Friday, September 20, 2013

the view from here

The Man lost his two front teeth on a hot summer afternoon a month or so ago.  Since then, he's been terribly insistent that we not take pictures of him smiling.  So, while he was working away, I tried my darnedest to snap a photo of him.  He was hard at work when he heard the cl-click of my camera and then he saw me slyly holding it, pointed in his direction.  Three words, folks, he. freaked. out.  "No! Mom, don't take my picture!"  I kindly put it down and took out the remote.  He noticed but didn't object.  So, when I started snapping again, I caught a glimpse of a half-smile, half-WHAT-ON-EARTH-ARE-YOU-DOING?! face.  He's tried ever since to thieve my camera and delete said photo(s).  Lucky for me, they're downloaded to my laptop and the rest is history.

Tell me, please, why a mama can't have a picture of her favorite son missing his toofies?  OK, so he's the only son.  Is there any harm in it really?  'Course not.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

while i'm here

We have some special friends in Albania.  Although I wish we could've spent more time with them, we had the opportunity to enjoy them while they were here.  

Well, Miss Ellie is a big fan of frogs.  And it just so happens we've been finding little frogs on our windows (in at least two rooms!) every night.  Not on the inside of course, but on the outside and from having the lights on, they are feasting on the tastiest tiny moths and other bugs attracted by the light.  (I guess moths are tasty - to frogs.)

Since I'm here and had a minute, I thought I'd post these for you Ellie!  Plus a couple others, not of frogs though.

I tried my best to get some shots of these guys in action grabbing a bug or two but, I couldn't.  So, here's what I did get...

One of him (or her?) climbing up to get a moth.

Excuse the dirty windows!  I'm finding windows don't stay clean long in Illinois
because the wind is always blowing stuff on them, ugh!
Not to mention climbing frogs!

Oh boy, a close up!  Look at those suction-y toes!

And a praying mantis (that was actually hanging upside down from the roof but, 
for easier viewing, I rotated the photo.)

Lastly, a cicada.  I found him quietly enjoying the sunrise one morning.  
He's a strange looking guy!  Ha!  Looks like he has whiskers!

Hope you're enjoying your adventureous new life in Albania!

life is a whirlwind

I always catch a bunch of flack for never being here.  Well, truth be told, I am extremely busy at the moment.  Thankyouverymuch.  I take homeschooling tremendously serious.  We have a routine down and while not every day is peaches and cream, the bad ones aren't horrific either.  So, here's a rundown of what else you've missed...

1.  Partying.  We hosted a "potato digging party" where we, along with lots of friends, dug seven 30 foot rows of potatoes.

Is this a southern thing, you ask?  This potato digging party?  Well, no.  No, it's not.  It was the idea of a friend.  We served hot dogs and drinks while they brought sides and desserts.  We dug potatoes, we ate, we shared the starchy treasure.  Everyone was happy.  

2.  Potatoes.  We've been processing potatoes.  Seems our friends weren't all that experienced in the potato digging department and we missed the memo that said "Instruct before you send the laborers into the field".  So, there were quite a few cut potatoes.   As in, we have 20+ pounds of shredded hash browns sitting in our freezer alone.  Friends took some cut potatoes too, so who knows how many there were!

3.  Cleaning.  Homeschool takes half my day, at least, and then, there's cleaning.  Who wants to do it?  Yeah, me neither but, somebody has to.  So, that gets done here and there and on the weekends now.

4.  Extra-curricular activities.  Miss K does sports through the school she attends for Spanish.  Then, there's 4-H.

5.  Apples.  We are blessed with an apple and a pear tree here and so, that's next on my long list of daunting tasks.

6.  Rhubarb.  It sits on the edge of the garden waiting to be harvested, processed and packaged into the freezer, then, later, made into strawberry-rhubarb jam.  We finished round one earlier in the summer.  Round two awaits.

7.  Furniture.  There's a bookshelf and a desk in the garage, ever so patiently waiting to be primed and painted but, I have yet to find the time to get that done.

8.  Freezer.  We finally found a nice gently used freezer on Craigslist to store our harvest in and so, of course that took the trip to get, clean and move into the basement.

9.  Sofa.  We've decided that the best option for our school room slash craft room slash guest room is a sofa.  Not just any sofa but, one of the pull-out bed sort.  One that Miss K has big plans to lounge on while she reads.  I have the feeling she's going to claim it as her own!  Therefore, we're on the hunt for the perfect couch for our cozy little space.

10.  Birthday.  The Man is coming upon his seventh birthday and we're planning a fun little weenie roast-bonfire type deal.  He wants to go big on the food.  He's a food snob as Handsome Husband would call it.  We all are in this household.  Anyway, that's in the makings.

11.  Sewing.  Yes, it's done!  Miss D should've received her package yesterday.  Goodies for the ladies' retreat special speakers have arrived!  While I was working on those (and I can't specify exactly what because it's a surprise!) I decided that I wanted to venture into making some cloth napkins.  I hate paper napkins and you just buy them and keep buying them over and over and the landfills all choke on trash daily.  So, why not go green and switch over.  Which leads to #12...

12.  Cloth Napkins.  I've begun.  I've sewn 2 complete napkins.  Then, I ran out of the coordinating thread!  So, I had to stop and haven't found the time yet to pick them back up.  It'll get done.  Slowly but, surely!

I guess that's it.

Oh golly!  How could I forget?!

13.  Tomatoes.  We have hoards of tomatoes coming in.  I haven't the time to can them at the moment and so, my plan is to blanch them, freeze them, process later!

Might I add, I was so excited all of my Cherokee Purple tomatoes made it!  They taste the best too.  The Mortgage Lifters were fine, just not as good.  

Alright, the bed calls.  My eyelids are growing heavy and it's sadly only 9:33.  No joke y'all.  It's a sad, sad life I live, I tell ya.  wink.

Friday, September 6, 2013

homeschool and beef stew?

I know I've talked a bit lately about the homeschool roller coaster.  Well, I want to update you on how that's all going...FANTASTIC!  We have a morning routine down and so far, things are moving along well with no hiccups to mention.  Everyone has fallen into this routine so well, I can hardly believe we're doing this, making it happen, conquering the fears of homeschool.  In another post, I'll go into details about the books we've chosen and what we're using.
A while back (like a few months ago!) I was asked if we'd made anything out of the Pioneer Woman's cookbooks.  Well, I'd just received them before we left for our "Summer Tour" and I think I'd made maybe one recipe...salsa.  Since then, we've been enthusiastically tackling recipe after glorious recipe. 

Tonight was no different.  While the weather's hovered around 90, we giggled at the thought of eating beef stew! 

I ran out late this afternoon to get some groceries and items we needed for science experiments and when I arrived home it was near 3:30.  The meat needed to cook for 2 hours!  I thought we were seriously dead meat!  snort.  Although I ended up shortening the time by a half hour, it was still so rich and tender!  It's a keeper! 

Look out fall!  We're comin' with guns a blazin'!

We've also tried...

We've been making these for years.  Need I say they're good?

Make-Ahead Muffin Melts
The kids weren't fans and Handsome Husband and myself thought they were just OK.  I'm not a hater.  You, my friend, might love them!

Basic Chicken Salad
Miss K and I loved this!  The men folk weren't too kind to it but, the man did at least try it.

Restaurant-Style Salsa
Mmmm, favored by all!

Quesadillas de Camarones
a.k.a. Shrimp Quesadillas.  Oh Lord help me!  This is my favorite Mexican meal in the world!  And so, I love it and Handsome Husband is fond of it too.  I think?

Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
We already have a favorite pulled pork recipe and so it's an unfair competition.  My kids aren't too fond of lots of spice so, sorry, our fave wins.  It's still good though!

 Beef Stew
'Nough said already.

Whiskey-Glazed Carrots
Oh yum!  We do like these. And yes, the whiskey is necessary.  They're good!

Macaroni and Cheese
The man isn't fond of this because he's hooked on box mac'n'cheese...I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.  I love this, it takes me back.  It's comfort food.

PW's Creamy Mashed Potatoes
These are so creamy and good.  We could live off these.

Strawberry Shortcake Cake
This is good too.  But read further...

Coffee Cream Cake
This is the man's absolute favorite and it's a crowd pleaser even if you don't love coffee.  I've been told this more than once.  The man asks for Coffee Cream Cake every week.  Serious y'all.

Coffee Ice Cream
Dear God, this is the best thing on earth.  Can you please serve it in heaven?  Miss K asks for this almost weekly.  P, we have to make Coffee Ice Cream when you come.

Chocolate Sheet Cake
You'll absolutely perish if you don't eat at least 3 spoonfuls (or more) of this icing.  One of Miss K's friends told me she hates icing but, she wants this for her birthday!