cleaning · cooking · family · fun · homeschooling · kids · motherhood · organizing

Christmas Gifts for a Homeschool Mom


The average “gifts for mom” list is not necessarily a good fit for a homeschool mom.  Don’t get me wrong…I love perfume and scarves and expensive handbags just like the average girl, but if you really want the wow factor for this homeschool mom of five I have a better list.  Maybe you can forward this post to your hubby or whoever is asking you that pressing question, “What do you want for Christmas?”  I hope this list will inspire you to answer with every bit of the quirkiness that defines a homeschool mom.  

Just a bit fun…happy shopping everyone.


My large crock pot has a hairline crack in the removable porcelain crock.  I am afraid to do too much in it, and I am for sure not transporting it anywhere.  Crock pots are a homeschool mom’s best friend in the kitchen.  We can start dinner at breakfast and as the house is permeated with the smell of lemony chicken it is so reassuring to know supper is on. 

My coffee pot is trying to peter out on me…and that just cannot happen.  I currently have to jiggle the cord to get the green power light to appear.  I wait every morning in suspense…it’s just too stressful.

This is such a great gift for a homeschool mom.  This tote can be used for picnics, as a library tote, camping, day trips, etc.  One use I would like it for is to stock my car with a mommy survival kit.

I already have this gift, but I had to include it.  Free Shipping for books!  Are you kidding…this is a homeschool mom’s dream!    

This gift is over the top.  The one I want is a little pricey, but oh so cool.  I would love it to make dry erase activities for my littles, flashcards specific to the things we are learning, saving works of art…the possibilities are endless.  

What a tongue twister…but never mind that.  This little beauty makes the homeschool day to day much easier.  The copier is a godsend. 

This is so dreamy…now I can spend my summer making the kind of workbooks we love…suited just for us.  I would trill with delight if I opened this gift.

And for the stocking… 

I love the feel, the smell, and the size of the Moleskine notebooks.  It is very inspirational to write in something of this quality.  Keeping a daily journal is a great way that homeschool moms can unwind and reflect.  

 Free Time Coupons 
This could come in the form of a coupon booklet if you would like something to unwrap.  It’s easy to make them on the computer or just make them with colored pencils and crayons.  12 would be perfect…12 Free Time coupons that I can spend…like say once a month.  It is nice to have time alone sometimes.  

Yes…I said Sharpies.  I love to have those around, but I am always too cheap to buy them for myself.  I want a big set…just love office supplies.




  
Christmas · cooking · family · food · fun · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · kids · Nativity · parenting

A Country Christmas

We celebrated the Butler Christmas at a ranch in Abilene. My sister-in-law’s family invited us for a weekend in the country, and it was perfect.  I cannot remember when I have had a better time.  It was relaxing and hearty…good for the soul and senses.  Country folk really do have the most fun…especially if those country folk are from Texas!

Simple gifts…nothing extravagant.

Rustic ambiance. 
A warm and cozy bunkhouse.  My oldest brother Josh said, “This feels like church camp.”

We gather in the kitchen.  Lots of great conversation.
Tamales and our parents!  Two of my favorite things.
Lots of cooking.

More cooking.

A porch swing.

Cheese and wine.
The best food.  Featuring a prime rib with horseradish sauce and au jus. 

Outdoor fun!  We also took a Christmas carol hayride underneath the Abilene starlit sky.

Four wheelin’ on trails.  Throwing rocks in the pond.  Looking for wildlife.  Kickin’up dirt! 

A large covered porch for outdoor fun.

A spirited game of spoons!

Cousins are the best!

Amma brought a bag of Christmas books to read to the grands!

 Christmas dishes with red solo cups…what’s more country than that?  

 The girls made blankets together!

The smiles come easy.
The dogs are in heaven.
cooking · family · food · motherhood · nutrition · parenting

Our Family Cookbook

The best recipes are the ones your mother made….the ones found on the family tree.  The other day I was perusing a cookbook that my Granny authored, and I was struck by it’s prose and meditations.  It tells a story, as do all good cookbooks.  No fat grams, or calories, or nutrition facts…no, just good food made by hands and seasoned with the heart.

I love a good cookbook, but what I love more is knowing how to cook…I have a long line of matriarchs to thank for that…I think my husband and children join me in thanksgiving.

A good home cook can transform whatever is in the pantry into a feast, even if the ingredients are not the best money can buy. And resourcefulness and creativity are a home cook’s pleasure…what makes cooking fun.  It is amazing what my mom could do with a whole chicken back when she did not have a whole lot of money to spend at the grocery store.  We used to tease her and say that she could make four meals for five with one bird. Funny story, but when I really think about the wonderful meals my mother cooked when we were poor as church mice…well, I just stand in awe.

 I made a pumpkin and buttermilk pie today.  As I cooked these family recipes, I reflected on my Granny…now in a nursing home.  She is a great cook…the best kind.  Below is the cookbook’s dedication in her words,

…to Mama (Bertie Jayroe) for keeping the tradition of family meals and foods alive.  Mother’s farsightedness and commitment created this multigenerational history of family eats.  It contains a personal family tree from which nurturing and incredible resourcefulness is found in the skill of the kitchen and pantry…few women of today manage to create lunches and dinners from scratch every day, including desserts. 

She (Mama) made the best chicken and dumplings.  Her famous (from scratch) blackberry cobbler was the best there ever was.  Daddy liked her cobbler the best of all.  The berries were hand picked by Daddy from his blackberry patch in the orchard.  Mama and Daddy raised there own chickens then.  One was caught, killed, and plucked for the chicken and dumplings.  All this required time, so my parents always rose early.  As her children, we are very fortunate to have smelled, tasted, and eaten so well.  But more so to have the values of a good home so deeply engraved.  Again, thanks Mama.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone…may we offer true thanks for what the earth has given and human hands have made.   
cooking · family · fun · home tour · kids · play · projects

A DIY Play Kitchen

 My girls outgrew the store bought play kitchens long before they outgrew playing house.  Our solution: a DIY play kitchen.  I wish I had detailed instructions, but a quick search on the web will give you all the information/instructions you will need to complete this project in time for Christmas.  If you are looking for a wonderful gift for a special girl…look no further.  My daughters have enjoyed hours upon hours of fun in this playroom.  I love to watch my kids get lost in play. 

Speaking of playrooms…when it came to making a decision of what to do with the one extra room in the house…a school room, a playroom, or an office…we chose playroom.  I have never regretted that decision.  We filled it with baby dolls and accessories , dress up clothes, play kitchen toys, and a grocery store.  My parents made the little spool table and chairs a few years back.  The girls hand painted it.  They also painted a computer screen for their store using a cardboard box.  The refrigerator is full of realistic play food, the cabinets are stocked with pantry items and dishes.  The girls each have an apron. I bought them a small ironing board and gave them an old iron of mine after cutting the cord.  An old vacuum cleaner (my favorite Oreck), telephones, junk mail, and play money make the imagination play endless. I just love the miniature appliances.  I’ve been served a many gourmet meal from this kitchen.  

Our favorite kitchen toys are from Green Toys.  They are high quality and realistic…making play fun.

  This room is a screened in porch with an outside entrance, and this makes it easy for our neighbors’ daughter to pop in just to play.  Sometimes I only know we have company because I hear the sounds from the playroom.  Funny. The time and money we have spent in this room is well worth it… and it continues to be a delight for my little ones.

Here is a great site to visit to get inspiration and/or instructions to make your own play kitchen.  Just click through all three pieces for instructions for an entire kitchen.
or visit this fantastic board on Pinterest

cooking · food · projects · summer

Sweet Treats

Adalay and Caroline entered the two cakes below in our local 4-H project show in the family living division.  Addy’s cake, the Lemon Pound, won Grand Champion.  Caroline’s cake, the Sock It To Me, won Reserve Grand Champion.  Both cakes are delicious…perfect for any occasion. Enjoy the weekend!
Sock It To Me Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbls. brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbls milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water


Preparation:

  1. Take 2 Tbls. of the cake mix and mix with the cinnamon,brown sugar, and pecans; set aside.
  2.  In large bowl, blend cake mix,sour cream,oil,water,eggs, and sugar. 
  3. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Pour 2/3 of batter into greased and floured bundt pan. 
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture in the center of this and spread remaining batter evenly over this.
  5.  Bake at 375° for 45-55 minutes. Cool in pan for 25 minutes. Remove from pan.
  6. To make glaze; Blend powdered sugar and milk together to make a glaze. Drizzle over cake. 

Lemon Pound Cake 
recipe found at add a pinch

Ingredient
  • 3 sticks butter (1½ cups)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • For the Lemon Buttermilk Glaze
  • 1½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare bundt or tube pan by coating with shortening or butter and flouring light. Set aside.
  2. Let butter, cream cheese, and eggs come to room temperature.
  3. Cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar til fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add lemon juice and zest and combine well. Add flour and salt and vanilla.
  4. Mix until just well-combined but do not over mix.
  5. Pour into prepared bundt or tube pan.
  6. Bake until golden brown and skewer inserted into middle of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  7. As the cake is cooling, whisk together ingredients confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and buttermilk to make the glaze. Allow to sit until cake has fully cooled, then drizzle over top of lemon pound cake.


cooking · faith · family · food · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · marriage · motherhood · Orthodoxy

Bright Week

We made it!  That’s what I keep thinking as I am cleaning out the fridge..all the leftover fasting dishes going to the scraps.  (We have a septic system which means no garbage disposal.)  I hope the neighborhood dogs like veggies in the scrap pile…hehe!

 I emptied containers of bean salad, coleslaw, a bit of refried beans, orzo pasta with artichokes and capers, and I was doing pretty good until I came upon a container of hummus.  The site of that evoked an emotional response.  I am sick of hummus!  And then a few minutes later I was half tempted to eat the last little bit for lunch.  I guess in a way it’s hard for this to be over.  So much of Lent revolves around the kitchen, and an Orthodox kitchen is truly a spiritual place.  So much of the Christian faith is centered in the home.

And on that thought…

Lisa A shared a series of talks on her blog entitled  The Good Wife: Five Lectures on the Christian Ideal.
The first lecture is free, and the remaining are only $10 for the complete download.  Well worth the donation!

The Christian ideal of womanhood is beautiful.  I have been thinking this week about brightening up my home, and then I saw this over at OCN… 

BRIGHT WEEK- the week after Lent in which we continue to practice the spiritual values we gained over the last 40 days.

I thought, “What spiritual values did I gain over the last forty days?”  What values must I practice to brighten our lives…our home? I can think of several.

Patience
Humility that calms anger
Kindness
Less talking
and most of all…
Consistency

I hope your Bright Week is exceptional.  How are you recouping, feasting, and practicing?  
Our Bright Week has been good so far.
Monday we had steaks from the grill.  Tuesday we went to vespers at the hermitage and shared a meal with the small community that is forming there. (So excited about that.)  Today we went to the park, and I am grilling hamburgers for dinner.  Thursday I hope I can get in my garden and plant a few things.  Friday Addy is going to a homeschool prom party!  Caroline is spending the night with her best friend.  Slade, the littles, and I are having ice cream sundaes.  The weekend is full with piano recital practice and St. Thomas Sunday.  
What are your plans for Bright Week?  Anything special?

cooking · faith · family · food · Orthodoxy · parenting · play · seasons

Glorify Him!

I am standing in my kitchen cooking up a storm.  The presents are all wrapped.  Kiddos are watching Christmas movies and singing Christmas carols.  The house smells amazing.  We made it!  We made it to Christmas Eve, and every year I am amazed.

After a lack luster first few weeks, I have found my Christmas spirit.  The days of humbug made me appreciate traditions.  When I was less than enthusiastic about the season I still had our family traditions to keep me from missing Christmas. And as we kept the traditions I slowly found my groove.

Mamas have this wonderful gift…we can make Christmas amazing for our families in the little things we do, in the smile we wear, in the tune we hum, in the giggles, and snuggles, and the sugary treats.  A mom has this energy, and it is infectious.  Food and festivities.  I love serving up scrumptious dishes with a side of I love you.

Christmas is a time of hospitality for me.  As I clean, shop, cook, wrap, and prepare I try to invite a spirit of comfort and warmth into our home.  I have found that the warmth comes from my heart and not in orchestrating a perfect Christmas.  I just love my family and friends.  

Christ is coming, along with friends and family.  We are family.  May our homes and hearts make a place for the Savior, and may we welcome everyone with warmth and joy.

Christ is Born…Glorify Him!

I glory in His presence, He has brought tidings of great comfort and joy.  Christ is in our midst  He is and ever shall be.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

On the Menu
Dinner
Honey Glazed Ham
Mashed Potatoes
Almond Green Beans
Salad 
Yeast Rolls
Tea
Desserts
Martha Washington Candies
Pecan Pralines
Almond Toffee
Craisin and White Chocolate Cookies
Ranger Cookies