Monday, August 13, 2012

Creating Space

Homeschooling is an amazing gift to give your children.  Many will tell you they enjoy the time spent with their kids, and I completely agree.  The best thing in my opinion, however, is watching the light go on in their eyes that says, "I get it!"  

So, where should this home school take place in order for the light to go off?  Everyone is different; everyone will have their idea of what suits their family best.  For us, creating a space solely for the purpose of our homeschool education was ideal.  We have a room upstairs that we planned on making our theater room, but after much thought, I decided it would instead be our classroom.  

I take more of a School-to-Home approach in our Home School.  I went by a local school and asked if there were any desks they were throwing away.  I snagged two student desks and a teacher's desk.  I bought shelves for our books, a desk for the computer, and posters from the local teacher's supply shop.  We hung a dry-erase board and maps.  We even created an art area.  Our space was suddenly looking less like a theater room and more like an authentic classroom.  

While this option may not be available to everyone, any space whether it is a dining room or spare bedroom can be easily transformed with a few bookshelves and posters.  Creating an area used only for education leaves less room for distractions and wandering minds.  

If you homeschool, I'd love to see what you've done!
To see other homeschool classrooms around the nation, click below.
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Thursday, July 12, 2012

All About Vases

pic from paulagracedesigns

Vases date back to over 5,000 years ago and are still being used today.

They can be old or new, shiny or rustic, colorful or plain...whatever their properties, they are beautiful and versatile.   

Display them with flowers or plants as usual to brighten a room.  

I really enjoy a table with fresh flowers.  Don't you?

pic from frostmeblog
Clear vases can show the beauty of petals, shells, stones, wine corks, or buttons and beads.  

Fill them with all sorts of show-and-tell decor.  

Daylily stalks

Going for something more unusual?  They can also be decorated with sticks, feathers, or daylily stalks.  
Yes, I said daylily stalks.  

Daylily stalks are something I thought of last year, and I love it.  

Once the daylily dies and the stalk dries, pull it out of the plant.  Then, you can cut it to the desired length.  

Using what ever is around the house will surely save some money and create a beautiful space at the same time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fried Fish

There are two versions to this recipe.  One is crispy while the other reminds me of having my fish coated in hush puppies.  While it was done by accident, it is just as yummy as the crispy version.  Enjoy both below!

Crispy Fried Fish
  • fish fillets (I prefer tilapia)
  • flour for coating
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs (find them in a can at the grocery)
  • 1 Tbsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried lemon peel
  1. Preheat your Fry-Daddy.
  2. Coat your fish with flour
  3. Dip the fish in a mixture of eggs and buttermilk.
  4. Then, dip the fish in the mixture of seasonings (Lawry's, garlic salt, pepper, and lemon peel)
  5. Fry them until nicely brown.  Drain on paper towels.
Hush puppy covered Fried Fish
  • fish fillets (I prefer tilapia)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or perhaps a little more)
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs 
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1 Tbsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp lemon peel
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 cup cream-style corn (optional)
  1. Preheat your Fry-Daddy.
  2. Mix eggs, buttermilk, and all other ingredients.
  3. Thickly coat the fish in the mixture
  4. Drop in the oil and fry until nicely brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Green Thumb?

There was a recent discussion on a blog community about whether or not any of us had a green thumb.  I had to be honest and admit (with my tail between my legs) that I, unfortunately, do not have a green thumb.  In fact, some may argue that I have a black in the thumb of death, the black plague.

Many times my husband has brought home a plant to surprise me: miniature roses, an African violet, and bamboo that was beautifully intertwined in an Asian decor pot.  I killed them all.  

This past Christmas/Holiday Season, he brought home a poinsettia for our dining room table.  Within a matter of days, it was dead.  My children were a bit disturbed by this.  They kept saying over and over, "She killed it.  It was so pretty, and she killed it.  How can she forget to water it?"

As a joke, earlier this year, my husband bought a collection of cacti for me.  "Even you can't kill these."  He said with confidence that we may finally have some greenery in our home.  The kids laughed along with their father and cheered at the thought that their mother wasn't going to kill this plant...or so they thought.

Within a few weeks' time, all but two of the cacti were dead.  You should have seen my husband and I trying to fish out the dead cacti.  OUCH!  They still hurt even when they are dead!!!  Little, barely visible, needles were coating our hands and arms where the towel did not protect us.  The kids looked on with a combination of horror and amusement.  "Plant killer!" my children called me.  They had obviously reached a point where they realized I may be able to cook, but I can't grow anything, inside nor outside the home.  

I've tried to grow a garden, but with the hard, solid clay we have as a yard, even weeds have a hard time thriving.  I have tried and tried to grow a decent tomato, but the soil (cough) -I mean cement- isn't giving up and neither am I.  

I continue to try every year to grow a garden.  Though after a few weeks or months, or perhaps sometimes even days, I'm left with nothing except an occasional weed that my daughter picked and stuck into the ground on purpose to make up for my loss.  She feels sorry for me, I'm sure.  

My mother recently gave me a plant for our breakfast table.  It was part of my birthday present.  She returned a month later to find the leaves shriveled and crisp under her fingers.  They crumbled to the table as she touched them.  She gave me a look of, You are still killing plants, I see.  You definitely do not get the gift of gardening from me.  She is talented at growing...everything, while I am talented at killing all things green.  Poor plants.

Again, my children pointed in my direction with an accusing tone, "Plant killer!"   Zach, my son, said I didn't have a green thumb, but instead, I had a black thumb.  "She turns all green plants black because she kills them, so she must have a black thumb."  He wasn't being mean.  He was simply being matter-of-fact.

So, to explain the green plants in our house to any who shall visit, they are taken care of by my daughter who is sparing their lives.  To explain the weeds in our yard...well, that wasn't me either.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Green Monsters

Wow!  That is all I can say when I drink a Green Monster.  

What is a Green Monster?  
It is an amazing concoction of fruits and vegetables created by Angela on her site Oh She Glows.  She is responsible for the Green Monster Movement (a great place to find different recipes).

It is called a Green Monster, or green smoothie, because it is usually made with spinach or kale, giving it a brilliant green color.  You might be thinking Yuck!   Well, try it first.  
You will be saying "YUUUUMMMMY" the moment the drink hits your lips.  

I, too, was wary in trying this drink.  I first heard about it about a year and a half ago.  I rejected it and rejected it again.  Then, finally I caved back in May, and I fell in love with it!!!  What is even better is so did my children.  They LOVE drinking Green Monsters.  I've even caught them stealing mine when I wasn't looking.  This is rare because it is hard to put down once I start drinking them, but they work together as a team to distract me.  Sneaky little kids I have.  :) 

These smoothies are so healthy, filled with vitamins and nutrients, and great for your skin and hair.  They improve you from the inside out.  Oh, and if you are like me and crave sweets...this will curb those cravings because it tastes like dessert.  SERIOUSLY!   
They are sooo good!

This is my favorite recipe so far:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 handful of kale or spinach
  • 1 cup of milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk  *(my favorite is vanilla or chocolate flavored soy milk)
  • 6 ice cubes
  1. Put in a good blender and blend till smooth.
  2. Enjoy!  
You can change this recipe to add more fruit variety, flax seed, wheat grass, a scoop of cocoa or carob powder....the ideas are limitless.  Play around with it to find your favorite.  

Join the Green Monster Movement and 
Get your Green On!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Martina's Zucchini Tart

I came across a FANTASTIC recipe while watching The Chew on ABC.  Martina McBride was on the show providing her family's favorite recipe, Zucchini Tart.  It looked delicious, so I wrote the recipe down to save for a rainy day.  Well, today was rainy and I decided to make it.  Ooooooh I am so glad I did!  Try it and you will love it too.  Though I did make a couple of tweaks.  My alterations are listed below, but the original recipe can be found by clicking the link above (where it says Zucchini Tart).
  • 1 Thawed, DEEP dish pie crust (not graham).  
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 3 Tbsp goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup oil packed sundried tomato, drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 zucchini thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Pour egg/milk mixture over zucchini
  1. Preheat oven to 400.  
  2. Cook pie crust for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to 350.
  4. Put in food processor = 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil, green onions, oregano and process until everything is chopped and mixed
  5. Sprinkle in the bottom of lightly cooked pie crust, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese
  6. Spread the mixture from the food processor on top of the mozzarella cheese.
  7. Top with thinly sliced zucchini.
  8. Mix in a bowl = 2 eggs, half & half, salt, and pepper.
  9. Pour over the zucchini in pie.
  10. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
  11. Bake for 35 min.
  12. Serve warm.
  13. Enjoy!!!

Here is mine!  Sooo cheesy on top!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Life of Books and Movies

Every time I read a book or watch a movie, I get sucked in.  I get so involved in their story that it becomes my own.  I become engulfed on their journey as they live the life of fantasy.  I follow them through their sorrow, pain, and woe into the light of love, romance, and joy.  I laugh with them.  I cry with them.  I ooh and ahhh when they fall in love.  Hardly ever an unhappy ending befalls on the sweet and hero-bestowed characters.  Just for a moment, or for the duration of the story, I wish I could switch places or perhaps at least be there in person to witness the life of perfection where everything seems to fall right in place when expected.  It is when the paper or film has ended that I sigh heavily with a bittersweet sensation.  On one hand, I wish the story could continue; that I could continue to follow the characters on to the next chapter of their lives.  On the other, I feel let down that the story is just that...a fictional story and not my own reality.  Don't get me wrong...I LOVE my family and the life I have with them in it, but to take them with me on the journey through the pages of someone else's script, where the sun never clouds, where smiles never fade, where trouble and heartache cease to exist....  Life of books and movies are just not reality, but we can always pretend.  Maybe I'll ask Justin later if he's ready to pack the kids up with me and move far, far away.  Perhaps Hawaii or Australia or Italy or even France is calling our names.  Or maybe I'll just go read another book.  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
  • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp warm water
  • 3 cups bread flour 
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • butter
  • garlic salt
  1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water.  
  2. Let it sit 5 minutes until it foams
  3. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in yeast mixture and oil.
  5. Knead on a floured surface for a few minutes.
  6. Shape dough into a ball and cut like a pizza into 12 slices.
  7. Roll each slice into a log shape.
  8. Place on a greased baking sheet.
  9. Let rise 2 hours
  10. Bake at 400 for 8-12 minutes or until lightly brown on top.
  11. Brush tops with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.

Cheesy Baked Ziti

This is a family favorite of ours.  It isn't difficult to make, but will taste like it took you all day to make.  Serve it with a side of breadsticks and a salad for a perfect meal.  

  • 1 lb of penne or rotini pasta
  • 2 lbs ricotta cheese
  • 1 small jar (14 oz = 1 3/4 cup) of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can (14 oz) stewed tomatoes, blended in a blender or food processor
  • 1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded (tastes better if you grate a block rather than buy a bag)

  1.  Cook the pasta.  While it is cooking, go ahead and shred the cheese.
  2. Strain the pasta.
  3. Pour the pasta into a LARGE bowl and mix with the ricotta.
  4. In the same pot you cooked the pasta (saves on dishes), gently cook the next 10 ingredients.  This just blends the flavors.  Cook med-high heat for about 10 minutes.
  5. Pour sauce over ricotta/pasta mixture and mix well.
  6. Put mixture in a 11X13 dish.  *It needs to be at least this big or slightly bigger!
  7. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  8. Cover with aluminum foil ---I always put toothpicks in the pasta (sticking up where visible) to keep the aluminum foil from touching the cheese.  No one wants to scrape cheese off of the foil cover.
  9. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and Broil for 4 minutes.
  11. ENJOY!!!!

*Note:  For something extra special, toss in some pepperoni and call it a pizza pasta.  LOL

**Note:  You could eliminate the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and spices for a very large jar of spaghetti sauce, but it won't be as delicious.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lemonade Pie

I am not a winter person.  When winter blues get me down, I try to trick myself into thinking it is warmer outside.  One way to chase those blues away is with my favorite pie.  Not only is the Lemonade Pie delicious, but it is super easy and quick to make-No Baking Required.  I don't know who created this pie, but they were genius!  I'm addicted to it.

  • 1 large tub of cool-whip, completely thawed.
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 2 graham cracker pie crusts

  1. In a bowl, mix the condensed milk and lemonade concentrate.
  2. FOLD in the thawed cool-whip until well mixed in.  Do not use a mixer, or the pie will be runny.
  3. Pour evenly into each pie crust.
  4. Pop them in the freezer for 3-4 hours or overnight and enjoy!  ***My preference is to freeze one for about 2 hours and then keep it in the fridge after that because I'm not a huge fan of biting into frozen foods.  I like it to be more smooth.
  5. Enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Heart Health Awareness

Hello All,

It has been such a long time since I have written here.  I have been preoccupied with life, traveling, family, and my own recent discovery of heart valvular disease.  

Heart Disease Doesn't Discriminate

For nine years I dealt with palpitations and doctors assuming it was just stress or anxiety, ignoring my symptoms because I'm young.  My mother has aortic valve regurgitation/insufficiency.  I was experiencing the same symptoms as she (mostly a fluttering feeling with dizziness).  I had a pretty good idea that I would have the same condition.  Despite my pleas to have an echocardiogram with my prior cardiologist, it was not done.  

This past December, my heart seemed to be on palpitation overdrive with so much tightness my shoulders and back ached.  I also had a hard time breathing and became very lightheaded.  Since that time, I still have a hard time catching my breath.  Occasionally the pain will revisit my shoulders as the tightness builds in my chest.  

Listen To Your Body.  You've Known It The Longest.

In January, after I got back from visiting family in Texas, I set an appointment with a new cardiologist.  At first sight, he didn't believe anything could be wrong with me either.  I have good cholesterol levels.  I have a normal blood pressure.  I'm young.  I'm not overweight.  I seemed to be fine.  He decided to hook me up to an event monitor for 30 days anyway just in case, and schedule an echocardiogram.  FINALLY!  

The monitor was not needed those full 30 days.  During the echo, aortic valve regurgitation, pulmonary valve regurgitation, and tricuspid valve regurgitation were discovered.  I also have an enlarged aorta.  I wasn't just suffering from stress or anxiety.  I wasn't a crazy, over-dramatic woman after all.  

Luckily for me, my leaking valves are mild right now.  My hopes are that they stay mild where I will not need replacement surgery.  I have been placed on medication to lower my heart rate, and yearly echos have been scheduled.  I also have an upcoming CT scan to make sure I do not have an aneurysm in my thoracic aorta.  I'm confident that will turn out fine.

Anyway, the point of this is to inform you all to take care of your heart.   Love Your <3   It is the only one you have.