Friday, August 28, 2009

Ahhhhhh, its the weekend!

I am so glad it is Friday.

Katie, Will and Amy started their co-op classes today with our homeschool group. Katie is doing an in-depth study of American History and Literature with lots of projects and notebooking assignments. She loves the creative part but probably not all the reading that goes with it. Amy & Will are doing Geography and Physical Science. The geography will have lots of art projects and the science will have lots of experiments. They love the classes and so do I!

Greg and I have date night tonight. That hasn't happened in a while so I am excited. Tomorrow morning we have a business meeting for a new venture we are involved in. And then a cook-out for lunch with all the partners. Can't really give you any details on the business cause I don't know alot yet. I hope we will have time to finish the schoolroom side of the kitchen after that, so we can finish setting everything up and move another small bookcase into the kitchen. Greg is cooking us dinner tomorrow night...Shrimp and Grits from Paula Deen's cookbook. We had it at "Uncle Bubba's" a couple of years ago and it was wonderful. He is going to try to recreate that yummy goodness for us!

And Sunday...we are driving to GA! Greg has to work all week and we will get school done but then we get to visit and go on excursions with Granny! I haven't seen my buddies in a year and its time to visit. We will also make a trip to Mall of Georgia. Mom has been buying animals at "Build a Bear" to donate to Toys for Tots and she has some coupons that have to get used. We are also buying our tickets for Disney World at the Disney Store! Whoo Hoo! It'll be lots of fun. We are also working in a trip to "Whole Foods" and "Trader Joes" to stock up our pantry. They do look at me a bit funny when I buy 10 packages of spaghetti noodles or 6-8 cans of organic cranberry sauce but I just keep on going. I gotta go where I can buy products not loaded with MSG or high fructose corn syrup.

Hope ya'll have a good weekend!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pay It Forward Giveaway

I got this idea from Deanna over at "A Plain & Simple Life" and thought it sounded like fun. I signed up for her giveaway and now I need 3 people to sign up for mine and keep this train rolling.....
The idea is to spread your talent and generosity/hospitality with one another.

:::For those new to PIF, I gather the names & addresses of 3 people wanting to participate.
I send each participant a handmade item.

In exchange, they gather from their own blogs the names & addresses of 3 people wanting to participate.
They make a handmade item for each and mail it off to them.
Each person participating is expected to continue "Paying It Forward" to 3 people on their blogs:::

So, in that spirit, I'd like to host one as well here. If you would like to participate, then please email your name and address to

I don't know what my give away will be yet. I will have to do some thinking on it. But I think this is a fun idea...who wouldn't like getting a surprise in the mail?

Monday, August 24, 2009


Do you ever have disappointments in your life? Do you ever think things will be different "this time"? Do you ever think "why did they act like that"? Do you ever look at your children and think "what in the world made you do that"? Do you expect people to treat you a certain way and they always do the opposite? Do you always act or treat other people the way you want to be treated? What is the Golden Rule?.....Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.

Do you know that there is someone who will never, ever disappoint you?

Are you thinking?

Or did you know instantly who it was?

Our Lord will always be there for us. He will love us and give us the courage we need to face each day. Psalm 36: 5-6 He is our Rock and our Refuge. Psalm 62: 5-8 We can always trust the Lord. Psalm 20: 7-8 The Lord will give us wisdom . Proverbs 2: 4-8, 3: 5-6, 4: 7-8 & 10. Proverbs 17: 27-28.

The Bible is full of verses that we need to encourage us, guide us, shield us from tempation, and help us live our everyday lives. It is the book we should turn to when we need help with the worries and concerns of everyday life. It is also the book we should turn to when we need comfort and wisdom with our life's concerns. The scriptures listed above are some of the verses that have brought comfort and wisdom to my life. There are 1000's more that are applicable to any of your life's needs.

Find yourself a translation of the Bible that is comfortable for you to read. My personal preference is the "New Internation Version" but everyone is different and has different needs. You can find a Bible at the $1 store or spend hundreds on a top of the line Deluxe Bible. But the cost of the book doesn't matter if you don't read it and apply it in your life. A Bible sitting on the shelf or bookcase gathering dust isn't going to do you any good. Dust off the book and start reading. Psalms and Proverbs are excellent resources for comfort and wisdom.

After you begin reading the Bible. Pray and ask the Lord to show you how you can apply what you've read to your life and how can it help you handle relationships, troubles, etc. The Lord wants to help, you just have to ask.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Knives & Jelly

We have been watching alot of Food Network shows lately. Our favorites are Bobby Flay anything, Unwrapped, Dinner Impossible, Next Food Network Star, Chopped..........My (Donna) favorites also include Barefoot Contessa, Sandra Lee and Paula Deen (got any mayo & butter y'all). They all slice and dice and make it look so easy........its the knives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They don't have dull, knicked, kitchen knives, but I had a collection of them. Some can be sharpened and we do it frequently, but some need to hit the garbage can. I also am somewhat picky in that it has to feel good in my hands. I have osteo arthritis and if the handle is too big or the knife too heavy, then I can't use it long. So it has to be just right.

Last week, we went to a kitchen outlet when we were on the coast with Greg. Greg and I found a set of 2 Henckels Knives that we both liked. He used his big Daddy bear knife to cut steak the other day and really liked the way the knife cut. Today, I used my smaller Mommy bear knife to cut the cucumbers for relish and like it alot! (It was just right...yeah I know that is Baby bears phrase, but just play along for this post) So, I think the dull, cheap knives are going to disappear and get slowly replaced by really good, not cheap, knives!

Chop, chop, chop!

We have also made lots of jelly this week. On Tues. & Wed., Amy and I made many jars of peach jam. And today Katie & I made a bunch of jars of strawberry jelly. We are each picking the best looking jars of our jam to enter in the state fair in October. Its about 6 weeks away, so we will be busy getting our entries ready! We would all love more blue ribbons this year!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where to find the time.....

Several people have asked me where I find the time to do everything, so I am going to try an answer that question.

First of all we homeschool. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and education choice that we have made for our family. This is the beginning of year number 14. The fact that its an education choice is evident. But, many may not know its also a lifestyle choice. We are together (for the most part) morning, noon and night. We eat 3 meals together, at least 6 of the 7 days. We run errands, do chores, play games, laugh, cry, argue and make up..sometimes all in the same day. The kids are friends with each other and with me. We are learning many things together such as quilting and canning. We usually get the school work done in the mornings which leaves the afternoons free for other projects or classes.

Second, the kids aren't involved in many different sports and activities daily. Katie and Amy take dance, one day per week. The only time this schedule changes is when its recital time and then its 4 days that week. They also take a homeschool quilting class for beginners, 2 mornings a month. They both love to sew and are learning alot in this class (me too!). Will is doing archery with a group of boys in our homeschool group. This is 2 afternoons a month. Our homeschool support group offers co-op classes for history/geography and science and all three are involved in those...2 mornings a month. Those are the outside activities. This leaves us time to do other activites together such as our food preservation classes we took at the county extension office.

Third, we set up a daily schedule for the kids and I. It has worked out great and we have freed up lots of time by sticking to our schedule. I even scheduled in reading and crafts. So I don't feel guilty sitting down and reading in the morning with the kids or sewing in the afternoon....its in the schedule! I used the book by Steve & Terri Maxwell "Managers of Their Homes" to help set everything up. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be more organized.

This is what we have chosen for our family. I realize it may not be for everyone, but even one or two changes could help the busiest of households. So here are some of my suggestions......

How many activites are your children involved in? Baseball, soccer, football, basketball, gymnastics, music lessons, afterschool care, art classes, etc. There is nothing wrong with any of these, but too many is hectic. A question to ask yourself before you make any changes or add any activities to your childs schedule is...does little Johnny really want to play football (or whatever) or does Dad have dreams of little Johnny playing in the NFL and he is going to play football or else. If little Johnny is passionate about the game and lives, eats and breathes football, then that is the game for him. If he would rather pick clover in the football field, then let him lose in the backyard and save your money. Evaluate why you do what you do. Keeping up with the Jones' is exhausting and unimportant.

How many outside the home activites are you involved in? These also add stress to your life, even if they are wonderful activities. No, I am not saying that you should stop doing things you really love, but is it really worth time away from the home? If you are involved in several different ministries at church and you don't have time to cook dinner, then you probably need to re-evaluate your schedule. At this time in our lives, we are involved in 3 ministry opportunities. 2 are at our church and both occur in Dec. The first is our church's huge Living Christmas Tree Production, the first weekend of the month. Greg programs the lights for the tree and 5 of our children sing or play an instrument or perform in the ballet. We all love it, but it does take lots and lots of time. In fact, the first planning meeting for this years production is next Sunday night. The 2nd is our church's Christmas Store for families who need extra holiday help. The kids love shopping for the gifts with the money we set aside for this. The day of the store, I work in the giftwrap and Greg and the older boys help load the cars. My 3 youngest will tell you that shopping for the store is one of their favorite Christmas activities. These 2 busy-filled activites are the main reasons we have no school December. There just isn't time or energy for school this month. The 3rd ministry is our Mission Trip. Greg & I have gone to Honduras twice and this year we did a family trip to Oklahoma to help with VBS at 2 Choctaw Indian Churches. We had a wonderful time with each other and the rest of the team.

We are able to do many things together because we homeschool. They are a priority for our lives and our family. But, every family is different. If your children are in a public or private school, you may need to look at the extras that are on your calendars and evaluate why you are doing them. Do they need to sit in school all day then come home, go to football, eat dinner in the car and then head to karate or wherever. Do the kids really care about all the activites or do you as the parent want them in something everyday? Only you can make the decisions for your own family...but in doing so you are carving out time that could be used for something else.

Honestly, I look at schedules of people at church, family members and neighbors and wonder how they do it all. And these are some of the same folks who say to me...I don't know how you have time to sew or read or blog or cook from scratch, or take a walk. We all have our own lives and we have to live them according to our convictions for our family. The Lord made us all unique individuals and it would be really dull if everyone was just alike!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


On Thursday one of the kids said...aren't we going to do History this week? Its in our assignment book! HeeHee, I forgot to write it on our schedule, so we didn't do it. Oh well, we will make it up this week. I knew this would take some getting used to!

We are packed and ready to go to Biloxi in the morning! Gulf Coast here we come!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First Week of School

Our first week of school is finished. It went great and we really like the new schedule. Here goes...7:30-8:00 everyone out of bed, get dressed, make bed & straighten room, 8:00-8:30 fix & eat breakfast, K & A clean out the dishwasher and reload, W feed and water the dogs & take out trash if needed, 8:30-9:00 bible reading, journaling, fun book reading, 9:00-10:00 Math (K is usually done in the hour, A & W usually need 1 1/2 hours, 10:00-11:00 K works on Physics, 10:30-11:00 A & W do Language. Then they start the computer classes of Spanish, Typing & Music Theory. 11:45-1:00 cook & eat lunch, cleanup, and tv time (usually watch a show we taped the night before or an episode of the Waltons). 1-? work on anything not finished in the morning or craft tv. Will is working on some wood working projects to enter in the fair, Katie & Amy are working on cross stitch pictures for the fair, and I am working on a quilt top. Its amazing how much we get done when the time is scheduled in. Now, with that schedule in our will all change when we have to add in our co-op classes and homework in a couple of weeks. Then, we will have more afternoon work. I usually get up at 7 and make Gregs coffee and fix his lunch (if we have leftovers from the night before if not, he usually buys something). Then I start the morning routine.....exception, I haven't been able to sit down for the reading time, but I want to work that in. Usually, I am on the computer, reading email, checking blogs, and looking at facebook (thought I would really be honest with everyone).

I love Teaching Textbooks! It is an awesome computer program for math. Katie is doing geometry, Amy and Will are doing Pre-Algebra. You insert the computer disk and watch the instruction part of the class, stop the disk and work the practice problems, start disk and check problems, stop disk and do the math problems, then start and check the problems. He does an exceedingly thorough job of going through each problem step by step so you can see where (if) you messed up. And this is why it takes A & W 1 1/2 hours. Today, Katie told them that she fast forwards through the problems to the answer and only watches the explanation if she got it wrong....would have been nice to know this on Monday. I am watching the lessons with Amy & Will so I will know what he is talking about and how he presented it....I could learn pre-algebra this year too!

On Monday, we are packing up the books and dvds and computers and headed to Biloxi for the week with Greg. He has to go for work and we are going too! We will hotel school, swim in the hotel pool and hang out till he is done with work...then dinner out!

We always take pictures on the first day of school...........and we have to include the barefooted picture............homeschoolers can go to school with no shoes!

Hot Sauce and Margaritas

My first hot sauce. I am so proud.

My recipe was 1 pound of fresh peppers picked today, sliced and deseeeded. jalapinos, saracha, and poblano. I added 1 cup of white wine, 6 cups of vinegar, turmeric, salt, mustard seed, dry mustard, cummin, black pepper and 1 can of chipotole peppers in adobo sause. I ran all of the solids thru the food processor until it made a groovy pulpy sludge.

I reduced it by half by boiling it on the grill for 1 hour. It will be called "Greg's Pepper Juice"

I listened to big bad voodoo daddy the entire time! We had some scratch margaritas, tequila, triple sec, and lime juice shaken not stirred!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dieting Under Stress (no substitutions)

This diet is designed to help you cope with the stress that builds up during the day.

Breakfast 1 grapefruit
1 slice whole wheat toast, dry
6 oz. skim milk

Lunch 4 oz. lean broiled chicken breast
1 cup steamed spinach
1 cup herb tea
1 oreo cookie

Afternoon Snack Rest of the Oreos in the package
2 pints Rocky Road Ice Cream
1 jar hot fudge sauce
Nuts, cherries, whipped cream

Dinner 2 loaves garlic bread with cheese
Lg. Sausage, mushroom & cheese pizza
4 cans or 1 lg. pitcher beer
3 Milky Way or Snickers Candy Bars

Late Evening News Snack Entire frozen Cheesecake eaten directly from freezer


1. If you eat something and no one sees you eat it, it has no calories.

2. If you drink a diet soda with a candy bar, the calories in the candy bar are cancelled out by the diet soda.

3. when you eat with someone else, calories don't count if you don't eat more than they do.

4. Food used for medicinal purposes NEVER count, such as hot chocolate, brandy, toast & Sara Lee Cheesecake.

5. If you fatten up everyone else around you, then you look thinner.

6. Movie related foods do not have additional calories because they are part of the entire entertainment package and not part of one's personal ful, such as Milk Duds, Buttered Popcorn, Junior Mints, Red Hots, and Tootsie Rolls.

7. Cookie pieces contain no calories. The process of breaking causes calorie leakage.

8. Things licked off of knives and spoon have no calories in the process of making something. For example, peanut butter licked off the knife while making a sandwich.

Foods that have the same color have the same number of calories. Examples are spinach & pistachio ice cream, mushrooms & white chocolate, NOTE: chocolate is a universal color and may be substituted for any other food color!

Bloggers note: I wish I could take credit for coming up with and writing this wonderful diet but I got this in an email many years ago. I have no idea who wrote it, but they have a brilliant mind! Many years ago, someone brought doughnuts to my dads office for us. We told her that the doughnuts didn't have any calories...they were all in the holes...and she believed us! No, she wasn't blonde. She went on and on about how she had never heard that and would have to tell her friends. She finally caught onto the joke when we were rolling on the floor laughing. Then we all dove into the doughnuts! (yep, unfortunatley that is a true story...I am just leaving out the name to protect the innocent and gullible)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sweet Pickle Relish

Pickle relish is on my ever expanding list of items not to buy at the grocery store because all the major brands contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. I have found some good organic brands but they are all at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and the closest stores are 3 hours away. So, I decided to plant some cucumbers this year, just to have enough to try making our own pickle relish. I found a recipe that looked good in my "So Easy to Preserve" book from UGA. Yesterday was relish day.

The recipe called for 4 cups cucumbers, 1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper and 1 onion. I chopped these all down in the food processor and followed the rest of the recipe. The vegies had to soak in water and salt for 2 hours and that was the longest step of the recipe. Cooking them with the vinegar and spices only took about 10-12 minutes. Then it was put into canning jars and the water bath canner.

After they cooled we put one jar in the fridge to have today on our hamburgers. In one word the taste is YUMMY! I made some more today and put it in pint jars, cause a 1/2 pint just won't last long around this house.

I have 1 jar that looks perfect...enough relish, enough juice, etc. It will be entered in the State Fair this year. Hope the judges like it!

Note: Chopping the vegies in the food processor made it a fine relish. We like the consistency but it is smaller than the grocery store brands. Might try chopping one batch by hand and just compare the 2. This recipe is a keeper!