Monday, July 28, 2014

Menu Monday!

I've had some computer issues so blogging has been spotty.. I hope to be up and running with a new computer this week and back to blogging a little more consistently!! :)

Sub sandwiches, chips & dip, fresh fruit platter

Salad bar @ home, dinner rolls, watermelon

Homemade pizza


Spaghetti, french bread, salad

Crockpot orange and coconut chicken, brown rice, salad (did not make this last week so I'll try again this week!)


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Homeschooling: Can I Adequately Prepare them for College?

I received a comment on a previous article I'd written: “My Homeschooling Advice to my Daughter”. I was going to reply to her in the comment section but my reply got so long that I decided to share my thoughts on a blog post. ~smile~ Here was the comment/question:

“This was my approach to homeschooling too. My girls are now 9 and 6, and I'm worried about how to homeschool for the next 10 years. I don't know if I have it in me to homeschool for the next 10 years, and I don't know if I would do a good enough job preparing them for college. A future veterinarian and doctor.... as a mother who has "been there, done that" I hope you'll share your insight.”

When I began homeschooling my kids I honestly never worried about the next year or the next and certainly not 10 years. You see I felt that God had led us to homeschool our children. It became and still is a matter of conviction. I determined in my mind that there was no obstacle that was greater than my conviction. I believed that what God had brought me to, he would see me through. Homeschooling for me has been a lifestyle of learning.

And after 26 years of homeschooling, with 7 children graduated, God has seen us through each and every step of the way.

Here is the rundown of my children and where they are today: I have one son who is currently working to get his degree in software engineering (he also has his aircraft mechanics licenses and spent 5 years in the Army), one daughter in the Army, one daughter who is a homemaker and raising her 3 beautiful babies, one daughter is working as an Accountant (earned her degree in 2 ½ years), she was just given senior account status at her firm, and she also spent one year in Denmark working as au pair because she wanted to travel and see the world before she settled down, one daughter who has an English degree (earned in 2 ¾ years) and worked as an English teacher in S. Korea for one year and has since come home and been working as an ESL teacher and pursuing her desire to teach special ed students (something that has been on her heart for many years), a son who is working on his college degree in computer information & technology and currently has his A+ certificate (IT certificate) and will help anyone in a heartbeat solve their computer issues, a daughter who is currently in school to be a dental assistant and finally a son who is still being homeschooled.

Did I prepare them for these pursuits? Can I take credit for the direction their academic life has gone? In one way, yes, in another more important way... no. I can't take credit for where they have gone in their lives or what they have endeavored to do.

You see... I took it one year at a time, I taught them the basics. I taught them to read, write, mathematics (at least the younger grades, hubby handles the upper levels of math), I read classic books to them all the time.. we read all summer long, we read through the fall and winter evenings (we did not have TV reception and that is how we spent our evenings), I taught them to look and explore the world around them. I taught them to have a love for learning.. and here is the most important part.. I gave them the time and opportunity to pursue the things in life they had a passion for. I taught them HOW to learn, how to educate themselves on topics of interest, and this showed them they could learn anything they desired. I remember my oldest son as a teenager checking books out of the library on chemistry, because he was so fascinated with it.

When my children reached their young teen years or even before this and showed an interest in something, I sought opportunities for them to be able to enjoy what it was they were interested in. I let them have time enjoying the wonders of whatever topic they were curious about. I kept most outside busyness out of our lives and gave lots of opportunity for them to learn and love learning.

I encouraged my children to work and seek ways to help others and make money. They had their own businesses, they worked for neighbors, they volunteered their time. I taught them that life was not about what you don't have, but making the most of whatever it is you have. And each of them have gone on to prove this. I could never have adequately prepared (in today's sense of the meaning) a software engineer, an accountant, a teacher, an IT man, a dental assistant, and so on... this has to come from within the child. This has to be their will and their hearts desire, not mine. What I saw was that when my children decided on their path, they were more than adequately prepared to do whatever it took to achieve their goal.

I like to look at the job of a homeschooling parent as one who teaches a child how to learn. If I did not have what it took for a child to pursue something, I found someone who did. Piano teachers, computer volunteer time (my computer fascinated boys volunteered their time at a store in the city that refurbishes old computers), photography lessons, and so on.. and sometimes they found opportunities for themselves.

There are so many options out there today to learn, it is never just relegated to what a formal school could teach. There are classes, homeschool co-ops, dual enrollment in colleges, online courses, (My 2 daughters with degrees earned them without ever stepping into a college classroom), and there are tons of helpful websites and books that can walk a parent through every step of homeschooling in high school. Any mom that desires to, can lead and provide opportunities to allow their children to reach whatever goal they desire!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Menu Monday!

Life has settled down and I was able to get a menu made for this week!! ~smile~ ..


Bbq hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon

Kielbasa sauteed with onions & mushrooms, garlic bread, salad


Crockpot orange and coconut chicken, brown rice, salad



Friday, July 18, 2014

From the Homestead

Life is moving forward with baby steps. My son is home from the hospital and getting stronger each day, praise God!! He has a follow up appointment in a couple of weeks and then we will plan for surgery. Thank you all for your kind words and prayers.

It has been a busy stressful week for sure. I mentioned in my last blog post about quick easy meals. I really could not do fast food for my family. We are not fast food people and the cost would have been ridiculous. So I was scrambling to come up with quick food to prepare in the short amount of time I had at home. One meal that I learned about from a friend is called, Summer Pasta. This meal was so easy and quick. In fact I've made it a couple times now. You can find the recipe here:  What I liked about the recipe was that I could have dinner on the table in 20 minutes. The one big change I made to the original recipe was adding chicken. I added about 3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I had cut up into small pieces. I also used ½ chicken broth and ½ water to cook the pasta.

Basically you bring your water (or water/chicken broth) to a boil, add your pasta, cut up veggies (just use whatever you have in the fridge). Add some crushed garlic and salt and pepper. Boil it all until the pasta is done and strain it. Serve with garlic bread and (if your pushed for time and energy) salad from a bag. Just make sure whatever veggies you add will cook in the time it takes your pasta to cook. I used spaghetti noodles.

The second super easy meal I made was Crockpot Orange & Garlic Chicken... seriously ladies it does not get any simpler than this. Put one large whole chicken in your crockpot, cover it with chopped up onions and garlic. Mix together 1 cup orange juice concentrate and 2T vinegar. I used white wine vinegar but I'm guessing anything would work. Pour over the chicken, cook all day on low until the meat is falling apart. Serve with whatever you would like! ~smile~

I'm sorry I don't have pics to share, just have not had a lot of time for that. I hope to have my life back on track soon!  For sure meal planning is on my list this weekend!! 

If you have an easy, quick dinner meal that is your “go to”.. I'd love to hear about it!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

MIA (and.. Where is Menu Monday!?!? )

I've been 'Missing In Action'! What a July this has been. Since Friday I've been traveling back and forth to the hospital (about an hour away) for my youngest son. All last week he told me his right side hurt. Due to him having done a lot physical activity I thought maybe a pulled muscle? But to rule anything else out I took him to the doctors office. They checked him out and said it was a pulled muscle and sent us home with a prescription for anti inflammatory meds. Two days later he was much worse and had a temperature. It was an effort to walk from his room to the couch. I took him back to the doctors and they sent me to the Children's Hospital in the city. After exams and a CT scan it revealed he had a ruptured appendix.

He is currently still in the hospital and doing better each day. We are hoping he will be home in a couple days. Surgery is then planned for him in about 4 to 6 weeks. Procedures have changed over the years and they no longer operate immediately. The get rid of the infection, wait for his body to heal and after that, surgery.

I'm incredibly thankful for such an amazing family. He has had someone with him more than not.. being so far away makes it hard, but with family stepping in and hanging out with him it has made things so much better!! Even his nurse was amazed at the family support! Just praising God for His many blessings.

Now you can see why there's no Menu Monday! Today! :) I've barely been home long enough over the last few days to cook anything. I managed to get to the grocery store on the way back from the hospital one day and grabbed a few things. We've lived off of my home canned foods, a bbq one night and another meal I discovered last week and plan to share with you.. Summer Pasta! Talk about the simplest summer meal ever. I have some pics and the recipe to share.. just no time right now.. I'll be posting as soon as I can! ~smile~

My boy.. Leanne snapped a pic of him.. trying to eat some food. I'm thankful to say he does have his appetite back now!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Green Tea Mint Soap

I experimented over the weekend with a new soap recipe. I really liked the way it turned out. I used herbal tea for the liquid. It was a mix of green tea and peppermint tea bags.

Before you attempt to make soap please be knowledgeable about soap making procedures and safety using lye. If you’ve never made soap before I have step by step instructions on my website (The Family Homestead). I also give a list of supplies needed to make soap and links on where to find oils, scent oils, and lye.

I also have and ebook on making cold process soap.  I go through the whole process, step by step, with pictures: 

This is a hot process soap recipe. Any cold process soap recipe can be made with the ‘hot process’ method. Just be sure to use the larger amount of water/liquid (most cold process recipes give you a range of how much liquid to use).

I make my hot process soap in my crockpot. I often get asked the question: “Do I need a separate crockpot just for soap making?” .. My answer.. No, you don’t. When you are done making soap in the crockpot you have … soap… and no matter if you make soap or a meal.. at the end of the day.. you have to clean your crockpot with.. (yep you guessed it).. SOAP .. :) .. so all is good because that is what you have in your crockpot when you are done. 

(a pic of my crockpot after I was done making the soap..  all full of soapy bubbles!)

Green Tea Mint Soap
This batch of soap is 4#’s.. you will need a mold large enough to hold 4#’s of soap…

8oz olive oil
16oz palm kernel oil
20oz palm oil
20oz sunflower oil

8.89oz lye
24oz water
3 green tea bags
1 peppermint tea bag

1.25oz green tea fragrance oil

Early in the day boil water and measure out 24oz. Put the tea bags in the water, cover and let steep until the tea reaches room temperature. After it is at room temp, remove the tea bags, squeezing out the water.

When you are ready to make soap turn your crockpot to “low” and add the palm kernel oil and the palm oil. Wait until they melt. Then add the olive oil and sunflower oil.

Add lye to the mint/green tea. Stir until dissolved.

Add tea/lye mixture to the oil mixture (no need to worry about proper temperature of your oils or lye mix when making hot process soap). Using a stick blender, blend until it reaches “trace”. Put the lid on the crockpot and wait about 15 minutes. Stir, cover and continue to let it cook. Every 5 or so minutes remove lid and stir. It took my batch about 35 minutes to turn into soap. You can see in the pics below the soap going through the various stages of cooking...

Remove from crockpot and add scent oil. Stir until well mixed. Scoop/plop soap into lined mold. I line my 4lb mold with a plastic bag.. it works just fine and is a lot less troublesome than trying to line the mold with freezer paper. In the end it is for our own home use and slight imperfections on the surface of the soap bars are gone after it has been used a few times!! ~Smile~

24 hours later I took it out of the mold…

And sliced it..

I love the color of it.. and the scent is nice.. not sure at this point if I can really smell the peppermint .. I’ve had a few people smell it and said they think they are faintly smelling it.. so. We’ll see after it sits for a few more days to harden up if the smell comes through more.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Menu Monday!


Turkey sandwiches, chips & dip, coleslaw


Crockpot honey & dijon mustard chicken, brown rice, salad


Chicken, bacon salad, french bread, watermelon


Baked chicken, potato salad, veggie platter


Sour cream enchiladas (chicken or beef.. have yet to decide), tortillas chips & salsa, salad


Bbq burgers, watermelon, cheesecake & ice cream (hubby's bday)


Spaghetti, french bread, salad


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Updates from the Homestead

You have to know when you don’t hear from me in several days it is because my life has been crazy busy… and blogging takes a back seat to living in the moment. And what a week it has been!

The most precious thing that happened this week is that my hubby and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary… Wow.. I think we were both in shock to realize we’d been married 30 years! We spent time reminiscing and reflecting on God’s blessing on our lives. I love this man more today than ever before. He has been an amazing husband. He has held me when I cried, cheered me on when I succeeded in personal goals, we’ve worked together to reach so many goals in our life. We made 8 amazing babies who’ve grown (and are growing) into amazing adults. Our start in life was so rocky.. and I’ve felt like our life was nothing short of an example of God’s grace, love and blessings.

When we met neither of us were Christians. I was 16, living with my mother and step father who were both alcoholics. He had just moved to the West Coast from Chicago with his own issues and problems. He was my next door neighbor. We met, dated, and spent tons of time together. But we had an up and down type of relationship.. like what you’d expect from a 16 and 18 year old… we were just kids.

At 17, one month before my 18th birthday I found out I was pregnant. I was devastated… my step father told me… “I’ve raised my kids and I won’t be raising any more”. Abortion was totally not a choice as far as I was concerned and Tobin said there was no way he was going to let someone unknown raise his child. However he was not ready for marriage. He told me… I’ll take care of you, I’ll take care of our baby.. I’m just not ready to marry. So I moved in with him. I finished high school.. worked a part time job and then had our first born, Richard, that fall.

By the following spring life was not going that great. We argued, fought, and struggled. He was going to school, we were both working as apartment managers, and dealing with being thrown from childhood/teenage life to adult life with real responsibilities. My grandmother was such an incredibly godly woman. Years later she told me, before she died.. she prayed for me every single day… to all you grandmas out there (myself included)… pray every day for your grandchildren! They need prayer warriors in their life! Well as our life was crumbling… I remembered my grandmother and her great faith in God.. and how she was so on fire for HIM… And as I looked at my life.. I had nowhere to go… a step father who would not take me back, a father who could not, and a little baby that needed a mama.. and a daddy… what was I going to do? At what was the bottom for me, I reached out to God.. the one my grandmother taught me about.. and the result.. was nothing short of miraculous… I accepted Jesus into my life, in less than one month, Tobin accepted Jesus into his life, and we were married one month later.

If anyone had looked at our life prior to this they would have said… “where could this possibly go?” Because all the odds were totally against us.. young, stupid, unprepared, struggling with money and life… a recipe for disaster in anyone’s book.. except GODS!! He pulled us both up, gave us hope, gave us love, gave us grace, and gave us a blessed life.

My husband finished school, got a job, we had another baby, and another, and another… ~smile~ We jumped into life with both feet, holding each other’s hand…. And what an amazing journey our life has been.

It still has had its ups and downs, victories, defeats, encouragements, discouragements… but one thing my husband and I have found to always be true no matter what.. GOD… His love, His grace.. His longsuffering, His blessings… Jesus is always the answer …

So on Tuesday… we celebrated 30 years of marriage… 30 years of love… 30 years of hard work.. 30 years of babies, children, young people, adults, grandchildren… 30 years of blessing… Thank you Jesus…