Thursday, April 29, 2010

To Everything There is a Season

and right now I am smack, dab in the middle of a busy season in my life.  With three of my four kids playing ball, practices three times a week for each child, and two to three games a week on top of that for each child is making me one busy mom.  I feel as if I am spending my entire time at the ball park.  Take tonight for example Bubbles has practice at 5:30 at the middle school, Little Man has practice at 6 at the fairgrounds, and Sunshine has practice at 7 at the park.  Which means I am going to spend my evening running all over town tonight, and it means another night of dinner from the McDonald's drive-thru for the third time this week.  I am trying to off-set the fast food dinners by cooking at lunchtime instead of suppertime.  Usually around here we have a small lunch since we are in the middle of school, and have a large dinner, we've just reversed things for a while. 

My Little Man has a birthday coming up soon to.  He's going to be seven!  I can't believe it my baby will be seven!  It just doesn't seem right.  We are heading to Toys R Us at the beginning of next week so that he can do his Birthday registry, something we have done since he was two, and he totally looks forward to.  He would have done it two months ago if we had let him.

On top of all that we are still in the middle of our school year, and I have several writing projects that are due soon.  So if there is a lack of posts for a while you know why.  I am still here, just busy, busy, busy!  I have a few recipes that I have been working on I will try to get posted when I have a chance! 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday, April 26th to May 2nd


Join us at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plan Monday.

This week I finally get to slow down!  I am so excited!  Aside from running to evening ball games a couple of times this week and church this weekend I get to stay home the entire week!  This NEVER happens to me anymore!  But don't get too excited for me the first week of May goes right back to normal with doctors appointments, meetings, and softball games...

Since I get to stay home all week, I am also going to skip the grocery store this week and cook using what I already have on hand. 

Here's what I have planned for this week:

Monday - Jennie O Turkey Breast with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn


Wednesday -White Chili (New Recipe), Golden Sweet Cornbread (Also a New Recipe)

Thursday - Brats, Seasoned Potatoes


Saturday - Baked Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Yummy Dinner Roll Recipe

Sunday - Cheddar Potato and Ham Soup (New Recipe), Homemade Breadsticks (Recipe to follow)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Butterfly Mini-Unit Study

After years of structured science curriculums with my older kids, and Apologia Astronomy last year with all of the kids I decided to take a more relaxed approach to Science this year with my younger two.  We have been studying more interest based Science topics using living books and experiments, along with a lot of nature study.  I must say I am absolutely LOVING this approach!  It's been such a fun year, and the kids have really enjoyed it.  I am honestly surprised by how much they have learned just reading and having fun.  Next year Sunshine will return to a text based Science curriculum since she will be in fourth grade, and I feel she will be in need of a more rigorous curriculum but Little Man and I will definitely continue on this relaxed science journey. 

But that's not why you are here you want to hear about our Butterfly mini-unit study.  I wouldn't consider it a full unit study because the week we did it we only had a short three day school week, and it was just a quick study.  In the near future however I do plan to complete the study by actually hatching butterflies in a Butterfly Garden with the kids.

I based our unit study around the book My, Oh My A Butterfly from The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library series of books.  It's a book we have had on our shelf for a while that I have wanted to use but just hadn't got around to using yet.



In addition to My, Oh My a Butterfly we also read




On the first day of our mini-unit study we read My, Oh My a Butterfly.  After reading the book we talked about the life cycle of a butterfly, and I had the kids memorize the steps in a butterfly's life cycle.  To help reinforce the life cycle of a butterfly we colored this worksheet on the life cycle of a butterfly.


After we colored the sheet we cut it out and glued it onto a piece of construction paper to make it easier to hang up for display.

On the second day of our study we read Are You a Butterfly? and then made some butterflies of our own. 

For our first project I free-hand drew a large butterfly wing on four pieces of white construction paper.  I gave each child two wings to paint.

We used paint brushes and tempera paint to splatter paint the wings. 



Little Man doesn't quite understand the concept of splatter painting and instead just painted his butterfly with the toothbrush. 

After we finished painting the butterflies we sprinkled them with salt to give them a textured look.

After letting our wings dry over night we cut a body for our butterflies out of brown construction paper.  We glued the body to the wings.

Sunshine used pink bendy straws that she cut down for her antennas



but Little Man used construction paper to make his antenna (which he lost one of somewhere along the way)


Since we already had the paint out we also made butterflies from our hand prints



On the third day we read Where Butterflies Grow, and finished making our splatter paint butterflies. 

Here's what our completed week's projects looked like 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday, April 19th to 25th


Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

We have another busy week ahead of us.  I feel like a broken record everytime I say that but it's the truth!  Sausage and Bacon were on sale last week so we will be having breakfast foods for dinner a couple of times this week.  I also have a ton of chicken in my freezer so we will be eating that a couple of nights as well.  

Here's what I have planned:

Monday - Salisbury Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Tuesday - Omelets
Wednesday - Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie (New Recipe)
Thursday - Roast Beef and Gravy (One of our Favorites), Mashed Potatoes
Saturday - Out of Town Softball Games (Eating Out) 
Sunday - Bacon Egg and Cheese Sandwiches

Friday, April 16, 2010

Camping Food

Well, it looks like we will be going camping tommorow.  It is kind of last minute, but the weather has been wonderful, Saturday morning softball practices have been cancelled, and the wonderful campground with an indoor pool that isn't too far from us is offering a two nights for the price of one special so we just couldn't resist. 

The last minute camping plans have meant that I needed to plan some meals for us.  Since we will be staying two nights I will need meals for three days.  I don't worry so much about typical "camping" food when we go camping, especially since we go so often I try to concentrate on easy to prepare meals.  I know I have an advantage over most campers since we have a thirty foot travel trailer that is complete with a fridge, microwave, stove and oven, yes I was lucky enough to get one with an actual oven.  We also carry one of the indoor/outdoor George Foreman grills in our camper for grilling out.  I highly recommend it!

So here's what I have planned for our meals this weekend:

Breakfast - I keep pancake mixes and a griddle in our camper in case I want to make pancakes.  If I don't make pancakes we will have cereal for breakfast.  At home I normally fix a large breakfast, so I don't feel too quilty about the cereal.

Lunches - Sandwiches on my homemade Sandwich Rolls (which I made today) along with fresh fruit and chips

Dinner on Saturday night - Hot Dogs over the fire with baked beans.  Yes I am aware of the nutritional content of hot dogs but my 6 year old requested them and really what is camping without hot dogs?  I fixed my baked beans up tonight, and cooked them so that tommorow night I will only have to warm them up. 

Dinner on Sunday night - Slow Cooker Pork Fajitas - I cut up my onions and green peppers today so that I just have to mix it all up in my slow cooker (I told you I like easy)

Snacks:  I made some cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies today to take along with us.  I also cut up some strawberries to take along.  And of course we will be making Smores! 

I tend to keep the camper stocked with canned soups, and other quick fix non-perishables for when the kids yell "I'm hungry".  When we first started camping we always planned huge meals which we were either too tired to cook or we didn't get to eat until 9 PM because we got back to our campsite late at night.  I love my crockpot for days when I know I am going to be busy at the campground because it makes my life so much easier.  I don't have to worry about getting back to the campsite too late to cook or being too tired to cook, my food is ready when I get back to our camper.  I also make sure to use crockpot liners at the campground as well because it makes it clean up so much easier.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - April 12th - 18th


Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

It's going to be another busy week around here, which means more nights of eating out, which as I have said before I don't really like but it's one of those unnecessary evils that are life requires right now.  Since it is going to be a busy week, I have some pretty easy meals planned for the nights we will be eating at home.

Monday - Homemade Pizzas using this recipe for dough and this recipe for the pizza sauce
Tuesday - Doctors appointment and two softball practices, eating out
Wednesday -  Jennie O Turkey Loaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Yummy Dinner Rolls
Friday - Easy Baked Ziti, Homemade Breadmachine Breadsticks (recipe to follow)
Saturday - Picante Chicken and Rice Bake (New Recipe and one that I missed a few weeks ago)
Sunday - Eat Out after Church, Leftovers for Dinner

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yummy Dinner Roll Recipe (Bread Machine Recipe)


This recipe actually came into exsistence out of necessity.  I had planned to make my normal dinner rolls for dinner earlier this week, when I discovered that we had no milk. 

I don't know if anyone else has this problem or not but our house have these magic refrigerator fairies, they come along and drink all the milk.  It's truly amazing, no one will claim responsibility for using all the milk and not telling mom, so it has to be the fairies. 

Sooo, my dinner roll recipe requires milk, which I have none of, and I really needed to make some rolls for dinner.  I ended up tweaking my breadmachine breadstick recipe (which I discovered I have not yet posted here) for dinner rolls.  I wasn't sure how it would turn out, and honestly, I was expecting the worse, but everyone loved them.  They are actually much, much better than my normal dinner roll recipe. 

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 package dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup canola oil
4 cups all purpose flour

Directions:

1.  Add all ingredients into the pan of your bread machine in the order listed.
Yes, the order listed.  I know you normally don't add the yeast in first and let it touch the water in bread machine recipes but do it here.

2.  Set bread machine to the dough cycle.

3.  Removed dough from bread machine pan, and roll out onto a lightly floured surface.

4.  Use a small plastic shot glass to cut dough into small balls.  Place on a greased baking sheet.

5.  Allow rolls to rise 30 minutes.

6.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes.

7.  Brush tops of cooked rolls with melted butter.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cooking Thursday - Potato Soup


Join us for Cooking Thursday at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.

There are several recipes that I use on a regular basis that I tweak to fit my family, I never realized how many recipes that I actually do tweak until I started blogging.  Olive Garden's potato soup is one of my family's favorite soups, and I found an excellent recipe a few years ago that is always the basis of my own potato soup recipe but I don't cook it the way that they do.  For one my family doesn't like the kale, and second we have a large family so we require a large pot of soup.  So I thought I would share how I make it.


Recipe is for a family of 6 with leftovers.

Ingredients:
12 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch squares
2 quarts of water
3 one-ounce Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 pound of bacon
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  In a large soup pan mix together potatoes, water and chicken bouillon cubes.  Bring to a boil.  After it has reached a boil, reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

2.  While potatoes are boiling cook bacon in a frying pan.  Once bacon is cooked, remove it from pan. 

3.  In the same pan that bacon was cooked in, cook until it is translucent.

4.  After potatoes have simmered for 20 minutes, crumble in bacon, add in onion, heavy cream, and mixed garlic.

5.  Cook soup for another 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.

6.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - Razzleberry Pie



Join us at Blessed with Grace for Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays.

Razzleberry Pie is one of my husbands favorite pies, and is very easy to make.  It can be made using frozen berries, but when possible I use fresh. 

Ingredients: 

2 cups Blackberries
2 cups Raspberries
2 cups Blueberries
 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
milk
sugar
2 pie crusts (you can make your own or buy pre-made, I use whatever I have on hand)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Place one pie crust in the bottom of a deep dish pie pan.



3.  Drain juice from berries, and place them in a large mixing bowl. 

4.  Mix 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 1/2 tablespoons of flour into berries.

5.  Spoon berry mixture into the pie crust.

6.  Cover with top pie crust.  Use a fork to flute pie edges.  Cut a design into the top of pie crust for vents.



7.  Brush top of pie crust with milk, and sprinkle with sugar.

8.  Bake pie in oven for 30 minutes.

9.  Let pie cool before serving.

I forgot to take a picture of the pie before cutting it.  Whoops!

Easter Wrap Up

I didn't get as many pictures from Easter as I had hoped but I did want to share a few of the ones I did manage to take with you.

Here's Little Man being silly the night before our dinner, he made himself a pair of glasses out of the empty ribbon rolls.....


Our peep cupcakes....


And our napkins rolled like bunny ears.....


Our table set for dinner....
Look how dark and nasty it looked outside when we got up.  Fortunately the sun did eventually make an appearance.


And Sunshine just couldn't wait to eat the candy she found in the eggs from the Easter egg hunt....

Menu Plan Monday - April 5th to 11th


I hope everyone had a wonderful Holy Week and great Easter.  It was a busy week for us, and I didn't really get to stick to my Menu Plan.  This is something I really need to work on, menu planning works, I know it works, and I struggle with sticking to it.  Maybe I need to plan easier meals?  I am not sure.  I know another big problem is that I need to be realistic with my menu.  I don't like to eat heavy foods during the warmer weather, and my schedule is really picking up, I have to admit that we are going to be eating out more often than I like since we will be on the road so much.  This week is lining up to be another busy week but hopefully I can stick to my Menu Plan a little better.

Here's what I have planned for us this week:



Wednesday - Doctors appointments and grocery shopping so we will be eating out

Thursday - Meeting my mom, eating out again

Friday - Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup (Recipe to Follow)

Saturday - Roast Beef and Gravy, Mashed Potatoes (we didn't get around to it last week)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Kentucky Derby Unit Study and Lapbook

We live near Louisville, Kentucky where the Kentucky Derby is run each year.  From April until the first Saturday in May the area is a buzz with all things Kentucky Derby.  People around here, my immediate family members included, live, breathe, and eat horse racing this time of year.  While there are many things associated with the Kentucky Derby that I am morally opposed to I still find this time of year a magical time.  

One of the lovely ladies in a homeschool group I am a member of has written a unit study on the Kentucky Derby that is complete with a lapbook to use alongside the study.  You can find her free unit study for free here at Homeschool Share.  Not only did Marcy write this wonderful unit study but she is also a blogger, so be sure to visit her on her blog Ben and Me for more homeschool inspiration.

Marcy's Kentucky Derby Unit Study focuses on the fun parts of the Derby including the horses, the people who care for the horses, and the festivals surrounding the Derby.  She does not mention anything about gambling or betting anywhere in her study.

He is Risen!


Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Alligator and Crocodile Unit Study

For the past week the younger two kids have been doing a unit study on Crocodilians for their science.  It's been a fun study, and I wanted to share what we did in case anyone else is interested in doing their own unit study.

I'll start with the books we read:




Who Lives in an Alligator Hole?  was my favorite out of the books that we read for this study.  It was well written, very informative, and held their attention.  Just perfect for two squirmy kids!  At the end of the book was an activity where the kids were able to make their own alligator hole to show the importance of alligators for the environment.

The kids loved this activity!  But of course why wouldn't they it involved dirt and water, which of course created quite a mess.










Crocodiles and Alligators was another book that we read.  It was a great book, with a lot of information but I wouldn't recommend it if you have younger ones that don't sit still very long as it is quite a long book.




Alligators and Crocodiles was the kids favorite book.  They loved the see-through pictures.

For fun we read:





In addition to reading we completed the free Crocodilians Lapbook from Homeschool Share.  The lapbook was perfect for us as there were two templates for each lapbook piece, one for children who were writing, and one with cut and paste information for children who are not writing.  So Sunshine was able to write the answers in on hers and Little Man was able to just cut and paste his answers in.

And for fun we did the Alligator Paper Craft from DLTK-Kids.   


Of course, Little Man had to be different and have his alligator on all fours....



But what made it so much fun was going outside for school work...




Please ignore the condition of my sidewalk.  When we moved here the moving truck ran over the sidewalk and cracked it.  When we had that small earthquake here last year it damaged the sidewalk even further.  This is on our list of projects for this summer.