Friday, March 30, 2012

Save Your Potato Skins!

I must admit that as thrifty as I am, I can not force a potato skin down with a baked potato or even a twice baked potato. Shameful, I know! My only consolation is knowing they are going to feed the chickens. However, using them to recreate this little appetizer/side dish is another story! I just tell everyone at the meal, "save your skins!" 

I place the tragic looking peels into a tupperware and the next day is a brand new side dish with new appeal. These are quick and easy to make.

First, preheat your oven control to "broiler". Now, line your baking/cookie sheet with foil because this will save on a potential baked on mess. Slice up your skins to resemble the approximate size above. You can see that anything goes on this one.

Brush your skins with melted butter and broil with potatoes 4-5 inches away from heat. Let them go for about 8-10 minutes or until they start to get nice and brown and crispy.

Sprinkle shredded cheese over potatoes (I use mozzarella for almost everything since I buy a huge block of it in bulk but you can also use Colby/Monterey Jack cheese, or anything else that suits your fancy).

Now, place these back to broil for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until your cheese is nice and melted. I pull mine out when bits of brown bubbles begin to form on the cheese.

Now, serve them with some homemade salsa of diced tomatoes, onions, squeeze of lemon or lime and with a bit of fresh parsley or cilantro. Of course, you can use a bottled salsa as well as some sour cream if you like.

And this is the new way we use potato skins in our home. I hope someone else out there can appreciate this double duty meal of the potato as well. This was a real hit in our home...

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Girl I Used to Be... {For Mothers}

The Girl I Used to Be...

She came tonight as I sat alone,
The girl I used to be...
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye
And questioned reproachfully:

Have you forgotten the many plans
And hopes that I had for you?
The great career, the splendid fame,
All the wonderful things to do?
Where is the mansion of stately height
With all of its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you
And the jewels in your hair?

And as she spoke, I was very sad
For I wanted her pleased with me...
This slender girl from the shadowy past,
The girl that I used to be.

So gently rising, I took her hand,
And guided her up the stair,
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay
Innocent, sweet, and fair.

And I told her that these are my only gems,
And precious they are to me;
That silken robe is my motherhood
Of costly simplicity.

And my mansion of stately height is love,
And the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls
For the dear ones who come and go.

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest,
She smiled through her tears at me.
And I saw that the woman that I am now
Pleased the girl that I used to be.

~ Author Unknown

Spring Inspired Activities

Spring's a variable season;
First comes zephyr mild and meek,
Then the east wind nips the blossom,
Sun and show'r play hide and seek.

Spring's a sweet and merry season,
Spring with garlands decks the thorn,
Fills the grove with songs of joyance,
Then the lamb and colt are born.

~ Excerpt from "Seasons" by Sara Coleridge

Spring is my favorite season (next to fall!). The great outdoors are blooming with life and have seemed to awaken after their winter slumber. Venture outside with your family and enjoy some of these activities together…

  • Prepare the soil together and plant a family garden.
  • Take your family on local historical home tours (this is a great time to go since most historical homes have no air conditioner and it could get pretty stuffy inside in the summer).
  • Go out on a weekly nature walk.
  • Go bird watching (many nature parks offer bird watching tours and hikes).
  • Make a bird feeder for your back yard or paint some bird feeders together. Watch the wildlife come to you as you help to feed and house them.
A Picnic by Henry Nelson O'Neil
  • Go on a family picnic when the weather warms.
  • Pick some wildflowers and other natural objects to display in your home.

  • Read together some spring inspired picture books:

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (Illustrated by Tasha Tudor is my favorite!)

From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons

A Packet of Seeds by Deborah Hopkinson

Spring Charm by Lisa Auger
  • Read some spring inspired poetry:

Written in March
The cock is crowing, 
The stream is flowing, 
The small birds twitter, 
The lake doth glitter 
The green field sleeps in the sun; 
The oldest and youngest 
Are at work with the strongest; 
The cattle are grazing, 
Their heads never raising; 
There are forty feeding like one! 

Like an army defeated 
The snow hath retreated, 
And now doth fare ill 
On the top of the bare hill; 
The plowboy is whooping- anon-anon: 
There's joy in the mountains; 
There's life in the fountains; 
Small clouds are sailing, 
Blue sky prevailing; 
The rain is over and gone!

~ William Wordsworth

Wisdom comes with all we see,
God writes His lessons in each flower,
And ev'ry singing bird or bee
Can teach us something of His power.

 ~ Unknown

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bible Primer in Picture Study Series: Part Two

Rembrandt's Mother Reading the Bible by Rembrandt

This marks the second segment of my "Bible in Art Series of Studies" for children (first segment here). These are meant to incorporate basic knowledge of the Scriptures along with a taste of art through picture study. Try one of these lessons a week with your children and watch as they gently teach them a variety of information in just a few minutes or if you aren't a homeschooler, you can see if you can glean anything yourself! Who says we stop learning once we leave "school"?

Have your children study the painting above by Rembrandt and discuss the following with them:
  • Have you ever heard of Rembrandt? He painted the picture above of his mother reading the Bible.
  • He is a Dutch painter. Can you find Dutch on the map? (No, we call the country that the Dutch people reside in, Holland.) Can you find Holland on the map or globe?
  • Rembrandt is considered one of the greatest painters of all time. He spent a lot of time with his family and included them in much of his art. He also liked to dress up and paint fun pictures. Do you enjoy doing that as well?
  • What colors do you notice in the painting above?
  • Open up your Bible, does it look similar to the one his mother is reading?
  • Do you think the woman in the picture will ever learn all there is to know in the Scriptures?
  • Did you know that the first five books of the Bible are referred to as the "Law" or "Pentateuch"? Pentateuch comes from the Greek term meaning "five volume book". The Jewish people call this the "Torah" which simply means "instruction".
  • Can you locate these five books in your Bible and name them to your mother?

Memorize the following Scripture and discuss the meaning together:

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart,
that I might not sin against thee."
~ Psalm 119:11

Guessing Game:

Rembrandt painted many pictures of Biblical scenes. Can you guess the Bible story that corresponds to the paintings below? Be sure to look at all the details like a detective. I will place the answers at the bottom of this post:

    Continue with your discussion using the questions below:
    • Now that you have seen some of the artwork of Rembrandt, do you like his paintings?
    • Why or why not?
    • Ask your children if there is a difference between the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrandt (whom were both Dutch). What makes them different? Do they both paint with the same moods? Do they use the same colors and style? Do they prefer one artist over the other? Why or why not?

    Instruction from Scripture ~ A Poem for Children by Isaac Watts

    How shall the young secure their hearts, 
    And guard their lives from sin?
    Thy word the choicest rules imparts 
    To keep the conscience clean. 

    When once it enters to the mind, 
    It spreads such light abroad, 
    The meanest souls instruction find, 

    And raise their thoughts to God. 

    'Tis like the sun, a heav'nly light,
    That guides us all the day; 

    And through the dangers of the night, 

    A lamp to lead our way.

    The men that keep thy law with care,
    And meditate thy word, 
    Grow wiser than their teachers are, 
    And better know the Lord.

    Thy precepts make me truly wise:
    I hate the sinner's road; 
    I hate my own vain thoughts that rise, 
    But love thy law, my God.

    The starry heavens thy rule obey, 
    The earth maintains her place; 
    And these thy servants night and day 
    Thy skill and power express.

    But still thy law and gospel, Lord, 
    Have lessons more divine; 
    Not earth stands firmer than thy word, 
    Nor stars so nobly shine.

    Thy word is everlasting truth,
    How pure is every page! 
    That holy book shall guide our youth, 
    And well support our age. 

    Final Review Activities:
    • You can finish up this study by reading the poem above by Isaac Watts to your dear students.
    • Review the information above through a few minutes of oral quizzes.
    • Have your children repeat their memory verse.
    • It might be fun to show a variety of paintings to the children and see if they can point out the ones that they think belong to Van Gogh and which ones belong to Rembrandt.
    • Bring out some paints and have your children do their own masterpieces.
    The answers to the Rembrandt paintings are (in order):
    • Moses Smashes the Stone Tablets with the Text of the Covenant
    • Haman and Ahasuerus visit Esther
    • David and Saul
    • Belshazzar's Feast
    • Samson tells a Riddle at his Feast
    • Storm at the Sea of Galilee
    Part One: Featuring Vincent Van Gogh is here.

      Thursday, March 15, 2012

      Children are a Blessing

      A Woman Surrounded by Children by Jessie Wilcox Smith

      “She says I shall now have one mouth the more to fill and two feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading, music, and drawing. 

      Well! This is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the other. Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!”

      Elizabeth Prentiss, Excerpt from Stepping Heavenward

      Wednesday, March 14, 2012

      "Food for Her Family" ~ Inspirational Recipe Book ~ Free Printable

      Do you keep your recipes in a binder? I love that concept as you can easily update and add recipes as you come across them. I wanted to encourage you to make an "Inspirational Recipe Book". The reason for the "inspiration"?

      We used food and hospitality inspired Scripture to personalize our recipe collection. This is a great reminder that when we prepare a meal for our loved ones, the fellowship around that table should be done in remembrance of our Lord.

      "And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
      “This is My body which is given for you;
      do this in remembrance of Me.”
       ~ Luke 22:19

      We are sharing our updated inspirational recipe book with you if you are interested. Simple follow the link below to download and/or print at no cost (you can view our original Recipe Book here for the concept). 

      List of recommended supplies:

      Included in the Free Printable:

      Cover Page Insert
      Binder Spine Insert (shown below)
      "Main Dishes" Section
      "Side Dishes" Section
      "Salads" Section
      "Sauces" Section
      "Soups/Stews" Section
      "Appetizers" Section
      "Desserts" Section
      "Food Preservation" Section
      "Breakfast" Section
      "Yeast Dough/Bread" Section
      "Notes" Section
      Back Cover Page Insert

      "She provides food for her family…"
      ~ Proverbs 31:15b (NIV)

      Monday, March 12, 2012

      Storing Seasonal Items

      “Plan your action, keep it simple, and get into motion.” 

      I have a very creepy, crawly attic. It is alarming to even think of storing goods up there. However, with limited space, I must utilize this area as it is a blessing. What I came up with is plastic blanket storage bags. These won out over plastic tote boxes and cardboard boxes because they zip up and do not allow for creatures to crawl inside and get comfortable.  What is also nice is that they are affordable, stackable, re-usable and clear so that you can see the contents. (I had tried the space saver bags but found them a pain when needing to use the contents, locate the contents and they really weren't stack friendly in my opinion.)

      The other seasonal storage I found to be useful was our luggage. Let's face it, we really don't travel much. And if we do, I simply dump the contents into a laundry basket and replace them when we get home. It's not rocket science but they already take up space so why not utilize them? They zip up nice and tight making them bug proof for the most part. They also have wheels which makes them appealing for the heavier items you want to store.

      What are some of the ways that you store your goods?

      Tuesday, March 6, 2012

      1st Year Homestead Reflection of the Humors/Horrors

      When I started to write this first year experience of the horror stories I faced (though humorous when you think about it after the fact) on our homestead, I was without any photos. This morning I awoke and "he" was sitting there. Talk about a wake up call, I could have easily skipped coffee after this appearance. How I truly value the invention of the fly swatter! I have since learned to place one in every room (even the shower, more on that later). They are the homemaker's best friend on the farm!  It's many uses include, but are not limited to, crickets, spiders of unusual size, mosquitoes, suction cup froglets (more on those below) and as I learned today, scorpions.

      Our first meeting with the creatures of the unchartered world was in the first week of our arrival. We were all jet-legged and exhausted as we went to bed. At three o'clock in the morning, I was finally able to sleep when I was woken up by my notoriously dramatic daughter. She informed me that there was a huge spider in the bathroom. I being quite irritated at losing sleep to someone who claimed themselves a "frontier woman", began to give her the spiel on "life on the farm".  We are to expect spiders as we had those in the city as well! But, I did my motherly duty by investigating the crime scene. When I saw the enormous, creepy, crawly, hairy and long-legged TARANTULA, I wanted to faint. However, if I did so, I couldn't imagine the horrors of us alone in that same little room, so instead I quickly dispatched of it with my poor slipper which I no longer wanted to wear. Before going back to bed, I did repent to dear daughter for my lack of compassion as we embraced each other with fright of the memory... We were city girls after all.

      A few weeks later, I encountered the second species of terror. While showering after a long and hot day of scrubbing down our new home, I stood a vulnerable target as a small green frog the size of a silver dollar leaped out across the tile. The possibilities were endless! Scared to death that it would latch on and make contact, I screamed as I reached for the fly swatter I had strategically placed near by (for at this point in the game, I was armed and dangerous!). A game of suction-cup-frog ping pong ensued. Boy can they jump! They also required multiple swats! For the following month (until ALL the screens were put up in the house), I showered with the sliding door open for quick exit with zero concern that my bathroom floor was flooded each time. My husband mocked this when he found out but has recently confessed he employed the same policy upon hearing of my unpleasant tub-time recreation.

      And lastly, for those of you who think dinosaurs are extinct, you have never seen a gila monster. If it isn't a smaller scaled iguanodon then I don't know what is.  My daughter screamed to me from the back yard to "come quick" for she had cornered one of these creatures. From what I understand, they won't be the first to attack unless they feel threatened. Apparently, me standing nearby with a hoe in my shaking hand wasn't of concern. My husband was gone, my daughter was sure that mother could rid the farm of the notorious egg thieves so I felt obligated to be the heroine (though I am very much the coward)! The only weapon that could put enough distance between me and that shrunken behemoth was the hoe in my hand. With only half the strength I possessed (have you ever had wobbly hand syndrome when scared?) I lunged forward towards my enemy (okay, two inches) and before I even made contact with the creature I was already screaming (The knowledge of it's thick and scaled body meeting the garden tool that I held gave me the willies). "Aaaaaah"!!! and the hoe bounced off the victim in slow motion. The gila monster, clearly unbothered by this tragic attack, sauntered back into the corner where it had left it's (our) eggs. I thought a moment…  How did Jael do her deed with a tent peg? But, back to reality when a silver streak like that of an angel pulled onto our property (husband's pick up). My knight in shining armor arrived to finish off what I really didn't even start… In his eyes, I had just baby-sat the creature until he arrived on the scene to dispose of the little beast.

      With all those horrors I described, there are still many blessings woven in which I have been sharing this past twelve months. I am still here and wondering what next year will bring. I am hoping something more in the lines of beautiful rainbows, blooming roses and fresh produce. But the creature awaiting me this morning doesn't make me too hopeful…

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