Monthly Archives: January 2013

Nat Geo Kids’ Weird But True App

Do you have this app for your child?  I do.  I’m always on the look out for free ebooks and apps to download and this one was a WINNER.  I don’t know if this app is free, currently, but I got it for free last year.  I have a love/hate relationship with this app.  B loves it more than Angry Birds and that’s saying a lot.  Any chance he gets, he is on this app reading the one line “weird but true” facts.  And he can’t just read them to himself; OH, NO, 8 out of 10, he has to share them with me.  And I want to trust that it’s a NatGeo app, so they must be true, right?  But some of these facts are just so off the wall!  Such as:

  • A vending machine in Singapore gave away a free soda to anyone who hugged the machine.
  • Hot water can freeze faster that cold water.
  • Sticking raw bacon in your nostrils can stop serious nosebleeds.

But here’s the best part – B remembers ALL of them!  These facts are so crazy and off the wall and perfect for kids that he remembers them.  He brings them up in conversation when applicable.  Like when I commented that the hubs Asian hot wings were extra hot last time and he said he didn’t they were hot at all.  B said, “Well, girls have more taste buds than boys, so maybe that’s why it tastes hotter to mom.”  That’s when we teachers know that a child has absorbed, understood and retained something – when they “teach” it to others or use it appropriately.  It is a beautiful thing to behold!  That’s the love.  Here’s the hate – I wish B had that same verve for History!  History – I wish there was an app for that.  If I could get him to absorb, retain, love History like he does the NatGeo Weird But True facts I’d be so happy and grateful!

I think I need to take a lesson from this app.  We are using Story of the World, Vol. II as our History curriculum this year.  Hmmmm… Just now, when I looked up the link for SOTW on Amazon, the title was different that it was when I received it last Summer….there is an addition to the description…. “History for the Classical Child”.  Oh, well, I have enough to concern myself with right now, so I won’t dwell.  Anywho, I need to start pulling out the important/big/interesting/quirky one-line facts of our History chapters to focus on.  I don’t need him to remember all the details, especially the 1st time around.  The beauty of History class is that you revisit it, in more detail, when you get older.  So I am going to focus in on the key points, reduce them to one-liners, and make a slide presentation on the computer for B, going forward.

I love this about homeschooling!  We pulled B out of public school for him, but the hubs and I have benefitted and learned so much more about our son, ourselves, the world, that we have become students again, too, and we embrace it.  There is no pressure for B, the hubs nor me to memorize.  We are to hear, to absorb, to find what resonates with us and retain.  I love and am grateful for the journey we are on.

God’s Fingers

Do you ever see something in nature that takes your breath away or causes a feeling of awe in you?   Maybe  realizing how small you are while standing on the shore of an ocean?    Enjoying a sunset?  Being surprised by the majesty of a buck in the woods near your suburban house?  How about when there is a cloud in front of the sun and you can see the sunbeams streaming out from around the cloud?

Since B was preschool age, he has called those sunbeams, “God’s fingers”, and I think that is a perfect description.  Although we enjoy the benefits of the sun on a clear day, we don’t look at it.  We know it’s there but don’t think to stop and acknowledge it.  It’s too bright to look at; it would hurt our eyes.  Then all of a sudden, our sunny, clear, perfect day/life is interrupted by a cloud.  What happened?  Where did the sun go?  I don’t want clouds; I don’t want rain.  I have plans!  Sunny is good!  Why clouds?  Why now?  Everything was going just fine with the sun!

We then look up to see what has interrupted our sunniness.  It’s a cloud – just one but still,  unwanted.  The sun’s brightness and awesomeness is too much for our eyes, but a little cloud, a little darkness, a little speed bump in that perfect, clear day/life allows us to see the sun in it’s beams.  It’s alright, says the sun, I’m still here.  Do not be disappointed, sad, afraid.  I know you need me more during the dark times, that’s why I am reaching out to you.  This cloud, too, shall pass and your day/life will be sunny again.  Just know I’m still here in the meantime.

We’ve not had much of a Winter here, yet.  Mostly mild to warm temperatures have the flora so confused and those with allergies still suffering.  Last week, however, we woke to temperatures in the teens.  I took this picture of my kitchen while standing in my living room that morning.  The front of our house faces due East and this window in the kitchen faces South.  The houses in our community do not have much room between them – enough for one pass of the lawnmower in each of our side yards is about it.  So, imagine my surprise to walk into the South-facing kitchen and see God’s fingers streaming through that window!  It was beautiful, breathtaking.  I just stared, in awe, and felt His presence.  Luckily I thought to snap a picture before it went away because, it did go away, after only a few minutes.  But I remember what it looked liked; I remember how it made me feel.  I’m here.  There will be disappointment, sadness, fear.  You’ll need me more during those times, that’s why I’m reaching out to you.  Just remember, the darkness will pass.

Simple Bites’ Roast Pork & Caramelized Balsamic Onions and Stir Fry with the Leftovers

I discovered a blog, Simple Bites, this week and found several recipes I want to try.  I made Simple Bites‘ Roast Pork & Caramelized Balsamic Onions for dinner on Wednesday with one of the roasts I cut from a Christmas gift.  The roast was deelish and I used the leftovers to make Pork Fried Rice.

I had to show the picture on the right of the roast before I put it in the oven.  The hubs came into the kitchen, saw it and said in a very reverent whisper,”WHAT are you MAKING?!?!”  I even spotted some drool at the corner of his mouth.  ;o)  Pork wrapped in bacon – what male omnivore wouldn’t be all over that?

I followed the timing directions however the roast was less than 90 degrees F inside, so I cooked it another 25 minutes to perfection.  I removed the roast to my cutting board and while it rested, I poured the juice and onions into a saucepan to reduce the sauce.  It was very tasty!

This morning, I made brown rice for Pork Fried Rice.  I poured some sesame oil in my wok over medium-high heat, added some minced garlic, ginger and onions from the roast and tossed them around to heat through.  Then I added a cup of mixed, frozen veggies and continue to toss until they were thoroughly heated.  I removed the veggies and tossed the diced pork until it was heated through, then removed.  Next I added the cooked, brown rice to the wok, pressed it into a thin layer around the wok and let it snap, crackle and pop to get the rice crunchy.  Cuz, seriously, if you’re going to make fried rice, ya gotta make it crunchy!  After a few minutes, I turned the rice over to get the other side crunchy and then added the veggies and meat back it.  The final, and best step, was to pour some of this teriyaki sauce in the wok and toss to coat.  YUM!  That teriyaki sauce is so easy to make and I keep some in the fridge most of the time.

I hope y’all give these recipes a try and I look forward to trying more recipes from Simple Bites!

Granola and Smoothies

Two of B’s current favorite food items are granola and smoothies.  He likes to eat my granola like cereal – in a bowl with milk over it.  But it can also be eaten plain, as a snack, or over yogurt, as the hubs does.  I was making B a smoothie for breakfast this morning and he wanted to watch for the 1st time.  He stood next to me with his shoulders scrunched up and hands pressed against his ears because he can’t stand the noise.  After I was done blending he says, “Mom, we need to get a Vitamix. They are much quieter when the guy uses it in Costco.”  @@


1 Handful of frozen fruit, any one kind or a variety
Approx 1/2 C of plain yogurt (I just scooped some in)
1/2 a banana, sliced
1 Cup of juice of your choice

Add all ingredients to blender and blend on Ice Crush mode, if you have it, to really break down the frozen fruit and then finish with Food Processor mode.  The amount pictured in my blender filled a 1 pint mason jar and he drank it all.  :o)


5 C Oats
2 Handfuls, approx. 1 C, whole almonds or whatever nut you’d like
1/3 C Oil
1/3 C Honey
1/2 – 1 tsp Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 F.  Chop nuts by hand or in food processor and then mix with oats.  In a separate bowl, mix oil, honey and cinnamon.  I heat the honey so it’s easier to mix into the oil (learned that trick from Chuck Hughes).  Add oat/nut mix to bowl of liquids and toss until thoroughly coated.  Spread mixture out on a sheet pan (I put a silicone liner on my pan to avoid sticking) and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Let cool and place in airtight container.  Crunchy goodness!


The "Beauty" of Homeschooling ;o)

I walked into B’s bathroom to put a new box of tissue in there and found his Math curriculum (his current Life of Fred book, the copybook where he answers the questions and a pencil inside).  I went looking for him and asked why they were in there.  He said he had to poop while in the middle of his lesson, so he brought it into the bathroom with him because he didn’t want to put it down.  He really enjoys Life of Fred and I’m so glad Julie at Creekside Learning told me about it!

This picture sums up to me, the “beauty” of homeschooling – that learning can be and is done anywhere, everywhere.  Even in the bathroom.  :o)

Recipe for My Creamy Spinach Pasta with Grilled Chicken

A couple of weeks ago I got a craving for some pasta with a creamy, spinach sauce and some grilled chicken on top.  Yesterday, I finally decided to make it for myself for lunch and it was delicious!  I usually make creamed spinach from scratch, but I didn’t have any fresh spinach in the house so I improvised.

1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of minced shallot
9 oz box of frozen, creamed spinach
Pepper and nutmeg to taste
Asiago cheese, freshly grated
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
You favorite pasta, cooked

I fired up my countertop grill/griddle with the grill plates, rubbed a little Wegmans Basting Oil onto the chicken breasts and grilled them for 4 minutes with the grill top down.  I put the frozen, creamed spinach in the microwave to thaw.

I heated 1/2 tbsp of butter into a small saucepan (you can use any kind of oil, instead, if you like) and sautéed the shallot for 5 minutes until very soft.  Then I tossed in the garlic and sautéed for another minute or two until the garlic was cooked (you can smell the difference) but didn’t brown.

Then I added in the thawed, creamed spinach and heated it up.  I added some 1% milk (you could also use heavy cream), probably about 1/2 cup, but you can add more or less to get the thin or thick consistency you want. Once the milk was heated through and I had the consistency I wanted, I turned off the heat and grated a palmful of Asiago cheese into the pan, stirring until it melted.  I just happened to have received a hunk of asiago cheese for Christmas, but you can use Parmesan, Romano, whatever you have.

Then I added pepper and nutmeg to taste.  I have the actual “nuts” and love grating some fresh nutmeg into spinach dishes and broccoli soups.  Mmmmm!  I have heard many TV chefs say that if you don’t have fresh nutmeg to grate into a dish, don’t bother putting any in, like the nutmeg in spice jars won’t add any benefit to a dish or will ruin it.  However, I am sure many generations of pie bakers out there would disagree!  ;o)

This made enough sauce for 3 servings of pasta.  I removed 2/3 of the sauce from the pan to a tupperware bowl to save for later, and added 1 portion of spaghetti (my pasta of choice) into the saucepan and mixed it in with the sauce.

I put the pasta with creamy spinach sauce in a bowl, topped it with half a chicken breast, sliced up, and then grated some more Asiago on top of the chicken.  Man, was it good!  And everything, including cooking the pasta, took less than 30 minutes; a perfectly doable lunch.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think!

Dinner Prep Turned Into an Impromptu Science Class

B was watching me unwrap and clean out a duck this afternoon for dinner tonight.  It turned into an impromptu Science class.  He took this picture of me cutting the duck’s spine out.  He was fascinated and grossed out all at the same time.  LOL  We went over the anatomy from the inside and labeled things.  He wanted to know what each organ was that came out of the cavity.  He also wanted to know how the duck got from the state of freshly killed to wrapped in the store, i.e. how do they clean it out, how to they get the organs out and then put back in before wrapping, where did the blood and feathers go, etc.  He had opinions on the entire process and I’m so glad we had that discussion!  Something that never would have occurred if he was in a brick-and-mortar school today.  :o)

I absolutely LOVE practical gifts!

I am a practical girl.  I don’t like to shop and don’t have any purse or shoe addictions.  I got lots of Christmas gifts that fed my practical side this year – kitchen utensils, gift cards to movie theaters, the grocery and warehouse stores, mega packs of toilet paper and facial tissues and this  – an 11 pound, boneless pork loin.  :o)  I hacked it up into roasts and chops last night and I just had to take a picture of them.  Aren’t they beautiful?!?!

I got one, what I would consider luxury, item that I didn’t even know existed.  The hubs got me this tape that goes into the car’s tape deck and has a cord to plug into my phone so I can listen to my music in the car!  (Yes, I have a car that has a tape deck and I’m proud of it.)

We also got lots of my favorite gift of all – experiences – this holiday season, but I’ll be blogging about those later.  I hope y’all received at least one kind of gift that you treasure the most!  {{hugs}}

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