look, I made it! I made it! That was easier than I thought it was going to be.

Have a great day.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

We have had a couple of days lately that just haven't worked out as planned. School has kind of turned into the same situation as paying off our cars. You would think we'd have more money every month since we paid them off. No, it's more like that's less we have to come up with. We quit science co-op and we no longer have bible study, so you would think we would have more time. Not so much. Crazy how that works, huh? Because we are pressed for time and have some late nights, it means crazy cooking or a lot of crock pot cooking. We all know how much I love my crock pot, but sometimes, I need a break. 

The last couple of weeks, I've made "cheater" meals. I either didn't have everything I needed to make dinner or I no longer use some of the ingredients or for some reason I just didn't have time for the recipe. The first was stuffed peppers. I did use peppers from the garden. They are so lovely. The one thing that has consistently produced are the peppers. You should see our sweet potatoes and yukon potatoes, but they aren't ready to harvest yet. My recipe for peppers calls for instant rice. I'm sorry, I'm Hawaiian. I can't use instant rice by law. It's really my own law, but it's there. I was going to use brown rice, but I still have some sticky rice from when my dad came to visit and it needs to go. I will eat it all if it doesn't. I cooked the rice because if it didn't cook completely while the peppers cooked, they would have been awful. I don't like crunchy rice and I wasn't taking a chance. I also didn't have fresh tomatoes, so, gasp, I used canned. Cool your jets, people. You know it was the good stuff. Since everything was cooked when it got put together, I didn't have to cook it as long. It also didn't seem as time intensive. I put it all together and put it in the fridge. When hubby got home with a couple of the kids, he popped them in the oven to warm up. They were scrumptious.

Mexican chicken is one of my favorite things to eat. Some of the ingredients, however, make me cringe now. I had leftover chicken that needed to be used. This was another thing I could put together and cook later. And once again, since everything was cooked already, it just needed to be heated. I used blue corn chips, They are so good. I layered chips, chicken, Rotel ( I know, don't judge.), more chips, and Provolone cheese. I sprinkled the chicken with some cumin and oregano and a little cayenne. Not too much cayenne since the Rotel more than made up for the spicy. I should have added a little chicken or veggie stock to add a little more moisture, but I didn't think about that until I was eating and it was a little dry. As I was putting it together, the big girl asked if there was enough for everyone to have thirds and fourths. Darn it, no, but next time there will be.

And, last but not least, I picked up a pie pumpkin at veggie co-op. Just one, but it makes a lot of pumpkin. I am going to process that bad boy today. I have visions of pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cake or pie, and maybe a little pumpkin in my coffee. I'll make my own darn pumpkin spice latte. Take that! I'm really the only one that likes pumpkin flavored things. Except when I make them with fresh pumpkin. Then it gets eaten faster than you can say "Peter, Peter". It's all in the ingredients you use, I have found. My family is not big on sweet potatoes or Brussel sprouts, either, unless I cook them. I think it's because I sprinkle everything with extra love. 

That's all I got for now. I think I have time for a second cup of coffee. I wish that pumpkin was already done. Tomorrow is another day.             

Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eating Well

  I haven't done a recipe blog in a while. Shame on me. Really, though, I was burned out when it came to cooking, so the blog would have been short and sweet. Well, short anyway. I blogged a few weeks ago about hubby and the kids picking some recipes out of my stash. They came up with some good ones, let me tell you what. We also spent last Saturday, um, processing chickens. I have a freezer full. I roasted one Sunday then used the leftovers later in the week. I made chicken enchiladas. I haven't made those in forever. Tonight was hubby's night to cook. He made potato soup. It doesn't sound fancy, but the crispy carrots were great to just snack on. Both recipes were a hit.

I had never made my own enchilada sauce. I always relied on a can. Nothing is easier than that, but we don't do that anymore. I came across this recipe on It was so stinking good. My biggest recommendation is buy good spices. If you go cheap, you can taste it. And after the kids were eating it, I told them there was a secret ingredient. Here's what I did:

Enchilada Sauce

3 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp oregano
3 cups water
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stirring constantly, slowly add enough water to make a thin paste. Pour into pan and add rest of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in tomato sauce. Use in you favorite recipe.

You know I changed something because I am that way. Don't combine the ingredients in a bowl. Use the pot you're going to cook in. That's one less dish, thank you. I cut the chili powder just a little because I have some sensitive palates that don't do spicy very well. I also didn't use garlic salt. I used garlic powder. If you're adding salt already, cut where you can. Or use fresh garlic. I also added more cocoa powder because chili and chocolate are so good together. I had some left over, so I froze it. It would be good as a sauce for quesadillas or tostadas or anything else you need a spicy sauce for. I'd make another batch if I had enough tortillas. Or a spoon. 

When I sat to plan the menu, I knew there was at least one night hubby was going to have to cook. That was tonight. I tried to plan something easy. He really is a good cook but he doesn't have much confidence in his skills. Crazy man. I showed him the recipe and we talked about it before we decided that was what we were going to have for dinner. We didn't realize that it was for a side dish, so I did have to stop and get something else to go with it. Oh, well, we know better for next time. This came from my Better Homes and Gardens magazine. This is one reason I love that mag.

Rosemary Potato Soup with Crispy Carrots

1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 medium russet or white potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups water
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into ribbons

In 4 or 5 quart pot, melt butter. Add onion, salt, and pepper. Cook until translucent. Add potatoes, 2 cups of water, and rosemary. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat. With a potato masher, mash potatoes until no lumps remain, or process with a wand blender. Add remaining water. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until thick. Stir frequently to keep potatoes from sticking to pot. While simmering, heat oil in a pan. Add carrot ribbons and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on paper towel or cooling rack. Spoon soup into bowls and top with carrots. 

Please, I am from the south. We don't fry onions in a tablespoon of butter. And that little bit of salt and pepper is for the birds. Salt those potatoes, people. You can't go back and add it. It'll be too late. That's all I have to say about that. Moving on. We used Yukon Gold potatoes because that's what we have. If you use a blender, please be very careful. Only process small batches at a time. Big batches make your blender turn into a bomb and it could explode. NOT FUN! I have a wand blender, but hubby used the regular masher. It worked wonderfully. We didn't have rosemary. Hubby called and asked what to use instead. I said oregano, but you could use parsley, basil, thyme, or any combination of those. The carrots didn't get quite as crunchy as I would like, but they were still darn good. If you want more soup, I would double or even triple the recipe depending on how much you want or how many people you're serving. You could even add cooked ham or bacon.

Good food is always present in our home. I like to eat too much to have crappy food. These were both winners. The baby and the boy didn't particularly care for the carrots in the soup. That's sort of odd for the boy since he's my carrot eater. I picked up a baguette and we had that with our soup. You could crouton it and let it sit in your soup before you eat it. Oh, yummy. I may eat hubby's leftovers he was going to take to work tomorrow. He'll never know. I'll blame it on the kids. Or the cat. Wait, we don't have a cat. Oh, never mind. It would totally be worth it.

Have a great day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

You Win Some, You Want to Dump Some

It has been a very busy couple of weeks for us. Finally I have a minute to sit down. Of course, Revolution is on, so I'm blogging during commercials. So far there haven't been any, so I'm doing what I can.

My dad and step mom came to visit. It was nice. They haven't been to our home since we moved here. We hadn't been to there house in about 5-6 years. It was a nice visit. One little snafu. My dad and I got into it about homeschooling and me being stubborn. Well, it takes stubborn to know stubborn is what I always say. Anyway, I'll repeat what I said to him. I don't give a damn what anyone thinks about our decision to home school. It wasn't anyone else's decision but mine and hubby's and we made the right one. We went and had ice cream and to the park. There's this little place across from the park that has a lovely dreamsicle ice cream. I could have eaten my weight in that stuff. We went and ate sushi. And the kids got spoiled at the big box store. So did I. And it was nice. It was good to see them and great to spend some time. It was a much needed break for us.

The kids and I have decided that we do not like our science curriculum. We have been using Apologia: Exploring Creation with Physical Science. I can guarantee you that I won't use anymore of their science curriculum if it's written by the same man that wrote this one. At one point today, I could have stabbed my eyes out with my pencil. Good thing I wear glasses and have a barrier between my eyes and the sharp, pointy end. Do we really need a paragraph explaining that when you have a chemical symbol with two letters, the first letter is capitalized and the second letter isn't? Do we have to repeat through 4 chapters that the chemical formula for water is H2O? The first experiment in chapter 4 is the same as the experiment in chapter 1, except using Epsom salt and not baking soda. I'm all for review, but repeating over and over is something else. And he doesn't know when to stop talking. We just need to hang in there a few more months until co-op is over. Lord, give me strength.

I didn't get much sleep last night. About 3:30, my eyes popped open and they didn't want to close until about 5. Not good. About 5 this afternoon, I couldn't take it anymore. I made it to the couch before I kind of just faded away. Hubby came home and took the boy to dance. I finally rolled off the couch about 6:30 to make dinner. I had something else on the menu, but realized yesterday I didn't have everything I needed. So I made it up. We had meatballs, zucchini and carrot ribbons sauteed in butter and garlic, and sweet potato biscuits. EVERYONE ate the biscuits. They were lovely. I'm going to make more and post the recipe. Hubby told me he doesn't like sweet potatoes (he really doesn't), but he will eat them any way I cook them. He feels the same way about Brussel sprouts.

I've been picking books for the kids. They still get to pick their own, but I pick something outside their comfort zone. The boy has read 2 of my picks and really enjoyed them. He's already asked me to pick another. He also found a new author he likes. The baby has liked my picks as well. She has been on an American Girl kick for a couple of months now. I picked some cute books for her. The big girl isn't real happy, but she's reading her book because she's a good girl. I'm not sure what I'm picking next for her, but it will be way out of her box. That's the way I roll.   

And now I'm rolling off to bed. I am wiped out and Revolution is over.

Have a great day. 

Friday, September 7, 2012


Sometimes I let anxiety get the best of me. Ok, maybe more than sometimes. Case in point: freaking out about our schooling and our schedule and how in the world the two were going to mesh. Well, actually, except for an impromptu trip to buy dance shoes and run errands, it's meshed very well.

We have had a couple of days that just seemed like we couldn't get any work done at all. It was one road block after another. It was driving me crazy. There was no reason we should be working at 3 in the afternoon. Sometimes, it be's like that, to quote Pink. Really, though, that should not be our norm. I'm going to keep an eye on things and see what else needs to be tweaked.

It doesn't help that the kids are each taking two dance classes. We hadn't even started and I was worried we would have to drop classes already. Science is taking a huge chunk of time for us. Bible study got moved to a different day and we had not one night off during the week. Not one. Panic set in. And it brought a bag, like it was going to stay for awhile. Well, crap.

Guess what? Stuff happens and things change. Sometimes that's good, but sometimes not. Sometimes it's a combination of things. Here's what happened.

I cancelled bible study. We showed up, but nobody else did. I was expecting that. I had gotten messages and texts from the kids that normally showed and others that they weren't going to be able to participate. I gave it a try just to see if anyone was going to make it. Nope. 6:30 came around and we turned off the lights and left. As much as I absolutely loved facilitating that study, it was almost like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I didn't know how we were going to be out 5 nights a week and still function the next day. We don't have to. We have a night off.

Dance! The kids started this week. Everyone is loving their classes this year. I love, love, love to hear "I had the best time!" all the way home. If it were just one of them, that would be one thing. It was all of them. After every class. The class times are late enough, too, that if we need to school a little longer on certain days, it is all good. We have the time. We are out quite a bit, but I'm going to see if we can move one of the classes. There is a jazz class right after the baby's tap class that I'm going to see if she can try. If she does well, that cuts another night out for us.

Our impromptu trip was because the baby told me the morning of her tap class that her shoes were too small. Off we go to buy tap shoes. The kids got the majority of their work done while I was in the shower. They also swapped laundry and folded towels and packed dance bags. If they can do that, I think it's going to be ok.

My only concern at this time is science co-op. It's not even co-op, it's the work load that goes with co-op. It takes us quite awhile to get through the lesson at home. The kids need to know the lesson before we get to co-op. Then it gets reviewed there and the labs are done. The next week, we finish the chapter and test. There is so much info in the books. And we have to do it all. Except last week because I was tired. I haven't been sleeping well. I skipped the last 2 or 3 pages. Guess what they talked about in co-op? That went well. Or not. I don't like the way the information is presented in the curriculum we're using. The man that wrote it likes the sound of his own voice. He uses "thus" and "nevertheless" in almost every paragraph, but not always the right way. I think someone has a confidence issue.

Piano is going well for the girls. I think the boy may start. I'm not sure. He hasn't shown any interest in getting back to guitar or playing or practicing. We thought maybe drums, but we're still not sure. That would mean acquiring a drum set for him to practice on. I told him to pick one, but he hasn't made a decision yet. We'll see where he ends up.

I feel better about the extras working with school now that they've all started. We are taking next week off. My dad and step mom are coming to visit! Yea!! They'll only be here for a few days, but we are so excited. It has been about 4 years since we've seen them. Then we go back at it. Tomorrow is Rock the Universe! Group 1 Crew and TobyMac are going to be so happy to see me. I mean, I'll be so happy to see them. Long day, very early morning and sleeping til noon. I'm taking a breath. And out...aaaahhhhhh.

Have a nice day.

Monday, September 3, 2012

And, Big Sigh...

I am starting to feel just a tad overwhelmed. I usually stay pretty busy. When we have a day where we can sit around in pajamas, we relish it.We are about to go into overdrive, but I'm not sure I'm gonna survive.

Our curriculum choice this year was based on the fact that I got most of it for free. It's good stuff, don't get me wrong. Free is not a reason to use it if it doesn't work for my kids. What's the point, really? The issue is that it is A LOT of work. There are some days we are still working at 3 in the afternoon. What kind of junk is that? Granted, the days we did that we got started just a little later than normal, but this is not the point. Even on days we do start on time, we are still schooling into the afternoon. Now we throw dance and girls club in the mix. Oh, yeah, and book club for the kids. Good thing that's once a month. And Latin. I'm ordering that this week. What have I gotten myself into?

A big giant ball of stress, that's what I've gotten into, dang it. There is so much we have to do that isn't together. What we do have together is taking some time. I have cut back as far as I can. There are some things that just can't be cut down anymore if we're expected to actually work. I mean, I could always just sit around all day and not do anything. Yeah, that's gonna happen.

Added to that is a strict "no going out to eat" until November. Hubby and I are putting ourselves on a pretty tight budget for the next couple of months. We want to see where the money is going and how it's getting there. That means menu planning and lots of cooking. Good thing the kids need to learn how to cook. There will be a couple of nights a week that the kids and/or hubby are going to make dinner. There is just no way around it. I do have a stack of recipes that they picked out. I added the Better Homes and Gardens Recipe app to my phone. Hopefully I can get some good ideas from that. I also sat and pulled a bunch of recipes from magazines today. I needed to get rid of the magazines, but I wanted the info in it. I pulled some pretty good vegetarian recipes and some I can make vegetarian. I like those. I do have a menu for the rest of this week. Please let it work.  

My dad is coming to visit! Yea!! I'm not sure if my step mom is coming or not, but it'll be good to see her, too. That will be the only exception to our "no going out to eat" rule. Dad wants sushi. Who am I to disappoint? I have some meals planned for next week, but we'll see how it goes. This will be our last hurrah for a little while.

I need to research and gather info on a couple of field trips. I got a request for the chocolate factory again. I am so in to that, let me tell you what. And then the beach? I say, yes, and thank you. When are those supposed to happen? I told the kids I would try to schedule a day every few weeks so we can go to Disney. Doesn't that sound lovely? Why, yes it does. I'm not sure when those days will be. I think they call them Saturdays.  

This, too, shall pass. I feel a little overwhelmed because we haven't started extras. I'll have a better idea of what kind of time we have. I think that's why we haven't found a groove yet. We don't have everything we need to groove. That starts this week. So ready for dance! I'll have a better picture of our schedule when that happens.

Right now, I'm gonna take it day by day and not put so much added stress on everyone. It's that whole trickle down thing. We have one week to get through, vacation after that, then a settling in period. Oh, to settle. Taking a breath, and big sigh.

Have a great day.