26 August 2014

Tasty Tuesday {roasted marinara sauce}

Welcome back to Tasty Tuesday!!  

Recently, as in: the-month-of-August-which-has-been-one-of-the-busiest-months-of-my-life-ever, I decided it was time to can some tomatoes.  And after hearing of a great local place to buy some, proceeded to purchase a ridiculous amount of those lovely home-grown beauties.  

So....canning tomatoes has been happening at my house.  Yes, it has.  

However, after canning lots of tomatoes in this way I decided it was time to branch out.  I just wanted to try something that was different--and maybe something a little less time consuming.

So when a friend shared this super easy and oh-so-delicious recipe with me, I had to try it.  

I was NOT disappointed!  

Roasted Marinara Sauce
(from my friend Beverly Wilson)

1. Quarter (or smaller) the tomatoes and place them 
cut-side-down on a baking sheet with edges.
2.  Quarter a large onion and spread around on top of tomatoes.
3.  Add 2-4 cloves of garlic on top of onions/tomatoes
(I used minced garlic and it worked just fine).
4.  Drizzle veggies with olive oil.
5.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper, to taste.
6.  Roast at 400F for about 25 minutes.
7.  Cool.
8.  Slip off the tomato skins using your fingers and discard
(roasting the tomatoes cut-side-down makes this easy)
9.  Scoop up mixture with a spoon into your food processor
or blender.
10.  Add some fresh basil and oregano, to taste
(I only had dried and it worked fine, too).
11.  You can add some sugar at this point, but my tomatoes
were so sweet I skipped this step.
12.  Blend to desired consistency.
13.  Use immediately, can in jars, or freeze in jars or bags
(I froze mine in jars of various sizes--if you do freeze 
in jars, be sure to leave a little room a the top for expansion).

This sauce was amazing!  I can't wait to use it on pizza, pasta, 
stromboli, and anything else I decide to dip in it!!

P.S.  I am officially out of canning jars.  :)

25 August 2014

'Best Friends and Mean Girls': a Review

Up until recently I have only been vaguely familiar with the Secret Keeper Girl organization.  This is a wonderful ministry devoted to teaching girls ages 8-12 about purity, modesty, and about "keeping the deepest secrets of their beauty for just one man".  Having an 11-year-old daughter, this definitely strikes a cord with me.

So I was very excited to have the opportunity to review a copy of Secret Keeper Girl's newest book for moms, 8 Great Dates: Best Friends and Mean Girls by Dannah Gresh.

This book is all about relationships.  Your relationships as a mother, your relationship with your daughter, and--primarily--your daughters relationships with God, her parents, her siblings, her BFF, her neighbors, mean girls, and boys.  

There are three short introductory chapters, then you dive into '8 Great Date' ideas designed to help you discuss all of the above relationships with your daughter.  
For each date idea there is:
  • a challenge for mom as she prepares for the date with her daughter
  • an audio recording or two to listen to with your daughter
  • a fun date challenge (think: sleepover, shopping, etc.)
  • a "gab" time, which may or may not include scrapbooking
  • prayer time with your daughter
How awesome is that?! 

There are also devotionals to do with your daughter and even perforated pull-outs for 'girl gab' time.  There is also a special section just-for-moms full of FAQ's from other moms that may help to navigate many of your questions about helping your daughter navigate these sometimes-tricky tween waters.  

I don't know about you, but I sincerely appreciate quality, Bible-based resources such as this to help me as a parent.  

I also received the companion book for girls: A Girl's Guide to Best Friends and Mean Girls.

This book is a great Bible study guide that digs deeper into God's Word on the topic of relationships.  It will get your daughter looking up Scripture, meditating on Scripture, journaling, and doing fun exercises included in the chapters.  

I love these books and am looking forward to continuing through them with my daughter.  I even hope to share them with a class I teach on Sundays at our church for girls in 4th-6th grades using some of the small group options they offer.  

8 Great Dates: Best Friends and Mean Girls is available for $12 and the Girl's Guide is available for $10.  Find out how to purchase your copies here.


Disclaimer: I was given a copy of each of these books in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.  No other compensation was received.  

22 August 2014

Homeschool Day at Cheekwood Gardens

This week felt almost like our school year had started back again.  We took a fun field trip with several other families from our homeschool group to Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville.  Each year Cheekwood hosts a special homeschool day, usually developed around their summer theme.  This year the main theme was Big Bugs, along with emphasis on Andy Warhol's Flowers and a couple more smaller-but-just-as-beautiful exhibits.  We really enjoyed it (even if there was a heat advisory and I thought at one point we might truly melt...ha!)!  

Here are some highlights from our day:   

David Rogers' Big Bugs 

Patrick Dougherty: Little Bitty Pretty One twig sculpture

On the Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail

More of the Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail

If you live near Nashville or are passing through, this is a great spot for enjoying nature, strolling through gardens, taking a leisurely "hike" on the sculpture trail, browsing the art museum, or having a picnic on the grounds.  

aahhemmm....I recommend going on a day when there isn't 100% humidity though. ;) 

A big thanks to my sister for sharing her photos with me ...since I forgot my camera.

19 August 2014

Back-to-{home}School: Curriculum Choices

It's that time of the year again!!  I love getting all organized and prepared for the start of our homeschool year.  It hardly seems possible that this is our 7th year of homeschool and I now have a 4th grader and a 6th grader.  This year it seems we have more subjects and books than ever!  We'll be starting back in just two weeks.

Here's my 6th grader's personal lineup:

What's worked in the past that she's continuing with:

What's new this year: 

Here's the 4th grader's personal lineup:

What's worked in the past that he's continuing with: 

What's new this year: 
  • Supplemental Math: Life of Fred
  • Reading: Rod & Staff
  • Piano lessons

The subjects we do together: 

Whew!  I think that's all.  

Well, other than some various workbooks that we'll use occasionally.  

And LOTS of literature books that we'll read.

It seems like there is so much more on my schedule and plan for this year!  I hope I can keep up;)

What do you have planned for your homeschool curriculum this year?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments! 

18 August 2014

End-of-Summer {field} Trips

 Our summer is about to officially wrap up~can't believe fall is almost here!  August has been crazy busy so far, but these last couple of weeks are (hopefully) going to be a little slower.

We had two short trips back-to-back at the beginning of this month ...which made me realize more than ever that my son is just not a very good traveler.  But we survived.  And even had some fun in the meantime ;)

Our first trip was to Indianapolis for a ministers conference.  I didn't attend much of the conference, but I did get to hang out in a cozy hotel room downtown with my kiddos, eating some delicious pizza, and watching lots of the Food Network (a guilty hotel splurge since we don't have cable).

The kids and I also did a bit of walking around downtown while Vince was at the conference.  Indy has a lovely downtown and I always enjoy visiting there!

So then we came home for a couple of days and turned around and headed back to the Cincinnati area.  One of my childhood friends who lives in Alaska was in the lower 48 visiting family and friends, so we made plans to meet for the day at the Creation Museum.  It was so much fun to see her!  We haven't seen each other in person since before either of us was married.  It was fun introducing our kids, too.  We have daughters who are just 6 months apart in age and sons who are just 2 months apart in age.  

Of course, we loved our visit to the Creation Museum--it was our 4th visit (if you count the debate) and they have awesome new exhibits every time we go!  If you haven't been before, I highly recommend it.  Oh--and this year all kids are {free}!

While in the Cincinnati area we were able to stay with some dear family friends who live nearby~Jack & Joy.  And they were a true joy to stay with!  Jack is one amazing cook and I think we gained 10 lbs while there...ha!  

It seems like most everyone has started back to school or homeschool by now.  We will be starting on September 2nd--the day after Labor Day is our tradition.  We have already begun the school year's activities with our local homeschool group though and are enjoying that.  I'm glad that I've still got a couple of weeks to get organized for school!  

22 July 2014

Summer Lovin'

I've been wishing for more of those lazy days of summer, but even though it's been super busy around here we are having a good summer.  Just not a lazy one ;)  I'm completely tempted to give myself an extra month of summer an not start back-to-{home}school until October.  

I'm kidding.  


So thought I'd give you a little peek at what we've been up to lately.  

We love Christian Way Farm!  There's always something fun to do there!  
And playing mini golf in 90+ degree weather is definitely fun
~especially for kiddos who score holes-in-one and get
a freebie from the drink cooler!

The Princess has begun guitar lessons from my dad.  
She is liking it so far, although she did confide to me that she 
didn't realize it would be "that hard".  Ah, the joys of practicing.  
Did I mention that we start piano lessons next month?

We are starting to harvest some pretty little cherry tomatoes from 
our few tomato plants.  The kids loving picking them.  
The only problem with that is that they eat them all before they make 
it back to the house.

Just taking some fun pics while shopping at Opry Mills Mall.  
We really didn't go to the Grand Old Ole Opry--although I think that would be fun.

More Grand Ole Opry giant guitar fun.

I have finally begun working on the kids school scrapbooks.  
This may take a while.
I'm only 7 years behind.

We enjoyed some yummy German food at Guerst House in Nashville 
recently while celebrating my sister Kari's birthday.  We have been 
wishing for a good German place to eat since we moved from AR
 and I think we've found it~yea!

We also discovered a yummy local ice cream place in Nashville.  
The kids really loved the "Trailer Trash" ice cream--it's full of 
ALL KINDS of candy bars!

There's been LOTS of Lego play this summer, too.  My son is currently 
obsessed with all things LEGO Movie :)  And just Legos in general.  

Of course, there's also lots of swimming, vacation Bible school, tree house fun, sleepovers, reading, helping Dad at the church, playing board games, and more happening around here.  All in all, it's shaping up to be a pretty good summer.  

What about your summer?  What have you been up to?  Leave a comment and tell me about it :)

08 July 2014

What's For Dinner {July 7th}

So, yes, I'm a day behind in posting this.  I hope you'll understand.

Summertime is here and I'm feeling a bit lazy this week.  It's been so hectic lately that I've enjoyed have a little more downtime at home so far this week.

We did have a lovely 4th of July weekend though~how was yours?  We had a friend visiting from Alabama and we just hung out doing things like grilling out, eating on the deck, watching the kiddos swim, discovering a new farmers market, going on wild goose chases looking for some bookstores, and playing Mario Kart :)

But I neeeeeed my menu plan.  Our evenings don't go well without it.

So in the spirit of staying on track, here it is:

Monday:  Rotisserie chicken with white sauce, baked beans, fried okra, and twice-baked potatoes

Tuesday:  {Date Night!!}

Wednesday:  (Mexican meal at our small group leaders' meeting)  I'm taking Black Bean Salsa & tortilla chips

Thursday:  Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken with baked potatoes (and some leftover sides)

Friday:  {The Princess' choice night}  Spaghetti & Meatballs with Garlic Bread

Saturday:  Homemade Pizza (pepperoni and cheese for the kiddos, spinach & artichoke white pizza for Vince and me!)

Sunday:  Crockpot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili with Rice