Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cheesy Beef and Vegetable Stew

It doesn't really get cold enough down here in South Florida for all of the soups and chilis that most people enjoy at this time of year but I was craving some sort of soup so I decided to try a twist on vegetable beef soup. This turned out awesome! It's so versatile that you can change out the ingredients easily without having to be a super cook. I'd love to hear about the changes you made to suit your tastes!

Cheesy Beef and Vegetable Stew
4 cups of chicken broth (vegetable or beef broth can be substituted)
3 cups of wild/brown rice, cooked (I cook it in chicken broth for extra flavor)
1 package frozen mixed vegetables
1 onion, diced
Leftover cooked beef
cheese sauce

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Friday, December 12, 2014

12 Days of Christmas

We started a tradition a few years ago of doing things for the 12 days of Christmas. This has become our favorite time of the year! We spend time together doing fun things and the kids learn valuable planning and time management skills without even realizing it! Bonus for this homeschooling mom!

Our main 3 ingredients for our exciting 12 days are: Crafts, Movies, and Food. We have something we make or do together every day and watch a movie together. The kids are the main planners and I just help get it organized and buy the necessary items for all of our projects.

Check out my Winter Pinterest Board for some great ideas for food and crafts!

Here is a calendar to help you plan what you want to do for each day. You only need to print the first page so be sure to change the printer settings. I'd delete the extra 2 pages but I haven't figured out how yet.

12 Days of Christmas PDF

12 Days of Christmas DocX

Another thing I plan to do is to put all of my Christmas recipes in a binder (and crafts if we plan to do the same ones again) that will go in the Christmas storage boxes. I'm putting our Christmas movies in there as well so I don't have to hunt them down next year.

For menu planning during Christmas, I'm using this awesome menu planner I found on Pinterest!

Since you can customize the pages, I was able to easily create a Christmas page (or pages but who's counting).

I'll get pictures and more up soon but I wanted to get this out to all of you while you could still use it this year. :-)

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

History Homeschool Style

I'm not a fan of our mainstream history texts; I don't think they give an accurate portrayal of US history and don't go into enough depth. This is my opinion and if you happen to share it, then read on if you want to find out what curriculum I've chosen to use to homeschool my children.

Liberty Classroom

I ran across last year and loved the history lectures! I hate lectures in general but I love learning and these teach. Some courses are free on here so you can try them out and even create your curriculum around the free ones! The lectures are given by different history professors with differing viewpoints but all are basically libertarian.

I have two children in high school so I use the lectures to keep track of their hours spent on history for their high school credits. I also count various field trips and anything else we do that is relevant to what they are learning. Luckily, we live near Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown so there is no shortage of opportunities.

I added geography in with Map Trek. You can get creative with this or just go by the book.  The map numbers I use correspond with the CD.

I'm also a fan of IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) so I use their US History-Based Writing Lessons in conjunction with the lectures to create a way for the information they've learned to stay with them longer by writing it down. You don't have to do this, of course, but it's what works for me instead of having them write about something else all year. (Try finding used, out of date, or imperfect copies through, ebay, craigslist, or local groups.)

Another thing I have the older kids do is create a powerpoint while listening to the lectures. At the end of the year, they'll have documentation of everything they learned. I encourage creativity with this but don't force it.

Oh, I almost forgot. If you want to give quizzes or a final exam, keep a list of important people, events, and documents as they pop up in the lectures. This is also great for a course description if you have to write one for a high school transcript.

 I use different history courses so they sometimes overlap. I prefer this since it gives the children extra repetition of the facts but from different views. You can skip the lectures that you feel are repetitive if you like. The easiest way to figure out which ones you want is to look at the powerpoint presentation for that lecture (located on each lecture page).
*No, my kids do not copy from the course powerpoints. :-) Yes, they tried that option.

Here is my schedule; I'll update it as I go through the year for your benefit. When I finish, I'll create a document for download (Printable Calendar). Until then, just copy the schedule into your planner. has some options you can print but I decided to break down and pay for a planner this year and wish I had done it sooner. I bought The Well-Planned Day Planner and love it!

*Note: We did some US History lectures last year so the early ones aren't included. Feel free to add them in at the beginning.
*Note: You can spread this out over a year if you prefer. This is for a semester then we'll move on to the 2nd part of IEW History.

Week 1:
M-IEW Lesson 1
T-Map 28
W-IEW Lesson 2
TH-Map 36
F-Free/Finish Work

Week 2:
M-IEW Lesson 3
T-Map Jamestown
W-IEW Lesson 5
TH-Finish Work

Week 3:
M-IEW Lesson 4
T-Constitutional History Lecture 1
    Map 42
W-Lesson 6
TH-Map 58
F-Map 60

Week 4:
M-IEW Lesson 7
T-American Revolution Lecture 1
W-IEW Lesson 8
TH-Constitutional History Lecture 2
      Map 54
F-Constitutional History Lecture 3

Week 5:
M-IEW Lesson 9
T-US History Lecture 7
W-Map 70
TH-Map 40
F-Free/ Finish Work

Week 6:
M-IEW Lesson 10 (Can combine Lessons 11 and 13 with this to lesson writing load)
T-American Revolution Lecture 3
   American Revolution Lecture 4
W-IEW Lesson 12
     American Revolution Lecture 5
TH-American Revolution Lecture 6
     American Revolution Lecture 7
F-American Revolution Lecture 8

Week 7:
M-IEW Lesson 11
T-American Revolution Lecture 9
   Map 74
W-IEW Lesson 13
TH-American Revolution Lecture 10
F-Free/Finish Work

Week 8:
M-IEW Lesson 14
    American Revolution Lecture 11
T-IEW Lesson 15
W-IEW Lesson 16
    Constitutional History Lecture 4
TH-American Revolution Lecture 12
F-Free/Finish Work

Week 9:
M-IEW Lesson 17
    American Revolution Lecture 13
T-American Revolution Lecture 14
    Map 76
W-IEW Lesson 18
     American Revolution Lecture 15

Week 10:
M-IEW Lesson  19
     American Revolution Lecture 16
W-American Revolution Lecture 17
TH-American Revolution Lecture 18
F-American Revolution Lecture 19

Week 11:
M-IEW Lessons 21 and 22
     US Constitutional History Lectures 5 and 6
W-US Constitutional History Lectures 7 and 8
TH-US Constitutional History Lecture 9
F-US Constitutional History Lecture 10

Week 12:
M-IEW Lessons 23 and 24
T-YouTube Videos on Branches of Government/Bills (Schoolhouse Rock)
F-Videos on Articles 4-7 of the Constitution

Week 13:
M-IEW Lesson 25
     US Constitutional History Lectures 11 and 12
T-US Constitutional History Lectures 13 and 14
W-US Constitutional History Lectures 15 and 16
TH-US Constitutional History Lectures 17 and 18
F-US Constitutional History Lectures 19 and 20

Week 14:
M-IEW Lessons 31 and 33
     Map Lewis and Clark
T-Map 94 War of 1812
W-US History to 1877 Jefferson and Madison Administrations Lectures
TH-US History to 1877 Monroe Administration Lectures
F-US History to 1877 Marshall Court Lectures
   Oregon Trail Game (Can be found free online)

Week 15:
M-Lessons 32 and 34
T-Map 100 (add trails)
W-F US History to 1877 Age of Jackson Lectures
         Trail of Tears (whatever extra resource you want to use)

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Game Requests Don't Have to Ruin a Friendship

I play games on Facebook occasionally and I can tell you that at some point, most people (including gamers) get annoyed by the constant game requests popping up everywhere, even your phone! You don't have to be a victim to these requests and you don't have to unfriend the people that are sending the requests. You can take control of the issue.

Some things to think about:

1. Don't blame the gamers. They aren't bugging non-gamers on purpose. Seriously, they don't get some secret thrill from getting on your nerves with their requests. Blame the games if you need to find fault somewhere. It's basic business marketing schemes at work in cyberspace. If a gamer sends you a request, then they assume that you play or it was an accident.

2. Gamers aren't sending you requests every day. Well, not always. If your name is somehow in the list of people who play the game, most gamers aren't checking through the names of request recipients so you're getting it accidentally along with the real gamers. Invitations to games might be made once then the game will send the request to you every freaking day in the hopes that you will finally be bored enough to check it out one day.

3. Don't be mean and rude to gamers because you're irritated by their games. People that do this make me really mad because it tells me that they don't care about the person they're calling out. It also tells me that they are too lazy or incompetent to figure out a solution to the problem without resorting to such low actions. You have the power to fix the problem. If you don't know how, then I assume you at least know how to Google it and find the solution. Right? It's not difficult and if you care enough, you'll find the time. It's no different than people using coupons and price-matching at the store or the old person wearing out their brakes while driving 5 mph with a line of cars behind them. If you can't bring yourself to do anything because you feel the gamer should take control of the situation, then at least send them a private message. Don't embarrass them. Not cool.

4. Don't assume that gamers are lazy slobs with no life. Many are introverts and it's their way to escape or relax. It's no better or worse than watching tv or reading a book for relaxation; it's just different. Many people also have jobs or situations where they spend a lot of time waiting for other people. That gets boring! All I'm saying is instead of being critical and judgmental, you can try being understanding.

5. You will not offend a gamer by blocking a game or ignoring a request. No one can play all of the games out there and everyone does this. Gamers understand that it's not everyone's cup of tea. In fact, the gamer will be relieved to know that they are not going to accidentally annoy you with their games if you chose to block the games.

6. How to block. It's a pain but once blocked, it's done. Until Facebook pulls one of it's usual stunts. When you seen the game request, type in the name of the game and go to their Facebook page. NOT THE APP! To the left of the game's page, you will see three dots next to "Share". Click the dots and scroll down to "Block Application".
You can also click on "Games" on your newsfeed page (left side under "Apps"). At the top, click on "Activity". Then you can choose "Invitations" or "Requests". Click on the game name. A box will come up inviting you to Play or Cancel. Look at the bottom right of the box. Click "View in App Center". At the right you'll see some options including the Block option. Click it and you're done.

7. Mobile blocking. You can change your settings so that you're not getting invitations and other things sent to your phone. That's a different topic, though. Just Google it and find directions for your phone type. There may be some way to block them from your phone but I haven't tried. You can always try going to the game's page and blocking from there. Sorry that I don't have more helpful info for the phone. Maybe someone will post how they blocked the games on their phone.

I hope you find this helpful and that it will help create peace and understanding on this topic. We fight about enough things, lets cross this one off the list. It's easily remedied. I hope you care enough about your friends to try.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Think Outside the Box

I've been reading Weapons of Mass Instruction and it has opened my eyes to what school did to me. I graduated with an advanced diploma that prepared me for nothing, not even college. You know what I spent 4 of my senior year classes doing? Playing Spades in a back room and I got an A in all 4 classes. I am a pretty good Spades player if nothing else. School bored me. Lectures still bore me; I tune them out even when I'm interested in the subject.
I struggled through my first year of college. It irked me that I couldn't get an A in English even though it was not my fault; no one got an A. I'm not sure what lesson they hoped to teach with that edict. I got C's in easy A classes. I didn't study. It wasn't something I had ever had to do. I dropped out of college so my husband could get his degree. It wasn't a hardship since I was burnt out after 2 years and it made economic sense for him to finish his degree instead of me. I was going for Music Education; he was going for Electrical Engineering. I may not have known much back then but I did understand which one made more money. College was a waste for me. I had no idea what I wanted to be; I had no plan for the future. I wasn't there to learn; I was there because it was expected.
When I got pregnant, I went to the doctor and did what I was told. I had preeclampsia but I didn't really know what that was or what to do about it. I didn't really think about it; I just followed the doctor's directives. Fast forward to my youngest about to start school and my older two already in the system. I was still doing everything I was told, questioning nothing. We moved around a lot so we decided to start homeschooling. I have to admit that the hubby wasn't thrilled at the idea and still is only minimally supportive. This is the point where I started to change and break out of the box. I started homeschool in the summer so they didn't miss a year of school if it didn't work. It worked. Fast forward a few more years...a scan was run on my children and we found out that the older two had heavy metals in their bodies but the youngest didn't. The only difference between them is that the older two had all of their vaccinations and the youngest didn't get the last ones needed to go to public school. Maybe it wasn't the vaccinations but maybe it was. That's not the point here. This is where I started questioning everything. I realized that I had been blindly following whatever I was told to do by anyone that was seen as an authority figure...doctors, teachers, police, politicians, lawyers, etc... I saw these people as infallible and knowledgeable in their fields of expertise so I listened to what they said. What was I thinking? I wasn't. That's the point. That's what I was conditioned to do. I was fed information in school and taught to memorize it and not question anything. Guess what most people do throughout life. It's a scary thought and explains much about our country. People aren't thinking for themselves.
So, here's my philosophy.
QUESTION-Everything. Don't take anything as truth until you've verified the information.
RESEARCH-Everything is going to be biased to some degree so check into different viewpoints to get a balanced picture.
CONCLUDE-Make your own decision on what you feel is the truth. Know where you stand and feel secure that you have a valid reason for believing as you do. As facts change, your opinion can change so be open to new information and be prepared to start the process over and question again.
ACT-What are you going to do about what you've learned? Do you need to make changes? I've made plenty! I can't change what I've done in the past but I can go forward knowing that I've done my best.

Becoming a mother and needing to do what is best for my children forced me to start thinking for myself. That's a sad thought. I should have been thinking for myself at least before I graduated high school! I look back and I wonder what I could have been, what I could have accomplished if I had only been motivated to get an education (not the same thing as being schooled)- to understand the difference, read the book I mentioned. There's a free PDF of it if you do a Google search.  I look forward and know that I want more for my kids. Their summer isn't filled with "I'm bored" and TV marathons. They're focusing on learning the things that they're passionate about. One is learning about herbs, another about computer programming (Minecraft is actually useful for something. Shocking.), and the youngest wants to learn about mechanical parts so he's going to spend his summer taking things apart and putting them back together. I want them to take charge of their education and start thinking about their future.  Questions for thought: What are you passionate about? How can you turn that passion into something that will provide for you and your family? What do you need to learn to be a success in whatever you're passionate about? How can you learn this in a way that is fun and interesting for you? Is there anyone nearby that does something similar to what you want to do? Will they let you follow them around and teach you what they know, be a mentor for you?

Sorry if this post rambles. It's more for me than for you. If college helps you achieve your dreams then go for it. But do it because you made a conscious decision based on the QRCA philosophy not because you're just following expectations. Anything you do, do it because its what is best for you and your loved ones. Think for yourself.

Monday, May 5, 2014

New Website!

I have a new website with my favorite products!

*Want to lose weight but don't want to take a class, here are the things that can help with that!

*Need that daily vitamin intake? Here you go!
*Need help with some of those stomach issues? Acid reflux?

*Not sure what you need? There's a free test on there to help.

I'm so excited to be able to share this with you! Enjoy!

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spelt Pancake Recipe

Here's the recipe as promised, a little late but....

Spelt Pancakes
·                       1 egg
·                       1 cup buttermilk
·                       1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or maple syrup
·                       1 cup spelt flour
·                       1 teaspoon baking powder
·                       1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·                       1/2 teaspoon salt
·                       1/2 cup Honey

1.  Using a fork or small whisk, beat egg in a mixing bowl until uniform in color.
2.    Add buttermilk and vanilla and mix well.
3.     Dump spelt flour on top of the wet ingredients, then add baking powder, baking soda and salt on top of the flour so that they stay dry until you mix them in.
4.    Mix dry ingredients into wet just until combined. If mixture seems thick, lighten with a few tablespoons water until it's the right consistency.
5.  Add honey and stir until just mixed.
6.  Bake 4-inch cakes on a lightly oiled griddle at 375-400°.
7.  Bake until golden brown on both sides. Hold in a warm oven until all are done.

Here's a great article I  found on replacing flour! I know you're going to want to know how healthy the spelt is.

Could I have used a healthier grain? Absolutely!! This is a step away from the standard all-purpose flour most people use. It gets my kids used to using something else and experimenting with recipes. Is this the end goal for our health journey? No. Goals are reached by daily steps, not by one giant jump (usually anyway). I want my kids to love eating healthy. I want it to be a part of their daily lives so much so that they don't even think about it not being normal. I want them to love the foods they're cooking/creating! Our first step to eating healthier flour-containing foods was to make things ourselves instead of buying them. For example, go look at the ingredients in your bread. Now, look at a recipe for bread. See the difference in ingredients? Bread making is super easy with a bread machine for those that don't have time to bake. Seriously, there are some cool kitchen gadgets out there to make life simple and the bread machine is one of them! Before you say you can't do it, just go look at what's available.  I just use a KitchenAid mixer and knead it by hand but that's because I like doing it that way. Baby steps...
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Friday, February 21, 2014

No More Afternoon Drag!

I just went from butt-dragging, I've-gotta-take-a-nap tired to alert and normal!
I'm sensitive to caffeine and don't even like the smell of coffee. Nasty stuff (no offense)!

You know those energy drinks that make you jittery and are full of unhealthy stuff? There are some great alternatives out there! Here's one:

It's a Hot and Fit Magic Mocha!

Mix 1/2 scoop Mocha with
1 1/2 scoops Chocolate Shake and
enough cold/room temp water to make it like brownie batter.
 (Doesn't have to be exact, no worries!)

I use this travel mug and this whisk. They just match up perfectly!

Pour in hot water and whisk away! It doesn't take much effort.

The easiest way I've found is to put the whisk in between my palms and roll it back and
forth. It's faster and takes less effort.

Voila! It's done! It took longer to write up the instructions than it did to make it. :-)

*Note: 1 scoop of the Mocha is a serving but I don't know anyone that uses that much. Many people only use 1/2 of a scoop. Also, the amount of shake I use is less than the serving size.*

*You can add coffee instead of plain water if you want a specialty coffee substitute. Send me your changes so I can post them for others!*

Enjoy, my friends!