Thursday, August 23, 2007


It looks like Billy and Tommy were having fun with my camera at lunch today!!

We're leaving tomorrow for a week at the beach. We've been very busy trying to get everything ready to go.

All of the grass needed to be cut.

All of the animal cages needed to be cleaned out and readied for our animal sitter.

The whole house needed to be cleaned because we have a house sitter stay here while we're gone.

Everyone's laundry needed to be done and the dryer is broken.

Food for a week is prepared and packed or ready to be put in coolers in the morning. We take a lot of really good food. No one goes hungry on our vacations!! I even have my mixer packed so that I can bake fresh bread all week.

Towels are packed ~ bath towels, beach towels, hand towels, dish towels, dish cloths, wash clothes ~ am I forgetting any?

Games, books, DVDs, knitting, cards, way will anyone experience even one moment of boredom!

In the midst of all of the packing, cleaning, and general mayhem today, I decided to can 11 quarts of apple sauce. Aren't they pretty?!

We'll be gone for the next week. When we return I'll have a ton of pictures to share.

Have a great week!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Today we enjoyed a poetry tea. This is the first one we have had this year. Several years ago I read about the idea from here . While we have never made it a weekly part of our homeschooling routine, we have had many throughout the years. The idea is to have everyone pick out a poem or poems that they would like to share. We keep a collection of poetry books on the bookshelf for just this purpose. We will occasionally take some out of the library for something new too.

Then you set out a proper tea. Sometimes I serve 2 choices of tea sometimes just one. I always include some sort of treat. It has been graham crackers and oranges in the past when I didn't have time to prepare a baked good. Sometimes it is more substantial and acts as our lunch too. Today we had homemade biscuits with butter and peach jam, and apple chunks with cinnamon/sugar. Our tea was raspberry.

My Mom and Dad blessed us with their wedding china when Doug and I were married. It is really beautiful and I love to use it whenever I get the chance. This is the perfect chance as tea just tastes so much better in a real china cup!

When everyone is seated and served, we take turns reading our chosen poems. We often choose more while we are enjoying our tea and treats.

My niece, Sofia, was here this afternoon and was able to join us for tea (her little brother, Vincent, was napping upstairs during all of this). She was thrilled with our tea and enjoyed reading her favorite poems by Shel Silverstein. I'll be sure to have one again when she's with us.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


We had a good old rainy day today. It's been quite a while since we had one of those! Not a storm, not a flood, just a cool, gentle, steady rain, all day. We're supposed to have another one tomorrow. The temp's not supposed to even get to 70. Yippee!!!! Long pants and sweatshirts...a pot of tea in the afternoon... board video...

I thought I'd share my recipe for the crescent rolls we enjoyed with our dinner this evening. They are a good roll to make if you are new to bread/roll baking. There is no kneading involved.

Give them a try. They are really delicious!!

1 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

3 1/2 cups flour

2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 pkg)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 egg

softened butter

scald the milk (heat it until tiny bubbles form around the edges) - add the butter - stir to melt - set aside to cool a bit (120 degrees)

mix 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a bowl

add cooled milk, egg, and rest of flour (1 1/2 cups)

mix well with a spoon

cover with a buttered piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper

rise for an hour or 2

sprinkle a little flour over the top and gather it in a ball - if it's still too sticky, roll it around in a little more flour

divide it into 3 equal pieces and shape into balls

on a floured board or clean counter, roll each piece into a circle (one at a time)

spread softened butter thinly over whole circle

cut each circle into quarters and then cut each quarter into 3 pieces, you'll end up with 12 pieces (I use a pizza cutter to do this, but a knife would work fine too)

roll up each piece starting at the wide end all the way to the tip

place each roll on a baking sheet and curve to form a crescent shape

repeat until all the dough is shaped

At this point, you can put the sheet into the freezer and freeze the formed, but raw rolls. When they're frozen, take them off of the sheet and put into a freezer bag to use at a later date.

Or let them rise for about an hour and bake them in a 350* oven for 15 - 25 minutes, just until they are slightly browned.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Warning: If you are particularly concerned with healthy, nutritious, whole foods, you really shouldn't read this post. It will probably make you faint!

For the rest of you, I tried a new recipe today that was so ooey, gooey, wonderful, I just had to share. It will definitely not be a regularly occurring dessert in our house, but for a special treat, it can't be beat!

I found the recipe on the back of a bag of flour.
It is called "CANDY BAR SQUARES"

here's the recipe:
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter (I cut this back to 1 stick plus 5 Tbls, it just made me feel better)

8 (2.07 oz) snickers bars (I used milky way bars because I can't eat nuts and I really wanted to try these) (I bought the fun sized bars and used 24 of them. It was more than enough)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (I make mine homemade using the recipe from Hillbilly Housewife. It's a great recipe and works just like the stuff in the can and costs just pennies. You can find the recipe here http:// )

Preheat oven to 350*. Line a 9 x13 pan with foil.
In a large bowl, using a pastry blender or your hands, mix flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt and butter until well combined and crumbly.

Reserve 1 1/2 cups for the topping and press the rest into the bottom of the foil-lined pan

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes

Thinly slice candy bars and place them evenly on top of crust

spread condensed milk on top of candy

sprinkle with reserved crumb topping

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

I then pulled the whole thing out with the foil and turned it upside down on a cutting board. I worked the foil loose and then flipped it right side up using a cookie sheet to help me.

The recipe called for slicing it into 50 pieces, so that is what I did.

They really are something special, but one piece is definitely enough for me!

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I thought I'd share our menu with you again. I try to write out our menu sometime on Sunday and do my shopping on Monday. I have, in the past, planned and shopped for 2 weeks and, one time, for a whole month. I hope to do that more in the future, but this time, it's only for a week.
MONDAY ~ Baked chicken leg quarters, butter/parmesan noodles, candied carrots, green and yellow squash with tomatoes and corn (we had this tonight and the squash dish was DELICIOUS! I'll be having leftovers tomorrow for lunch)
TUESDAY ~ Fresh eggs, homemade whole wheat toast, hash browns, sliced peaches and plums
WEDNESDAY ~ The boys and I will be pigging out on amusement park food. Luckily at a park that has won awards for the best and most affordable food at an amusement park. Doug will be enjoying some kind of leftovers, or maybe, more likely, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
THURSDAY ~ Spaghetti with meat sauce, raw veggies and homemade ranch dressing dip
FRIDAY ~ Homemade pizza - lately I've been making several plain cheese pizzas, one pepperoni, and one veggie pizza with ranch dressing instead of pizza sauce and cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella. It is definitely my favorite!
SATURDAY ~ We'll be travelling to our family reunion this day. It is a catered affair, but I'll be taking some kind of dessert to share. We travel 2 1/2 hours to get there so it has to be something very portable. Maybe assorted cookies. I have my mom's recipe for iced ricotta cookies. Since this is an Italian family reunion, they might be a good choice!
SUNDAY ~ Baked ham, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, fried apples, homemade crescent rolls

Sunday, August 12, 2007


We enjoyed a lovely, relaxing Sunday today. We began the day at 9 o'clock mass. The perfect way to begin the day!

Andrew wasn't with us as he was spending the day working with Hannah at a horse show.

The rest of us spent the day cutting grass, watching golf, writing, baking, planning the weeks menus, doing laundry, working on the pool, reading, etc.

We capped off our day with a wonderful supper.
The menu was:

grilled steak
baked potatoes
green beans
dinner rolls
boston cream pie

My Dad joined us for supper. It was really great having him here to enjoy the day with us!

Tommy kindly did the dishes for me. Thank you Tommy!!!!

Doug and all the boys are going to spend the rest of the evening riding the horses out in our field. I'm going to put my feet up and knit yet another dishcloth out on the front porch. A nice ending for a nice day!

Thursday, August 9, 2007


As I posted earlier, Tommy is using Exploring Creation Through General Science this year. He just started it on Monday and has already completed 3 experiments. All of the experiments used what we already had in the house (we had to buy purple cabbage, but that's okay because we love to eat that in our salads anyway), and all of the experiments worked exactly how they were supposed to.

This is Tommy's experiment from today. It is titled: A Chemical Reaction

It was really fun to watch and I'm sure we'll repeat it at a later date to entertain the younger cousins.

Have a good Thursday!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Can you guess what I made today? Here are the yummy looking ingredients. The tomatoes and banana peppers are from our garden, but I bought the rest at the grocery store.

Salsa! I made salsa. I have never made it before. I am not really a fan of the jarred salsa I buy at the store, but I thought that I certainly would like some made from our own tomatoes.

I got the recipe from Mary who writes a blog I read every day. Here's the link: in case you would like to try it yourself. I halved it because that is how many tomatoes I had today. I also cut back on the hot peppers as we are not really fans of hot food. I haven't tried the canned salsa yet, but I tried the salsa that didn't fit in my jars and it was wonderful!

In case you think canned food is as beautiful as I do, here's a picture of the tomatoes I canned a couple of days ago. I put up 7 pints of diced tomatoes and 2 pints of tomato sauce. I can't wait to enjoy these throughout the winter.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Today was the official first day of school at our house. We like to start early so that by the time the weather is getting warm, and we all have spring fever, we can be finished. Billy and Tommy chose crepes as their breakfast. Tommy puts butter and cinnamon/sugar on his. Billy did that and also butter and peach jam. I tried to be good and just had 2 crepes with butter and jam. They were absolutely delicious!!

Tommy showed up for his first day in style. He was wearing a button-down shirt with a Christmas Sponge Bob tie. Very stylish!!
Billy went with the casual look with sweatpants and a t-shirt. I think he is still in denial about his summer vacation being over.
It took us much longer than usual to get through all of our work. I guess we are out of practice. Hopefully our days will be shorter in the future.
We ended our school day with a hike down "old house trail" with the cousins. It was stifling hot and humid! It felt like we were walking through the rain forest. We made it back home to enjoy some popsicles in the comfort of our air conditioning.

Friday, August 3, 2007


I have decided to participate in the Homeschool Open House that is going on in blogland. Tiany at is hosting the open house and you can go to her blog to see all of the links to the other people participating. There are over 100!!

Let's see, my short intro. We are getting ready to start our 10th year homeschooling. I started out homeschooling 4 children and now I'm down to 2. Sarah graduated from our homeschool in '06 and Andrew graduated this past spring. Although I miss having the whole group here participating in our schooling, it is definitely going to be a little easier and less hectic this year with just the two boys. Billy will be doing 10th grade and Tommy 7th.

Our homeschool day: There are never 2 the same. We are not very scheduled people. When we first started and the kids were much younger, we tended to try to start at the same time and stick to some kind of regular schedule. Now the schooling is just a regular part of our everyday lives. Sometimes we do formal schoolwork first thing in the morning. Sometimes we are busy late the night before and everyone is sleeping in (one of the wonderful blessings of homeschooling) and we start after lunch. Sometimes our day is taken up with field trips, get-togethers with other homeschoolers, visiting family, farm chores, errands, life, and we never get to any formal book work. In my mind, it's all school anyway, so I don't stress too much about it. Both boys participate in regular homeschool activities that take them out of house several times a week. It keeps me busy running, but they love the interaction with other homeschoolers. It does make us treasure the days when we get to be home for the WHOLE day!

Curriculum?: We do use formal curriculum, but we are not slaves to it. If it doesn't seem to be working, we dump it. It's not worth spending a whole year on something the kids hate. I can always resell what doesn't work for us. I've tried so many different things over the years. What works for one of the kids doesn't always work for the next one.

This is the start of the year for us so this is what we have chosen to start with. We'll see what we end up finishing.

For history, both Billy and Tommy will be studying Ancient History. We use Beautiful Feet literature guides for this. We won't follow every last page, but they are a wonderful "guide" to lead us to the can't miss literature about this time period. We will also use the suggested book lists from The Well Trained Mind. The library is an indispensable resource for our history studies. Often we are looking for something that is on some book list and come upon a totally different, but interesting volume instead.

Both boys are using Apologia for science. Billy will be studying Biology, and Tommy, General Science. We don't always get through a whole text, but we really love the experiments that go along with these books. They ALL WORK. If you have tried many home experiments, you know that this is not always the case. Billy will also be studying advanced biology once a week with a group of homeschoolers that he has been meeting with for many years.

Billy and Tommy will both be using Learning Language Arts Through Literature. I love these books. The boys are not as enthusiastic as I am, but they are generally good sports about it. Tommy is using the green book and Billy will be using the brown, American Literature one.

Tommy will be finishing the last Horizons math book. This has been, by far, my favorite homeschool curriculum we have ever used. We use it the year behind to make it last an extra year. It is plenty challenging to do this.

Billy will be studying geometry with Holt Geometry. He is in a study group with 4 other homeschoolers. They will be meeting twice a week to go over what they have been learning at home on their own.

These are just our core subjects. The boys always branch out into different interests throughout the year. Last year Tommy was very interested in learning Italian and went through several different resources for this. We may look into getting him a formal program this year if he is still interested. Tommy also is very interested in art and took a weekly art class last year. He will probably do this again as well.

Where do you homeschool?: Everywhere. We have never had a school room. The kids both have desks where they can work if they so chose. Tommy is way more likely to work at the kitchen or dining room table, on his bed, on the trampoline, or in the yard somewhere. Billy sticks more to the family room at his desk or on the couch.

Must share tips: Go with the flow. Don't stress. Commit to homeschooling and just do it. Relax. Have fun with your kids. Learn something yourself. Get out of the house sometimes. Stay home sometimes. Drop everything for a fun trip when an opportunity presents itself.

Thanks for visiting our open house.

We are so excited about starting our 10th homeschooling year (at least I am)!