Saturday, July 16, 2011


My blog has a new home- or come see what is happening in St. Augustine

Simply St Augustine

Come over & check it out! Leave me a comment or send an email to let me know you found it!

I hope it's more searchable & easier to use for all of us. See you there!!

The Best Part

Lynda and I have been friends as long as we've been moms.

We have new church families, 3 moves with us following them into a great neighborhood, births, entrepeneurial dreams with our hubbies, huge job changes, and losses a lot of history- and 13 children- between us.

You know how it can be with great friends... total opposites and yet so very much alike. {smile} That's us.

Well every year, when the homeschool convention rolls around, we claim Friday for "our day". We ride together and catch up on 25 missed phone conversations, chat about the sessions we're excited about and hopes for the coming year. Then comes my favorite part. We go to Biscotti's for a delish lunch (and always miss the session we plan to make it back in time for)!

That's the best part!! Shared memories. Shared lives. Real life (running late, not caring, splashing through the rain, walking into signs, questioning frostitution(!?), big decisions (what to have for dessert) and little decisions (which curriculum to buy), sharing concerns, prayers, drinks and hugs).

Laughing with a tried-and-true friend. The best(est) part. :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Smaller is Better

Today is the day! I'm headed to the local homeschool convention.

It's true, it is much much smaller than FPEA in Orlando, but I still go every year. Why? Because sometimes smaller is better!

1. It's local! I can get to know other local homeschoolers by volunteering with HERI, chatting in the hallways, and meeting friends of friends.

2. Networking... it's helpful in homeschooling just like it is in corporate America! I learn who to go to for testing, evaluations, questions about high school, great field trip ideas, and tips on how to homeschool with preschoolers by talking to others who have "been there".

3. Smaller crowds mean I can have "face time" with speakers. If I am fascinated, challenged by, or curious about a speaker's topic, I can follow up with a conversation. The same goes for vendors- if I'm having a hard time teaching a particular concept in Math, I can go to Math-U-See's booth and speak to my rep in person!

4. Convenience. If I don't go local (and my friends & their friends don't go) then I may not have the OPTION to attend my hometown convention next year!

So, if you're undecided, take the time and make the effort to attend, glean from, and support our local convention. See you at HERI!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

HERI- Jacksonville Homeschool Convention!

I'm excited for this weekend... tomorrow and Saturday I'm headed to the annual H.E.R.I. Homeschool Convention at the Prime Osborne Convention Center in downtown Jacksonville.

What a blessing to have this helpful resource for current or potential homeschooling families RIGHT HERE in our own area!! The very first contact I had with homeschooling information was a H.E.R.I. (Home Education Resources and Information) convention.

It's not too late to go, here's their website with helpful information. You can pay at the door!

And here is the program with the speaker listing & description of sessions. I'm looking forward to hearing Todd Wilson again, he's an engaging speaker and encouraging Homeschool Dad. (Okay, okay, I should make those lowercase... but sometimes it does take a superhero to fill that role!)

See you there!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

At Your Request

We made these cupcakes for Clara's First Birthday. The recipe (link below) is from Better Homes & Garden's 150 Sweet Recipes Cupcake magazine- Granny bought it for Lauren, our 9-year-old-cupcake expert.

My friend Gini requested this recipe after eating one (or was it two?) cupcake at the beach and taking home the rest "for her hubby". :) Yes, carrot cake fans, they're really that good! It's a nice update of a carrot cake- the cream cheese filling is a nice surprise- and a cupcake is the perfect size to enjoy but not over-indulge. Unless you eat three.

Carrot Pineapple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting- Link to the original recipe

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This Morning's Harvest

Guess what's for dinner tonight? Grilled Eggplant, fresh okra and a salad with cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and goat cheese! Our harvest this morning is dinner tonight!

Many people think that you can't grow anything in the heat of a Florida summer, but we're still enjoying the bounty of our garden.

We harvested the first of our garlic last week and a few pears are starting to ripen. Our first cantaloupe was almost ready, but a squirrel or raccoon beat us to it. {There is currently a warrant out for this creature, dead or alive.}

It's time to pull the plants that are finished producing- for us, that includes tomatoes and brussel sprouts. I'm going to solarize this patch of garden- cover the ground with plastic & let the sun "cook out" any nematodes and fungi enjoying my garden. {Any experience doing that?} Everything deserves a rest- I'm thinking of God telling the Israelites to give their land a Sabbath Rest in Leviticus 25.

I'm happy to give my little garden a rest and am looking forward to mixing in a handfull or two of compost when it's time to put in my fall garden!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Meal Planning Monday

We are enjoying some sweet family time with GeGe this week. I love being in the kitchen with my grandma, but Lauren has mostly replaced me! She and GeGe get in there and whip up some yummy meals. I won't be too jealous. ;)

GeGe is leading the meal planning most days, but I do have a Mexican Black Bean Chili in the Crock Pot this week- it's a new recipe & I'm excited to try it. Vegetarian Crock Pot recipes are often bland & boring, so I'm happy to be building a good collection of tasty ones!

If you have any tried-and-true veggie crock recipes, I'd love you to share them! Email it to me and I'll post on the blog for others to enjoy, too!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Okay, I probably should have come up with a more sophisticated title... but I'm in such an amazingly strange state of excited, in awe and totally relaxed that I can't come up with anything better!!!

Homeschooling moms, be very jealous. I was sitting in the same chair Mrs. Tracy Klicka sat in last week! And Bev Bradley not long before that and David & Shirley Quine then Jan Bloom before that... it's like walking through Mount Vernon sitting in the president's chair in the Oval Office!! AAAHHH!!! Now I know how Toni (aka TheHappyHousewife) felt when sleeping in Cinderella's Castle!

Bob & Tina Farewell, our family by a wonderful marriage, are graciously allowing us to stay in their super-awesome Tree House and I'm in heaven!! (Note the plush robe and perfectly large-but-still-pretty teacup!) If you don't know of the Farewells or any of the folks I mentioned above, you really must take the time to peruse their websites, read their books, and listen to any seminars you can find online. As homeschool pioneers, they have years of experience and a true heart for homeschooling our children from the heart. Amazing people, I tell you. (Umm... if you are one of those people I mentioned & you want your name off my blog, I'm happy to do that, too. Sorry. Can I have your autograph?!)

Seriously, though, our family is enjoying some time away in Lake Wales. I love being with my GeGe and the time was made even better by Mom joining us! My sis & her kiddos are coming soon as is Dad! Add our amazing cousins, who live next door to GeGe, and the fact that we get the treat of visiting with the Farewells... I'm sure you'll understand my excitement!

Get to know the folks above. Amazing people. And, what is so encouraging to me, they are just like you and just like me. They love their children. They homeschool(ed), serve, speak, write, encourage out of the abundant goodness of God. I'm inspired to do the same.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

ONE, beautiful baby!

You know what I'm going to say- but bear with me... I cannot believe our baby girl is one year old already! {You know you've said it too!}

We celebrated with lots of Daddy time (and lots of time in arms for this teething baby girl) and concluded with a delicious Carrot Pineapple Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Yum. She l.o.v.e.d. hers!! And she loved sharing with her brother, too!

Even though Lauren is usually our Cupcake Queen, she just had the treat of baking 60 WICKED awesome cupcakes for our friend Arden (I'll post about those another time). So Timothy had a turn in the kitchen baking Clara's delish Bday cupcakes!

After presents & the Birthday song, we enjoyed our newest tradition: we tucked everyone else in bed and let the Birthday Girl stay up late for some special Mamma & Daddy time! We played with Clara's new baby, read Jan Brett's On Noah's Ark and laughed as little Clara walked back and forth doling out her sweet little kisses to me & her Daddy.

It was a sweet ending to a sweet birthday for ONE sweet baby girl! Happy Birthday, little Clara.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Meal Planning Monday


We're enjoying the 4th- what a perfect summer day to celebrate freedom, family and yummy food! We just finished cleaning up after the neighborhood parade & enjoyed a refreshing glass of Watermelon Lemonade and are kicking back for an easy rest-of-the day.

M- Ravioli with Pesto and a fresh side salad
T- Fresh caught Trout & Flounder with Sweet Potatoes and Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes for Clara's Birthday!!
W- Sweet & Sour Veggie Stir Fry
R- Garden fresh Greens & Cannellini Beans over Polenta (never made it last week...)
F- Pizza with fresh Chevre & Tomatoes from the garden

YUMMY & Easy week this week!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Keeping Garden-Fresh Herbs Fresh

My herb garden is my favorite... but with the heat of summer setting in, I know my precious herbs' days are numbered! Many have already bolted, others I'm constantly clipping to keep them from going to seed.

I love to watch the butterflies visit when they flower, but I'm into gardening to eat fresh and save money, sorry butterflies. Maybe we can compromise... I'm trying something new (thanks to a friend on facebook!) to hopefully accomplish both!

Resa said to clip my basil & store it in a vase to have fresh basil available at my fingertips. She listed a second benefit- the basil will start to root and I can plant another plant!

I'm trying it out. (See my picture? Chris brought me some sweet mini-roses!) I'm wondering... will it work for parsley as well?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Make time for FUN!

I am so serious.

I love to smile and laugh, but my default mode is "get it done and move on to the next thing". I guess that sinful focus on to-do's instead of relationships is affectionately referred to as task-oriented.

Since I'm wired that way, I have to be really intentional about having fun with my children. I could definitely spend the whole day accomplishing tasks and miss out on the privilege I have as a homeschooling mamma to develop relationships with my littles... to truly get to know them.

Enter the glasses.

I bought them in the $1 bin and we took them to the zoo. Everyone took turns wearing them because, well we don't already get enough looks as a family of 8. {hahaha}

It was fun! We laughed and posed and made some silly memories... and didn't see every exhibit. {pat pat pat on the back!} Now I'm brainstorming my next way to lighten up... how do you make time for fun?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meal Planning Monday

We have family coming in town for the 4th & Clara's Birthday and a special night out at the beach- this week's menu is shaping up to be yummy!

M- Bruschetta (made with tomatoes and basil from my garden!) and a BIG Italian Salad with peppers from the garden, marinated olives, fresh parmesan and a homemade balsamic viniagrette!
T- My VFSITWWW (very favorite soup in the whole wide world) the Sweet Potato Bisque from Biscotti's
W- Dinner & a concert-by-the-sea in St Augustine
R- Greens & Cannellini Beans over Polenta
F- Roasted Potato Salad & Chris' Amazing fish cakes
S- Veggie Pot Pie in individual puff Pastry Bowls
S- 3rd of July COOK OUT!

If anything looks good, come on over! If anything looks great, ask for the recipe!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

meet me in the garden

Alex said he hadn't seen me in a while.

I'm on a first-name basis with all the Publix employees- Alex is the solemn Russian in the produce department. I had to confess to him: I don't need to come as often because I'm getting my produce somewhere else... My own backyard!

Chris & I have attempted gardening for all 13 years of our marriage. Some years we have bell peppers, others the tomatoes flow in all summer long... but this is the first year my garden has been bountiful enough to save trips to Publix!

I haven't bought eggplant or collard greens in months, cucumbers are plentiful, the bell peppers and tomatoes are keeping us supplied, and okra is starting to roll in. The green beans and squash were tasty but I didn't plant enough. Oops.

And my herbs... oh, the herb garden is my favorite!! It's a little messy but fruitful beyond imagination... kind of how I view our family! {smile}

There is more, but I won't bore you. Some are ready before I know it (radishes!) and others take their time (onions & garlic). The lemon flaunts it's fruit but strawberries are nestled among large, deep green leaves like jewels in velvet.

My blueberries were trampled by well-meaning children... I need to find them a safer place for next year. The sticks are only a couple of inches above the ground, but I think they'll come back. That's the thing about a garden. With a lot of love and even more work, it'll yield abundantly. Hmm... sounds a lot like the rest of life...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reinventing the Wheel

Our evaluations & tests are complete for the 2010-2011 school year. It was a successful homeschool year according to the principal (Daddy O) and according to the state.

I'm starting to think about next year and I've realized when addressing challenges, I may need to do more than apply a band-aid.

"Once we've decided to go somewhere, it's too late to ask the question: 'Should we really go there?' Too often we are too busy trying to keep the car running, the spare tire patched and the clothes washed to ask the question: 'Should we really be taking this trip in the first place?" -Joel Salatin, Salad Bar Beef

What does my school day need to look like? What subjects do I need to cover? Do they have to be "taught" as "subjects"? To borrow from Mr. Salatin, perhaps I shouldn't "be taking that trip in the first place."

Perhaps learning should be integrated into lifestyle instead of making room for compartmentalized, school-style education in our life. I'm gonna ask my Abba for some direction before I start planning this year. I'm looking forward to seeing where 2011-2012 school year takes us!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One Proud Mamma

Be still, my Mamma's heart... Benjamin went with Mr. Seth & Dad today to buy his first guitar!

He's been saving up for a while and waiting patiently until he had the money and the time with our expert consultant. When he got home, Mr. Eric taught him a couple of chords and leant him a book. And with that, he's on his way!

Clara thought he was doing a mighty fine job. She clapped for him from Daddy's lap (everybody loves a captive audience) and then fell asleep to her brother's strums. My little man... {happy sigh}

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

timers are this mom's best friend

My sweetest, snuggliest boy reminds me of Ferdinand the Bull- always stopping to smell the flowers.

I love how he savors life... but when it comes to cleaning his room or doing his math, he needs some help learning how to stay on task.

Using a timer- whether this counting-down Time Tracker or the timer on the kitchen stove- helps him learn to use his time wisely. It's almost as motivating as the promise of a snack when he's finished!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When Mamma's Sick...

When Mamma is sick, all kinds of things happen.

Note the shorts and undies in the bread machine. They're Andrew's. Enough said. ;)

The vacuum cleaner head is missing. Not the vac, just the attachment we need to clean the wood floors. Hmm...

Most of my magazines have corners (or whole pages) chewed off... really, Clara? I'm sure Daddy fed you and I *know* I nursed you plenty!

Of course, some pretty wonderful things happened, as well. Lauren cooked several meals. (Ben cooked one, but we put him back on kid duty after that one... Lauren's kitchen skills are, shall we say, more honed?) Ben played with Andrew, Georgia and Clara so I could rest. Georgia took a nap yesterday (a miracle, I tell you!)

And, most importantly, I've been reminded of what matters most. Laying in the backyard together, listening to Timothy's stories about ninjas, sharing favorite parts of movies... The Lord has reminded me of what matters most, and that right now is *real life* time spent with my sweet little ones. Thanks, Abba.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Happy {sick} Day

What makes a sick day a happy {sick} day?

1~ No more fever for Mamma. 98.4 baby, yeah!

2~ My new, funky, fun Birthday Turtle. My sis got it for me and it makes me smile.

3~ Gorgeous weather. Breezy enough to enjoy being outside under the shade of the crepe myrtle, beside my funky turtle.

4~ A snuggly, warm baby who wants to nurse and snuggle a lot but is well enough to still play and be happy!

5~ A baby book (thanks, Jadi & Aunt Terrie!) for Clara and time to make it perfect.

6~ A hubby who cares for me (us) so well, makes yummy food, keeps the house running so I can rest.

7~ Time to read magazines Mamma gave me months ago and learn about gardening in the state I love.

8~ A nice phone chat with that same, sweet Mamma.

9~ Friends who pick up my sick-slack without a thought.

10~ The ding-dong of my doorbell and the blessing of a happy neighbor delivering freshly picked strawberries with a gorgeous smile.

Today was a happy {sick} day!!

I'm so grateful for the Lord's kindness in these ways and so many more...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

of Sunflower Houses and housekeeping

The weather is beautiful and I'd rather be pittering in the yard than keeping house inside. So I've decided to accomplish both by planting a Sunflower House!

We have a corner of the yard that has no grass growing and I think instead of sodding it this weekend, we just may create a perfect playspace for the kiddos. We'll sow sunflower seeds for the four walls, leave a doorway open and allow morning glories to climb to fill in the magical little hut. (See my amazing sunflowers I made in Paint?)

Here's a helpful link if you want to try one, too.

I don't have hubby approval yet (he was going to lay sod this Saturday) so we'll have to wait to see for sure but I think it could be a fun spring project! Any other sunflower house builders out there?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Favorite Things... baby gifts!

I believe the Bible when it says, "Children are a blessing from the Lord." So I love babies & consequently go to a lot of baby showers. Sometimes an adorable outfit or perfectly soft baby blanket is just the gift... but other times I want something a bit different. Something useful and, well, something I would want to receive!

Since I hate "dust collectors", you won't find me buying statues or even many picture frames... I go for practical. Here are my Top 5 favorite baby gifts to give... or receive!

1) Teething Feeder
It's a funny name, but they are great! You put some food inside and baby can enjoy the yummy real food without choking. Sassy makes one with a cover for portability and at just under $5, they're affordable.

2) A perfectly soft, beautifully special Blankie
Soft ones that are silky on one side are favorites at our house. Comfy cotton blankets are snuggly, too. Ben's was turquoise with deer on it, Clara's has a monkey head and is super-soft, the other kiddos had the soft/silky combination ones. Georgia Anne still snuggles her "Bahee" every nap & bedtime. It's nice to have a special snuggle buddy that doesn't wiggle or kick!
3) Great board books or picture books
I like gifts that baby can grow in to. Maybe I'll do a post on good picture books sometime- I purchased Ben's first good book at a homeschool convention 10 years ago and haven't stopped buying them since!

4) Larger size baby clothes
My babies never fit in the newborn size for more than a week or two (if at all). The 0-3 month ones quickly follow suit. Larger sizes are always appreciated!

5) Kiddopotamus Bib
I love this bib! It's wipeable & has a scoop to catch spills. The only drawback is that it snags longer hair, but since most children don't get long hair for a long time, I think it's a safe bet. Love this!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Essential Questions

I am a curious soul. And this really has me perplexed!

We broke a bottle of Eucalyptus Essential Oil recently. The closest thing to salvage the oil was a sandwich bag, so we dumped it in there. I meant to transfer it to glass right away but the day got away from me & so before bed I set the whole bag in a styrofoam cup. I was assuming the EO would melt the bag & figured that putting it in the cup would at least keep the mess off the counter.

In the morning, the EO was still in the plastic bag! It didn't eat through the bag! I was shocked! BUT... it somehow ate a hole in the styrofoam cup!?!?!

How can a contained oil erode something it isn't in contact with?!?

Last night, at 7:20, I tried to duplicate the whole situation. I wanted a "controlled experiment" to 1) ensure there wasn't EO on the outside of the bag that really caused the reaction and 2) because it's just soo cool & I wanted to do it again! LOL!

An hour later, at 8:14, the cup I poured EO directly already has a hole... a large part of it has already "melted" onto the counter. The first time there was no residue remaining. It's a much more dramatic reaction & much faster. Thus, I am certain no EO was on the outside of the bag the first time. The 2nd cup (with EO contained in a bag like the 1st time) seems to have started to become tacky... but it's too early to really tell.
The next morning, this is what the 2nd cup (the one duplicating the original reaction) looked like. The same thing happened. You can see the beginning of the hold here... and the bag is "stuck" to the styrofoam enough to lift the cup, though I can pull it away without causing any damage. The longer I left it, the more it ate away (though with no residue like when EO was directly in contact w/the cup). It eventually did eat a hole through just like the 1st cup. Nutty!

What I want to know is... HOW and WHY did the EO eat through the styrofoam cup but not the bag? Is the plastic bag porus? I'm so curious!?!
I've been advised to try the same thing w/nail polish remover... so I'm working on that as we speak. I'll update the post with the results. Any answers out there?! You'll be my hero!

**2/15 Update**
I did the same "experiment" with nail polish remover replacing the EO... but I used "non acetone" nail polish remover & I think I was supposed to be testing for the effects of acetone. Oops. I'll scrounge up some of the type with acetone and repeat & post. There were NO noticeable effects w/the non-acetone nail polish remover to the bag or cup.

Meal Planning Mondays

Soo... do you ever have one of those weeks where things don't quite go as you've planned? I think that's what Solomon meant when he penned, "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." -Prov 16:9

Last week was one of those. Clara had her first fever and needed Mamma to hold her alllllllll day for a couple of days. Daddy O ordered pizza one night (bless him!) and... I can't even remember what we had the other night. ?? Either way, we have some meals I purchased ingredients for that we never made, so this week is much the same as last week's plans.

M- cheese sandwiches
T- dinner with friends (potato leek soup, salad, french bread, cheese plate)
W- homegroup... Bertolli Soup (italian veggie soup served over bread)
R- Stuffed Shells (for real this time!)
F- Crock BBQ Venison Sandwiches
S- Veggie Crumble and a family photo shoot! YAY!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Favorite Things... Board Books!

Everyone has favorite things. I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things on a few Fridays.
My favorite book today is a new one Granny got us when Clara was born. Little Sisters Are... by Beth Norling. It's a quick, sweet book about snuggly, loud, whiney, fun little sisters. It makes me smile and is a board book I actually like. As opposed to books that count random items. I can do that without a book. I like books that either tell a story or have great illustrations or both. This one gets a free pass because I just like it.

Now that I think about it, I have another more favorite board book. Each Peah Pear Plum was a Christmas book and I really like it. It rhymes, is has fun illustrations ("can you find the three bears?") and alludes to nursery rhymes I may otherwise have forgotten! It has a wicked witch in it, which was almost a deal breaker, but since Robin Hood is shooting at her we overlooked Her Naughtiness. That one's by Janet & Allen Ahlberg. More favorite board books include Mr Brown can Moo by Dr Seuss, We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Sandra Boynton's hilarious But Not the Hippopotamus. Oh! Good Night, Gorilla is a great wordless book (find the red balloon in each illustration!). Of course the "touch and feel" books are enjoyed by children of all ages... Lauren, at 9, still loves to touch the sticky pads of the frog in the animal book.

Do you want to make a Mamma really happy next baby shower? Bring a *good quality* board book as a great gift! One with a good story that she won't mind reading to her toddler again and again.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meal Planning Mondays

This week is an extra special week... My niece, Lilly Anne, was born today!! Some of the meals I have planned are to double so I can bring some food to my sweet sister and her family to lighten their load as we celebrate this little one's birth.

Here's what's on the agenda:

M- Veggie Crumble vegan
T- Mushroom & Walnut Stuffed Shells vegan (yes, these are the same stuffed shells from two weeks ago, I never made them. I used the mushrooms in a delish soup Mrs Suzanne gave me the recipe for. So I bought more shrooms & we're trying again)
W- I'm going to Mom's to await a birth! Chris is on his own.
R- CROCK- Burritos vegan (Well, not entirely vegan... Chris loves sour cream, so we'll add that)
F- Broccoli Soup vegan (Yep- without cream or cheese!)
S- Baked Potatoes
S- Bertolli Soup vegan

This is funny! I didn't realize how many meals we have are dairy-free. Well, there ya have it. This week's menu. Nutritious and delicious. ;)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

At Your Request

Roasted Veggie Stew

This is a delicious and hearty dinner. Bonus: It's also fairly easy. Try it & let me know what you think!

And I like to double or triple the ingredients to make a nice big pot- it is very yummy & leftovers are good, too! So when it calls for 2 parsnips, I just use a whole bag (etc). Enjoy!!

Roasted Veggie Stew

2 tsp fresh thyme, snipped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped 1/2" cube for all the chopped veggies
1 potato, peeled & chopped
1 rutabaga, you guessed it, peeled & chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cubed (haha- got tired of typing chopped)
1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 c veggie broth
15 oz can great northern beans, rinsed & drained

Toss all the "peeled & chopped" veggies plus the onion with the oil. Sprinkle with salt. Spread on a cookie sheet & roast in a 450 degree oven until brown & tender. (30 min ish?)

Meanwhile, bring the broth & beans to a boil in a large pot. (If you only have dry thyme, add it here.) Add the roasted veggies and return to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes or so & stir in the thyme (if you snipped fresh from the garden). I like to mash some of the soup at this point for a slightly thicker consistency.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

At Your Request...

Red Pepper and Pignolia Sauce
This sauce is versatile, easy, tasty & healthy! You only need a bit on your grains, as it's very rich. I served it over Israeli Couscous tonight & loved it. On other occasions, I've used it to top rigatoni, brown rice, and even veggies. Use your imagination!

For the roasted peppers- you can buy a jar *or* you can just toss 3 whole peppers on a cookie sheet & roast in the oven. This time I did mine at the last minute. Put them in at 500 for, oh, 45 minutes or until the skin is blistery & can peel right off. Then peel, seed & enjoy.

Red Pepper and Pignolia Sauce

1c roasted red peppers (2-3 peppers)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly pan toasted
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1+ Tbsp basil
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until creamy & smooth. Serve over pasta or grains.

That's it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meal Planning Mondays

Week two of Meal Planning Mondays. Here is last week's menu. I may not write that we're having salad every day, but we do. Sometimes I make it fancy, others it's just mixed greens, dressing and a few nuts. I like to make homemade dressing and it's quite easy with my Williams Sonoma salad dressing bottle with recipes printed on it. Chris gave me that and a salad spinner one Mother's Day and it has gotten SO much use! I {love} it! Here's a similar one, but I just shake mine- no gadget to stir.

M- Winter Veggie Stew (Roasted Rutabagas + Parsnips + Onions + Carrots + Potatoes = warm & yummy goodness!)
T- Ben & Timothy's Birthday! This year, Timothy requested pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. Since we have Apolojax, it'll be quick PB&Js for lunch, and Ben wants BBQ Beef Ribs on the smoker for dinner. We'll serve those with smoked new potatoes & {ahem} salad.
W- Red Pepper & Pignolia Sauce over quinoa
R- Linguine (I forgot which sauce I'm making. Sorry!)
F- Pizza
S- Creamy Lentil Soup
S- Stuffed Shells

Last week, Mauricio took me up on the offer to pick a night & pop in. Who will it be this week? Give us a call & come on over!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Anyone Read This Book?

I just read a review of Large Family Logistics over on Raising Olives. She's plugging the book- says it's changed the way they do life in a lot of ways... I'm curious. Skeptical. Interested. Looking for a miracle!

I've seen the book in Vision Forum but glossed right over it. We have our little routine down, so why rock the boat? But when she said 1)it's helped them even after keeping house fairly well for years and 2) she's offering 2 books FOR FREE well, let's just say she got my attention!

I hope I win!!

Have any of you read it? I wonder if I should buy it... add it to the ever-growing stack of books I am reading. Maybe I'll win & the decision will be easy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sabbath Rest

I planned a crockpot meal for tomorrow so we can enjoy a Sunday off. A Sabbath rest.

Abba worked 6 days & on the 7th, He rested. I see wisdom there... I get it in here {pointing at my heart} but just can't always get it into here {pointing at my head}! It's hard to get all the work needed in a household of 8 accomplished where I won't be starting Monday at such a deficit it's not worth trying...

So back to the crockpot. I planned a crock pot meal (Asparagus Strata) as a step in the right direction. That's a little less work and hopefully a little more time to share a laugh, a hug, a game with the ones I love most.

What do you do to allow time for special memories? Do you sing, study the Word, nap? What sets the Lord's day apart for you?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Meal Planning Mondays

I am often asked, "What exactly do you eat?" Sometimes because people are wondering what {mostly} veggie people enjoy for dinner and sometimes because the thought of cooking for 8 three times daily seems daunting. So I'm going to start posting our weekly menu on Mondays. If you want to stop by, now you can browse the week's offerings and know which night to show up. ;)

M- Navy Bean Soup, Rolls & Salad

T- Baked Eggplant over pasta w/Italian Salad

W- Homemade Mac & Cheese, Stewed Apples & Veggie Dippers (homegroup night- we all eat together)

R- Crock- Venison with Stout & Potatoes (and salad)

F- Stir Fry (Asian Salad)

S- Roasted Veggie Stew

S- Crock- Asparagus Strata

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kindness Matters

Chris is out of town with Ben. Man trip to the Everglades- you know, wrestling gators, camping with boa constrictors and fishing from dawn to dusk. I can't wait to hear all about the memories they made!!

But I digress... After church today, I took the kiddos to Applebees for a quick lunch on the way home. The hostess sat us across from an older couple peacefully enjoying their meal. I silently prayed the children would be well-behaved so we didn't ruin their lunch!! Not that Lauren, Timothy, Andrew, Georgia Anne & Clara are bad, they're very sweet, but after being quiet in church all morning there is lots of energy stored up!!

Long story short, the man did some magic tricks to make Georgia Anne smile and I realized, with relief, that they love children and we were ok to relax. {whew!} Here's the cool part- when our server brought our check, he told me they had given him money to pay for part of our dinner!!! I am totally blown away & blessed & grateful!! Thank you, friendly folks!

There is another matter of kindness I should say thanks for- the unmerited favor I have received from God! He didn't just pay for my meal, he paid for my admission to the best banquet in eternity! I have done nothing to deserve His love, but He has become man, lived sinlessly and then died bearing my sins to achieve my forgiveness.

I'm smiling, grateful for all the love shown today. I think of the adage, "To whom much is given, much is required." I'll look for chances to live out this loving kindness today to my family and neighbors because Kindness Matters.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bird Watching

I'm working on February's article for The Creekline and wanted to reference a cute little brown bird I saw playing in my birdbath yesterday. Birds never play in my birdbath! Maybe it's the junk that's always corralled there... But these teeny, tenacious flitterers were playing in the water, around the tacklebox and in spite of the ice floating in it from the previous night's 30 degree low!!

I'm like a proud parent! So I googled "small brown bird Florida". I'm sure I can ID it from a picture. I mean, how many little brown birds can there be?

Google's results were so funny I had to share with you!!

A HAWK?! That's small?! They eat little brown birds for dinner!!

No, Google, I don't think a hawk is the cute little brown birdie I was looking for. What else can you offer?

Seriously?! A PELICAN!?! The first word I typed in was small. I don't think pelicans are small by any definition. Maybe compared to a pteradactyl. Or an ostrich. But that's not the point. Well, I think I saw a sparrow or a thrush or something of the sort... I can't tell you for sure because, well, you know. I guess I need to find a good bird ID website- homeschool research project for Ben, maybe?!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Humble Orthodoxy in Dug Down Deep

I just finished Dug Down Deep (which I enjoyed over a cup of tea last night.) A few passages really jumped out at me- I'm posting them here for my own reminder as much as for others' sake! :)

"...while we shouldn't be mean and spiteful in representing biblical truth, neither should we apologize for believing that God has been clear in his Word. The humility we need in our theology is first and foremost a humility before God. As pastor Mark Dever puts it, 'Humble theology [is] theology which submits itself to the truth of God's Word.' This is a good reminder for me."

"But truth can be known. And what the Bible teaches should be obeyed. Just because we can't know God exhaustively doesn't mean we can't know him truly (Psalm 19:7-10; John 17:17). Just because there is mystery in God's Word doesn't mean we can pretend God hasn't spoken clearly in the Bible.

"Christian humility,' Dever writes, 'is to simply accept whatever God has revealed in His Word. Humiligy is following God's Word wherever it goes, as far as it goes, not either going beyond it or stopping short of it... The humility we want in our churches is to read the Bible and believe it... It is not humble to be hesitant where God has been clear and plain."

Harris goes on to say the same thing we talked about in homegroup last night which is the same thing I heard on my iPod Tuesday night in a message by Elyse Fitzpatrick. (Think God is trying to tell me something?!) He says:

"Do you want to keep your orthodoxy humble? Try to live it. Don't spend all your time theorizing about it, debating about it, or blogging about it. {teehehe!} Spend more energy living the truth you know than worrying about what the next guy does or doesn't know. Don't measure yourself by what you know. Measure yourself by your practice of what you know. {emphasis mine}"

Lord- Let your Word inform & shape every area of my life. ~Amen~

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Cup of Tea and Thee and Me

Chris just went to bed & the kiddos are all in their spots (oops- Georgia Anne just flew by & is in the bed with Andrew. Did I see that? Nah...)

I'm not quite ready for bed, so I'm about to enjoy a cup of Sleepytime, Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris & a tea cookie. Two tea cookies. Yes, that's better.

Looking forward to a couple of minutes of down time...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Plenty of Time

School starts in 5 minutes. The Christmas decorations are all over the dining room- where we do school. The laundry room (completely clean Saturday/Sunday) is again home to overflowing baskets & piles of clean laundry on the counter. But it's okay... I've got plenty of time!

I am not escaping into the computer (this time). I'm talking to myself instead of listening to myself. (I'm more convincing in print.) I have enough time each day to accomplish the things the Lord is calling me to. Methinks I should do a study on this topic; it's a constant struggle here on school days!

The truth is- the homeschooling mom often doesn't have the luxury to focus on one task at a time.So I'm hoping the Lord will help me keep my priorities right today. That I can lay all the other "need to's" aside when my littles come up to me for help with a baby doll's dress, tying a shoe, or the same math problem for the third time. I want the children to see that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I have Plenty of Time for them.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ten Ways to Say Thanks

How many people generously gave you and your children gifts this Christmas? You have that many opportunities to teach your children gratitude right now!

I wrote my January article in The Creekline on this very topic (these article & last January's are both posted on my website if you want to read them.) Lauren wrote Thank You notes on the cards she received from Granny & Papa for Christmas. How will you say THANKS this year?

The Gospel Song

Our homeschool group hopes to sing this song in a couple of months. Since we're a wide range of ages, it may sound about like this... and that would be a perfect way to put a smile on some folks' faces at the Nursing Home. :)

Any suggestions for another song to sing?