Tag Archive | 2014

Why I don’t make my own pumpkin puree

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I am the queen of making things from scratch. I know it’s healthy and I love the taste of homemade better than anything else. I have always been like this. I always like things better when they are homemade.

Last year I decided I was going to try to make homemade pumpkin puree. And let’s just say that is not happening again. I couldn’t find easy instructions anywhere online. So I was really winging it. Then I had problems trying to scoop the pumpkin out of the skin. And more problems trying to get it to that smooth texture that comes from a can.

It really was a hot mess. Like, no seriously, it was HOT! But I tried and really at the end of that project, I stood there and asked myself why did I think this was a good idea? I don’t even like pumpkin!

OY VEY! Sometimes the things I get in my brain, even I can’t explain it!

Why would I go through all this extra steps for something I don’t eat. Because I love my family and they love pumpkin. But in the end, the only ones to benefit from my experiment was my chickens.

So if you’re a lover of pumpkin and have found the detail instructions to make your own pumpkin puree, have a go at it. Me~I’ll stick to the can stuff. And that is probably the only time you will ever hear me say that.

 

This blog post participated in the Simple Homestead Blog Hop

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Deschooling

Deschooling is an important step when transitioning from regular school to homeschool. You need that time to relax and get out of the mind frame that homeschooling doesn’t have to be like a classroom. You don’t have to cover all of the subjects everyday and you don’t have to learn in the form of worksheets and test. You don’t have to leave a paper trail to show progress or accomplishments. Learning should be free and hands on. You should encourage your children’s interest and follow their questions to guide you along their learning path. Not some paper or book or professional that says at this age they should know how to do this, that and this and that.

Let me let you in on a little secret. I didn’t do anything that I just ranted and raved about! I have homeschooled for 8 years now. I took my kids out of school and went straight into workbooks and worksheets. We didn’t deschool. Our lessons took precedence over the fun of schooling. Experiments got pushed to the back burner along with field trips and fun. And I mostly think this is why my oldest rebelled. And why ultimately she went back to school.

So why haven’t I posted anything about schooling for the last 3 months or so. Well…..because I finally realized that we needed to deschool. We needed to relax and take a step back. And find our path that we are meant to be on. And that we did.

We watched movies. We read books. We played. We went to Disney. We cooked and had lots of holiday fun. We played video games. And we relaxed! Plus we also took many opportunities to ask questions and look up the answers. In fact, they ask so many questions at moments when we weren’t near a computer that my daughter started carrying pen and paper to write them all down.

But we were still learning. We also talked about where we wanted our homeschool path to head.

But more importantly we lived by the motto of Live, Laugh, Love.

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Hello 2015!!

New year 2015

 

I know I am a little late, but honestly I don’t start my new year resolutions until after my birthday on the 5th. Why deprive myself of cake and celebration!?! I made it another year and, dang it, I earned that slice of cake!

So my new year starts when winter break is over and normal life resumes. Well as close to normal as this bunch can get.

I have thought about my new year’s resolution for sometime now. Months actually! I feel like 2014 was my year to find myself. I found out that I have a passion for homesteading that I never knew was there. And not only homesteading, but natural living, without all the chemicals and medications. I like being able to keep my family healthy without the use of antibiotics or over the counter drugs. I like cooking from scratch and knowing what is going into my food and that the items are of the best quality that I can find.

But there were many areas that I floundered at. I don’t want to say fail because that is so negative. I feel like I never failed. I may not have put my best effort in to them, but I never failed, so floundered is the perfect description.

So here they are my resolutions:

  1. Learn more and love life~ Enjoy it, every minute! I noticed my anxiety has flared up a little bit and I want to get a handle on it better so I can accomplish this task. Just get healthier in general. I see too many family members fighting different diseases and I don’t want that. I wanna be around for a long, long time.
  2. Expand our homesteading. I would love to get where we can raise our own meat and add some more egg layers to our little flock. Ducks are coming only because they are so cute!
  3. Separate myself from the negativity. Too many times I let other people’s life choices stress me out and worry me. Yes, they are my family and I love them, but they are not my immediate (in my household) family and those are the ones that need my guidance and attention. So I am going to learn to Let it go! (cue Frozen song here)
  4. Blog more and interact with more bloggers. Expand this and possibly make a business that will thrive and I can be extremely proud of.
  5. Spend more time with my kids. This year my oldest is turning 18!!! How did that happen I have no idea?!? But I feel like I blinked and her childhood was gone. So I am using that as an eye opener and cherishing every moment I have left with them all.

To help me with these, I will probably set little mini goals each month. I seem to do well with a to do list type thing. Sometimes I get so busy with just the everyday stuff that I look up and a whole month has gone by. I would like to try to slow down a bit and that is my overall theme of the year.

Slow down and enjoy being me!

My Favorite Childhood Holiday Cookie: Pecan Balls

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Growing up my mom wasn’t around a lot, so my memories of traditions are very few. But one thing I do remember is these amazing little bite size cookies. I couldn’t get enough of them. Well one year my mom decided that I was too old and stopped making all the cookies and holiday feast. It all fell on me. I searched every cookbook looking for a pecan ball recipe. What I didn’t know until I got this beautiful thing called internet is that they are actually called Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Then it took quite a few years to perfect the recipe to how I remember them tasting. Now it has become a tradition with my kids and they know it is not Christmas without this cookie! I even got my picky lil man to try them this year and it was instant love.

I really hope you enjoy this cookie as much as my family does.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 8 tbs confectioner sugar, plus more for rolling in
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except pecans with a mixer until well blended. Add pecans and mix.

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I used my smaller cookie scooper on these because I like them to be 1-2 bite size. Scoop and roll dough into round small balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.

Pecan Balls

As you can see I put a lot on one sheet because these cookies don’t spread, they hold their form. I managed to get on batch on one sheet. They do puff up a little so you may have a few that are touching but nothing you can easily pull apart.

Bake for 11-12 minutes.

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As you can see they look almost the same after baked. So you have to do a touch test. You want them a little firm and a very light coloring.

Cool completely then roll in additional confectioner’s sugar. Now if you are like me who absolutely does not wait until they are cool completely; then you will have to roll them again in a day or so. If they last that long!

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Enjoy!

 

December Preschool

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The holidays are here along with the hustle and bustle. This time of year always throws off our homeschooling schedule. I just have way too much cooking and shopping to do. Along with all the fun holiday activities! There is visiting Santa, Christmas crafts and baking, visiting fun holiday places and watching all those movies. So why not make that a part of homeschooling. I know I learn something new every year, so I am sure your kids will too. Plus your kids are only young once and you want to enjoy these little memories before their too big and too cool to hang with you. Believe me! I know!

Activities planned for the month:

  • Elf on the shelf
  • Putting up our tree
  • Visiting Santa
  • Mailing a letter to Santa
  • Baking Cookies
  • Pinecone Painting
  • G is for Gingerbread~ Gingerbread paint, making gingerbread men or house
  • Learn about reindeers
  • Poinsettias
  • National Cocoa Day~ measuring and mixing (that’s math people!)
  • Grinch day~ Learn about kindness. Pin the heart on the Grinch and grinch juice as a snack. Plus watching old and new version of the movie.
  • Candy Canes~ Cane Hunt, Playdough, Paint and erupting Candy canes
  • Polar Express PJ Party
  • 1st day of Winter
  • Snowball Fight and Homemade Snow Fun
  • Advent Calendar
  • Walt Disney’s B-day December 5
  • New Year’s Eve

 

Field Trips planned:

  • Disney World~ At Hollywood Studios, they have an amazing light display called the Osbourne Family Lights. It is the best display I have ever seen. And, of course, the lighting of the castle at Magic Kingdom. This year Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf are lighting the tree. Very exciting!
  • Park
  • Florida Aquarium
  • Lowry Park Zoo
  • Lowes for the monthly building activity
  • Looking at Christmas lights

Because it’s a busy month, I haven’t planned out everyday. I just made a list and when I need an idea I search through and grab the ones that appeal to me that day.

For more ideas visit my pinterest boards. Christmas Activities for school and December preschool lessons

I also have a Christmas board that has a lot of Elf on the Shelf ideas and Advent Calendar activities.

 

 

Turkey Casserole

Turkey Casserole

So the holiday is over and your all turkey sandwiched out. But you still have turkey leftover. Well this recipe is the perfect use for it. It has all the flavors of Thanksgiving in one dish. (Well maybe not the pumpkin pie, because that’s taking it too far! Just put that one on the side.) And it is so adaptable to what you have in the house so don’t worry about running out and buying ingredients.

I found this recipe many years ago on Food.com, but you know how I like to change things up. So here is our version of it.

Turkey Casserole

2 tsp Grapeseed oil or coconut oil

1/3 cup minced onions

2 Tbs white wine

1/4 cup flour

1 2/3 cups heavy cream, 1/2 and 1/2 or milk

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp thyme dried or fresh (chopped)

1/2 tsp sage dried or fresh (chopped)

1/4 cup cream cheese

10 oz bag of egg noodles

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella

3 cups chopped turkey or chicken

1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or use leftover stuffing or a mix of both)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1) Start cooking your noodles as package says. Keep an eye on them and drain when their done.

2) In a sauce pan, cook saute onions in oil over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add wine and let it cook out for 1 minute.

3) Add flour (use a little at a time; if you don’t need the full 1/4 cup don’t worry about it.) and stir for 2 minutes.

4) Slowly add milk, broth, thyme, sage, a sprinkling salt and pepper and cream cheese; stir and cook until creamy and combined.

5) In a large bowl, combine turkey, noodles, mozzarella and sauce.

6) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

7) Spoon into greased casserole dish.

8) Time for the topping. This is totally up to you. Do you have a lot of left over stuffing? Then use that. Do you have a little bit but not enough? Combine with seasoned breadcrumbs. No stuffing at all? Use the seasoned breadcrumbs only, but I like to add a little dried marjoram, sage and thyme to add more of the stuffing taste to it.

9) Add topping, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

10) Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Now this is exactly how I serve it because sometimes I think I am living with a house full of toddlers. No one wants their veggies. Including my hubby! (SSHHH but he is the worse.)

So if it was just me and my girls. I would at the beginning saute some chopped mushrooms with the onions and switch my oil to butter. Also cut my turkey back to maybe 2-2 1/2 cups, since we added mushrooms.

And I would also add peas in before you mix everything up. Or you could even use green beans. Maybe leftovers depending on how they were made. We had green bean casserole so that won’t work this year. But if you got regular cooked green beans; drain and add them in.

Honestly, the plain ol’ version my family likes is okay by me too. It has a home cooked feel. Something about the flavors just scream warm and fuzzy. Try it! You will understand what I am talking about.

Cinnamon Chip Scones

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This is one of my son’s favorite breakfast. They are light and flaky; perfect for summer. But also warm and gooey and cinnamony (yup just made that word up); perfect for winter. Pair these with cup of coffee, tea or cocoa and you have a yummy breakfast.

I found this recipe in 2008 Taste of Homes Quick Cooking cookbook.  I actually didn’t have to “fix” this recipe. The only thing I did was cut down the amount of cinnamon chips, but that was a personal preference. Something about me won’t let me use a whole bag of chips; so I used 3/4 of the bag.

 

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup plus 2 tbs sugar; divided

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 pkg or 1 pkg (depending on taste) cinnamon flavored baking chips

2 tbs butter; melted

 

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In large bowl, combine the flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

DSC_0059 Like this. If you leave large chunks of butter that is going to make it flaky. Which is what you want from a scone.

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Stir in the buttermilk just until moistened. Then fold in chips.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface. When you dump your bowl out, don’t panic because it’s not mixed or it looks dry. The warmth from your hands will bind it together as you knead it. Knead gently 10-12 times or until dough is not sticky.

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DSC_0064 And pat or roll out into a circle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle remaining sugar on top.

DSC_0066 Then take a pizza cutter and cut like a pizza. You should be able to get 8 wedges from each circle. Repeat the last 2 steps with the other ball of dough.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 10-13 minutes. I find 11 minutes is good. But remember all ovens are different. They are done when they are lightly brown and firm.

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