Friday, July 25, 2008

The Last Lecture

I have been really struggling this week with the act of balancing my work and my family. Many of you who know me personally, know that I spent 8 years home with my children. I was a mom, chef, maid, teacher, chauffer, nurse, doctor, playmate, disciplinarian, and so much more. I was a homeschooler, mentor, an author, a friend, a confidant, an event planner, and more. I was a wife, helpmate, business partner, secretary, accountant, and more. My life and world centered around my family and what I could do to make their lives better.

Then one day my world seemed to turn upside down. It started with the words ovarian cancer but I figured with my family by my side I could overcome any obstacle. And I did. Then I heard, we are taking your husband to the hospital. It looks bad and it was... in more way than one. That was the beginning of the end. I was traded in for a newer model and suddenly I was no longer a wife and mother. I was now the sole provider with 3 boys looking to me to keep their lives in order and somewhat constant with what they were used to. I gave up on my degree to be a mom. How was I to provide for them?? As always, God provided the answers and my children haven't really lost all that much considering all that there was to lose.

Fast forward to this week, my littlest one curled up on the ottoman wrapped in a blanket asking why can't you just be my mom again. Those sweet little words were heart wrenching. Oh how I wish I could do just that but I kissed him on the head and promised we will have a mommy day soon and headed out for work. That night when I got home, the boys were miserable. Nothing went right and I spent hours rocking and reassuring my boys that life was okay. That there was still someone to love them even if I wasn't home all the time. I went to bed that night in tears.

I woke up that morning in tears as well. I got up and was determined to put on a brave face and continue on with my routine as that was what was best for the kids. A very special someone gave me a bit of wisdom that morning. He stated that it was infinetely more important for me to stay home with the boys that day than go to work. Money would work itself out later this is something that must be done. He was more right than he realizes. I feel so rejuvenated and the kids laughed and giggled all day. We didn't do anything particular just enjoyed being a family at home.

Another friend sent me this link: His advice... that no parent should miss out on this lecture. I would have to say I agree with his sentiments. However, I would state that there are lessons to be learned by all from this video. I think my kids should watch it as well. This is the link that will take you directly to the video by Professor Randy Pausch: Its long. I won't lie to you but if you have to skip some parts start about 45 minutes into the lecture. He will start wrapping up his life lessons. Its one of the most touching things I have seen in awhile.

For those of you who are single and dating like me, I have a piece of advice I learned from this about men. Ignore their words and watch their actions. Men are doers not talkers. Their actions will tell you all that you need to know. At first, I thought this isn't true but then I thought about it and you know what.... it is 100% true. I wish I knew this a long time ago.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Presidents & Elections

From Life Take 1


The White House for Kids. Learn all about the President, his family, and more!

The White House Learn all about the Presidents both past and current.

Election 2004 Keep up to date on all the latest information.

PBS Kids Democracy Project Learn about democracy, voting, and what it would be like to be the President for a day.

George W. Bush Take a quiz to see how much you know about our current President.

Election Skills Workbooks for purchase from Scholastic for the upcoming election year.

  • The White House Cookbook by Hugo Ziemann & F.L. Gillette
  • The White House Family Cookbook by Henry Haller
  • Duck for President by Doreen Cronin
  • Clifford for President
  • My Teacher for President by Kay Winters
  • Robin Hill School Election Day by Margaret McNamara
  • Vote! by Eileen Christelowe
  • Werewolves Don't Run for President by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones
  • Smart About the Presidents by Jon Buller and Susan Schade
  • Smart About First Ladies by Jon Buller and Susan Schade
  • The Story of the White House by Kate Waters

Presidents Song

From Life Take 1

Here is a song to help you learn the order of the presidents. It is sung to the tune of 10 Little Indians. Thank You Lauren in GA for sharing this!

Washington, Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, William Henry Harrison Tyler was the 10th president. Polk then Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln,Johnson, Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes,Garfield, the 20th president. Arthur, Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Cleveland again, Then William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, the 30th president. Hoover, F.D. Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon,Ford, Carter, Reagan, George Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush right now!


From Life Take 1

  • The First Easter by Carol Heyer
  • The Tale of Three Trees
  • Benjamin's Box
  • The Legend of the Easter Egg
  • The Story of Easter by Tracy Harrast.
  • Peek A Bible Series.
  • The Story of Easter by Patricia A Pingry

How we celebrate Easter

From Life Take 1

Each family has their own ways of creating special memories of holidays and Easter is no exception. Dying eggs, having an Easter Egg hunt, going to Church, family dinners -- these are just some of the ways we celebrate.

One thing that is unique to our family is that we have a one giant Easter basket that everyone shares. We never eat all the candy alone in individual baskets so this one big one cuts down on the sugar. Our baskets tend to have themes from year to year. There was a veggie tale basket, a sand toy basket, a sports basket, and this year it was a knights basket. Everyone gets something including mom and dad. We reuse our basket every year.


From Life Take 1

  • Olympic Educational Activities for all ages.
  • Olympic Games History --lists who has hosted the Olympics and when. Map out the locations. Use a see through post-it arrow to write the date on and mark it on the map. For more than one year, just simply add all the dates onto the one arrow. Then you can play a quiz game using your map and arrows.

  • The Original Olympics by Stewart Ross
  • Hour of the Olympics (Magic Tree House)
  • Olympics by Chris Oxlade
  • Ancient Olympics by Chris Oxlade
  • Olympics
  • Count Your Way Through Greece by Jim Haskins andKathleen Benson. Cool book, great illustrations, fairly short text per page spread.
  • Footsteps in Time: The Greeks by Sally Hewitt. One page on the Olympics, plus a spread on making an Olympic torch.
  • I Wonder Why The Greeks Built Temples and other questions about Ancient Greece by Fiona Macdonald. Here again, only one 2-page spread on the Olympics, but this is just a great book overall. Great questions like "Who took a shower in a bowl?" and "Why did the Greeks beat their trees?" There are 8 books in this series covering various history and science topics. Great introduction books!
  • How Would You Survive as an Ancient Greek by Fiona Macdonald. More detailed than the above book, and the illustrations are, umm, yeah, more detailed too. I Wonder Why has the naked athletes running on thebottom of the page, so you are seeing them from the waist up. Survive has them full-body, but turned just enough to not quite see, um, boy parts. It is far more noticeable that they are not wearing clothes. I still plan to use the book, but figured I better put in the disclaimer!
  • Mother's Day

    From Life Take 1


    • Mother's Day
    • I Love My Mommy Because.....

    Father's Day

    From Life Take 1


    • Father's Day
    • I Love My Daddy Because

    Memorial Day

    From Life Take 1

    Memorial day is a time to remember and honor those who have fought for the freedom we enjoy each and everyday. Thank you to all of those who have and continue to serve and protect us all. You are in our thoughts and prayers always. Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of summer!
    National Memorial Day Website
    Word Search
    DTLK Hands-on crafts and activities
    Memorial Day at Alphabet Soup
    Crossword Puzzle
    Handprint Wreath
    Draw and Write
    Door Hangers
    Flag Coloring Page
    Tomb of the Unknowns Coloring Page

    Holiday Introduction

    From Life Take 1

    On the following pages you will find lists of books, activities, links, and more for various holidays. If you have something to add.... please email me! I am always looking for more great ideas to help out others. I add to these lists each year. The beginning of the lists is for the preschoolers and the list goes up from there. One day I need to divide it up but for now I am working on keeping it somewhat in order. I hope that you all will still find it helpful, regardless of its organization.

    Those with a lot of information are listed above, the rest below.

    Our School Years

    From Life Take 1

    In the past, I have broken down our year by quarters, planned breaks and holidays as well as vacations but not this year. My plans never seem to go as I thought they would. Two weeks into the new year ... things are already on a very different course. So, I have a new plan (didn't think I would give up on planning altogether now did you??). Since we believe in schooling year round, I am simply picking months to start and end in.

    May 2005 - April 2006
    May 2006 - April 2007

    Now .... why did I choose such odd times? Well, it was rather simple actually. We buy all of our home schooling supplies for the year with our income tax return. I have one shot, once a year to get it right. I begin planning for my next year by asking questions and collecting suggestions for additional materials within a month of starting our school year. In late November, early December .... I began making my list of wants and needs for the upcoming school year. I look and see if there is anything that I could purchase as a fun gift for the boys that would apply to our next school year. If so, I get it for either Christmas or their birthdays. The rest, I save for my shopping spree. Once I have my list pretty well compiled, I ask some of those that I trust the most for their input and ideas. Did I miss anything? Anything I should add? Etc.... We start purchasing in March (this is when the tax return usually gets here). It usually takes until late April for everything to arrive. Give me a few weeks to read through the Instructor Guides (IGs) and gather miscellaneous supplies... and we have a starting date of May. We have an ending date of April because the boys would be upset if they missed more than a week or two of school in a row. So that's my plan for now. We will work through summer as we usually do, too hot to play outdoors. And will spend lots of time outside during the fall and winter. We pray that you all have a wonderful school year!!!

    We have used this plan for several years now with great success!

    Our School Year

    From Life Take 1

    I just wanted to share a few quick facts with you that affect our school year. Because SL is based upon a 36 week year for school and I have chosen to school year round -- I have had to make some adjustments to our schedule. We school year round because learning is not something that you do for a short time but something that you do all your life, something that should be as natural as breathing and praising God.

    We take several breaks throughout the school year and a longer one during the summer. These are not break from school but rather breaks from our usual curriculum. For information on what we do during these breaks, see our unit study page. Most of the unit studies are picked based upon our children's interest but not all. Like this summer, we are doing a review of skills that we have learned so far. This is so that I know where we are at. More information on this on the other page.

    Daily Schedule

    From Life Take 1

    After trying several different types of schedules, I have found that blocks of time with some things scheduled at specific times works best for our family. Below is our current daily schedule Monday through Friday. Weekends always vary as this is our errands, church, and family time days.

    I consider myself a very organized person and so when I heard people recommending Managers of Their Home -- I wrote this off as one book that I will never read. It is so much more than just learning how to schedule or organize but gives you ideas on chores, menu planning, making the best use of your time, and more. I highly recommend this book to all of you and thank you to all of you who recommended this book to me. Especially Teresa, who finally convinced me to purchase it and taught me how to use it to benefit my family and me!

    6:30 am -- Zac wakes up, comes in to wake me up. I sleepily reply "What time is it?" to which I hear "umm 6, 3, 2" Which is usually followed by me yawning and saying "no, Zac it is not time to wake up yet go back to bed." Zac says "But the sun is up. its day time. even the sun isn't sleepy mama." I say "I don't care go back to bed." Which he does but when he gets there he decides to share his news with Ben that the sun is indeed awake and he should be too! UGH!

    7:00 -- Alright, alright! I am up! I am up! Zac has woken up both Ben and Kris by now. The boys play for awhile why I check email and get dresed.
    7:30 -- Time to get the boys dressed, make beds, clean bedrooms and get breakfast on the table. When breakfast is done, Zac clears the table of the dishes, Kris wipes the table clean, and Ben pushes in all the chairs.

    8 am -- Signing Time! The boys watch Signing Time and settle down to get ready for their school day to begin.

    8:30 -- Office time. Everyone comes into the office. Zac and Ben sit down at the coloring table to color. Sometimes I give them an activity bucket or other activity to do but mostly its coloring. While they are doing that Kris takes his spelling test and then we do JBQ for the day. Next Kris works on his own completing his handwriting and critical thinking workbooks for the day. Zac moves to the school table and I work on his handwriting with him. Ben is still coloring or perhaps has wondered off to play in another part of the house.

    9:00 -- everyone to the living room ... it time to read!! Bible, History, Read Alouds, Science, Electives, anything that comes from a book that I need to read aloud for the oldest Core I am currently using. After about 20-30 minutes I kick out the younger 2 as they are making to much noise. Off they go to the playroom. This usually results in some sort of mischief and we are working on correcting their destructive habits. After about 30 minutes of destruction... read as free play! They rejoin us in the living room. They are usually ready by this time to play quietly.

    10:15 -- We are done reading. Time for a snack, drink, potty break.

    10:30 -- Back to the office for Kris. Here we go offer his science worksheets for the day and his vocabulary for the read-alouds. He completes these while I make lunch. The other two are suppose to be cleaning the living room but the possibility that that is actually happening is slim to none.

    11:00 -- Lunch. Afterwards, the boys do the same chores as they do after breakfast. Ben however is usually whisked off to his nap so chairs are being pushed in by one of the other boys if they remember. Usually - I go and do it.

    11:30 -- Math U See video -- Zac comes running in to watch this. He loves it! Kris and Zac usually watch the lesson 2 or 3 times together before I turn it off and head them back to the office.

    11:45 -- Back to the office for Kris. Now he is to complete his math workbook pages for the day, we work on Classical Writing together, and I assign whatever needs to be done. He usually has a project for his electives to do at this time as well. Zac is having quiet time elsewhere in the house. Once Kris is done the two are to play quietly together until the end of nap.

    1:45 pm -- Ben is awake. Free play for everyone!
    2:00 -- Prima Latina DVD in living room followed by exercises in the office.
    2:15 -- Kris is to find a quiet place to read for 30 minutes on his own. Zac is in the office with me doing his OPG lesson for the day. Ben is off playing in the living room by himself.
    2:45 pm -- This is reading time for our younger core. Right now this is directed mainly at Zac but Ben listens in from time to time. Kris doesn't want to be left out either so he is there too. We also sing songs and do other preschool focused activities during this time.

    3 pm -- Free Time! The boys like to play outside if it is nice.
    3:30 -- Afternoon Chores. These change daily but we spend about 30 minutes cleaning up so we can enjoy family time together all evening long. Daddy comes home sometime around now.

    4:30 -- Daddy takes over while I head out for my 30 minutes of peace and quiet at the gym. Daddy starts dinner or watches it while I am gone.

    5:30 -- Dinner time! Everyone has a job. Zac and Kris help set the table and get out things as needed, Daddy gets the drinks for everyone, and I make up everyone's plates. Ben's job is not to scream that he is starving and to wait patiently for everything to cool down enough to eat.

    6:30 pm -- Kris clears the table; Daddy gives the little boys a bath. Sometimes a shower depending on what they all ask for.

    7 pm -- This is a whatever time.

    8:00 -- Ben goes to bed.

    8:30 -- Kris and Zac go to bed

    9:00 -- My alone time with dh. Then I go to bed.

    10 pm -- Daddy does the dishes, takes out the trash, and usually does a load of laundry then goes to bed too.

    Long Term Planning

    From Life Take 1

    This is something everyone thinks about and I know is something we all try to do but it is hard. I try to keep my long term planning simple so that I still have lots of room to change. Sometimes we manage to stay on track and other times ... you just have to throw out your ideas and start all over again. Here is my plan.... for now............

    School Year Kris Zac Ben
    2002-2003 Core PK

    2003-2004 Core PK - Janet

    2004-2005 Core K

    2005-2006 Core 1

    2006-2007 Core 2 Core PK

    2007-2008 Core 3 Core A Core A

    2008-2009 Core 4 Core B - Janet Core B - Janet

    2009-2010 Core 5 Core K Core K

    2010-2011 Core 6 Core 1 Core 1

    2011-2012 Core 7 Core 2 Core 2

    2012-2013 Core 100 Core 3 Core 3

    2013-2014 Core 200 Core 4 Core 4

    2014-2015 Core 300 Core 5 Core 5

    2015-2016 Core 400 Core 6 Core 6

    2017-2018 Core 530 Core 7 Core 7

    2018-2019 Graduated/College Core 100 Core 100

    2019-2020 Core 200 Core 200

    2020-2021 Core 300 Core 300

    2021-2022 Core 400 Core 400

    2022-2023 Graduated/College Core 530

    2023-2024 Graduated/College

    About Kitchen Moments

    From Life Take 1

    Back in 2006, I wrote for a Homeschool Magazine called This Old Schoolhouse. The name of my column was Kitchen Moments. I only wrote for a few months for the online version of this. Today, I copied over all of my old posts for you to review and for easy locating.

    I am still working on transferring my homeschool blogs to this one site. Hopefully soon, I will get it all done and then start adding new things for all of you as well. I particularly hope to get my thoughts on public schools up soon and our new adventures with this endeavor as well.

    Creating Easter Memories

    From Life Take 1

    On of my favorite things about holidays is the opportunity to create more memories with my children. Growing up, memory-making opportunities were few and far between so I tend to go a little overboard with all the decorating and traditions. My goal, despite all the decorations, is to get to the heart of the holiday. I want to create memories and traditions around the true meaning for these celebrations.

    Easter is this weekend, and I am off to my kitchen to create memories with the boys. Come and join us! How about an old tried and true favorite? This is an old recipe that has been making its rounds on the Internet for at least the last 5 years if not longer. The original creator has some how been lost over the years. Whoever you are … thank you for the wonderful family memories you have helped me to create!

    Resurrection Cookies

    Ingredients: Things Needed:
    1-cup Whole Pecans Mixing Bowl
    3 Egg Whites Wooden Spoon
    1-cup Sugar Bible
    1-teaspoon vinegar Zipper Baggy
    1 pinch of Salt Wax Paper
    Cookie Sheet

    There are 2 things you should know before starting this recipe.
    This is best done made on the Saturday before Easter in the late evening right before going to bed. You MUST preheat the oven to 300° before starting the recipe.

    Preheat oven to 300°F degrees. Place the pecans in a plastic freezer bag. Let your child break the pecans into small pieces by beating them with a wooden spoon. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, Roman soldiers beat him.
    Read John 19:1-3

    Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1-teaspoon vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross He was given vinegar to drink.
    Read: John 19:28-30

    Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life.
    Read: John 10:10-11

    Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.
    Read: Luke 23:27

    So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1-cup sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him.
    Read: Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16

    Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.
    Read: Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3

    Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid.
    Read: Matthew 27:57-60

    Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus tomb was sealed.
    Read: Matthew 27:65-66

    GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.
    Read: John 16:20-22

    On Resurrection Sunday (Easter) morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.
    Read: Matthew 28:1-9


    I love the idea behind that recipe so much! BUT what happens if your children are to young for that? What if they need something simpler? This is an alternative for the preschool, early elementary, time rushed families out there.

    Easy Resurrection Cookies

    Ingredients: Things Needed:
    1 can of Pillsbury Croissant Rolls Mixing Bowl
    8 Large Marshmallows Wooden Spoon
    1/3-cup Sugar Bible
    3-tablespoons of Cinnamon Cookie Sheet
    2-tablespoons melted butter or margarine

    Preheat oven to according to package directions.

    Mix together Cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, Roman soldiers beat him. The marshmallow represents Jesus. The cinnamon represents his scars. The sugar represents the sweetest part of the story. Why Jesus died … because he loved us! Take one of your marshmallows and roll it in the butter then the mixture of cinnamon and sugar. My boys also beat their marshmallows with a spoon as I read the story to them. Discuss what they think it would have felt like to endure all of this.
    Read John 19:1-3; Psalm 34:8; John 3:16

    Lay out your Croissant roll dough. Place a marshmallow in the center and fold the sides up. Pinch the dough tightly closed so that you cannot see anything. Explain that Jesus is now sealed inside his tomb.
    Read: Matthew 27:57-60; Matthew 27:65-66

    Place in oven and cook accord to package directions.
    Read: John 16:20-22

    Remove from the oven and give everyone a roll. Be careful not to squish them when removing them from the tray. The rolls are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.
    Read: Matthew 28:1-9

    Enjoy your time in the Kitchen together this week! Happy Easter Everyone!!

    Eggs, Eggs Everywhere!

    From Life Take 1

    It’s the day after Easter and I have at least a dozen eggs still in my fridge! I am not sure about all of you but I am tired of eating all those eggs! Every year it is the same thing. You have left over eggs; you don’t want to waste food so … you try to get creative. What do you come up with?? Deviled eggs, pickled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, tuna and egg sandwiches, Cobb salad, chef’s salad, pasta salad with eggs. There has to be something else you can cook with a boiled egg!!!

    This year … how about something new! Something different. Try out this recipe:

    Scalloped Eggs

    8 Hard Boiled Eggs
    4 slices crumbled cooked bacon
    ¾ cup milk or cream
    ¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
    2 Tablespoons butter

    Salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Grease and 8” square glass baking dish and cover bottom with a layer of crumbs. Place a layer of sliced hard boiled eggs, then sprinkle with crumbled bacon, dot with a few bits of butter, then repeat this layer process, finishing up with a layer of buttered crumbs. Pour cream (or milk) over the whole dish until it comes about halfway up the side of the dish. Place in over until heated and browned, about 4-5 minutes. This is similar to a recipe I have made but we used scrambled eggs instead. We sprinkled cheese on top. Instead of bacon, try this recipe with ham or sausage.

    Another recipe idea to try is HARD-BOILED EGGS AND PARMESAN ON TOASTED SOURDOUGH. If you try either recipe...I would love to know how you liked them!

    Okay … you have created everything you can think of out of those eggs and you still have more. You turn green just thinking about eating another egg. And trying to get any more down the kids is impossible. So now what?? Science experiment time!!!

    The Famous Egg in a Bottle Trick
    One of those eggs – shelled
    Plastic bottle with wide opening
    Cooking oil
    Scrap of paper

    Grease the mouth of the bottle with cooking oil. Fold one square of paper accordian style. Light it with a match and drop it in the bottle.Right away, set the shelled egg in the bottle's mouth
    Watch carefully! The egg will gradually get sucked into the bottle. Be prepared to do it over and over again. I know that's what will happen here!

    To get the egg out, fill the bottle with water to rinse out the burned paper. You’ll have to hold the egg out of the way with your finger. Hold the bottle upside down. Blow into the bottle past the egg as hard as you can. Keep the bottle upside down so the egg blocks the opening. The egg should drop right into your hand.

    Or visit this website for more egg experiments

    Send me your pictures of your egg experiments and watch my blog for ours. We are planning on doing them sometime this week but I haven’t had the time to do it before I needed to post this. So you will just have to wait and see how it all turned out!

    So … you cooked, did the experiments, and still have eggs left over. NOW WHAT!!?? How about a few games? You could rely on the old favorites egg & spoon relay or an egg toss contest. Only difference instead of a raw egg you have a hard boiled one. Less mess that way! But what about a new game? Try these:

    Penguin Shuffle Races
    With penguins, the daddy penguin incubates the unhatched egg by carrying the egg on top of his feet. Have the children pretend they are the daddy penguins in this fun race. Give each child an egg (normally this game is played with a plastic egg filled with sand but we are putting our hard-boiled eggs to good use here instead!). The children will race by shuffling across the floor toward the finish line without dropping their egg. First one to succeed wins.

    Roll the Egg
    Place masking tape on the floor for the start and finish lines. We did this in the kitchen … I do not recommend it on carpeting, as I am not sure how to get dye out of the carpeting! Place an egg on the starting line for each child. The object of the game is to roll the egg to the finish line with your nose!

    If you have tried all the above and your eggs seem to be multiplying faster than you can use them up. Don’t panic – you can always use them for juggling practice. Take everyone up on the roof and see whose egg lands the first from that height. My oldest son is recommending egg baseball, my middle one is voting for egg dodge ball, and thankfully the little one is asleep. I wouldn’t want to clean up that mess from those ideas! : -)

    That’s all I have for eggs but I will leave you all with an egg joke that was told to me by my son Kris. “What happened to the egg when he was tickled to much?” ………………. “He cracked up!”

    I pray you all had a great Resurrection Day!

    Quick & Easy Recipes Online

    From Life Take 1

    Well …. It’s that time of year. Everyone seems to be sick with something; the last of the flu, a cold or allergies. I also heard that strep is making it rounds again. So… that got me to thinking. What can I make when I don’t feel like cooking? I need something easy, fast, inexpensive, and healthy. Something other than chicken noodle soup in the Crockpot.

    I found a few places on the internet with some recipes for quick and easy meals.
    Cryovac Simple Steps
    Super Target
    EZ Meal Prep

    I found a few places that I could join either for free or not, that had some great looking recipes as well.
    Café Mom
    Six O’Clock Scramble
    Saving Dinner
    Dinner Planner
    Kid Approved Meals

    Then I hit the jackpot! A great place for family-friendly recipes, including some for the Crockpot! Hip Hip Hooray!!
    Cheap Cooking
    Simple Meals
    Karen’s Country Kitchen

    Why not try this recipe with the kids this week?

    Crockpot Chicken & Mushrooms

    4 bone-in chicken breasts with the skin removed
    lemon pepper
    1 cup sour cream
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 small can of mushrooms or 8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
    1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth

    After removing the skin, sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, lemon pepper, and paprika, then place in the crockpot.Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken pieces.Cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve over rice or egg noodles.

    Kitchen Moments Introduction

    From Life Take 1

    Misty is a homeschooling mom of 3 boys in Arizona. Memories are best created in the kitchen is a refrain that is often heard around her home. Martha Stewart she is not! Misty often runs screaming from crafts and avoids most things that require creativity. Join her as she adventures through the kitchen sharing with you the basics, recipes, educational activities, and more. You can also visit her blog at (sorry that blog is no longer available).

    Life Lessons From the Kitchen

    From Life Take 1

    Everyone has heard of the "Everything I learned in Life, I learned from ...." poem. They are every where and they seem to have one out for everything. Well... I finally found one they missed. I was looking for the one that said "Everything I learned in Life, I Learned from my Kitchen." There isn't one -- so I made one up.

    Everything I learned in life I learned from My Kitchen.
    • The right tool can make a big difference.
    • Mistakes Happen. Throw them out and start over from scratch.
    • Practice makes perfect.
    • Don't cry over spilled milk.
    • Little bits add up to lots of bits.
    • Homework is like steak -- rarely done.
    • When in doubt -- get your little brother to do it.
    • Better safe than sorry.
    • Procrastination can ruin a good thing.
    • Chicken soup is food for the soul.
    • Clean up your own mess.
    • Wash your hands before you eat.
    • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
    • Hunger makes anything taste good.
    • Nothing in life is free .
    • Looks don't matter.
    • Share with others.
    • Sharing the load makes quick work.
    • The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.
    • Junk food is a food group.
    • Good Things come to those who wait.
    • Laughter is the best medicine.
    • Hugs & Kisses (chocolate or otherwise) conquer all.
    • A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
    • Always pray before you eat. (and other times as well)
    • Manners count.
    • A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.
    • If you drop it, pick it up. If it's empty, fill it. If it's open, close it.
    • Eat, drink, and be merry.
    • Beggars can't be choosers.
    • Just desserts happen sooner or later.
    • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
    • Half is better than none.
    • A few germs never hurt anyone.
    • Pay attention! Science experiments are known to sprout on their own in the dark recesses of the fridge.
    • Kitchen Memories last forever. (How many of your memories are based upon the smells, sights, and tastes of your childhood?)
    • A watched pot never boils (in other words -- have PATIENCE!)

    So ... leave me some comments. What are the things that you have learned from your kitchen?

    Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate

    From Life Take 1

    Mother's Day is just a round the corner and what Mom doesn't like Chocolate??? So in honor of all those chocolate loving mothers who work so hard all year long -- a chocolate book list to enjoy with your children. Chef John shared this great book list with us during one of our classes last year when he taught us how to make homemade truffles. With his permission, I am sharing it with all of you.
    • 1001 Chocolate Treats by Gregg R. Gillespie
    • All About Chocolate: The Ultimate Resource to the World's Favorite Food by Carole Bloom
    • April Bubbles Chocolate: An ABC of Poetry by Lee Bennett Hopkins
    • Cam Jansen and the Chocolate Fudge Mystery (Fam Jansen Adventure Series #14) by David A. Adler
    • The Case of the Chocolate Fingerprints by Parker C. Hinter
    • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. [Misty Notes: There are two movies out by the same name. The old classic version,which is my favorite and the new version with Johnny Depp. The new version follows closer to the story line. While you are at the store, pick up some Willy Wonka Chocolate for a special treat as you watch the show. My boys are always looking for a golden ticket when I get them one of these. LOL! ]
    • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator: The Further Adeventures of Charlie Bucket and
    • Willy Wonka, Chocolate-Maker Extraordinary By Roald Dahl
    • Chocolate (What's For Lunch) by Claire Liewellyn
    • Chocolate: From Start to Finish (Made in the USA) by Samuel G. Woods
    • Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith
    • The Chocolate Sundae Mystery (Boxcar Children Mysteries #46) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
    • Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
    • The Chocolate Touch - Literature Unit
    • Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory by Margeret Ray
    • Elizabeth's Wish (Neate Series #2) by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate
    • The Ghost Who Ate Chocolate (Black Cat Club #1) by Susan Saunders
    • The Hershey's MilK Chocolate Bar Fraction Book by Jerry Pallotta
    • How Monkeys Make Chocolate: Foods and Medicines from the Rainforests by Adrian Forsyth
    • The M&M's Brand Chocolate Candies Counting Board Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath
    • Mary Marony and the Chocolate Surprise by Suzy Kline
    • Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells
    • Milton Hershey; Chocolate King, Town Builder by Charman Simon
    • Wellington's Chocalately Day by Mick Inkpen

    So . . . . . . what are your favorite books about chocolate?

    Mother's Day Breakfast

    From Life Take 1

    This upcoming weekend is Mother’s Day. No offense to my children and sweet husband but I simply cannot eat another one of their concoctions that they call “breakfast in bed.” Waffles that are burnt on the outside and frozen on the inside, toast that resembles charcoal, runny omelets, and then there was the year of the fruit smoothie. I still have no clue exactly what was in it but I heard something about peanut butter, jelly, marshmallows, and bbq sauce. That was in addition to the fruit, milk, and ice cream. I love you all but no thanks!!!

    This year I am determined to start a new tradition. Edible Breakfast in Bed!!! My options are limited as if I cook it myself … I will hurt everyone’s feelings. Going out to eat is not an option because of church and if we waited until afterwards, the kids would perish from starvation. So…. I came up with a few ideas.
    1. Ask them what they want to make me for Mother’s Day. Make it the day before. They are all expert microwave users. So … the pancakes may be rubbery. That is much better than being sick all day and trying to pretend I am not.
    2. Suggest a quick breakfast of cereal bars, donuts, or muffins. Store bought! Then we can have a big brunch after church. This is just a little something to tie us over.
    3. Pre-cook ingredients and let them combine them for a breakfast feast.
    4. Give up and eat whatever they came up with. The Grin and Bear it again method.
    5. Find something that they can’t mess up when cooking.

    So…. Those are the options. Now what??? First … finish this article! : -) Second – email to hubby. Think he will get the point?

    Fresh Fruit and Dip: Purchase a variety fresh fruit cut up and store in the fridge. Perhaps have some cool whip, caramel, or fudge sauce for dipping. My boys love anything they can dip stuff into. Dip would bring this to the top of their lists of things to make.

    Breakfast Burritos: Pre-cook some bacon, scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage (and cut into bite size pieces), fried potatoes (or hash browns). Purchase tortillas and salsa. Grade some cheese. They can simply warm in the microwave, pile into a tortilla, roll it up and serve!

    Traditional Breakfast: Pre-cook bacon, scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, and hash browns. They can simply warm in the microwave. Add some toast (I think they can manage this now!) or a muffin (store bought) and fresh fruit (see above).

    Easy Recipes
    Ziploc Baggie Omelets: Using a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag. Crack 2 large eggs (or extra large but ONLY 2!) into each bag. Shake to mix. Add in a variety of ingredients – whatever mom will like. Ham, cheese, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, bacon, mushrooms, etc… (mom – you might want to prep some of these things the day before). Shake to mix again. Squeeze all the air out of the bag before zipping. Place bag into rolling, boiling water for EXACTLY! 13 minutes!! EXACTLY! If you are making 1 for each person – writing names on the bag with a permanent marker is a good plan. 6-8 bags can be cooked at 1 time. Add a little something on the side and wala! Breakfast!

    French Toast Souffle: You will need 8 slices of fresh bread cubed. 2 packages of cream cheese, cubed. A dozen eggs. 2 cups of milk. 1/3 cup of maple syrup. A 9x13 baking pan. Place half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the pan. Cover bread with cream cheese squares and top with the remaining bread cubes. In another bowl, beat eggs. Add maple syrup and milk. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (mom … since it’s the night before you can help!) In the morning heat the over to 375¢ªF. Bake for 45 minutes or until set. Serve with maple syrup on the side. Garnish with fresh fruit.

    Here are some links for other ideas to try:
    Breakfast Pizza:

    Breakfast Casserole in Crockpot:

    Crockpot Breakfast Cobbler:

    Sausage and Cheddar Quiche: (This is one for the more daring and experience cooks in your house)

    Okay … now to be fair to my hubby. He can cook. Just not breakfast!! I am praying you all have a wonderful day filled with many blessings and memories. Each of you deserve the very best this day as you work so hard and tirelessly all year long.

    Kitchen Basics 1: Tools Required!

    From Life Take 1

    How many of you think you have a well stocked kitchen? You are probably shaking your head yes just like I did. I bet you are wrong!

    About once every 3 months, I have an executive chef come to my house to teach kitchen skills to my children and other homeschoolers in our area. Chef John is amazing and loves to work with kids. One day, I got up the nerve to ask him why he was 1) always carting in things to the kitchen 2) why he kept asking me if I owned … and was shocked when I said no and 3) what do I really need in my kitchen. After much beating around the bush, I found out my kitchen was severely lacking according to his standards. I know it needed help but never realized how much help we were talking about. Now I do! Chef John sat down with me and we made a list of the things every kitchen should have in it.

    1. Kitchen Aid Mixer -- the expensive $225 model. The most expensive item on the list. He claims no kitchen can function successfully without it and has even demonstrated how his $225 mixer is better than my $20 hand-held version. Long story short -- the machine can keep mixing while you are cleaning a dozen raw eggs off the floor that the children knocked off the counter as the youngest was trying to help and the older ones were playing tag in the house (despite the fact that they had been kicked outside earlier. It was hot so we were told. It was only 84 outside!! Wait till it hits 100 then lets talk!)
    2. 3 1/2 Qt. Quisnart -- this is a food processor for those who were as lost as I was when I saw this on the list.
    3. Set of 3 Wooden Spoons -- can be different sizes, different handle lengths, or all the same. You just have to have 3.
    4. 2 Sets of 3 Heat Resistant Spatulas -- you can purchase these at your local kitchen store. You will need both the kind you use for mixing in baking and the kind that you use for flipping pancakes. Different sizes are nice but not necessary.
    5. Set of Pots & Pans -- All-clad is the preferable brand for this, however, there are other options. But we will talk about this item in another entry at another point in time.
    6. Knifes -- another discussion best left for another day and entry.
    7. Stainless Steal Mixing Bowls -- You will need a set of these. Sets are usually somewhere between 4-6 bowls but can have more. Preferably with matching lids.
    8. Hand Mixer -- and no .... not a $20 version like I have. Spend a little more and get a quality one.
    9. Whisk -- from the kitchen store not the $2 grocery store version.
    10. Wok -- not sure what I will ever use one of these for but okay fine. Chef John says he will show me why when I get one. I have one .... he has yet to demonstrate but he has been very busy with his new restaurant and cookbooks that are scheduled to be out soon.
    11. Silt Pat -- for those who are confused (like me) . . . . this goes on a baking sheet under cookies, pies, and other things to ensure even cooking.
    12. Roaster -- must have a rack and lid with it.
    13. Stainless Steel Measuring Cups -- All-clad is a good brand for this. You will need a 2 cup as well as a set (which usually includes 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup measuring cups).
    14. Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons -- You will need a set of these. All-clad has a good set.

    This is his list. I have created my own list – I thought he was missing a few things. Maybe I am wrong. Who knows? These, however, are items *I* can’t live without in my kitchen. I know, I know muffins from a box, spaghetti from a jar, and barbequing is not cooking. BUT they are fast and easy. : -) Did I mention that I am a whiz with my Crockpot? Okay … onto the list!

    1. Colander -- You need one of these for straining those store bought noodles you are cooking for your dinner.
    2. Corkscrew and Bottle Opener – How else are you going to get the wine open to cook with? So many recipes use some form of alcohol for flavoring. I need some way to open the bottle!
    3. Cutting Board – I know I am going to need one of these. If I am remembering correctly I believe that a wood one is best. Several of them. You will need 1 for meats and one for fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs. You should never use the same cutting board, even if washed, for these things.
    4. Grater
    5. Can Opener
    6. Coffee Maker
    7. Crockpot
    8. Toaster
    9. Ladle
    10. Slotted Spoon
    11. Metal Tongs
    12. Oven Mitt – I would recommend at least 2 of these. Chef John uses a towel but I am not that brave.

    One of the most important things that you need to remember when shopping for these items is the motto “you get what you pay for.” Over the years, I have learned, the hard way of course, that spending a little more upfront saves you a lot in the end. If you spend $7 now on a spatula … you won’t be replacing it every year or two as you would for the cheaper $3 version.

    This is the first part in a series I am working on called Kitchen Basics. By the time I am done and we have all gone shopping, we can invite an executive chef over to visit without any complaints. Use these lists for gift ideas, help your college-bound students set-up their first home, or just teach your little ones what they need in the kitchen.

    Kitchen Basics 2: Pots & Pans

    From Life Take 1

    Welcome back to part 2 of a series of articles that I am writing called Kitchen Basics. About 2 weeks ago, the first article was posted on Basic Tools Needed in a Kitchen and I will be posting the follow-up articles about every other week until we are done. So ….. onto what else you never knew you needed!

    When I moved out on my own, I head for my local discount retailer (more than likely Target) and walked up and down the kitchen aisle gathering things that I would need for my first kitchen. Over on the Pots & Pans aisle …. There are several chooses. Stainless steel, Teflon, cast iron. Do I buy a set or buy each pan as I need it? Sure, I thought some were of better quality than others but I am working on a budget. I need the best I can get for the least amount of money. I don’t want things burning and sticking to the pan and I HAVE to have something. Nothing is not an option. I grabbed a box of Tfal or something similar and called it good.

    Fast forward, many years down the road (and no I am not telling you how many!) Chef John is in my kitchen again. I am watching him prep for another cooking class. The first class of 20 kids will be descending upon my home in about 20 minutes. Chef John is unpacking ….. PANS???!!!!

    Okay … so what is wrong with MY pans?? Yep…. You know I asked. He hemmed and hawed but in-between classes I finally got my answer. In short … my pans are okay. They get the job done but are essentially worthless to a chef. They don’t cook evenly and Teflon is a big no-no.

    So what do I need?? I got out a piece of paper and pen, after all I KNEW my set needed to be replaced. Might as well replace it with something “Chef John Approved.” First rule: No Teflon. They need to be Stainless-steel preferably All-Clad. All-Clad is the brand name. You will hear Chef John mention that a lot according to my notes. Unfortunately, my budget cannot afford All-Clad. Don’t worry – there is help available! : -)

    He gave me a list of pan sizes that every kitchen should have.
    · 1 quart sauce pan with lid
    · 2 quart sauce pan with lid
    · 3 quart sauce pan with lid
    · 12 quart frying pan with lid
    · 8 quart omelet pan with lid
    · 12 inch sauté pan with lid
    · 8 quart stock pot with lid
    · 5 quart kettle

    Bonus Items:
    · 12 quart stock pot
    · 8 quart wok
    · Anything else that comes in your set

    I don’t think I had half of these items in my kitchen. I set out to find something that was in my budget and meet Chef John’s requirements. I found several things that I thought would work, called and got a no. Finally, at Sam’s Club, I ran across the Wolfgang Puck Pots & Pan set for $99. It had most of the things in the list in it or very close to it, was stainless steel, and I could afford it. Called up Chef John, he came down to look at it and said yes … that will work! Can anyone guess what I got for Christmas last year? Hint: Chef John is no longer unpacking pots & pans in my kitchen.

    The sad news is that no other affordable sets meet his requirements. I have looked. According to our chef, a decent set of pots and pans will run you about $300. A great set of pots and pans can run you around $900. And a professional set of top of the line high-quality can run thousands.

    About every 10 years, you will need to replace your decent set of pots and pans. A great set can last you 15 or so. A cheap set (like my original one) needs to be replaced every 3-5. A professional set … well some of these have a life-time warranty on them. If you take care of them properly, you will never need to replace them.

    Speaking of caring for your pots and pans properly, there are a few rules. Everyone of which I had broken, I am have now been retrained in the kitchen in this area.
    1. NEVER put your pots & pans in the dishwasher. Always hand wash to prevent damage to the heating elements. Some of the more expensive brands cannot be submerged in water. Read the directions for your set.
    2. NEVER stack your pots & pans on inside the other. They will get scratched. Then things will stick. Preferably, use one of those pot racks and hang them up for safe keeping. If not … set them on a shelf with nothing on or under them. They need there breathing space.
    3. If possible, dry your pans immediately after washing and put them away for safe keeping.
    There is some special cleaners you can purchase to help increase the life of your pans. Taking care of them properly will sure an easier cooking time, less mess, and you won’t need to replace them as often.

    Next time, we will talk about knives. Ah…. Another interesting topic. Hide your wallets … this one will cost you and there is no alternative.

    Volcano Fun

    From Life Take 1

    Today, my seven-year-old is bored. It’s too hot to play outside anymore and he is tired of all the inside stuff. I need to find something for him to do. But what??

    I have a closet full of stuff just for this reason! Each year when I am budgeting for our curriculum, I add in about $300 worth of “I’m bored, Mama’s sick, Let’s do something different, or another complaint” items. These can be games, science kits, books, art kits. Usually, it’s a hand-on type things. This is probably the number 1 tip I give out to other homeschool families. Make sure you have something extra on hand for those days when you just need a break from the norm.

    I have a volcano kit. : -) Perfect! Get out the books on volcanoes. Make oldest read them aloud to his younger brothers. Story time for little ones … check! Reading time for older one … check! Science … check! Ohh… loooky here! A book about Pompeii! History …. Check! See … I can school without even trying! The volcano needs to be painted. Yeah! Art … check!

    If you don’t have a closet full of complaint day items … you can easily make a volcano. Start with a small bottle. Any will work that have a narrower neck than body. An old 8oz cough syrup bottle would be perfect. Make up a batch of self-drying clay (recipe is in one of the links in the play-doh post). A cheap plastic plate (you know the ones you can purchase for picnics during the summer that are 4 for $1. Keep some handy for projects. You won’t want them back after the kids are done with them!) is the perfect thing to work on. Set your bottle in the middle and cover in clay. The sides will end up fairly steep unless you use an insane amount of clay to create a gradual slop. More clay though means keeping the kids busy longer. OR …. You lose them do to lack of attention span. Either way works. Give the clay 24 hours to dry, then paint with acrylic paint. If you don’t paint it, the first eruption will soften the clay and ruin the volcano.

    There are different types of eruptions named after specific volcanoes that have erupted in a specific way. For an older child, have them research these volcanoes. Language Arts … check! Chart the differences. Math … check! Where are they located? Geography … check! I think we have all the subjects covered now!
    • Strombolian Eruption: Constant, non-violent eruption. Put 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the volcano. Add 1 cup of vinegar. Then stand back and watch! Add a few drops of food coloring to the vinegar before pouring to have colored lava.
    • Hawaiian Eruption: Predictable, least violent eruption. Put 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap into the volcano. Add 1 cup of vinegar. Color if desired. Stand back and watch the eruption.
    • Vulcanian Eruption: Explosive eruption. Put 2 Alka-Setzer tables, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and food coloring (optional) into the volcano. Add ½ cup of water.
    • Pelean Eruption: Most violent eruption. Put 2 tablespoons of baking soda and food coloring into the volcano. Add ½ cup of boiling water. Stand way back.

    Here are a few tips for you when you are enjoying your volcano.

    1. Make sure you do this in an easily cleanable and viewable area. We did ours in the middle of the kitchen floor. Just clean up the mess with the mop when done. I originally tried it in the kitchen sick. Great way to control the mess but it was hard for everyone to see what was happening.
    2. Record the differences. Chart, take pictures, make predictions beforehand.
    3. Experiment with other combinations of ingredients. How does using apple juice instead of vinegar effect the eruption? What about orange juice? Soda?
    4. Have patience. If your kids are anything like mine, they will want to see this happen over and over and over again. Have plenty of materials on hand. Plan for at least 3 rounds of eruptions for each type. That would be a minimum for us.

    I hope you all are having a wonderful summer! I am off to play with the volcano some more.

    Easy Cooking Recipes

    From Life Take 1

    So sorry everyone that this is late! I had planned on having a bunch of articles written before surgery but I wasn't feeling as up to writing as I had hoped. I am now in the first week of my recovery and feeling better than I have in a long time! Although I still can't do much. Including, anything in my kitchen.

    Sooooo..... CHEF JOHN TO THE RESCUE!!! I am so greatful and blessed with friends who have taken good care of me since the beginning. Chef John has always been a blessing to me but now he is a dream come true. He has volunteered to cook and go grocery shopping for me all through my recovery period. The down side..... he has meetings all week this week and can't actual do the cooking. BUT... he left the recipes. This one was so easy and so good ... I had to share. This is great for the nights when you just don't have time to cook or as a how to cook lesson for the kids. A great healthy meal with easy instructions. Okay ... bare with me as I am trying to translate Chef John speak into a recipe. : -)

    Grocery Shopping: Puchase 1 bag of Tyson Popcorn Chicken (28 oz), 1 bag of Vegetable Stir-fry (in the frozen veggie section. He bought a brand called Flav-r-pac), 1 jar of Iron Chef Sauce (flavor of your choice), and a package of Rice Noodles.

    Cooking: Cook chicken in oven according to the directions. While that is cooking, in a frying pan, saute the vegetable stir-fry in 1 drop of oil. Veggies need to be thawed before cooking. Set aside when done. Chicken will get done first. Place in a bowl. Cover in sauce but not to much. Just enough to coat it (or glaze it as Chef John wrote). Microwave until warm. Add in veggies. Toss (ahh... stir together). Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Serve chicken and veggies over noodles.

    We had an Orange Ginger sauce. Good thing: It tastes great! Bad thing: I think I am allergic to ginger. I have only had ginger one time that I know of before and got a severe headache and was dizzy. Same thing after this. UGH! Boys also thought this was too spicy. Maybe next time we will try it with terraki or something else more boy friendly. This is so simply that my husband wants to cook it again. This coming from the guy who thinks opening a jar of spaghetti sauce and boiling noodles is gourmet and asking a lot. This coming from a guy who specializes in frozen pizza and fast food.

    So .... enjoy this special treat. We did!!! I will let you all know if any of the other recipes Chef John left are as easy. I saw another one and it started out with the words ... marinate for 12 hours. I also saw the words blanche and mince. UH-OH!! Does this mean we will be calling for pizza??? Wishing lots of Kitchen Blessings!

    Meal Preparation

    From Life Take 1

    Hi!! Sorry it has been so long since I have last written. The time leading up to surgery and recovery have been harder than I thought. I still have a ways to go but am finally coherent enough to write again.

    We have all heard of Once a Month Cooking. Once a Week Cooking, Freezer Meals, and Crockpot Meals. These are the ways that we help simplify our lives and still feed our families. BUT! What do we do if we find ourselves without one of these options and a family to feed?The latest craze is a new thing Called Meal Preperation Stories. You schedule an appointment, go in, and create meals you can freeze. All the ingredients are available all you have to do is follow the directions and fill the bags and foil pans. For a fee, they will do all the preparing for you. They have family and single sizes. Some you can split ... but it may cost you. If you choose to try this service ... check out introductory and other special offers.

    Easy Meal Prep -- This site has a list of these types of stores by state. This is a great resource to find out if you have one in your area. I am in Arizona and as you can see we have a lot of them around here.

    My husband will actually be visiting one this weekend to pickup some meals for us. To give you an idea on cost, my stores average around $200 for 12 meals that have 6 adult servings. Most come with only the main dish. A few add sides and some you can purchase a side. Most say "add a salad or your favorite vegetable and dinner is served." Most take 30 minutes or less to cook. All are freeze-able for 6-8 weeks. Thaw before using. For me, this will probably end up being a budget savor. My family eats about 2.5-3 adult servings per meal. So we would end up with 24 meals for $200. Not a bad thing at all. That's about $10 per meal and with the cost of meat these days .... that's what I would spend at the grocery store, probably more but less work for homemade somewhat gourmet meals.

    PS... the menus change monthly so you will never get bored by the options! Unlike my cooking, where we tend to stick to the list of family favorites. There's about 40 items on the list but still..... Meals are either grilled, baked, broiled, or done stove top. Check out your local store for cooking details.

    First Aid Lessons

    From Life Take 1

    Last week we talked about the importance of knowing First Aid. This week we will talk about the types of Hazards that can be found in the kitchen and how to prevent them. Please share this information with your family and children. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take precautions in all that we do!

    Food Poisoning
    Bacteria can cause spoilage resulting in food poisoning if food is not maintained at proper temperatures. Be especially careful with raw meat, seafood, and foods containing eggs. To avoid these hazards, set your refrigerator to 40 degrees or less. Defrost foods in the refrigerator not on the counter. Let hot foods cool before storing in the refrigerator. Keep seafood on ice in the refrigerator. Preferably on top of the ice in a colander so the excess fluid will drain away from the food. Wash your hands before cooking. Wash your hands between raw meat and other items. Have 2 different cutting boards available, preferably in two different colors. Have one always be for cutting raw meat and the other for dealing with fresh fruits and vegetables. This will help keep down cross contamination.

    The first rule is to teach your children to be responsible with fire. When they are little, teach them never to play with matches or lighters. As they get older, focus on how to use it safely. Not just in the kitchen but with any fires. AND everyone should know the stop, drop, and roll technique. Practice it often and have an escape plan ready for your home. Every kitchen has potholders to prevent burns when moving around hot objects. BUT did you know that if your potholder is wet or damp ... you will get burned? I never thought of it but it makes sense to me. Remind your children that they should never play with matches or lighters. Teach toddlers to stay away from hot appliances and keep all children out of the kitchen when the stove is on. Never carry hot or boiling water over the head of someone else.

    Spills and Falls
    There are always preventable accidents that can happen that we must be on the lookout for. In my house, the accidents revolve around toys dragged in and left in the middle of the floor where they should not be. Keeping the floor hazard free is essential. Then there are the spills from the kids, inevitable but still dangerous. Teach the kids from a young age to take care of these themselves. Around 18 months, my boys would simply throw a towel over the spill. It acted like a warning beacon "accident bound to happen if you step here!" Avoid heavy waxing or glazed tiles. Both are problematic. Be especially careful with grease spills. Use flour or salt to soak up the grease, sweep up, then mop.GlassLately, glass utensils have become very popular especially in modern designed kitchen. Do not purchase these! If they are heated improperly they can explode. I am not sure what improperly means but I, for one, do not want to find out! This was a new one to me! Another thing to be weary of, do not set hot glass on something cold. It will break every time.

    Gas & Electricity
    This is one of those things that I never think about when I am in the kitchen. I rarely think about the safety precautions regarding these items but there are some to remember. Never use appliances around water or the sink. Make sure appliances are in good working order and up to code before plugging in and using. Make sure gas appliances are well ventilated to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home is a great idea. Personally, I believe every home should have at least one if not two or more. Avoid extension cords in the kitchen but if you have to use one make sure it is in good repair and not frayed. Remember not to overload the outlets either.

    All kinds of chemicals can be found in a kitchen. Mainly these are used for cleaning and sanitizing purposes. Keep these away from food at all times. You should never use chemicals around food that is uncovered. Also, store them in a temperature-controlled, baby-proof area. If a chemical is swallowed call Poison Control immediately!!! Never mix different types of chemicals together. Propane, cleaning fluids, and other volatiles should never be stored in a kitchen where they could explode due to an accidental fire or high heat. This includes pesticides. Always wash your hands after using chemicals prior to touching your food. If you must store chemicals in the kitchen, store them under food stuffs that way if they leak they will not damage the food. Children should know not to eat or drink anything that a parent has not approved of prior. This includes medicines.

    The number one reason for accidents and injuries in the kitchen is that the person in charge was not paying attention. Avoid using the telephone, computer, or running around doing other things will working in the kitchen. Most fires are started because someone walked away for a moment to do something else. Don't let this happen to you! Teach your children from the beginning that a kitchen deserves their respect, its a responsibility, and it requires all of their concentrated attention to keep accidents and injuries from occurring. Another thing, keep items stored properly. Do not leave knifes and scissors laying out with little ones around. We already discussed the proper storing of chemicals. The more you can do to prevent an accident from happening in your kitchen the better!

    After reviewing these rules with your children, try some of these activities:
    • Spot the Hazards
    • Home Hazard I Spy -- can you find the safety violations in your kitchen?
    • Field Trip: Visit your local fire station to learn about fire prevention in the kitchen. What do you do if there is a grease fire? Other types of fires? Basic first aid? What is an emergency that can take place in the kitchen?
    • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
    • Make a family escape plan
    • Practice Roll-Playing 911 calls.

    Now, for most of us, these rules are no brainers. We have all heard them before and know them BUT our children do not. I so often take for granted the "easy stuff" and forget to teach the "first basic steps" before getting into the more complex areas. When we introduce our children to the joys of the kitchen, we need to start with safety first! Have a great SAFE week!


    From Life Take 1

    Well... the public schools are back into the full swing of things here and the unofficial end to summer has come and gone. I thought this week we would celebrate with a traditional campground favorite: S'MORES!You all know how to make them over a campfire, on the grill at home (just not the same), or in the microwave (eat them fast before the get to hard to eat!). I found even more S'mores recipes for you - check out this spin on a old favorite.Tonight, however, I am making my own version of s'mores pie with my sons. I got the idea from another blog about finding one of these at the grocery store. I thought .. hey! I can do that!! So .... I am gonna give it a shot!

    1 graham cracker pie crust; 20 marshmallows, and 2 large chocolate candy bars.

    Fill up the pie crust with marshmallows. Break up the candy bar into chunks and sprinkle throughout the pie. Keep going until it looks good. Bake at 350 until all is melted. Let cool. Cut and serve! Enjoy!

    Banana Split

    From Life Take 1

    I was looking for something fun the other day for lunch. I called up Chef John and he sent me a great idea that I just had to share with all of you! How about a Banana Split for lunch??! No, no ... I am not talking about the one with all the gooey fudge and ice cream. I am talking about a healthy version of this. This is a great way to let your finicky eater have a really fun, seeminly "naughty" lunch.

    3 bananas
    3 strawberry yogurts
    3 vanilla yogurts
    3 chocolate yogurts
    dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
    chocolate chips
    pineapple chunks or tidbits
    optional: Other healthy toppings (strawberries, cherries, flavored granola, ...)

    Peel bananas. Slice them length-wise. Place two slices in a banana split boat/dish. Add one small ice cream scoop full of each yogurt in a row. Top with pineapples, your favorite fruit, granola, and then a few chocolate chips.

    Nutritional Websites for Kids

    From Life Take 1

    Here are some "kid friendly" web sites that talk about nutrition, they give suggestions for games and exercises for the children (both indoors and outdoors) and there are on-line games for them to play. My children enjoyed these sites and I think yours will too!

    KidneticOffers interactive games, recipes, and tips for healthy eating and living.

    Empowered KidsOffers information, resources and activities for kids 5 to 17 on healthy eating, dieting, body image, and eating disorders. Includes surveys and quizzes.

    Nutrition ExplorationsJoin Berry and the gang from The Pyramid Cafe to learn about building a healthy body. Features games, coloring pages, recipes, contest, and kids panel.

    Mission Nutrition An interactive game to help kids test what they know about healthy foods.