Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to School

Rachel started school last Monday and it is going well. We are trying some new things this year and so far they are all working very well. I am NOT a morning person so for all the years we have home educated our kids, I haven't ever done very well with making the kids get up early. However, things are changing this year!! I am getting up at 6:00 and Rachel is up by 6:30. Our days have been very productive and it feels good to have that sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. We changed some curriculum this year and so far it has been good. Rachel is a good student but she has always struggled with getting her math finished in a timely manner. Some days it seemed that she would never get finished. I was dreading this year because it's time for Algebra I and I knew I didn't want to use the curriculum we used for Allan. We decided to use Teaching Textbooks Algebra I for Rachel and it is amazing. She LIKES doing her algebra. And not only does she like it, it does not take her all day to complete an assignment - what a blessing it is. She is also taking Spanish I, Physical Science, Home Economics, English, Literature, and World Geography. She likes all of her subjects except science. We change from Abeka to Apologia for high school and it doesn't have all the pretty pictures like Abeka and it also requires the student to think a little more. We are "test driving" a four day school week this year with Friday mornings to do home economics projects and Friday afternoons for chores and completing any assignments that might not have been finished by Thursday afternoon. Rachel is doing her own laundry now and Fridays are a good day since she doesn't have ballet!

Allan began his freshman year of college on Monday. His classes are going well so far and he likes his schedule. All of his classes are morning classes and that makes it easy for him to get school out of the way before he goes to work. It has been very different with him gone from home all day. I suppose it is no different from kids who are in public school all day but it is very different from what our last 7 years have been. I am so thankful for the time that we had together for his last seven years of school and that we were open to the Lord's leading us on this path.

Freezer Cooking

I usually do a menu plan for two weeks and do the bulk of the shopping at once. It is so helpful for me to have a plan and know what's for dinner so I am not left trying to figure it out at 4:00 in the afternoon! Several days of the week I actually cook our main meal at noon because I am not home in the evening. Our current plan included several meals with ground meat so I bought a bunch and hadn't put it in the freezer yet. Yesterday's menu was meatloaf, green beans and loaded mashed potatoes. When I make meatloaf, I always make an extra to freeze - it's too easy not to. Well, I decided that if I was going to chop onion and bell pepper for meatloaf, why not go ahead and make all the meals I had planned for these two weeks that call for ground beef, onion and bell pepper?? So, here's what I ended up with: One meatloaf to bake, one to freeze, two meals of Dirty Rice, big batch of taco meat, two meals of Jones Burgers (sloppy joes), and one bag of seasoned ground beef that can be used in any casserole. Today I have two cut up chickens cooking in the crock pot and plans to make Spicy Chicken Spaghetti and Chicken Pot Pie this evening. I should get at least 4 meals from these. I'll share our 2 week menu plan below as well as a few of the recipes.

Meatloaf, loaded mashed potatoes, green beans
Spicy Chicken Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
Steak & Mushrooms, salad, corn
Chicken Pot Pie, salad
Tacos (and maybe enchiladas)
Grilled Chicken and squash casserole (from the freezer) - Grill extra chicken for fajitas later
Dirty Rice, salad, rolls
Chicken Fajitas (from chicken cooked earlier) and beans
Jones Burgers
Hot Tamale Casserole

Spicy Chicken Spaghetti

8 oz. package of spaghetti
1/4 cup butter
1/2 large onion chopped
8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
10 oz. can Rotel tomatoes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (I use whatever kind of chicken I have)
1 can cream of chicken soup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook Spaghetti and drain. Place in a 13" x 9" baking dish coated with cooking spray. Melt butter in a large skillet; add onion and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add cheese and rotel, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in chicken and soup, blending well. Pour over spaghetti in baking dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

NOTE: For freezing - I just mix all the ingredients together and freeze in a gallon size ziploc bag. Thaw overnight, then pour into a greased casserole dish and bake as directed.

Dirty Rice

1 lb. ground chuck
chopped onion
chopped bell pepper
salt to taste
1 can French onion soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup uncooked long grain rice

Brown beef, onions, and bell pepper. Drain. Add the soups and rice. You can add a little water if needed to thin the mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees in a 9" x 13" pan for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

FOR FREEZER - After mixing all ingredients, pour into a gallon ziploc bag and freeze. Thaw, pour into casserole dish and bake as directed.

Chicken Pot Pie

4 Chicken breasts, cooked and deboned
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cans mixed vegetables
1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust

Cook and debone the chicken. Mix with the soups and the drained vegetables. Pour into a 9" x 13" casserole and top with the pie crusts. Bake at 400 degrees until the crust is nicely browned and the filling is bubbly (about 45 minutes).

For Freezer: Mix the chicken, soups and vegetables. Pour into a gallon ziploc bag and freeze. Thaw, pour into casserole dish, top with crust and bake as directed.

These are all three recipes our family likes and they freeze well. Because we have a small family, I usually mix the recipe and divide into two meals (cooking in a 9" square pan) - one to eat and one to freeze. However, they are really easy to double if you want to make larger portions.

I was introduced to freezer cooking by some moms in our home school support group several years ago. I hadn't done a lot of freezer cooking but tried to double recipes when I could and freeze them. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, I had several friends who literally filled our freezer with freezer meals. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was during those 7 months of weekly chemotherapy treatments to be able to pull a meal from the freezer when I was unable to prepare a meal for my family myself. After that, I determined that I wanted to do more freezer meals and then I realized how nice it is to have at least several meals in the freezer at a time!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook - 7

For Today...
August 25, 2008

Outside my Window...
Darkness. I was gone all day so am late posting.

I am thinking...

I should be in bed : )

I am thankful for...
as my doctor put it - a boringly normal mammogram

From the kitchen...
Lots of cooking this week, doubling recipes for freezer meals

I am wearing...

I am reading...

When Did I Stop Being Barbie & Become Mrs. Potato Head? by Mary Pierce and The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace

I am hoping...
Allan's second day as a college Freshman is awesome and that he likes all of his professors (he didn't like one today ; )

I am hearing...

it's very quiet - everyone's in bed; the cuckoo clock ticking

Around the house...
a little bit of pick up to do in the morning

One of my favorite things...

movies with Rach

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...

today was BUSY - I was only home about 1 1/2 hours between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. so I am thankful the rest of the week is pretty normal - school, ballet, church, quiet weekend at home.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

To read more Daybook Entries, visit Peggy at Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, August 18, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook - 6

For Today...
Outside my Window...overcast skies, keeping it on the cooler side today.

I am thinking...about errands I need to take care of while in town this afternoon.

I am thankful for...a great first day of school; clean laundry; clean sheets

From the kitchen...the menu for the week:
Monday: Sandwiches
Tuesday: Taco Salad
Wednesday: Crockpot barbecue
Thursday: Hot Tamales and pinto beans
Friday: Homemade Pizza

I am wearing...jeans, red tank, red plaid button down

I am reading... The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace (for Book Day)

I am take Allan for a quick shopping trip this afternoon (he needs some clothes to start college)

I am hearing...the clicking of the keyboard

Around the house...Need to menu plan for the next 2-4 weeks; need to reintroduce FlyLady
to my house.

One of my favorite things...Seeing Rachel embrace the change in math curriculum today!! Also watching her curled up in my chair, reading.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Get settled in our school routine; doctor appointment; Book Day on Friday.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Thanks to Peggy for hosting "The Simple Woman's
Daybook" each week!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Allan's first semester of college begins a week from Monday. In preparation, I took him to buy books yesterday. Can you say "OUCH"! 6 courses, 16 hours, $575 worth of USED books. Now we just have to pay the rest of his fees and tuition that aren't covered by his scholarship. I know, I better get used to it. This is just the beginning of the next 4 years. And then it will be Rachel's turn so it's really just the beginning of the next 8 years. I'm just glad they aren't going to be in college at the same time!!

School starts for Rachel on Monday. 9th grade and classes like Spanish, World Geography, Algebra I, English & Literature, Home Economics, and Physical Science. We are trying a new Algebra program and I hope it will be really good for her. The beginning of high school for her. I feel kind of like it's the beginning of the end for me. The transition to only one child at home (well in school at home - Allan is still living at home), and the last time I will use these books with my child. I can't imagine what it will feel like when she is a senior and then she is the one starting college. I don't really think I even want to go there right now!!

The house has been quiet for the past two weeks. Allan works in the morning until early afternoon or sometimes, like today, late afternoon. Rachel has been at ballet for the past two weeks; this week from 9:30 a.m. until 7:15 p.m. Next week might be hard to get back into a school routine but I am looking forward to it. It's always good to get back on a schedule. It keeps me a bit more accountable for my time and takes lots more planning to get it all done. I have a menu planned through the end of next week but need to work on the following week and into September. During the school year it takes some planning to get meals on the table because we are all home at different times. Eating out is such a budget breaker and we need to keep it to a bare minimum this year. I'm looking for quick meals for those days when time is at a premium and also for meals that reheat well. Some days it's easier if I cook our main meal at lunch time but it needs to be something that is good reheated for those who aren't home at lunch.

I'm heading out to dinner with my hubby - yeah for a date night!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook - 5

For Today...
Outside my’s a cloudy morning; the rain has stopped for now but will probably return later in the day. It’s rained a lot since Saturday evening but it is a very welcome rain, refreshing after our recent hot, dry spell.

I am thinking...and praying for a young friend who is undergoing surgery this morning to remove another brain tumor. You can read his story here: Pray for Travis

I am thankful for...the good news I just received; a convicting message at church yesterday – yes, I said I am thankful for that : ) Sometimes we have sin that we don’t even consider to be sin until it is pointed out in a message where you least expect it. I am so thankful for a loving Savior who I can turn to in repentance and receive forgiveness for the ugliness in my life.

From the kitchen...the menu for the week:
Monday: Sub Sandwiches
Tuesday: Grilled Teriyaki Chicken
Wednesday: BIG recipe of Spaghetti and homemade Meatballs (extras for the freezer)
Thursday: Blackened Flounder
Friday: Turkey Club Pizza
Saturday: Chicken & Dumplings (thanks for the inspiration from my sisters and a recipe from “Dingbats in the Kitchen”)
Sunday: Taco Salad

I am favorite – jeans : )

I am reading... The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace (for Book Day)

I am get lots of school planning done this afternoon

I am hearing...a favorite praise and worship CD

Around the house...lots of laundry waiting to be tackled. Plans to make homemade laundry soap using a recipe from BusyBusyMommy and At Home with the Hobbs

One of my favorite things...the opportunity to show hospitality. It seems like in the busy world we live in that we don’t take time to offer hospitality like in days past. One of hubby’s high school friends and his family came for a visit yesterday. They are headed to the northern U.S. (from TX) on vacation and called to see if it would be okay if they stopped here for a visit. Are you kidding?? You have to ask?? This is one of those friendships that they don’t talk to one another often but when they do, it’s just like they talked last week. We so enjoyed catching up on life since the last time we saw them, seeing how their boys are growing up, and enjoying a meal together. We pray they have a blessed and safe two weeks on the road. They have been hitting the road in their travel trailer for the past few years for two weeks at a time in hopes of showing their boys all 48 lower states before they are grown and leave home. How fun!!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Lots of preparation for the coming school year. The plan is to begin school next Monday – yikes.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Thanks to Peggy for hosting "The Simple Woman's
Daybook" each week!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Traveling Sisters

My life has been blessed with a brother and two sisters. I am #2, the middle girl. As kids we weren't always appreciative of one another and weren't always close, but as adults we have all become very close to one another. We grew up in Louisiana but have since scattered across the south to Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and North Carolina. We learned that as you have children it is harder to get together but my sisters and I (and sometimes brother and sil) have tried to get together at least once a year for the past five or six years. We call it our "sister's trip". The older two of us have older children but the younger two have young children and babies. Makes it lots of fun!! The first sister trip was with no kids and we had tons of fun in Myrtle Beach. The subsequent trips have been to NC, TX, and LA to one of our homes and included some or all of our children. Sometimes we drive, sometimes we fly (seems there's always an adventure getting there). This year we found really great airfare so we got to fly - and we made it with no delays and no lost luggage, no extraordinary adventures. We love just being together and hanging out, spoiling each others children, and getting to know them better. Last week was our most recent sister trip to NC. We helped our 5 year old niece, Emily, celebrate her birthday and that was lots of fun. She had a big party with a backyard water slide, lunch and a mermaid cake made by her creative mommy. Her baby sister Brooke, 21 mos., was so much fun! She had grown up a lot since we saw her last summer. Rachel got lots of experience taking care of the girls and hopes to use some of that experience babysitting. Shopping in NC is always a treat with it's wide variety of stores all very close to Wendy's house, so we engaged in a little "retail therapy" while there. Nancy, Wendy and I went to see Mama Mia and had fun laughing at all the music we remembered (well Nancy and I did - Wendy is the baby and that music was before her time!!). The week was over all too quickly, but we were so thankful we had the opportunity once again to be together and share lots of love and laughter. We leave one another, usually in tears, planning our next rendezvous, always thankful for the time we have shared together, always thankful that we are sisters and that we have an unfailing love for one another. To my sisters - thank you for the memories and most of all, thank you for your laughter and love. Until next time, I love you!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - 4


Outside my Window...a really hot day is on it's way.

I am thinking...about plans for the new school year and how things will be somewhat different this year with only one child at home.

I am thankful for...God blessing me with not just one, but two sisters; a week of love and lots of laughter in NC with those sisters; that my sisters are not just my sisters - they are indeed my best friends.

From the kitchen...Scrambled eggs with biscuits and gravy for breakfast; probably a cold salad for supper - it's way too hot to cook much today.

I am creating...plans for a new school year.

I am shopping this afternoon.

I am wearing...shorts and a tee shirt.

I am reading...just finished - The Last Lecture.

I am make a lot of progress on school planning this week so I can work on Rachel's ballet scrapbook next week.

I am's very quiet - I am home alone today. Today was back to ballet for Rachel - choreography week 1 means all day at the studio for the week; Allan is working today.

Around the house...Need to iron a couple of shirts and hang up the laundry I line dried yesterday.

One of my favorite things...getting to watch a bunch of 5 year olds at a birthday party and remember the excitement and anticipation that only 5 can bring! (Thanks Em for letting Aunt Jody come to your party - it was tons of fun!!)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The's a quiet week. Forecast is for temps 100+ for a couple of days and near 100 others. A good week to be working inside.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

I spent last week with my sisters and here is one of the pics of us together! Love ya girls!

Thanks to Peggy for hosting the Simple Woman's Daybook.