Thursday, July 29, 2010

Homeschooling and Chaos Cottage Ramblings

Robyn and I are home alone today as her daddy is volunteering at church with their computer updating. So far she has taken a spelling quiz in language arts, read about the story of Ruth in bible and is learning about the circulatory system in science. She has a math test to take but wants to review what she has learned the last two weeks before taking the test. I am perusing the web and doing general housewifey things around this chaos cottage. Laundry is on the agenda today and thoroughly cleaning the kitchen. A second cup of coffee is also on my to-do list!

Later, we both plan on getting in some reading time. She is finishing up Alice in Wonderland and I have finished my library books so will find something here in the house to read.

We will have dinner together tonight. I bought some fresh light cheese ravioli that I have never made before. I am hoping to use the dining room. We have been eating a lot in the den and watching a tv program together while we eat. We do enjoy this and we do converse while doing this, but there is just something much more nicer about sitting about the dining room table and enjoying our meal that way.

Tomorrow, we plan on giving the main floor of the house a good cleaning. We have friends from Oregon coming for a visit and friends from church. We are going to have dinner together and catch up with each others lives. Hubby needs to give the grass some attention. One of his least favorite tasks! The heat doesn't help, does it? So, tomorrow will be a very busy day for us. We will probably need Saturday just to rest and recover! We are in horrible shape. But that is another post all together. I'll get to that subject another time.

We look forward to church on Sunday and maybe some time with family. I thank God for my family and our love and genuine concern we have for each other.

Have a terrific rest of the week and a wonderful weekend.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Menu for week of July 26th

This is my healthier and lower calorie menu. WW means Whole Wheat, SF means Sugar Free, RF means Reduced Fat and LF means Low Fat. We will be exercising and drinking lots of water, sugar free tea and sugar free sodas. I am allowing extra veggies and fruits, if needed or wanted.

Monday, July 26th
B-Oatmeal with Raisins, Banana
S-3 Whole Wheat crackers, 3 oz. LF Cottage Cheese or Yogurt
L-2 sl. Whole wheat bread, with and Jelly, Apple, baby carrots
S-Light Popcorn
D-Pork Chops, Baked Potato, Broccoli, Salad

Tuesday, July 27th
B-Same as Monday
Snack-Same as Monday
L-Chicken and Noodle Soup, Open Faced Turkey Sammie, baby carrots
S-Light Popcorn
D-Turkey Burger on Lite Bun, Salad, Fruit Cocktail

Wednesday, July 28th
B-Scrambled Egg, 1 Slice whole wheat toast, skim milk or yogurt and strawberries
S-1 yogurt or sugar free pudding
L-6 inch roasted chicken breast/subway with lots of veggies
S-baby carrots and light ranch dressing
D-Cheese Ravioli, Salad, Stir-Fried Zucchini

Thursday, July 29th
B-Same as Wednesday
S-Yogurt or sugar free pudding
L-tomato soup, grilled cheese sammie
S-light popcorn
D-Grilled Chicken, Rice, Green Beans, Salad

Friday, July 30th
B-RF Eggos, Yogurt, sliced strawberries
L-Salad with Grilled Chicken
Friends visiting - dinner yet to be decided or just appetizers

Saturday, July 31st
B-Oatmeal with Raisins, OJ
L-Chicken and Noodle Soup, Open Faced Sammie
S-3 WW crackers and 1/3 c. LF Cottage Cheese
D-Grilled Chicken, Wild Rice, Cooked Carrots, Salad
S-light popcorn

Sunday, August 1st
B-1/2 bagel, 1 T LF Cream Cheese, OJ
L-Black Bean Burger, Lite Bun, Spinach Salad
S-light popcorn
D-Cheese Pizza, Salad

Friday, July 23, 2010

My week in review.

Thank you Lord for air conditioning. Our new HVAC was installed on Wednesday. It feels so good to get the hot sticky air out of our house. We were without air conditioning for over three weeks. I felt like I lived in a sauna! Nothing much was accomplished in my home while it was hot and miserable. I am also thankful for my wonderful neighbor who was able to get us a huge discount on our HVAC. Good neighbors are a blessing.

We attended Hot Topics at the Hub at church Wednesday night. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and am sad that there is only one more night of this left.

Robert went to his aunt's lake house yesterday and helped her with a few more of her projects. He is almost done. We really enjoyed the use of her lake house earlier in the month and will probably go out and spend some time there again before the summer is over.

Robert and Robyn went swimming at a friend's pool a couple evenings this week. Robyn loves the water and swimming with her friend, David. She sometimes swims at her aunt's apartment as well.

Robert is volunteering at church again today. He is updating the church's computers and laptops. He has managed to help his aunt, his church, and do things around his home this week and apply for jobs. He trimmed the hedges which were growing wildly out of control earlier this week. Thank you Lord for my husband!

I have been supervising Robyn with her homeschooling today. It is apparent to me that she likes to fly through her studies. I have to put the brakes on her! I helped her with her Bible studies just a little while ago. She had a quiz past due and we needed to go over what she was supposed to have been learning this week. I found out she hadn't been reading the Bible but just reading the lesson. So we had to review things together. I am also about to help her with her project on the Panama Canal and the glaciers that swept over North America. She has to type a paragraph about them. Bible and History/Geography, were past due and given top priority today. Then it is on to what is due today. By doing her school work on the computer with Switched on School House, her typing skills are really improving.

Robyn has read two books this week and I have too. She is now reading Alice in Wonderland. I haven't read that book and may read it before it goes back to the library. There are a lot of classics that I haven't read and would love to do that if I can find the time. I am attempting to get caught up with my bible reading and reach my goal of reading the entire bible again this year. There are a lot of women out in blogland who are reading the entire bible in 90 days. I might try that at some point but don't feel like I am ready to attempt that yet.

I have laundry going today and have a kitchen to clean up before beginning dinner tonight. Once again, I am thankful for my cool house and the ability to work without getting so hot and sweaty. I don't like doing housework. But being able to do it in a much cooler home makes the job more pleasant!

Have a terrific weekend.


Monday, July 19, 2010

My family needs to get in shape!

Physically and spiritually. Do you ever feel that way? Time to tweak your menus and tweak how you spend your time? We have been eating all the wrong foods, not exercising, and not spending enough time in God's Word and prayer. How about you? Do you need to put your body on a diet and your mind on a TV/Computer/Ipod/insert whatever takes up too much of your time/diet? We do.

As you know, I love to peruse menus and plan my weekly menu. We don't always stick to it but for me, it is better than trying to cook for my family without a plan. I also have not figured out how to shop on a weekly basis without a plan. Otherwise, it's takeout and many trips to the store for spur of the moment food. So, I've already been perusing the web for some low-cal menus and planning out several weeks of good, healthy, and low cal fare.

Next, we are going to reinstate our family meals at the dining room table and reading our family devotions there. I love it when we all sit around the dining room table and eat together. Robyn is especially fond of this.

All of us have fallen off the Read Your Bible in One Year goal, but it's not too late to get caught up. My prayer time has generally been before most meals and before nodding off at night. Not good. Not sure about the rest of the family in this area, but I am going to make a greater effort in getting in time for God's Word and conversing more with him. Can I hear an Amen?


Menu for the week of July 19th

Fixed most everything I planned last week except I didn't make pizza, too hot to use oven, so we got Papa John's. And yesterday, we had plenty of leftovers so I didn't cook the usual Sunday dinner. Our air condition/heat unit should be replaced tomorrow or the next day, so hoping to get to use the oven again later in the week.

Breakfasts will consist of granola bars, fruit, yogurt, muffins cereal, etc.

Lunch will consist of leftovers or sammies.


Crock pot Cajun Chicken (from yesterday's plan), Rice, Broccoli Cornbread (if I can make this in my toaster oven, too hot to use regular oven)


Frankly the Best Crock Pot Beans (recipe below), Creamy Potato Salad (recipe below), Watermelon


If the air is fixed, then Ziti Chicken Casserole (recipe below) and Salad (if not, then stove top Hamburger Helper dinner, made with ground chicken, and Salad)


Should be plenty of Lovely Leftovers!


Weather permitting, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Corn and Squash, otherwise, Homemade Pizza.


Pasta Pepperoni Dish (recipe below), Salad, Garlic Bread


Chicken and Stuffing Casserole (a freezer meal, recipe below), my Layered Salad, and Mini-Pumpkin Pies (a freezer recipe using up a can of pumpkin hanging around in the pantry!)

Frankly the Best Crock Pot Beans

1 ½ T yellow mustard
1/3 c. ketchup (or bbq sauce)
¼ c. dark brown sugar
½ t. onion powder
2-16 oz. cans baked beans
1 pkg. hot dogs

Mix all in crock pot cook 4-8 hours on low or 1 ½ - 2 hours on high.

Creamy Potato Salad

6 medium boiling potatoes (about 2 lb.)
1 ½ cup mayonnaise
1 T white vinegar
1 T mustard
1 t. salt
¼ t. pepper
2 medium stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (½ cup)
4 hard cooked eggs, chopped

Cook potatoes; cool slightly. Cut potatoes into cubes. Mix mayo, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add potatoes, celery and onion; toss. Stir in eggs. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours to blend flavors and chill. Cover and refrigerate any remaining leftovers. This is from my old Betty Crocker Cookbook

Ziti Chicken Casserole

2 cups uncooked ziti pasta
2 5-oz. cans chunk chicken, drained
2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 10-oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 soup can water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook ziti as directed on package and drain well. Combine all ingredients except Parmesan cheese and spoon into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serves 6

Calories: 420
Fat: 22 grams
Sodium: 700 mg
Calcium: 30%

Pasta Pepperoni Dish

1 lb. macaroni, cooked and drained
1 large jar and 1 small jar Ragu
¼ lb. thinly sliced pepperoni
1 medium can mushrooms, drained
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine all ingredients in 3 quart casserole, setting aside 1 cup cheese. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake in microwave until heated through

Chicken and Stuffing Casserole

2 cups cooked and diced chicken
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups chicken broth
1 package pepperidge Farms Herb Stuffing -- (8 oz)
1 stick butter melted.

Combine melted butter and stuffing mix. Pour half into 10 x 13 baking dish
and spread out for crust. spread chicken on top. Meanwhile combine sour and
broth in saucepan on the stove and heat until well combined. Pour sauce on
top. Top with remaining crust mixture and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or
until hot and bubbly. To
make and freeze: Put together and freeze, can be divided into two casserole
dishes or loaf pans. Place in oven frozen and cook until hot and bubbly--
maybe 1 1/2 hours. I leave covered the first hour and then remove the cover.

Mini Pumpkin Pies

This is from a OAMC website. These are delicious and my kids LOVE these in their lunchboxes. I put them in frozen in the morning and they thaw nicely by lunchtime.
15 servings
40 minutes 10 mins prep
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (3 1/2 ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pastry for double-crust pie (your favorite recipe or purchased)

1. Roll out pastry dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
2. Cut out 2-1/2" circles from the dough.
3. You should have 15.
4. Place each circle in a muffin cup and push in to fit pan.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
6. In a large bowl, beat together pumpkin, sugar, milk, egg and vanilla.
7. Add the pudding mix and beat until blended.
8. It will thicken nicely.
9. Add spices.
10. Stir to combine.
11. Fill pastry crusts evenly.
12. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.
13. Cool on rack.
14. When cool, you can place in a rigid freezer container with layers of waxed paper in between.
15. Freeze until needed.
16. You can thaw these in the refrigerator or put in the microwave for about 1 minute.
17. This depends on the wattage of your micro.

Friday, July 16, 2010

More homeschooling stuff.

So far, this week in homeschooling has gone better. We consider the first three weeks a "trial" period. What we have been doing now, is printing out her work and going over it with her. Then she does this again on her computer. We are supervising her work rather than letting her work independently and unsupervised. She is using her dry erase board to diagram a root system as I type! These changes are helping and seem to be working.

She has also read an entire book since Wednesday! It was a Disney Fairies book, but it was a good sized one and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She will start on another book today. I am very proud of her.

We have limited her computer and TV time. To be honest, we were allowing her too much freedom with those things. We don't set a very good example ourselves in that department. I am also reading a new book and hubby has been doing volunteer computer work at the church a couple of days a week. So we haven't spent so much time in front of the "boob" tube and on our computers.

So as homeschooling parents, we are also learning. Homeschooling parents need to be clear and firm, strong, yet understanding, authoritative, but compassionate. So, when the going gets rough with homeschooling, we keep going! This sets a good example for our daughter that we don't give up. We keep moving forward!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Homeschooling update

Robyn has finished three weeks of Switched on Schoolhouse and had one week off. This week, she starts back again.

So far, I haven't been pleased with her progress. I am not expecting perfectionism but do have some problems with SOS. I believe that Robyn is not quite ready to do independent work. Robert and I have decided to be more "hands on" with her schooling. He is going to print out her work and we will do some going over and teaching with her. Her reading the material on the computer on her own doesn't seem to be "sticking." We think that with a little bit more input of a real life teacher will help her to retain the material better. So we are going to make this adaption to her schooling and see how that turns out.

We are also instituting one hour of reading on most days. She isn't doing enough of this and has been spending way too much time on my Facebook account playing games or on her favorite website, Pixie Hollow. Oh, parenting! It's such hard work!


Completing Him Challenge

Courtney, over at the Women Living Well website has been issuing challenges and I have decided to take her up on this one.

So I asked my husband to list his top five priorities for me to do for him and in return I listed my top five for him along with things he is getting right! I didn't want this to look like I was bashing him. I wanted to show my appreciation to him for the things he gets right. I won't go into details of what was on my list or on his but we are going to institute some changes around here based on each other's list such as:

My health should be a number one priority. Everything I do hinges on that. My insomnia is effecting all areas of my life. This has also made it difficult to attend church on Sunday mornings. Evenings aren't so much a problem. So I am going to try harder to get to bed earlier and take my melatonin and pray for sleep to come. At the same time, when I am exhausted during the day, I will forgo napping. Oh I will miss this very much, and hope that by eliminating the nap I will be able to fall asleep easier and earlier in the evening. I know this sounds simple, but insomnia is not easy to cure. But I will try to do everything I can to straighten this out. Vitamins and my supplements should be included in here too. I cannot stress enough the importance of having all your vitamin levels where they should be. I need to get my iron and Vitamin D levels higher and that in itself should give me more energy during the day. Walking/exercise falls into this category too.
Enough said.

Just by doing the above I should see an improvement my life and be motivated to get out of the house more and be able to volunteer at church. These things were all important to my hubby.

Hubby in return sees that I need him to take more interest in the care and upkeep of our home, his tone with his daughter and date nights for us.

I am looking forward to making my hubby happier, by making myself healthier.

How about you?


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Menu for the week of July 12th


Breakfast-Ham and Cheese Muffins, Yogurt
Lunch-BLT's and Watermelon
Dinner-Freezer Meal, Lazy Day Lasagna, Salad, Cheddar Drop Biscuits, Strawberry Cobbler


Breakfast-Apple Jacks Cereal and Milk, Bagels
Lunch-Turkey Sammies, Carrots and Celery with Ranch Dip
Dinner-Crock Pot Roasted Chicken, Macaroni and Cheese, Green Beans with Bacon Rollups


Breakfast-Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins (recipe follows), Yogurt
Lunch-Egg Salad Sammies, Fritos
Dinner-Chicken Noodle Soup (made from carcass), Bread made in bread machine, Fruit Salad


Breakfast-More Muffins and Yogurt
Lunch-Leftover Soup and Bread or Grilled Cheese Sammies
Dinner-Pigs in Blankets, Oven Fries, Veggies and Dip, Watermelon


Breakfast-Oatmeal and Bagels
Lunch-PB&J Sammies, Brownies
Dinner-Pinto Beans, Sauteed Cabbage, Fried Okra, Fried Cornbread


Breakfast-Granola Bars (recipe follows), Fruit of some sort
Lunch-Lovely Leftovers
Dinner-Homemade Pizza


Breakfast-Granola Bars
Lunch-Crock Pot Cajun Chicken, Rice, Broccoli Cornbread
Dinner-Lovely Leftovers or PB&J (craving peanut butter!)

Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins

1 c. milk
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 c.. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries (do not thaw)
1/2 c. vanilla milk chips or 3 oz coarsely chopped white chocolate baking bar
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. sugar
Heat oven to 400F. In large bowl combine milk, butter and egg. Stir in all remaining muffin ingredients except raspberries and vanilla chips just until flour is moistened. Gently stir in raspberries and vanilla chips. Spoon into greased 12-cup muffin pan. Bake for 24 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly, remove from pan. Dip top of each muffin in melted butter, then in sugar. Yield: 12 muffins

Granola Bars
1 1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
1 1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. margarine or butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips,
raisins or chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together except chocolate
chips until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Press mixture evenly in
ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake until center is set, 15 to 17 minutes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Well drat!

The air conditioning is not working again. I'm thinking that "slow" leak is a "fast" leak! What's a poor and hot family to do?

I said to Robert the other day, what was it that people did before air conditioning? I'm thinking not much of anything. I know the heat gives me a headache and makes me very lethargic. Thank the Lord our unit for the upstairs, where our bedrooms are, still works. We can always camp out upstairs and pile up in the bed and watch TV.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Our air conditioner is fixed!

Whoo Hoo! We have air conditioning on our main floor again. We have been without it for about a week. That's part of the reason we stayed so long at the lake house. Thankfully our upstairs unit worked so we had cool rooms to sleep in. We have a very slow leak and had to have the air conditioner recharged with free-on. Hopefully this will last us through the summer.

Now, I have no more excuses for being a slug. I can also start cooking and heating up the kitchen again. That's a good thing. No more running out for food when you are too hot to cook.

Thank you Lord for air conditioning!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Menu for the week of July 4th

Well we went to our Aunt's lake house on the 3rd and didn't get home until today! It was a nice retreat away from the internet and cell phones and we had a good rest.

On Saturday night we grilled out turkey smoked sausage kabobs and corn on the cob. I also made some Velvetta Shells and Cheese because daughter is all about the mac and cheese!

On the fourth we had ham and turkey pastrami and various types of bread and croissants, potato salad, slaw, pasta salad, deviled eggs, various chips and no bake cookies and molasses cake. It was all delicious. So we ate leftovers for two days. On our way back home today we stopped at Chik-Fil-A. Nice change from all the leftovers.

Here is my menu plan for the remainder of the week:

Wednesday: Parmesan Pasta, Italian Grilled Chicken, Spinach and Strawberry Salad

Thursday: Chicken Stir-Fry, Rice, Egg Rolls (frozen and store bought)

Friday: Pizza Night and Watermelon

Saturday: Grilled Chicken Burgers, Grilled Corn on the Cob, Pasta Salad, Watermelon

Sunday: Crock Pot Pork Chops, Mac and Cheese, Brussels Sprouts, Rolls

How about you?


Friday, July 2, 2010

It's now one of our favorites!

The recipe I posted on Sunday for Favorite Beans and Rice is now one of our favorites. I highly recommend you try it if you like beans. You could cook your own beans and freeze them in two cup portions and make this meal even more frugal. I used a box of Uncle Ben's whole grain rice that I had bought on sale and had a coupon for. It was really good too. We had corn tortilla chips and con queso dip as well. It was the perfect meal to go with one of our all time favorite movies, Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne. It was a perfect evening!