WELCOME!

Welcome! I am using this blog to share our family's homeschooling thoughts and experiences.

THIS SCHOOL YEAR (2017-2018): Our oldest child, EL, finished her formal education in May, so we only have our son, JJ to school this year. We intend to homeschool him through High School, and will be using a variety of different curriculum choices to complete this goal.

Please feel free to follow along....

Friday, November 13, 2015

OCTOBER FIELD TRIPS: Shooting Range, Llama Farm, and Ballard Nature Center

Our field trips in October were to places we have been before, except for the first one. On October 10th, we were visiting family in Northern IL, and David took JJ to a shooting range. He had a blast learning how to load and shoot a pistol, and David said he did a really good job!

JJ at the shooting range

On October 15th, we went to a llama farm. I think this was our third year doing this. The kids always love walking a llama through an obstacle course. Llamas are very sweet.


JJ getting ready to walk with a llama

EL is walking a very sweet and gentle llama.

The kids took turns walking the llamas down the country road and back.

October 21st took us back to Ballard Nature Center, where this month's topic was on insects.

One of the kids is getting dressed up like an insect.

The kids are on a nature hike to look for insects.
With cooler weather coming, we won't be going on too many more outdoor field trips. Plus, with the holidays coming, our schedule may be getting a little crazy. But, I'm hoping to write a few new posts about other things we have been doing so far this school year.

Have a great weekend!




Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Perfect Fall Dish: Chicken Stuffing Pie


Yesterday, EL helped me make our own version of a chicken pot pie (the biggest difference is the use of stuffing instead of a crust). It is easy and tasty, and is the perfect dish to welcome the cooler Fall weather.

The 4 main ingredients:  Cubed stuffing, chicken gravy, mixed vegetables, and cooked de-boned chicken. Cooking the chicken should be done ahead of time. I boiled a whole chicken with the skin removed.  I let it simmer on low for an hour, then kept it sitting in the hot broth for another hour. I added some spices to the broth while the chicken was cooking, but you can leave those out if you want. I like to use onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and basil. I don't measure, I just sprinkle it in. When the chicken was done, I poured the broth into an ice cream bucket to let it cool and save for later. Then, when the chicken was cool enough, I removed it from the bone. It was so tender, it basically fell off the bone. That's how you know it is done.

When its time to assemble the casserole, put 4 cups of cooked chicken into a 9x13 dish, and mix it up with a bag of frozen, mixed vegetables. I used a 12 oz. bag this time, but have used a 16 oz. bag in the past.

EL is helping me prepare the gravy. You can use already prepared gravy, or a homemade version, but I like to use 3 packages of McCormick low sodium chicken gravy mix. (It makes about 3 cups of gravy.)

Follow the directions on the package and stir until thickened.

Pour the chicken gravy over the chicken/vegetable mix.
 
Prepare the stuffing. I use a 12 oz. bag of Pepperidge Farm cubed stuffing. Add 2 cups of chicken broth or water to it and stir until moistened.

Spoon the stuffing on top of the chicken.

This is what it looked like before putting it in the oven.

When it comes out of the oven, it is a nice golden brown.

Just look at those perfect fall colors all mixed together in a warm, yummy dish! Add a bowl of applesauce as a side dish, or some other Fall fruit, to complete your meal.


CHICKEN STUFFING PIE

1 12-oz. bag Pepperidge Farm cubed stuffing
3 pkgs. McCormick Chicken Gravy Mix
1 12-oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables
4 cups cooked, de-boned chicken

Put chicken and vegetables in a 9x13 casserole dish. Prepare gravy and pour over top. Prepare stuffing with 2 cups broth or water and spoon over top. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees F (or until golden and bubbly). 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

SEPTEMBER FIELD TRIPS: Nature Center, Apple Orchard, Fort LaMotte & Vincennes

Our first visit to a NATURE CENTER this school year was on September 16th. We signed up to attend classes at the center once per month, and September's topic was about WILDFLOWERS...

The kids are learning about the different parts of a flower.
 
Taking a nature hike to find wildflowers.

This unusual flower is called an Obedient Plant

The kids were allowed to gather a cup full of wildflowers to take home

On September 23rd, we joined others on a tour of a nearby APPLE ORCHARD.




I love this picture! EL was not comfortable walking down the hill by herself, so JJ turned to me and said, "I'll help her." He took hold of his sister's hand and walked with her all the way down the hill. It was a sweet brother-sister moment.


On September 26th, we took a family day trip to attend "LaMotte Days" at Fort LaMotte (a recreation of a fort used during the War of 1812). We arrived close to lunch time and, since there was a small turn-out, we were invited to join the reenactors in tasting the various foods that were cooked over an open fire. It was a fun little outing.








From the fort, we drove another half hour to Vincennes, Indiana where we saw inside the Elihu Stout Print Shop, then took a tour of the George Rogers Clark Memorial. There are a lot of things to see in Vincennes, but we didn't have the time to see more than these two. I'm sure we will return at another time to see more.


Elihu Stout Print Shop


Inside the print shop

George Rogers Clark Memorial

Statue inside the memorial

Thursday, September 17, 2015

HOME EC: Easy Tortellini Soup

This is one of our family's favorite soups to eat on a cool day. It is quick and easy to make, and very tasty. Now that JJ has helped me make it, I want to see if he can make it on his own next time. 

This recipe feeds our family of 4 for two nights. On the 2nd night, you will need to add some extra water/broth because the tortellini soaks up a lot of the liquid when it sits overnight. 

Easy Tortellini Soup
 8 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 19-20 oz. bags frozen cheese tortellini
2 cups baby broccoli florets


Here are most of the ingredients. I use Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base to make the chicken broth. Just mix 6-8 tsp. into the water.
JJ is adding the tortellini. Bring the liquids to a boil before adding them. 

After the tortellini has boiled for about 5 minutes, add the frozen broccoli and cook another 5 minutes.

Ready to be served!
Sharing the soup with friends!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

HOME EC: Brown Gravy & Meatballs Over Noodles



This quick and easy meal serves our family of 4 and leaves us with some leftovers for lunch the next day.

BROWN GRAVY & MEATBALLS
4 cups water
6 tsp. beef bouillon
1/2 cup flour
1 cup water
2 lb. bag frozen meatballs
16 oz. bag egg noodles

Boil 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan. At the same time, boil a pot of water for cooking the egg noodles.


Add 6 tsp. of beef bouillon to the 4 cups of water. I use Better Than Bouillon Beef Base.

Put 1/2 cup flour and 1 cup water into a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until mixed. (This was my daughter's job.)

Slowly pour the flour mixture into the bouillon mixture, stirring as you pour.

After the gravy has thickened, add half a bag of frozen meatballs - about 32. I use the Fit & Active brand of Turkey meatballs from Aldi. (My son loves these. He says they taste like chicken nuggets.)

Simmer the meatballs on low until heated through - about 10-15 minutes. At the same time, boil the egg noodles.

Serve the gravy and meatballs over the noodles, along with a vegetable of choice.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Make A Card for Grandparents Day

Lee Hansen Graphic
Next Sunday, September 13th, is Grandparent's Day

I found a few sites online that will allow us to make and print out  greeting cards for free, so we decided to make one for each set of grandparents. (Mom & Dad, if you are reading this, I know the surprise of a card in your mailbox is ruined, but I hope you enjoy what the kids sent. Be watching for them!)

Here are the links I found for making/printing your own Grandparents Day cards. I hope you will use this simple idea to show the grandparents in your life that you care about them:



 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What We Eat For Breakfast, and My Favorite Blueberry Muffin Recipe

At our house, I do not normally cook a big breakfast. I prefer quick and easy, less stress, and less mess. It works out well for us because everyone usually wants something different to eat so, with the following choices, they are able to choose and prepare what they want. It has provided the opportunities to teach them how to make their own choices, how to prepare their own meals, and how to clean up after themselves.

BREAKFAST CHOICES include:
  • Cold cereal with or without milk (my daughter eats it dry)
  • Oatmeal made with Quick Oats and brown sugar (made in the microwave) 
  • Occasionally, I will make a large pan of Baked Oatmeal and we will have several days to eat through it.
  • Frozen waffles warmed up in the toaster
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Toast with a variety of toppings (Peanut Butter, Sunbutter, Butter and Honey, Butter sprinkled with Cinnamon/Sugar, or Jam)
  • Muffins (I make a variety of these ahead of time and freeze them. We just take one out of the freezer and heat it for 35 seconds in the microwave)
  • Breakfast cookies (made ahead of time)
  • A piece of fruit 
  • Occasionally, on Saturday mornings, I will make pancakes
  • And, on rare occasions, we will have Toaster Strudels and Yogurt, like we did on our first day back to school this year.

Here is my favorite Blueberry Muffin recipe. They are low in sugar, and freeze very well.


BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
2 and 2/3 cups unbleached flour (or do half whole wheat)
1 and 1/2 cups oats (Quick Oats or Old Fashioned)
2/3 cup white sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups milk (your choice)
1/2 cup oil (your choice, I use Canola)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 
(Raspberries or Blackberries would work, too)

Directions:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners. Mix ingredients together until combined, then fold in the blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. 

Makes 2 dozen