Monthly Archives: October 2013

My New Guilty Pleasure

A couple of weeks ago, I started watching The Wendy Williams Show.  I’m a big Steve Harvey fan so I watch Family Feud and kept seeing commercial’s for Wendy’s show.  I originally decided to tune in because she was going to cover some topic on the next day’s show I was interested in (although I can’t remember what it was right now) and liked what I heard.

I really relate to her personality.  She’s funny, if you ask her for advice she gives it to you straight, she’s honest and open about her own life (wigs, plastic surgery, miscarriages, motherhood, life of a Jersey girl), she has celebrity friends in her head – we have so much in common!  And her version of Joey Tribbiani’s “How you doin’?” is hilarious!

I haven’t watched celebrity gossip shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight since I was in college; I just haven’t cared about their problems.  But now my girl Wendy fills me in each morning about what’s going on with who, as well as giving her opinion about it, and it’s light fun to me.

It’s like sitting down with my bestie, over a cup of coffee, and catching up on people we know.  It’s a nice escape from my own problems for 15 minutes each day, and I like it.  I usually just watch her “Hot Topics” segment in the beginning of the show unless she has on a guest later in the show in whom I’m interested.

So there you go – my guilty pleasure.  What’s yours?


President in a Bag – Thomas Jefferson

In September, I wrote a blog post about a wonderful teacher who came up with the President in a Bag idea and inspired us to implement that idea into our study of the American Presidents.  You can read about her here, in our first President in a Bag – George Washington.

As you can see, one of our cats wouldn’t get out of the picture.  Everyone loves American History in our house!  So, here are the five items B selected to represent our 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson:

#1  A Pen.  Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence.

#2  A Wallet.  Thomas Jefferson oversaw the purchase of the Louisiana Purchase during his presidency.

#3  A Map of Virginia.  Thomas Jefferson was born in Virginia, he served as Governor of Virginia and his father, Peter Jefferson, a surveyor, helped create the 1st map of Virginia.

#4  A book.  Thomas Jefferson wanted to create a public university that was not associated with a church.  In order to fund the building of The University of Virginia, he sold his personal book collection to the Library of Congress.

#5  A Rock.  Thomas Jefferson is one of four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore, as a memorial to his contribution to expanding the United States.

President Jefferson in a bag was pulling teeth from B.  John Adams is his favorite president (so far), so he wasn’t really interested in moving onto the next one.  Although, when he was reading about Jefferson, he would call out to me facts that he found cool or amazing.  But he dragged his feet on the bag and I had to prompt him.

The hubs and I love when he presents his items to us because we are learning new facts.  B reads books about each president on his own, so we don’t know everything he does.  Hopefully his lack of enthusiasm over this president won’t continue through the rest…

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

#1 George Washington
#2 John Adams
#4  James Madison
#5 James Monroe
#6 John Quincy Adams
#7 Andrew Jackson


Reader Question: "What cookbooks are in your kitchen?"

I’ve had a request from a reader to reveal what cookbooks I not only own but from which I actually cook.  Despite this day and age of the internet, and even the recent goldmine of Pinterest, I still have cookbooks and refuse to throw some of them out because they are invaluable to me.  I thought this was a great question, so here we go…

#1 Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 10th Edition
This is a 1,000+ page cooking “bible”.  This is a gift that our mothers and their mothers received at their bridal showers to teach them how to cook (if they did not already know).  A few years ago, we decided to add baked to our potato repertoire.  I hadn’t baked a potato in I don’t know how long, so I went to my BH and G book and looked up “Potato, baked p. 904”.  I need to consult page 904 so frequently that I have ear-marked it.  It tells me how to bake white potatoes and sweet potatoes in the oven and in the microwave.  Since I’m getting up there in age, I cannot waste precious brain cells with memorizing these details.  That is one of the many, many reasons I keep this very valuable cooking “bible”.

#2 Any and all Season’s Best cookbooks from The Pampered Chef
If you’ve ever been to a Pampered Chef show you know about these gems.  32-page cookbooks full of great recipes for appetizers, entrees and desserts for $1! Their Chocolate Pecan Lattice Tart from the Fall/Winter 2006 edition has made every guest of mine who’s tried it very happy and me very popular!  These little cookbooks also make great gifts.

#3 Southern Living Ultimate Book of Appetizers, 2001
I bough this little 48-page cook, that looks just like the paperback Pampered Chef $1 ones, from a Southern Living home show.  Does Southern Living still have a home show business?  Anywho, it’s a great hostess book to have.  The most used recipe that, on it’s own, has been worth the cost is the Creamy Pumpkin Dip.  Once I’ve served it, I get asked for the recipe and I get asked to make it again and again.

#4 The Pampered Chef All The Best
A great cookbook for entertaining or feeding your family and another great gift for the new cook.  You’ll never go wrong when you entertain with Pampered Chef appetizer recipes!  This book has my popular apps – Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Tomato Basil Squares, Tex Mex Chicken Melts and more.  Plus lots of good for the soul dinners and desserts.  No one gives you better wreath-shaped, filled crescent roll dinner ideas than The Pampered Chef.

#5 The Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner
This is a great cookbook for us busy moms who don’t want to or can’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen every day.  There are 4 sections – poultry; fish and seafood; beef and pork; meatless.  Some of their recipes that have become staples in our dinner rotation are: Lightening Fast Veggie Chili, Brown Butter Tortellini with Spinach and Ham, Tex Mex Chicken and Rice Skillet and Sun Chip Chicken (B’s all-time favorite dinner).

#6 and #7 The Pioneer Woman’s first 2 Cookbooks 
Ree Drummond and I are kindred spirits; we have so much in common!  We’re both redheads; married to hot, strong, humble men; love to cook; have our awkward moments; homeschool; love to see the beauty in nature; make lots of money blogging for our millions of readers…OK, maybe not that last one.  ;o)  But we love a lot of the same foods and both the hubs and I use her cookbooks.  Her Restaurant-Style Salsa and Pico de Gallo are staple condiments in our house now.

#8  and #9 Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Now, I don’t own these books, although they’ve been on my Christmas list for 2 years now.  But I check them out from the library frequently because Dr. Hertzberg and Ms. Francois have finally gotten me to love baking my own bread.  These books are very popular in my county’s library system because I have to return them due to others’ requests.  But I just get myself back on the waiting list and check them out again when it’s my turn.

I do have other cookbooks on the shelves that I use infrequently or not at all (in fact, the hubs has asked me to please cull through the cookbooks) but these are the ones out of which I get a lot of use.

Thank you for your question, reader; this was fun!  If you have a question or a topic you’d like to hear my opinion on, email me at or post it to my Facebopk page, whichever you feel more comfortable doing, and maybe I’ll feature it here.  :o)

Waiting On A Tow Truck

For the last 2 years, I feel I’ve spent more time waiting on tow trucks than I have on lesson planning.  Thank goodness we have wonderful car insurance that offers us a free tow per incident instead of limiting us to a certain number per year because we’ve had incident after incident with our 2 cars!

We finally had to say goodbye to my favorite car I’ve ever owned in the beginning of the year.  I loved my wagon!  Bluey was 3 when we bought her.  We had 9 wonderful years together and then 2 years of towing.  The hubs and 2 friends even replaced the transmission in the wagon 4 years ago, she was that important and beloved to us.  She was the only car in which B remembered riding.  But we had to let her go.  She was spending more time out of commission than in drivable condition, but it was still hard for me to let her go.  *sniff, sniff*

Thankfully, my parents let us borrow one of their cars in the Spring because they had a houseguest who brought 2 cars of his own into their driveway.  Well, that houseguest is still there since the necessary remodel of his home is taking longer than expected.  But, thankfully, it’s allowed us to have 2 cars.

Except when Hagrid, the truck we own, is being towed.  *sigh*  He’s waiting outside for the tow truck to come get him.  But what Hagrid does not know, is that he is being towed away for the last time.  I’m done.  I’m done with holding my breath every time I turn the key to start a car, wondering if our plans for the day will get cancelled or if I’ll get stuck somewhere and have to call my neighbor to come get us.

So, now we have 1 borrowed car from my parents, 3 bicycles and 6 feet.  :o)  And so begins the search for another used, cheap, reliable port-a-bomb for my family.

There goes Hagrid and Hootenanny in the oven.

While we waited for the tow truck to arrive this morning, I asked B what he wanted for breakfast.  “Pancakes!” was his response.  *sigh*  I really dislike making pancakes and vowed to never do it again once I found the Hootenanny recipe.  So I told him I’d make Hootenanny, which made him start singing our Hootenanny song, and I went to the kitchen to mix it up.

Only there was a problem.  There was no all-purpose flour in the pantry.  I dug through the pantry and found only whole wheat flour, rye flour and bread flour.  I went downstairs and searched the extra pantry shelves and found only self-rising flour.  Crazy!  Since it was in the low 40s and I was waiting on a tow truck, riding my bike to the store was not an option.  Back to the pantries I went.  I finally found all-purose flour hiding under egg noodles in the basement.  Phew!

B gets overly attached to everything, so the Hootenanny cheered him up after saying goodbye to Hagrid.

Using My Dad’s Favorite Childhood Books in Our American History Lessons

My parents, like most parents I’m sure, were hesitant and worried when we announced we were pulling their only grandchild out of public school to homeschool.  But after seeing the positive changes in B’s stress level and personality, hearing him share what he learns and even teaching him some lessons themselves, they are our biggest supporters.  Every June, my dad asks for my school supply wish list and provides us with what we need.

This past June, I told my parents we were going to take a break from world History and start on American History.  To my surprise, when dad dropped off our requested school supplies there was also a box with the above pictured books in it.  Twenty-six books (there are only 25 in the picture because we are currently reading about The Swamp Fox, Francis Marion) from the Childhoods of Famous Americans Series.  My dad’s books were published in the 1940s.

These books were and still are very precious to my dad.  He loved reading them when he was a child.  My Nana had even written in some of them the dates on which the books were given – birthdays and Christmases starting in 1956.  He lectured both me and B about being careful with them, not drawing in them nor bending the pages.  I’m so grateful he has shared these with us!

The ones we have range in time from James Oglethorpe through John F. Kennedy.  They narrate the childhoods of these men for most of the book and then at the end explain what they accomplished as adults.

The illustrations inside are simple, yet beautiful.  Look at the book, on the right, closed.  The pages are all different widths and uneven, a testament to their age.  :o)

I love books, love the smell of them, the feel of them.  These books are such a blessing and we are reading them when the subject of the book fits into the time period of American History we are covering.

What I Dislike About Homeschooling

After completing my July 2012 series, 31 Reasons The Hubs and I Have Lasted 17 Years, I received comments on Facebook and in person about doing others.  I immediately thought about doing one about the downside of homeschooling.  A tongue-in-cheek list of the negatives, because our family, our relationships and our lives have only gotten better with homeschooling.  But I was confident that I could come up with at least 10 “bad” things about homeschooling.

I came up with one right away.  Well here we are, 14+ months later, and I’ve not been able to come up with 9 other negatives about homeschooling!  I’ve only come up with 1 more.  So, I’ve given up of on the series idea.  I’ve let go of trying to find 10 “bad” things about homeschooling.  I think it’s wonderful that after 14 months, I could only come up with 2!  Here we go…

#1.  I had to break up with my vibrator.  
B and I are together all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  We don’t have to be in the same room or on the same floor at all times, but we are in the house together.  When B was in public school, even half-day kindergarten, I at least had time alone in the house to be with myself.  Not since we started homeschooling!  He stopped taking naps years ago, so that window of opportunity is shut for good.

And believe me, I’ve tried.  I know what you’re thinking –  I’m a horrible, disgusting, slutty mom for trying to use her vibrator with a conscious kid in the house.  No, I’m a homeschool mom who applies learning to everything I do and I did a Science experiment.  I proposed a hypothesis to myself – B will not hear my vibrator under the covers, in my bedroom, behind the closed door, while he is watching TV downstairs with snacks he rarely gets.  Then I tested my hypothesis by doing an experiment.  Finally, I analyzed the data I had gathered during my experiment and came to the conclusion that I had to break up with my vibrator.

I must have been a little too eager to get upstairs.  Or maybe he was (rightly) suspicious of me allowing him to watch something I’d never allowed to be viewed in our house before and the free reign I gave him with the Halloween candy while he watched the show.  Regardless, he came knocking and, upon discovering the bedroom door was locked, he was not going away.  The mood was ruined for me and I’ve never tried again.  *sigh*

#2.  I can’t purge his toys without getting caught.
When he was in preschool and then public school, I had time without B to cull through the toy bins and get rid of the items that were broken or hadn’t been played with or even remembered existed in several months.  I’d separate out the items to go and clean and bag them up while he was a school.  Even if he came home before all the Freecyclers had picked up the toys I was getting rid of, B didn’t know what was in the bags!  If he asked, I just told him, “stuff for Freecycle”, and he let it drop.

The next time he’d go to the toys bins, he knew something was different, something wasn’t quite right; he just couldn’t put his finger on it…   Ahhh…the good ‘ole days.

Now I have to put up with, “Hey! I’ve been looking for that forever!” and “But that’s my favorite toy!” and “I’m going to start playing with it again right now.”  Don’t get me wrong, the stuff still goes.  I just no longer get the peaceful satisfaction of decluttering with no one being the wiser.  I got a sick amusement from pulling one over on him.  If my 23 yr old self could see what I got excited about now…  😛

Why do we call the reproductive talk with our kids "the birds and the bees"?

Mom, why is it called “the birds and the bees”?  This question came at 11:05am today while B was emptying the dishwasher.  Good question!  Looking to animals to explain our bodies is a frequently used concept.  For example, the book Everyone Poops.  But why birds and bees for reproduction?  Off to the internet I went and found the answer to his question.

Birds laying eggs = females releasing eggs.  Bees transport pollen from flower to flower = males releasing sperm to fertilize eggs.  Makes complete sense!  If I had actually taken a few minutes to think about it before looking it up, I might have made the connection myself.  Then again, I might have gotten distracted by the 20+ other things on my mind.

Anywho, I answered B’s question and can honestly tell the hubs when he comes home that, “Yes, lessons took place today.”  ;o)


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