Sunday, January 12, 2020

Meal Plan Monday - A Pantry Challenge

Hello, my friends.

I'm back with another Meal Plan Monday.



I'll try and make it short and sweet. (She says half-convincingly in her head while knowing full well it is not in her nature to be short or mostly sweet)

Anyhoo.

When I make my meal plan every week I try and take into account the week's activities, what I already have in the pantry and freezer and my energy level.

This week is one that I need to try to make do with what I have in my pantry. This can be an exciting challenge. It's almost like creating your own Chopped kitchen show.

The Muffin is also at the tail end of his recovery with THE PLAGUE. I'm hoping that my role as the primary caregiver of one with THE PLAGUE is about at its end.

Amen and Amen.

Monday

Lentil Love

It's legume night at the Teague house! The recipe above is my go-to lentil recipe. I will also cook up some brown rice in the ole rice cooker and add even more veggies for my benefit.

Tuesday 

Pork Tacos

Taco Tuesday! On this night I will be using some pork taco filling someone gave me. It's currently in my freezer and I need to use it up. I will serve mine over a large bed of romaine and make sure we have plenty of taco fixings. This includes my Thrifty Gal's Salsa.  It is a staple in our house. I try and keep the ingredients always on hand.

Wednesday 

Hamburgers

Josiah is cooking on this night. He's chosen hamburgers. I will eat mine bunless and with a big side of broccoli. I also love to saute up a hefty portion of mushrooms and onions to serve on top. I doubt that will happen this week. I probably have a small can of mushrooms in my pantry but fresh ones are in small supply.

Thursday

Oven-Baked Cod, Roasted Okra and Cauli Rice

I have some Cod in my freezer that will be perfect for this night's meal. I also have some frozen okra from my parents' garden that I need to use. I might do regular rice for my guys and leave the cauli rice for me. This will be a low-calorie meal and they might need a bit more bulk.

Friday 

Personal Bagel Pizzas

It's Family Night! We most likely watch a movie on Disney Plus or Netflix and will need something festive to add to the fun. We used to do pizza more frequently, but I have to do a little more planning with my meals than our favorite take-out pizza. For this night, I plan on setting out the ingredients for my guys to make personal pizzas. I think I have some bagels in my freezer that will make perfect crusts. For myself, I will use a whole-wheat tortilla. The rest of the toppings will depend on what I have on hand.

Saturday 

Edie Wadsworth's Best Ever Beef Stew 
It's my frugal gourmet night. This is the night I plan on doing something a bit fancy...if I am so inclined.  Beef Stew isn't necessarily considered a gourmet dish, but this Beef Stew recipe will change your life. It takes all day and I have a little bit of stew meat in my fridge that is calling out for this treatment. I will just serve it with some crusty bread.

Sunday 

Leftover! Or sandwiches. We shall see what is what by then. I always have salad fixings and stuff for a ham sandwich.


That's it! Hopefully, I've supplied some easy supper inspiration. Let me know what you do when you try and eat out of your pantry.




Monday, January 6, 2020

Cousin Camp Photo Shoot 2019. It's finally here!

I can't believe I am finally getting these out.

To be honest, I just now got them into my chunky little hands.   

I'm talking about pics from Cousin Camp. These are from the ever anticipated Cousin Camp Photo Shoot. I can't believe how much these kids have grown up. It's also nice to see a little summer sunshine and farm goodness in these pics. 

I'm going to share just one of each kid, plus a few group shots. Actually, it was REAAALLY hard to choose which ones to share. These kids are 'rul purty. But, seriously, you have better things to do than scroll through pictures of my relations. 

I'm also going to post them all willy nilly. My computer connection has been slow this evening and I ran out of patience. It is what it is. 

Are you ready? Here we go.

My beloved son. Age 17 at the time of this picture. He has since cut his long locks. He currently is in his "groomed" phase of his rock band dreams.  This picture almost had the potential to make it appear that he had flora and fauna protruding out of his ears like some sort of Hawaiian hula dancer. Josiah was saved by an inch or so from eternal humiliation.

Actually, I take that back. Josiah is incapable of being self-conscience.  Any attention is alright with him.


\

My Little Bro's only son. One of twins. Chris had just turned 22 in this picture. This boy/man can fall asleep anywhere, anytime. He is also a really hard worker. Here he is contemplating all the farm chores needing to be done and wondering why we are subjecting him to such petty concerns.  I am not sure what is coming out of the bottom of that chair. Are those animal feet? Tuffs of toilet paper? I dare not ask.


I had to share the progression of these pictures. The boys are leaning up against the Old Duster. So cool. The Old Duster does not run, by the way. It just makes for a good photo prop and chicken roost.

We are hillbillies, after all.


Ama (aka my mom, their grandma) must have instructed them to smile. They didn't come up with those expressions on their own.


So someone must have said something a bit silly.


And so it began. Cade is still doing his best to be cool.



Cade is my Baby Sister's oldest. At the time of this picture, he was 17. This boy is so much like my Dad. Some of those Wilsons are pretty reserved. I almost got Cade moving his head to music on video this year. It would have been an epic win on my part. I would have lorded it over him and his children's children to the end of time. 

I'm that kind of aunt. 




And now we have the whole gang posing in the flat bottomed boat. Along with the hinder quarters of Blue the Blue-Heeler. I love this picture. They look like some kind of happy family band. Without the instruments. And the whole band part.


 This is Kalynn. She is Little Bros oldest and one of the twins. She is also my parents' oldest grandchildren.  Kalynn has a college education and a job. Kalynn pays for her own stuff. Be like Kalynn. I will take a minute to point out the awesomeness of her big hoop earrings. Why don't I have a pair like that, Kalynn? Kalynn gets her love of gaudy jewelry from her Ama. As do I.



Alexandra is 16. I will have to say that Alex reminds me so much of Kalynn...who reminds me of my Baby Sister. My Baby Sister is not the mother of these girls. But I sure can see her in them. I'm not sure what Alexandra's other hand is doing in this picture. Waving to her subjects. Holding a long pointy object. Whatever it is, I am sure it is awesome. Whatever Alexandra does is awesome. She is just that kind of girl.


Madalyn is 15 in this picture. She is Little Bros youngest. All these girls are gorgeous. Madalyn is also a soldier. And mean with a bow and arrow. She might look all sugar, but she could take you down if you mess with her. We raise our girls right!


 Brynn is our ballerina. She turns 14 in a few months. I'm sure there must some kind of mistake. It was only a few months ago we made the trip to her mom and dad's house when she was born. I remember that I made some hamburger stroganoff in her momma's really clean kitchen. We didn't know then than Brynn would turn out to be so stinkin' sassy. And I mean that in a good way. We all have a measure of sass.


Payge is 10 here. She is my Baby Sister's youngest and the youngest grandchild. This child is a hoot. She also, along with her cousin Madalyn, is the star of our award-winning slime making movie. Don't you just love that face? We do.



A picture of all of Baby Sister's kiddos. Along with Brynn's glasses. All little secret. More than half of these kiddos need glasses. As do I. We can thank Ama and Papa for the gift of life, but not the gift of good sight.


There was another picture of Little Bros kids I could have used where they were all facing the camera. However, I love this one. Aren't they cute? I'm also loving Alexandra's skirt. We found it at Goodwill because that's the way we roll.



Here are the girls in front of the Old Duster.


I'm not sure what's going on here. Some kind of big finish I think.


I hope you enjoyed this year's Cousin Camp Photo Shoot. We are going to began preparations for Cousin Camp 2020. As these kids get older we realize that the time with them is precious. At this point, most of them have sworn to come to Cousin Camp until they are 102.

Which is fine by me.




Meal Plan Monday - It Begins Again!

As promised I am starting up my Meal Plan Monday posts again.


It's been a while, my friends.

I have to tell you that these won't be especially inspiring posts...unless you are seeking to create a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family.

My son (Josiah) and The Studly Muffin don't have to follow my same eating plan, but I fix what I fix. There might be a few additions or substitutions I with them in mind. However, they have been really on board with what I'm doing thus far. Which is good for them.  I've never made separate meals...unless somebody wants Ramen. Then they are on their own.

I also have been making my menus around nightly themes. I take into account what our average week is like and planned accordingly. Though we won't start Homeschool Co-op back up for a few more weeks, I still planned like it's a thing this week. It's just easier that way.

At a later date, I will explain what my eating plan requires me to have for every meal. I am also supposed to have a serving of fruit which I haven't listed in my menus. I am required to have 2 cups of non-starchy veggies with each meal. I can have them anyway I want them...though I imagine deep-fried in batter would be a definite no-no.

Monday - Easy Peasy (Homeschool Co-op Day)

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans 
I don't even bother soaking the beans. They just simmer all day in the slow cooker with a little ham bone, an onion and spices.
Cornbread Muffins (for my guys)
Kale Salad ( I LOVE this recipe. I don't use the honey because it spikes my blood sugar. I add just a bit of sweetener instead. I also purchase one of the those precut Kale bags at Aldi for convenience)

Tuesday - Taco Night! 

We love us some tacos. I usually do some variation of taco salad. On this night I am planning on making Mrs. Criddles Taco Salad Crunch.  It is super yummy. I will use leftover pintos instead of the canned beans it calls for.

Wednesday - Josiah Cooks

I used to have him do this more often. He's gotten out of the habit since we've moved to Indiana. This week he is making spaghetti. I am going to fix myself a side of zoodles instead of the pasta.
This is an easy slow cooker spaghetti recipe from Skinnytaste.com. We have some ground pork we need to use up and I will have him add some extra Italian seasonings. We will also be using canned tomatoes from my parents' garden.

Thursday - Comfort Food

Baked Chicken Legs
Baked Potatoes (sweet for me)
Roasted Green Beans Fries

It doesn't get any self-explanatory than that.  I generally marinate my chicken legs in a little vinegarette salad dressing then bake them in the oven.

I like to wrap up my potatoes in foil and also cook them in the oven. I can have a little bit of butter on my sweet potato and I also like to sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper.

If you haven't made Green Bean Fries you are missing out. They are The Muffin's favorite. This recipe is close to the way I make mine. Though I don't make a dipping sauce and I use olive oil instead of coconut oil.

Friday - Family Night

This meal is generally an easy one that I try and make more fun. This Friday we are having Burrito Bowls with brown rice, leftover pinto beans, roasted leftover chicken, and a few extra toppings. Burrito bowls are so easy to make and you can customize them to fit your family's needs and tastes. I will use cauli rice with my brown rice to help with my non-starchy veggie requirement.

Saturday - Frugal Gourmet

I usually have a bit more time on Saturday to cook. It doesn't mean I'll take it. But I do like to be a little bit fancier on Saturdays. At least, as fancy as my budget allows me to be. This week my Saturday meal is still fairly easy to put together.

Garlic Butter Baked Cod
Roasted Broccoli
Quinoa Salad with Spinach and Almonds
This quinoa recipe is really good. I didn't pick up radishes to go in it so I probably will forgo those. I also will use the walnuts I already have instead of almonds. I probably will add extra cauli rice in my cooked quinoa to beef up my non-starchy veggie requirements. If your folks aren't all about the quinoa you can certainly substitute brown rice.

Sunday - Leftovers

Hopefully, we will have a few. If not I will make a survey of the pantry and fridge Saturday night and do something simple. A simple veggie soup is always easy to throw together.

That's it! Let me know if you have any questions.








Friday, January 3, 2020

New Year! And some changes...

It's Friday night! I'm occupying my favorite corner of my comfy couch and Princess the Cat is curled up beside me.

Life is grand, my friends.

Except that we spent the morning in the ER with The Studly Muffin.

Ya'll. The man has a NASTY virus. I won't even begin to describe the things I've seen and heard. Let's just say I spent a good bit of time today completely disinfecting the house.

I thought I would write a little bit tonight about some big changes that have occurred in my life and some of my plans for the future and moving forward.

First things first. You might know that I have been a reviewer with the Old Schoolhouse Magazine and Homeschool Review Crew for a number of years. I can't even tell you how much my family and I have benefited from being a part of the Crew.

Because of my health issues this past summer, I decided not to renew my commitment to them this year.

I know! I can hardly believe it myself. They have been a part of my life and homeschool for so long now...I scarcely know how to act. I expected to be a part of the Crew until Josiah graduated...and maybe longer if I could find a way to reinvite myself every year.

Sometimes, however, you have to make tough choices. There were things in my life that needed addressing. My health basically took a bit of a nosedive and I needed to pay closer attention to myself.  I am still writing for The Old Schoolhouse Blog monthly and I have another history curriculum in the works.

I was supposed to have completed it prior to the fall semester but that is when things really went south for me. My editor has been wonderful. She even sent us a care package when I got home from the hospital filled with all the things that we needed around the house.

I am still going to work on that curriculum, but it has taken me a bit to get my feet back under me.

Part of the journey I am taking has required some fairly strict lifestyle changes. I have always had fairly healthy habits. But let's be honest about this. Some of us have to be more careful. I have battled with my weight for years. And this year I was losing that battle in a big way.

After having a fairly blunt conversation with my cardiologist, I have really turned a corner.

For one, he sent me to a nutritionist. While I was eager to go, I was also a bit skeptical. The modern American health guidelines for a "healthy plate" haven't been so healthy.

Too many added sugars and not enough concentration on food as medicine.

Well...I hit the jackpot with my nutritionist. I knew when he started prescribing me things like "1 tsp. of turmeric" with breakfast that I was in good hands. He speaks my language.

I have had great success thus far and I even lost weight over the holidays. I realize that my eating plan won't be for everyone. But I want to try and start sharing my weekly meal plan. At least, the evening meals. I used to share my meal plans every week...but got out of the habit.

I'm not sure what days I'll post those. I'm trying to get back into a regular rhythm of blogging writing again. We shall see.

Speaking of blog writing...I have been horrible. I had started doing a little video work but even that has been an effort. But here is the thing. I began my blog years ago when I was going through a particular devastating health and life crisis. Writing did more for me than about anything and through the years I've let some things drift away that needed to be spoken or written about.

It has never been about building a business or gaining a readership. As far as I know, my readership consists of my momma and a Russian bot or two.

Anyhoo. I am excited to find my new normal again. And hopefully, that new normal will include a lot more writing, building healthy habits and a few more Russian bot readers.



Saturday, November 23, 2019

Getting Stuff Done

Hello, my friends!

It's Friday night and I'm sitting on the corner of my big comfy couch at the Parsonage. The Muffin is watching Green Bay football highlights on Youtube and Josiah is tearing it up on Guitar Hero in his room. I'm guessing that he should be an expert about now.

I'm soaking up this last little bit of sluggish and slacker homelife that we will have for a while. Basically, I could happily live as a hermit all snug in my house until spring. The Muffin needs more people interaction than I do. At least a little more. Josiah plain gets stir-crazy. He needs people, random Wal-mart trips, and fast food to feel truly alive.

The Holidays (if I'm not careful) tend so soak all the life out of me. In fact, I''m giving some advice over on the Homeschooling With Heart blog at The Old Schoolhouse site today. Actually, it was published yesterday, but I'm a little behind.

Anyhoo. I'm trying to get my ducks in a row for the Holidays before somebody comes along and decides to roast them with an orange glaze and serve them with pilaf. Some of you know how I feel.

I did accomplish a few things today.

1. I ordered Josiah's birthday present. Our boy is turning 18 the day before Thanksgiving. I can't even think about it. We are going to celebrate with family on the day, but we are throwing a shin-dig for him with church folks a few days later. The boy always wants Walking Tacos to eat for his party so The Muffin picked up a box of single-serve Doritos at Sam's today. I feel pretty accomplished at my progress so far. None of this last-minute party planning for me! No sir.

Josiah and I also went and ordered a cake. He picked out a Scooby-Doo cake.😂😂😂 He thought it would be funny.

2. I cleaned out my pantry. Woo Hoo! I am feeling especially accomplished. My pantry was beyond messy. I still need to clean up my spice cabinet. There is some cayenne pepper that has formed into some sort of meteor rock. At least, I think its cayenne pepper.

I do have a list of other stuff I need to be getting done, but I can't look like I'm too efficient. For now, I'll content myself with opening up a pantry cabinet door every time I walk by and gaze at all that organizational goodness before its gone.




Thursday, November 21, 2019

LitWits (A Homeschool Review Crew)

I'm about to share with you a product I have had my eye on for YEARS. In fact, my son (who is a senior in High School) isn't even in the age range for this product, but I begged to review it.

What is it?

The incredibly creative LitWits Kits from LitWits. Today I'm going to focus on the LitWits Kit for Treasure Island. I do have a few others (equally delicious) I'm going to talk about.
LitWits is a company that provides hands-on ideas, academic activities and much, much more for a number of great books. They started holding "immersive" literature workshops for kids in California and it grew into passing these wonderful ideas on to us.

This is a web-based product. You aren't going to get an actual kit in the mail. I'll show you more in a minute. The kits we received were mostly intended for ages 8-12, but you will see that they can be modified for a wider group of ages.

Our homeschool has always been focused on Literature. We read living books on about everything we study. I had the hardest time deciding which LitWits Kit I wanted to request. That being said, you don't have to be especially "bookish" to get the most our of the Kits. In fact, the team at LitWits has done all the heavy lifting for you.

I got to pick out four Kits. Yay! I wanted all of them. I wanted all of the Kits.

I received...

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

In this Kit, students will paint red roses (using the illustrations as inspiration), make a bossy refreshment,  discuss conflict using a fun interactive project, create poetry and much more.

The Tempest 

Students tackle Shakespeare with this fun, theatrical kit. Shakespeare can be kind of daunting for the homeschool family and this Kit is perfect for all of us who are hesitant to tackle The Bard. Students create masks, perform to their heart's content and try local dishes of the day.

The Secret Garden

I had to get this one. Students help things grow, talk about "neglected things, create a beautiful collage and even talk about healthy bodies. They also explore the Yorkshire Moore. It's all just lovely.

All Kits encourage the creation of a focal point...complete with props. In the Kit, Treasure Island, we are encouraged to decorate with maps, a treasure chest and plenty of loot.


The students also learn about cartography. One thing I love about LitWits (among the thousands of things) is that they also provide so many wonderful links and resources to outside sources. There are links for some pirate shanty singing to enjoy while creating maps.


We talked about real treasure and the treasure the pirates searched for.  I also purchased a tiny treasure chest to be painted as we talked about that real treasure.

We enjoyed raisins and apples and a wedge of parmesan cheese. We also watched someone tie knots (as opposed to the proposed actually tying of knots).

One aspect of the Kit I utilized the most (simply because of time and necessity) were the academic handouts. These were so handy. They weren't overly exhausting to work through and still focused on important aspects of literature.

I can tell you that these Kits are priceless. They are also reasonably priced. The literature that is featured is easy to find and worth every minute of precious school hours. The web pages are also easy to navigate. You are able to print a PDF of any section. I also loved the real-life examples of the literature workshops. You will too.



So now. You must immediately go check them out. Post haste. There are lots and lots of wonderful options. Look at your school year's booklist or better yet, ignore the booklist and go find a kit at you think you kids will enjoy first. And then move on to the next one.

You will not be disappointed.

You can read more reviews by clicking on the banner below.






LitWits Kits {LitWits Reviews}
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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Alebra I with Thinkwell (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)


I recently had the chance to review Algebra I, part of the High School Math from Thinkwell.  


I don’t know about you, but finding a math curriculum for my high school student has been a thorn in my side. And many years have passed since those heady days of College Algebra. I have forgotten more than I ever knew in the first place.

I have told this story before, but my College Algebra teacher was a Russian nuclear physicist. I had to pay more attention to be able to understand him (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). But he made it clear that “Americans make math too hard.” He told us we just needed to learn how to do it the easiest way and just do it. Such wisdom.

Thinkwell, I feel, has a similar approach. In fact, one of the first lessons talks about how Algebra transfers to the real world. 

Thinkwell is a self-paced online math program that offers 20 courses. They range from 6th to 8th grade, all the way up to High School math.

Before digging in, the student needs to take a Placement Test. It is free and will stick your student right where he or she needs to go.

For our review, we took a look at Algebra I.

My son has struggled in math. He needs it modeled in front of him. He needs to see it. We were so excited to see a real life face on the screen complete with a whiteboard explaining what in the math is going on.  After the video lecture given by Professor Edward Burger (no jumping around…we must do these things in order)…there are downloadable worksheets to accompany the lesson.




Following that lesson, the students are given a “Thinkwell Exercise.” This is basically a quiz with multiple-choice answers. We were able to print out the problems and work them on paper before answering the problem on the computer.


So here is another great part about Thinkwell. The video lessons are less than 5 minutes long. Yes siree! They are quick and to the point. We tend to get kind of squirrely in our house when the math lecture is too wordy and lengthy. I could have used Thinkwell with Josiah’s earlier math grades.

Another BIG plus for us is that Professor Burger is just plain awesome. He is engaging, easy to understand, and as entertaining with Algebra as one is inclined to be. He is not Russian...nor I think a Nuclear Physicist, but he is pretty smart. Keep in mind that there are different professors working their magic at Thinkwell. I am sure they are all just as awesome. 

Thinkwell is very well organized and easy to navigate.  You can check out Thinkwell by taking taking advantage of their 14-day FREE trial. Have your kiddo take the placement test and see what you think.

You can read more reviews by clicking the banner below.

6th to 8th Grade Math (Pre-Algebra) and High School Math  (Algebra to Calculus) {Thinkwell Reviews}
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