Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tapestry of Grace for Large Families (and small)

This morning I am finishing up training to become an advisor for Tapestry of Grace.  I think maybe I should do this each year just to get so inspired listening to Marcia Somerville share the curriculum that she wrote.  If you have not heard of Tapestry of Grace, check out these links to learn more about this unique curriculum that is a fantastic classical, humanities program.  What is the best part?  The best part is that when you purchase the curriculum it includes lesson plans and teacher notes for grades K-12.  That means that every child in my house is all studying the same time period in history.  This has saved me so much time in planning since I sort of camp out in the older kid's teacher notes section, which then has me prepared for teaching all the levels at my house.  This year I will have a K4, 2nd grader, 8th grader, and 10th grader.  This is our 4th year to use Tapestry of Grace and because of this whole family approach, I will own almost all of the books and all of the curriculum and supplements after this year.  So as I have slowly purchased books to go along with the curriculum (and utilized the library as well) I have invested and now have a program for my whole family for the rest of their homeschool years.  I can't even begin to tell you how many books I purchased over the first 10 years of homeschooling, that were never reused and were consumable.  Anyway, for our family, it has been a great fit and so rich and rigorous.  Below are the 4 years of Tapestry of Grace.  Click the Explore Tapestry link to see short videos and get a great overview of how the curriculum is set up.  It includes many of your homeschool subjects and you will just add in math, science, and language.  It does include an excellent writing program that follows their method of "Read, Think, Write" approach which works so well in helping the children to interact with the history and an in-depth literature analysis program using the great books.  One last point is that the curriculum is designed so that you can begin anywhere in the history cycle and designed so that you can be flexible.  We began with Year 3 and this year will complete our first cycle of history with Year 2.  Flexibility is the heart of this program, so check it out if you want to simplify your school by having everyone on the same page.

Explore Tapestry

You can explore more here and see a sample of the curriculum to try before you buy.

Try it for free HERE

Monday, June 26, 2017

Stocking the Pantry: Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Image from MyRecipes.com

When I had my first child, we were given this delicious casserole and I searched until I found the recipe on Southern Living.  It is super easy to keep the things on hand in your pantry so that you can quickly have a hearty meal on the table in no time by using a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  I do a lot of my shopping at Aldi's and it seems that the ingredients for this recipe are somewhat seasonal.  So when I see them, I stock up as you can't beat their prices.  Here is a shopping list for 12 recipes of the Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole.

24 boxes of Long Grain and Wild Rice (fast cooking or regular both work)
12 small packages of sliced almonds (I omit the almonds)
1.5 pounds of butter (store in the freezer)
24 celery ribs, sliced and dehydrated (or use fresh that you have on hand)
24 medium onions, diced and dehydrated (or use fresh that you have on hand)
24 cans of cream of mushroom soup or 12 of the large family size cans
12 cans of water chestnuts

To Have on Hand:
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
soft breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or whole roasted chicken

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Where do you school? designated room? or all over?

We are in full house upheaval as I rearrange pretty much every room in order to move our homeschooling downstairs.  It will be my 14th year to homeschool this fall and I have finally given up on the idea of having my homeschool room upstairs in our loft.  Over the years, we start off well upstairs, but eventually, life happens.  You need to be able to fold laundry, watch a pot of stew, or scrub windows while children do independent work. Or you need little ones to stay with you at all times so that they don't draw pictures in sharpie decorate your walls or pour a gallon of vinegar into the volcano your middle school student made from plaster of Paris have science experimentation without supervision.  It's not that I'm oblivious to the children, it's just that there is a lot to do when you have five children eating, sleeping, schooling, and making messes all day long in the house.  In an effort to save my sanity teach the children good habits and responsible behaviors, we are reorganizing the entire house.  My oldest, who commutes to college, moved into the downstairs bedroom leaving her larger upstairs room for the two younger girls.  My boys share a room as well and I hope to make the loft a play room/craft room.  I have really, missed having a good place to sew and having all of my sewing things in one place, rather than in every nook and cranny I can find throughout the house.  So with that said, here are a few rooms that I like and are serving as inspiration.
Has anyone else ever drooled over the thought of a library/dining room combo??? How perfect are those globes on the table?

Here is another from the Pennington Point.  I just love her decorating style! I think that I would prefer a chalkboard but will likely just move the dry erase board from upstairs to downstairs since it would be FREE.  I also have cubbies almost exactly like this setup.

My Child I Love You also has a classy way of combining her homeschool into the home living spaces.  I want to find some pretty maps to hang on the wall and absolutely adore her alphabet idea.

What a fantastic way to organize the CC Memory Work as well. 

When I get the books and school things all moved downstairs, then I will embark on the sewing loft. I have many ideas for organization, storage, and decoration pinned here.  Since all children are either at work or in the barn, I will head back to my organizing fun and hope to post some photos of how my spaces turn out in the next several days.  How do you like to organize your homeschool or crafting spaces?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Stocking the Pantry #2 - Chicken Enchiladas

Stocking the Pantry: Chicken Enchiladas

I am working on gradually stocking my pantry with ingredients for dishes that make a regular rotation in our monthly meal plans.  You can use store store-bought or homemade ingredients to make any of the recipes I am stocking in my pantry.  I find that having some basics stocked up in the pantry makes it so much easier to eat at home, save money, and eat healthier.  I hope this series helps you with your own pantry organization.

This grocery trip, will find me canning chicken and stocking up so that we can enjoy chicken enchiladas.  Chicken enchiladas are really a favorite here.  I have two recipes for them, but this is the recipe that is easiest to keep on hand.  I won't stock up on the corn/flour tortillas as that is something that I buy regularly and keep on hand.  If however, I happen to be out of tortillas, they are so easy to make with grains that I keep in bulk. 

I will plan for chicken enchiladas to have them once per month. (this link is to a recipe that is very similar to mine, for those who like precise measurements.)

12 large cans of cream of chicken soup 
12 cans green chilis
12 cans sliced black olives
12 pints of canned chicken (If canning your own, buy 48 small chicken breast halves)
1 large container of dehydrated onions
**Add 12 cans of cream of mushroom soup to have ingredients for King Ranch Chicken

To Have on Hand:
fresh green onions
fresh diced tomato
shredded cheddar cheese, Monterrey Jack or a combination of the two
sour cream
fresh cilantro (grows like a weed here in Central Texas)
tortillas (Keeper of the Home has a recipe that I like to use when making them from scratch)

To make Chicken Enchiladas:

Combine equal parts of cream of chicken soup with sour cream.  I use a large can or two small cans to make a 9x13 or a sheet pan of chicken enchiladas.  I also stir in 1 small can of green chilis as well as some shredded cheese.  When this is well blended, add in the cooked chicken.  Fill tortillas with filling and roll.  Lay them seam side down on the 9x13 or sheet pan.  For an easy clean up, you can line the pan with foil.  Once all tortillas are rolled, put the remaining filling over the top of the enchiladas.  Top with shredded cheese and sliced black olives.  Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes.  Serve with diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro,  fresh green onions and salsa.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bread, bread and more bread

I have been making my own bread for many years.  However, I have never been able to duplicate a soft and fluffy loaf with mostly whole wheat flour.  I can make the most fluffy bread imaginable with white flour, but the addition of wheat always produced a dense, heavy bread.  This past month, I have finally found a little time to get back to baking my bread from scratch and I found this new recipe.  It is absolutely the best bread recipe ever.  It does use a small portion of white flour, but I am so willing to use the white flour and get such fabulous results.  This recipe is best made in a Bosch mixer and makes 4 fluffy loaves.  I will also link the recipe that I use for the dough enhancer.  For my bread, I am grinding hard red wheat and having just as good of results as when I used hard white wheat before. I hope that if you are looking for the perfect bread recipe you will give this a try.  If you don't need 4 loaves and also just want to use your bread machine, you might try the Oatmeal Honey Bread.  It isn't wheat, but the wheat does add some whole grains and the taste is wonderful.  I often put it in the bread machine before church or at the start of a school day for hot, fresh bread at lunch with minimal fuss.

Chef Brad's Basic Whole Wheat Bread

Dough Enhancer Recipe

Oatmeal Honey Bread for the Bread Machine (uses white flour)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Yummy Beef Enchiladas

Just a little review of a Pioneer Woman recipe I tried last night.  I am no longer afraid to try homemade beef enchiladas!  The sauce is easy and delicious!  The enchiladas are fresh and delicious.  I will add that I only used one can of green chilies since I have littles who don't care for things to be too spicy.  This is one pinterest pin that did not disappoint!

One tip- use the 9 x 13 pan.  I used a jelly roll pan because that is what I always use for my chicken enchiladas.  These fit in the jelly roll pan, but as they cook and bubble the sauce also bubbles over and makes a mess of the oven.

Simple Perfect Enchiladas

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Patriotic Breakfast

Need a quick breakfast with unprocessed food?  Want it to be colorful and patriotic too?  How about healthy?  Here is an answer to those breakfast needs...  I'm sure it isn't unique to me, but it is what I had on hand for a quick and easy breakfast.

The Red, White, and Blue Parfait

In a half pint mason jar, layer....

a dollop of plain greek yogurt
cut up red strawberries
a smidge of maple syrup or honey
another dollop of plain greek yogurt
a bit of chopped, fresh banana
another smidge of honey or maple syrup
last dollop of plain greek yogurt
topped with blueberries or blackberries 
and drizzle on a little more maple syrup or honey

You can vary the layers with other treats like chopped crispy nuts or crunchy granola.  My little A kept digging out her strawberries and Little C was quizzing me on how many seeds a blackberry has.... so it is an entertaining breakfast as well.  I served it with a slice of whole grain toast and a glass of milk.