Monday, September 5, 2016

New Address

HI Friends! I have moved....please find me at my new space here.  I am so excited for a new webspace all my own and the ability for new content and growing room down the road.   I hope you can join me!

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Best White Bean Chili Evah

Sometimes you come across a recipe that is SO GOOD...while you are eating you ask the cook for the recipe please and every now and again they are able to share it with you.  Eight years ago I was in Arkansas celebrating the 30th birthday of a good friend. My friend Kelly hosted five of us who came from out of town and she served up a chili that was so tasty...I had to ask her for the recipe...and she was so kind to share.  I have since made this chili at least once a month and changed it up a bit to make it my own and to suit the protein that I had on hand. The coolest thing about recipes from friends is every time I make one...I think of the friend that gave it to me and the time I spent with them.

Now that Summer is coming to an end...Tis the season for soups, stews, chilis, homemade breads and all the fall goodness that happens in the kitchen. I have made this with rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, smoked turkey and smoked pork. My favorite is with smoked pork.

Smoked Pork and White Bean Chili

1TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves garlic pressed or minced
2 heaping tsp dried oregano
1 TBSP ground cumin
1 heaping tsp powdered ginger
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 cups cooked protein of your choice
2 cans white beans (drained)
2 jalapeno peppers, minced or 4 oz can chopped green chiles
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste

For Toppings
Additional Cheese
Cilantro, finely chopped 
Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Grape Tomatoes quartered
Avocado, sliced or chopped
Sliced JalapeƱos
Tortilla Chips

Cooking Instructions

Heat olive oil in large dutch oven or soup pot. 
Add onion and saute over medium heat until softened. 
Add garlic, oregano, cumin and ginger. Cook stirring for one minute. 
Add broth and bay leaf. 
Cook uncovered over medium heat until somewhat reduced (5-8 minutes). 
Add chicken, beans and jalapenos. Simmer uncovered for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Over low heat add a little cheese at a time, stirring until melted. Add pepper. Taste and add salt as needed. Cook five additional minutes. Remove bay leaf and serve with toppings at the table.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Five on Friday V5


School starts Monday. I am so ready to have my boys (particularly Ren) back on a schedule. We are enjoying the last days of our summer with a day outside...exploring, chalk drawing, rock cooking, swing swinging, trampoline jumping, bike riding, bubble blowing...all.the.things...except the water hose...I can't do the water hose today. Much to my boys dismay. The wet clothes, wet feet, dirt becomes mud. I.just.can't today.  I am grateful for the weather today slightly overcast, nice breeze, 75 Degrees of perfection. I will take it. I wish all the days were like today.


There is a Christmas Market for local vendors on the 5th of November and I am planning on having a table of handmade items to sell, Relaxin' Pants (Pajama pants), handmade jewelry, lap quilts, baby burp cloths, ToDo/Done pockets and really any other handmade items I can crank out before the 3rd week of October.  With homeschooling and all the things that schedule brings I am hoping that committing to host a table (and paying for it) will force me to do some much needed crafting (I need to exercise those craft-cells in my brain) and it will give me some sense of know something started and finished..a rarity in day-to-day #MomLife.


Speaking of cooler's almost time for fall! I know..I know it's like AlmostFall is the new buzz word around here. Aside from the cooler weather, school routines, soups, stews and yummy breads, nearly empty places for field trips and's the clothes (I know you thought I was going to say Pumpkin Spice Latte or something like that...I'm a big Yuck for those...potpourri in your thank you). The layers, the leggings ( the LuLaRoe (and yes, click and that link and join my sister Grace's page....let her know you came from this post) Legging love I have), the lightweight cardigans and jackets...all the fall clothes things...I cannot wait!


Freezer Meals....I have busted my kitchen cooking self this week getting 10 yummy freezer meals done and in the freezer ready for the busyness that is our school schedule. Do you have a tried and true recipe that you would share with me? I will be posting in the coming weeks the recipes that I used. My current plans are to prep 10 freezer meals a month (unless I find we need more). Saving me time and money and making sure we are filling our bellies with whole food dishes. 


I will be moving to a new space soon and hope you all will like the new layout and features that will be available. When I started blogging again I was so excited to share my thoughts, glimpses of our days and carve out a little space here that could be my own. And then I became overwhelmed and stressed about it's funny how life and projects work that way sometimes.  I'd love to know what you are interested in reading from me. Finding my voice, my purpose in blogging is still a work in progress and I am interested to see where this journey is going to lead. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Mama! What Are We Doing Tomorrow?"

One of the most asked questions in my home, even from the little two year old, is "What are we doing tomorrow?" Being a homeschooling family staying at home, a lot, as a family (except their dad who is at work) is something that we just do.  However, my kids do not like to stay at home. They want to go and see and do and explore and play with friends and  So I have quickly learned to gather my resources and find all.the.things.

Some of the things that I have found in my area are:
Horseback Riding Lessons
Swimming Lessons
Art Class
Martial Arts
Writing Workshops
Nature Centers
Conservation & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers
Zoo Classes for Homeschoolers
Homeschool Groups
Friend Groups
Local Parks
Local Trails
Library (our local Children's Librarian is an Angel for this homeschool mom)
Tennis Lessons
Local Church Children's Activities
Roller Skating
Ice Skating
Indoor Pools
Indoor Play Places....
And really the list could go on and on. Some of these activities are only for the school age kids, others we can all go and enjoy a day/activity out of the house.

We are a part of a local group of homeschoolers who meet a couple times a month for activities such as gym days, field trips, "class parties" (Christmas, Valentines, etc), Spelling Bees, Science and History Fairs and a Mom's Encouragement Night (which is very important!). Calling the local library,   searching through Facebook for homeschool groups and talking to other homeschool moms is where I have found all.the.things. We start our school year next Monday and we already have weekly horseback riding lessons, a monthly writing workshop, weekly art classes, bi-weekly Martial Arts lessons and three field trips on the calendar.

I have found for me, and my family, that the balance of getting out and doing, exploring, having extra classes or just playing in the local creek; coupled with the book-work of sitting at the table is one of the joys of homeschooling. Taking the time to listen to these explorers of mine and answer the call of their restless hearts to get out and see and play has so much value; this is how they learn, about themselves and about the world around them.

Albert Einstein said " Play is the highest form of research."
Play on my on...and I'll do my part to find all.the.things.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Zucchini for Days

This year we ordered all our garden vegetable seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and our zucchini is almost producing more than I can keep up with. I have at least 2 gallon ziplock freezer bags full of shredded zucchini with a second batch shredded in the fridge waiting on me to bag. Zucchini Fritters, Zucchini Bread, Stir Fry Zucchini, Zucchini Alfredo, Zucchini Lasagna, Stuffed Zucchini...the list goes on and on.

The Lungo Bianco Squash  (a light green/white sweet zucchini from Italy) is a delicious and versatile zucchini that my whole family loves. Stuffed Zucchini is one of my husband's favorite ways to eat zucchini for dinner and he always appreciates the extras for lunch. 

Stuffed Zucchini with Fire Roasted Tomatoes,
 Rice and Mozzarella Cheese


Zucchini (2)
Fire Roasted Tomatoes (1 Can)
Cooked Rice (measured 1/2 cup dry)
Mozzarella Cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (not pictured)

Preheat your oven to 425 Degrees F
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop seeds out leaving a boat like shape

Sprinkle Zucchini with Olive oil and a decent shake of Garlic Garlic Seasoning
Place on baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes
Combine the cooked rice, fire roasted tomatoes, one tablespoon of Garlic Garlic Seasoning and one cup of shredded mozzarella cheese in a bowl.

Take the roasted zucchini out of the oven (the flesh should be cooked and browning slightly) and stuff with the rice and tomato mixture topping with more shredded cheese. Place the zucchini back in the oven and let cook until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with crusty bread and a nice white wine or smoked sausage and a glass of cold milk.

Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe? 


Friday, August 12, 2016

Simple Chore Checks for Kids

We start up school in just 10 days. With that comes a need for better organization and more family teamwork when it comes to getting all.the.stuff done around the house. I wanted to use a method that would allow the kids to be responsible for their chores without using up another wall space in my great room (my living room, dining room, kitchen and entry way are all one big room) and without me nagging them all.the.time.

My kids are ages seven, four and two and there are chores and personal hygiene responsibilities that they can take care of own their own (the two year old with assistance).  Ren, the 7 year old, has brushing his teeth twice a day, making his bed, putting his dirty laundry in the basket and clean laundry away, a 10 minute toy pick-up, feeding our chickens and gathering eggs. He also has 3 Mom's Choice chores that will include: wiping down the bathroom, vacuuming the carpets and helping with the dishes.

Sam is four,  his responsibilities are: brushing his teeth twice a day, making his bed,  a 10 minute toy pick-up, putting his dirty laundry in the basket and clean laundry away  and feeding Austin. He also has two Mom's Choice chores that will include: gathering the bathroom trash, setting and clearing the table, dusting and window washing.

Alexandria is two and while there are no chores she is able to do independently just yet; I did not want her to feel left out.  She has brushing her teeth twice a day, picking up toys and one Mom's choice which will include dusting and putting away the clean kids dishes. 

I bought a fabulous multi-color pack of felt squares from Target and thought that making a simple two pocket magnet pouch that we could hang on the fridge would keep these Chore Checks at their reach without taking up a lot of space. Each of the kids picked out their own color combinations and I just happened to have corresponding thread, craft sticks and lots of sharpies to complete this project.
I folded one of the felt squares down and sewed it to the other felt square.  I attached magnetic tape to  the four back corners of the square and added the craft sticks with their chore/responsibility. One pocket holds the Chore Checks that need to be accomplished and when they are done they can move them to the other pocket. Having two pockets enables me to just glance at the fridge to see if they have completed their Checks for the day before screen time or other extra activities.

Do you have chores for your kids to do daily? I would love to hear how you keep them responsible for their day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ren & Sam TKBTB Vol 4

This month's The Kids Behind the Blog (TKBTB) questions are all about summer ending and school starting up! I love TKBTB series...asking my boys questions about particular subjects always gives me insight into their thoughts and their likes and/or dislikes. 

Ren, 7 years 5 months
  1. What was your favorite thing you did over the summer? Play with my cousins and fishing with Dad.
  2. What's your favorite topic to learn about at school? Science and Science Experiments because we get to dissect stuff.
  3. Who is your best friend from school? Vince and Jacob
  4. What do you want to be when you grow up? A Veterinarian...YOU know that already!
  5. What is your least favorite thing about school? Handwriting, because you have to write a bunch of words.

Sam, 4 years new

  1. What was your favorite thing you did over the summer? Summer is my birthday, playing in the pool and fishing with Daddy.
  2. What's your favorite topic to learn about at school? Playtime and playing with toys.
  3. Who is your best friend from school? Oliver and Alexandria
  4. What do you want to be when you grow up? A Ninja Turtle, because they fight with swords.
  5. What is your least favorite thing about school? Cleaning up, it is never any fun.

These boys both adore fishing with their dad! If there is any love list for my boys the top of the list is fishing! Homeschool is going to be fun this year...smirk...all the playing, cleaning up, science experiments (we have not dissected anything yet...I'll have to get on that!) and writing...all.the.writing. Sam just started Martial Arts classes and is obsessed with all things ninjas and swords right now...I have a feeling he is going to go further than his big brother in belt rank over time.

September's TKBTB questions are:

  1. What is your favorite sport? Why?
  2. If someone gave you a million dollars what would you buy?
  3. Tell me 3 things that kids do better than mommies and daddies. 
  4. What is your favorite thing to do in the fall?
  5. Share with me 3 things you like about yourself.