Friday, August 30, 2013

Food on Friday - Cheesy Hamburger Penne Casserole

This one has become a new favorite of the small people. Like almost everything else I cook, it's super simple and very little prep.

Ingredients
16 oz penne pasta, cooked and drained
2lb ground beef, browned and drained
29oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp minced onion
3 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon into prepared casserole dish. Bake for 25 minutes.

Like I said, super simple.
Have a recipe you want to share? Link up below.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alone Yet Not Alone Review and Giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

One of my favorite ways to teach history is through the use of non-textbooks. I find that my small people understand history so much better when they can read "real" books about historical events. When I was offered the opportunity to review the novel Alone Yet Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven, I couldn't wait to read it.

About the Book
Rich in historical details, Alone Yet Not Alone is an inspirational, true story of a family caught in the cross fire of the French and Indian War.


Settled in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania, deep within America's new frontier, the Leininger family celebrates the blessings of a beautiful homestead and bountiful harvest. That is, until tragedy strikes with the beginning of the French and Indian War and the devastating raid known as the Penn's Creek Massacre. 

The lives of this simple, God-fearing family are forever altered when Barbara and Regina, two young sisters, are carried away by the Delaware tribe. Driven by their faith in God and the powerful bonds of family, Barbara and Regina hold firmly to the belief that they are never alone, even in their darkest hour, and that they will be reunited again.
About the Author
Tracy Leininger Craven loves history and retelling real-life stories in her historical fiction books. She also loves spending her free time in the great outdoors with her husband David and their four children.

My Thoughts About the Book
The feeling of adventure and suspense captured me at beginning, and I couldn't put the book down until I finished. I just had to know what would happen next. The characters are written with depth; I found myself not just caring about Barbara and Regina and rooting for them to find their way home, but also caring about the relationships between the Indians and their captives.

Alone Yet Not Alone is classified as juvenile fiction and recommended for ages 8 and up. There are some rather intense scenes (like a burning at the stake) that may not be appropriate for younger children. I am definitely going to be adding this book to my read-aloud list for when we study the French and Indian War.

My Ballerina loves to read; in fact, it's rare that any juvenile book enters our house that she doesn't read it right away. So I thought I'd let her read Alone Yet Not Alone and share her thoughts about the book as well.

Ballerina's Thoughts About the Book
"I enjoyed the book very much. It felt like I was included in it because the word pictures were so strong. I liked the emotions in it because they're also strong and really show the characters' feelings. I would recommend this book because it's very good." - Ballerina, age 10

Alone Yet Not Alone (The Movie)
I was super excited to find that this novel is also being released as a movie. Set to be released in theaters September 27, 2013, it has been awarded 5 Doves from the Dove Foundation.

You can find out more about the book and the movie at the following sources:
Facebook
Twitter
Movie Website

You can find which theaters will have the movie on September 27, 2013 here.

Not only was I offered the opportunity to review this book, but I also get to offer a copy to one of my readers. Enter the giveaway below for the opportunity to win your own copy of the book Alone Yet Not Alone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Spelling



Little Red practiced her spelling words by cutting letters out of magazines.

Do you have a Wordless Wednesday (or Almost Wordless or just a post with a bunch of pictures) that you'd like to share? Link up below!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

An Uninvited Guest

We had quite an exciting afternoon yesterday. Soccer Girl was taking the dog outside. He was racing out on his leash so she was rushing down the steps from the kitchen into the garage. When she pulled the door shut, it didn't catch so it swung back open. I heard her yelling for someone to shut the door. Then it dawned on me that she was yelling for someone to shut the door because a snake was trying to get in!! I slammed the door shut and looked out to see that, sure enough, there was a snake slithering around on the top step - about to come in my kitchen!

Robb happened to be home early, getting ready to take Soccer Girl to her tournament 2 1/2 hours away. So he went out to deal with the snake, which had slithered off the step down behind some stuff in the garage. I yelled at The Boy to come downstairs. (Note: There was a LOT of yelling going on at my house during all of this.) He came running, thinking he was in trouble. I told him, no, I needed him to go in the garage and help his dad kill a snake.

Side note, our garage is usually a disorganized disaster area. Bikes, soccer balls, hula hoops, etc., all over the place. I had actually asked the small people to clean it up on Thursday, but they never got around to it. So there were plenty of hiding places for this unwelcome critter.

Robb and The Boy armed themselves with a sharp-edged shovel and a metal rake and started pulling stuff out to try to find this thing. I went in to "help", although I just kind of stood around trying not to think about the fact that there was a snake IN MY GARAGE!!

After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably more like an anxious 2 or 3 minutes, I hear Robb say, "I see him." I skedaddled my hiney on out of the garage. Robb pinned it up against the wall while The Boy tried to cut off its head with the shovel. During this, Robb informs me that it's a copperhead - about 2 1/2 to 3 feet long!!
Note: This is an image from the web. I did NOT get a picture of our intruder.
I was incredibly relieved when Robb and The Boy announced that the snake was D-E-A-D. Then I started crying. All of the what if's went through my head. What if Robb hadn't been home from work early? What if he had already left for the tournament? What if it had bitten my daughter??? Thankfully none of that happened, the snake was killed and disposed of, and all of us are safe and healthy.

After this, Robb and Soccer Girl left for the tournament, and The Boy and I started to get the garage organized. I can't really take a lot of credit for the organizing work. The Boy did almost all of it. I had to shuttle Ballerina to ballet class, and I went to buy some plastic tubs to use to organize the balls and outside toys. I can now say that my garage is no longer a disorganized chaotic mess.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Food on Friday - Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Pork Loin

I absolutely love using my slow cooker! With the small people being involved in sports, ballet, and scouts, our afternoons and evenings can get pretty crazy. I still want to feed my family healthy, homemade food, so it makes me happy to find good recipes that utilize my slow cooker. The glaze on this pork roast is AMAZING! The sweetness of the brown sugar combined with the cinnamon was just the combination to entice my small people to eat this.

Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Pork Loin
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast, 4 to 6 lbs
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/3 C brown sugar, divided
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Wash pork roast, trim excess fat, pat dry and rub with garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use a fork or skewer to prick the roast all over.

In a small bowl, combine 1 C of brown sugar, mustard, and vinegar. Rub all over the roast.

Place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 7 hours. Pour off excess juices.

Combine remaining brown sugar with cinnamon. Spread over top of the roast. Cover and continue cooking on LOW for 1 hour.

Do you have a recipe to share? Link up below!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - First Day of School


 
 I'm far behind on sharing stuff. These are from the first day of school 2 weeks ago.

I'd love to see your pictures! Link up below!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Grace

When I was a new mom, I wanted my children to be perfect. To look perfect, to act perfect. I felt like anything less would be a poor commentary on my parenting. I had it all laid out that I would demand teach first-time obedience, and my darling children would obey me the first time, every time. This parenting thing was going to be SO easy! Like I said, I was a new mom. All I had was one tiny, little baby who was pretty easy-going.

In the thirteen years since then, I've learned a lot! One thing I've learned is, no matter how much I may want my children to respond with first time obedience, they are not little robots. They have their own wills, which they exercise often.

Another thing I've learned is the importance of extending grace to my children. It's taken me a long time to understand this. God gave me grace when He sent His Son to die on the cross for my sins. I don't deserve it. I'll never deserve it, but He granted it anyway. In the same way, I need to grant my children grace, especially when their "disobedience" is simply a result of being children.

This isn't to say that I don't discipline my children; I do. I still expect them to do the right thing, but I also understand that there are going to be times they'll mess up. I can't expect them to be perfect, especially when I fail on a daily basis. Sometimes, the most important thing I can do to teach them about God's love is to extend a little grace myself.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Food on Friday - Pancake Bites

I found this recipe for pancake bites on Pinterest. She made them with sausage, bacon, or berries. I decided that since my small people like chocolate chip pancakes, I would make some chocolate chip pancake bites.
Chocolate Chip Pancake Bites
2 Cups Bisquick
1 Cup milk
2 eggs
Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix Bisquick, milk, and eggs until well blended. Pour batter into greased mini-muffin tin, about 3/4 full. Top with several chocolate chips. (We put 5-6 in each and that was plenty.) Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Do you have a recipe to share? Link up below!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Kitchen Helper

Soccer Girl loves to help in the kitchen.

I love to see your pictures each week. Link up below!!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Food on Friday - Taco Seasoning

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list for a packet of taco seasoning? Here are just a few items from the packet in my kitchen: spices and color, dextrose, cocoa powder processed with alkali, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, natural flavors. I don't know about you, but I have no idea what some of that stuff is. Also, WHY do they need to add flavors? Shouldn't there be flavor in the spices in it?

I decided to make my own taco seasoning.
It had all the flavor that I wanted (I didn't have to add any natural flavors), and I knew exactly what everything in it was. Plus it was a lot cheaper to make it than to buy the packet.

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp black pepper

Add 3 Tbsp of mix per 1 lb of ground beef in place of pre-packaged seasoning. Store any remaining seasoning in an air-tight container.

Have a recipe to share? Link up below.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friends

I've never had a TON of friends, just a handful of really close friends and several that I would call acquaintances more than friends. When my small people were all very small, maintaining friendships was difficult at best; impossible during the hardest times.

Recently, I've realized that I have been blessed with many good friends. The ones who I can be myself with, and not worry about being judged. The ones who I pray for and who I know pray for me.

There are the ones in my "real life" with whom I look forward to our times together, setting up "play dates", activities, and lunches for our small (and big) people so that we can have mom time together. I appreciate that I can text you and say, "Pray for me." with no other explanation, and I know that you WILL pray for me without needing to know anything else.

Then there are my "imaginary" friends. The friends who live inside my computer. The ones I've built relationships with through online forums where we share mutual interests. The ones I've gotten to know through stalking reading each other's blogs and talking together through the comments.

So today, I am thankful for my friends.

Food on Friday - Italian Pork Chops and Cheesy Orzo


I love using my crock pot. It keeps me from having to heat up my kitchen, especially when it's 3000 degrees outside. Plus I can fix the meal in the morning, when I seem to have more time (and energy), and not stress about throwing everything together at the last minute.
This has to be one of the easiest meals ever. The pork chops are thrown in the crock pot in the morning, and they make my house smell yummy all day long. The orzo was a pinterest find. You can see the original recipe here.

Italian Pork Chops
4 boneless pork chops
1 bottle Italian dressing

Put pork chops in crock pot. Pour Italian dressing over chops. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

(You really can't get any easier than that.)

Cheesy Orzo
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
14 oz chicken broth or stock
2 cups orzo pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat an 8-inch pot over medium heat. Add oil, onion, and garlic, and saute for 2 or 3 minutes. Add broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo and return to a boil. Cover pot and reduce heat to low/simmer. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and pasta is tender. Remove lid and stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Are you looking for something new to cook this week? Check out the recipes shared below.

Do you have a favorite recipe? Share yours with us!
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