Friday, December 29, 2017

The 34 Weeks of Clean Masterpost

This year I will not be blogging weekly about 34 Weeks of Clean.  It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to get it all posted, and I need to direct both of those things elsewhere this year.

BUT- that does not mean I am not following the schedule!  As a matter of fact, we are!  Regardless of what goes on in our lives, our houses still need attention, and clutter will collect magically if not kept in check.

So for our 34 Weeks of Clean veterans, welcome back!  You know what to do!

For those of you who are new, welcome!  Each week just check back here, read this post (maybe bookmark it on your phone or computer!) to find the week we are on, follow the directions, and take back your house- one week at a time.  At the beginning of each month I will check back in with you all, offer some updates and hound you , I mean, cheer you on in case you stall out!

Why one week at a time?  Because these are not small projects.  We are deep cleaning, de-cluttering AND re-organizing!  Yes, it is a challenge.  Yes, it is worth it!  In the end you will feel like you have a new house and a new lease on life.  Trust me, I know!  It is freeing to unload stuff you don't need or love.  It feels good to walk in to a house that is clean and says welcome.  And it saves much time and effort to live in an organized house!

Don't work ahead!  Please.  You will wear yourself out in just a few weeks.  Take your time each week and do it well.  Don't give up!  You CAN do this and you WILL be blessed by it!  Just remember it is a journey not a sprint.  Your house did not get in the shape it is in one day.  It is a slow creep, and it takes time to reverse the mayhem.

So roll up your sleeves and get ready to take your houses back in 2018!

On January 1st- READY, SET, GO!

Week 1- Holiday Decorations
Week 5- Recipes
Week 18- Half-Time
Week 19- Bedrooms 1 & 2
Week 20- Bedrooms 3+
Week 21- The Hall Closet
Week 22- The Laundry/Mudroom
Week 23- The Linen Closet
Week 24- The Porch and Deck
Week 25- The Yard
Week 26- Storage Areas and Attics
Week 27- Clothes Storage
Week 28- The School Room
Week 29- The Garage
Week 30- The Cars
Week 31- The Office
Week 32- The Computer
Week 33- Address Books
Week 34- The Finale

Again, I will check back in with you in a few weeks.  Until then, if you have questions or just want to keep me updated on your success, you are welcome to pop onto our Family, Faith and Fridays Facebook page and ask or post away!


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Pleasants Family 2017 in Review

We used to send out a huge update of our family in our Christmas cards each year to keep people updated.  Lately, I am just lucky to get a few cards out.  It is time consuming and, quite frankly, expensive.

Since many of our friends and family keep their eyes on our blog, this year I decided to just to put a quick year's review here for you.  While not all inclusive, it will at least give you a peek into our lives.

The hubby- After 25 years in the Air Force, he is actually contemplating retirement.  Probably.  Maybe.  We have a date set aside for May, we will see! ;)  Until then he is still enjoying his hush hush job, has been able to sneak in a few flying hours, and in his spare time herds all the cats (that's us) at home!  With the exception of going up and down the road to Mississippi to take Riley to and from school, his traveling has calmed down from the past years and we are loving having him at home more.

Ashton- Our oldest has ramped up her business, Ashton's Attic and has lovingly made and shipped out over 30 quilts this year, doubling her business from last year.  In addition, she still teaches several students sewing, does alterations, works on call for the local theatre in the costume department, and stages houses part time with a dear friend.  Have I mentioned she also plays music for our church and serves as an events and wedding and funeral coordinator there as well?  She may still be at home, but she is never at home!

Riley is now in her junior year of college in Mississippi.  She has been busy singing, dancing, and acting her way towards a BFA in Musical Theatre and hopes to get a job doing a little of all of that this summer before she returns for one more year.  After that, who knows, but if you have any connections, she would love to hear from you!  Riley has the traveling bug and recently spent Thanksgiving in NC with family.  We are thankful to have her home for a month for her Christmas break.

Both girls got to travel this past summer with their Grandparents on a 10 day tour of England and Scotland.  They had the time of their lives and I wasn't sure they were going to come home.

Salem is a sophomore in high school and recently turned 16!  You know what that means!  Yep, he has a license and is a driving fool.  It is certainly freeing for this busy mom, but I still whisper a prayer every time he drives off.  School keeps him rather busy, but he also works part time at a local knife shop.  Want any kind of info on knives or guns or cars- he's your man!  We are starting to talk about college plans for him, but still in the early stages with no decisions yet.

Colby is 10 and in 5th grade!  Wow, what a kid!  He is super smart and keeps me jumping.  Some days, ok many days, I feel like a first time parent, but we are both learning and growing.  He has always been a Lego fan, but his new obsession is sports.  He played baseball again this past summer and is now trying to figure out a way to get into football.  He says he wants to be a quarterback at the AF Academy!  You just never know, right?  He also began piano lessons this year and is a pro already, go figure.

And me.  Well, these kiddos and cute hubby of mine keep me pretty busy!  I still blog (obviously) as much as possible, and continue to write a handful of reviews.  I officially work for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine as part of The Homeschool Review Crew.  There I do a lot of admin and some social media for them with an awesome group of ladies.  Of course, I am still homeschooling the boys, mentoring new homeschoolers when I can, and doing some volunteering at the church in the form of meals ministry.

Well, that's about it folks.  Rather quiet, although I can tell you 2018 is not looking like it will be as much so.   There are a few things in the works we will keep you updated on as we can.  Every family has to have a few secrets, right?! ;)

Here's saying goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018 in just a few short days!


Monday, December 18, 2017

Monday Menu and Appetizers

Christmas is almost here, folks!  Can you even believe it?  While it may fall on the same date each year, for some reason it still seems to come earlier and earlier.

Now that our college gal is home and my mom arrived on Saturday, we are ready for the holidays to officially begin at our house.  While it doesn't mean a ton of baking here anymore, there are a few special meals to be planned and activities to attend.  Trying to keep this week's menu simple to take the pressure off.

Here is what the Pleasants are eating this week-

Monday- Lasagna

Tuesday- B-B-Q Chicken

Wednesday- Hamburgers

Thursday- Chicken and Rice Burritos

Friday- Breakfast for dinner!  Chipped beef, Fruit and Pancakes

Saturday- Parmesan Chicken

Sunday- Appetizers  It has been our tradition for many years now to have "fun food" for our Christmas Eve meal.  It began when we would return home late from Christmas Eve services and did not want to sit down to a big meal.  We allowed each person to choose their favorite appetizer and then we just ate a fun, light dinner.  We often invite friends to drop by and bring their favorite to share as well, and it is just a fun time of fellowship.

Here is Clarke's choice EVERY year!

Crab Dip


  • 1 Package Crab
  • 1- 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 TBSP onion, minced
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 1/2 tsp. horseradish
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • dash of pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients well and spread in 8x8 baking dish or pie plate
  2. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes
  3. Serve with crackers
Created using The Recipes Generator

Friday, December 15, 2017

Happy 20th Birthday Princess

Our sweet Riley came home on Tuesday night- perfect timing so she could be with us for her 20th birthday yesterday!  Yes, my girl is 20!  My, how times flies!

We went from this-

 to this-

This girl stole out hearts 20 years ago.  Her sister thought we had her just to have a playmate and while they didn't always share their Barbies and Polly Pockets perfectly, they have been best friends forever!  Complete opposites, but perfect sisters.  The boys kind of adore her as well!

She was a momma's girl for years (had a fit if I went to the bathroom without her) and slowly turned into a daddy's girl who thinks he hung the moon.  She was our best baby that slept when ever you put her down and to this day can still fall asleep about anywhere.

Riley went from dance, to ice skating, to horse back riding, and eventually to the love of all things theater.  Disney is in her blood and love in her heart.

We adore her and are so proud of her.

And honored to be her parents for 20 years!

Happy Birthday, Roo!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Tour

I have to admit that we have been a bit slow this Christmas with decorating.  Usually I pull all the boxes out and do it in one long day.  This year, I have pulled out a few boxes at a time and strecthed it out more.  No real reason other than lack of motivation honestly.

Well, that and when you have been working hard to simplify the last thing you want to do is add more things back in. 

Plus we have seen no snow. 

PLUS, one of our daughters just got home, so tonight we will put the ornaments on our family tree!  I simply refuse to do it without her.

Here the bare look-

This year I also chose to not bring out the Nutcrackers, but instead swapped with the stuffed animals that did not come out last year.  These belonged to the kids as they grew up and they loved having special things to play with in December.  While they are too old now to play with them, they hold special memories and I was feeling nostalgic, so I added them back in.

Another tradition we had when the kids were younger was to add a Christmas book each year.  Some of these books have been read many many times often under the lights of the tree at night. Colby still pulls them out each day, and some of the older ones still get read aloud for fun.

Two of the other trees I decorate are my Cross Tree-

 And the Americana Tree.  Both are favorites and I usually add an ornament to both each year.  The angel tree did not come out this year, just not enough room!

Other simple touches on the mantle-

 On the couch-

 My favorite nativity in the entry-

And one in our family room-

 A touch of Chritsmas in our kitchen-

  And a few little surprises tucked in our bookshelves.

Finally, to welcome you to our home is our cardinal tree and wreath!

And our goal-

Hope you have a beautifully blessed Christmas!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Menu and Comfort Food

Welcome to another week of Monday Menu!  I hope you are enjoying a peek into our kitchen- I have to say it has been great to not only keep me accountable, but also to make me pull out some recipes I haven't used in a while.  It is crazy how you forget about stuff you used to make all of the time.

You may see a few repeats in the next few weeks as our college daughter is coming home (insert happy dance here!) and she has requested some oldies but goodies.  It seems the dining facility at college just doesn't live up to momma's cooking and she is "starving!"  Go figure! ;)

So here we go-

Monday- Italian Chicken (you can do this in the oven or in the crockpot!  Just cover chicken breasts with Italian dressing and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes or in crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.  It is a favorite here!)

Tuesday- Hamburgers with mushroom gravy

Wednesday- Beef Stroganoff

Thursday- Chicken- Broccoli Braid (yes, it is the pampered chef recipe and yes, it is what our girl asked for for her birthday meal.  Go figure.  I told you she must be starving!)

Friday- Our Church Care Group Christmas party  I will be taking a Chicken Buffalo Dip

Saturday- Porcupine Meatballs

Sunday- Potato Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwiches

Fun fact- I am a southern gal.  Yep. raised in North Carolina most of my life on casseroles and comfort food!  While I consider myself a southern traitor because we have fallen in love with the Midwest and hope to remain here, I still love some good 'ol southern food occasionally.  I admit we have given up casseroles as a weekly staple, but there are just times in our lives where we all need a little comfort food to soothe the soul.  If you are in that place this week, here is a simple one that is also pretty easy on the budget.  Nope, it is not the healthiest for you, but it still might bring a smile to your face!

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham


  • 8-10 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 cups diced ham, fully cooked
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup, or cheese soup
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. Spray slow cooker with oil to prevent sticking
  2. Layer 1/2 the potatoes, ham, onions, and cheese.
  3. Repeat layering
  4. Top with soup and sprinkle with paprika and salt.
  5. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Created using The Recipes Generator


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Do We Play Favorites?

Yes, as a matter of fact we do!

I have been homeschooling around here for over 19 years now.  I have one child that has graduated and owns her own business making tee shirt quilts and another daughter in her junior year of college pursuing musical theater.  My oldest son is a sophomore in high school and our "baby" is a 5th grader.  If curriculum is out there, in MANY cases I have been there, done that, or at the very least can tell you something about it.

I started out homeschooling with a boxed curriculum.  Pull it all out, follow the lesson plans, and go!  It was a great way to start.  Eventually I branched out and pulled in some new-to-us curriculum and began to pick and choose more and more freely each year.  With my youngest, I now find myself swinging back to some oldies but goodies and embracing learning on line even more.  I have also been known more than once to change programs mid year if needed.

I am a firm believer that each child is unique and has unique needs and learning styles.  If something isn't working, I do not believe in sticking with it just for the sake of saying you did.  Find what works and love it.  If you don't love it, try again.  The possibilities are endless and there is no reason to go through an entire year with miserable kids.


So, long story short, if you ask us us what we use for school, be ready for a long winded answer!  And know it can change next week.

But...that being said, there are a few things that have made a HUGE impact on our lives or are just old favorites that have stood the test of time.  There are also a few new things out there that I so wish I could have used with ALL of my kiddos, not just the youngest.

More times than not, these new products have come to us by way of my job as Product Manager for the Homeschool Review Crew.  I am blessed to be a part of this amazing team of homeschooling moms and one amazing dad that homeschool their own kids and review materials to share with you.

Without further adieu, here are our favorites from this year's Crew season-

Times Tales- OK, this is a simple on line program that is meant to do one thing and one thing only- teach your kids their multiplication facts.  I have taught three other kids their facts.  It was not fun.  At. All.  But this- this was awesome.  Colby learned his facts in 4th grade in just short of two weeks.  And he knows them, and the jingles he learned them by, just as well today as the day he first learned them.  SOLD, to the momma who doesn't love math!

Rush Revere- We were blessed to receive not only the 5 books but also the audiotapes.  It is a miracle any of them are still usable!  My youngest LOVES these and will tell you this is HIS favorite product we reviewed.  Not only do they encourage reading and comprehension, but this historical fiction set is full of fun and adventure.  I am amazed at how much he has learned from listening to them.  Over, and over, and over, and over!  He's like a walking American History encyclopedia I tell 'ya!

Let's Go Geography-  I may have to gush about this one!  We have never done a true geography program for my kids while they were in younger grades.  We do some workbooks or activities usually and call it good.  But this online program, complete with links to cool videos, maps and a "passport" to print out, as well as crafts from the different countries won me over.  We are enjoying it still and plan on doing all three years of it.  It is just that good!

  Doctor Aviation- We do not use too many programs for my older son unless they are short or can be considered electives.  My the time you are keeping up with high school credits one has to be careful at disrupting the daily courses and momentum.  That being said, this course was worth it and even deemed fun by the 16 year old.  He is a pilot's son, after all.  You can read about this amazing elective in my review, but let me just say the aviation history, and details and the passion of the teacher make t a worthwhile program in my opinion.

Oh, there are so many more I could share with you, it was hard to pick just a few.  The point is there are a ton of amazing homeschool products on the market.  With a little research, you can find the perfect match for your children to make learning fun!


Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday Menu- The One With No Recipe!

Yep, call me lazy, but there is no magical recipe today.  So sorry for that, but life happens and this past week has been a crazy one and quite honestly, it is a miracle that this week's menu got planned.

I have managed however to put up two Christmas trees, though the tree skirts have not been unboxed yet so they look a little stark.  A wreath is on the front door, but other than that my house is sadly lacking much festivity.  Busy and unmotivated is my excuse.  That on top of the fact that apparently when you work so hard to simplify and declutter all of a sudden filling ones house with more stuff seems not so magical.

I will let you know if I find a happy medium!

Anyway, on to the menu!  Many nights will just be four of us, so we are keeping in simple this week.

Monday- Breakfast Burritos

Tuesday- Chicken Stir Fry

Wednesday- Leftovers from the freezer

Thursday- Chicken Nachos (crock pot)

Friday- Homemade Pizza

Saturday- Hamburgers on the grill

Sunday- Potato Soup

Have you noticed our Sundays have turned into Soup Sundays?  It is simple, and homey and I love it!  You may start seeing the same soups over and over again, as there are only so many my family likes, but we are fine with that.  If you have a tried and true recipe I would love for you to share it with us!  After a busy week and usually an equally busy weekend and lunch out on most Sundays, it is nice to cozy up as a family with a warm bowl of soup in the evening. 

I pray this post finds you cozying up with your family and enjoying a beautiful Advent season!


Friday, December 1, 2017

What's in a Favorite?

Each November as we wind down our Homeschool Review Crew year and take a quick rest before starting again, our 200+ reviewers vote for their favorite products in over 30 categories.  As Product Manager of this amazing group, I see a lot of curriculum come in and out of my house.  Trust me, it is hard to choose favorites.  I also know the hearts of these amazing blogger/reviewers.  They are passionate about what they do and want to provide the very best insights to you as not only potential consumers, but also as friends.  They put a lot of thought into the voting and it is a highlight of our Crew year.

I have my favorites, and will share them next week, but first I want to share with you the winners of this year's Blue Ribbon Awards.  Some I thought were no brainers, but a few actually surprised me.  See what you think!  If they have a star in front of them, we have personally reviewed them here at Family, Faith and Fridays either this year or in the past.  You can find those reviews from the search bar to the right.

*Favorite Reading Curriculum – Reading Eggs
*Favorite Writing Curriculum – Writing with Sharon Watson
Favorite Grammar Program – Eclectic Foundations
Favorite Penmanship Program – Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Worksheets
*Favorite Literature Curriculum – Hewitt Homeschooling
*Favorite Social Studies Curriculum – Let’s Go Geography
*Favorite History Supplement – Rush Revere
*Favorite Science Curriculum – Innovators Tribe
*Favorite Math Curriculum – CTC Math
*Favorite Math Supplement – Times Tables the Fun Way
 Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum – Memoria Press (Latin)
*Favorite Fine Arts Curriculum – Creating a Masterpiece
*Favorite Elective Curriculum – Doctor Aviation
*Favorite Christian Education Curriculum – Drive Thru History
*Favorite Christian Education Supplement – Brinkman Adventures
 *Favorite Preschool Product – Reading Eggs
*Favorite Elementary Product – Susan K. Marlow
*Favorite Middle School Product – Innovators Tribe
*Favorite High School Product – Doctor Aviation
*Favorite College or College-Prep Product – Institute for Excellence in Writing: High School Essay Intensive
*Favorite Parent Product – Everyday Homemaking
*The Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed –  Innovators Tribe
Favorite Planning Product – Only Passionate Curiosity
*Best Online Resource – Reading Eggs
*Best e-Product – Home School in the Woods
*Favorite Book or Novel – Rush Revere
*Favorite Audiobook or Audio Drama – Heirloom Audio Productions: Captain Bayley’s Heir
*Best Product Just for Fun! – Drive Thru History 
*Kids’ Choice – The Pencil Grip: Thin Stix
*Teens’ Choice – Drive Thru History
*All Around Crew Favorite – Drive Thru History
Homeschool Review Crew Favorite Products for 2017 
Join me next week as I share with you MY FAMILY'S personal favorites and why this job of mine is such a blessing!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Menu

What a full week we have had.  Despite having the week off of school, we have been in constant motion.  I am once again reminded that we can easily fill our lives with busyness and must be deliberate to schedule and then protect our quiet time.

After this week of appointments and my mile long things to do list, I am going to do just that! ;)

This week's menu is another simple one for you!  Remember, I am feeding a real life family with kids, not connoisseurs of fine tastes!  I want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with them, especially seeing how fleeting our time together is.  They grow up fast, my friends!

Monday- Orange Chicken

Tuesday- Off to eat with friends, you are on your own!

Wednesday- Turkey Enchiladas

Thursday- Asian Lettuce wraps

Friday- Spaghetti

Saturday- Pork loin (crock pot)

Sunday- Broccoli Cheese Soup

Let me tell you about our turkey savings before I share a recipe for the week.  Thanks to one of those handy shoppers cards at our local grocery store, I paid a little over $10.00 for a 19 pound turkey.  We had thanksgiving (7 of us), and then a second turkey meal with it the following night.  It also fed four people lunch with turkey sliders the following day.  Since then, I have chopped up the remaining meat and frozen 3- 2 1/2 cup portions(one to be used this week in the enchiladas) and used 2 Cups in our Sunday Soup. (recipe below)

Yes, that is 6 full meals and one quick lunch with ONE turkey!   That is about $1.66 per meal!  FOR MEAT!!

The holidays are a perfect time to stock your freezer when turkeys and chickens are rock bottom prices to save your budget the rest of the year!  With a little prep and planning, you can have meat ready and waiting to pop in a meal.  Win win!

Turkey Rice Soup


  • 4 TBSP butter, divided
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 4 TBSP flour
  • 5 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 1 C sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 C diced cooked turkey
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1 C milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Melt 3 TBSP butter and add celery, onion and sage- saute 3-4 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
  3. Add stock, stirring to combine and bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in rice  and season with salt and pepper, bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, saute sliced mushrooms in 1 TBSP of butter.
  6. Add turkey, cream, milk, and mushrooms to soup, simmering for about 10 minutes or heated through.
Created using The Recipes Generator


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When Worry Takes Hold

I would like to say that worry is not a part of our lives her at Family, Faith and Fridays, but that would not be true.  For years I teased my friends, "Why should I stop worrying?  It's what I do best!"  I have since corrected my ways- mostly!  I also have a daughter that was a worrier for years but after a few years of Biblical counseling classes she fixed her thinking and is free of that burden.

Now I have a 10 year old that is a worrier.  I am not sure if it is an adoption thing or just a personality thing, but none the less, we see it more often than I like.  Things like change, new situations, and sometimes even for seemingly no reason at all, he can make himself sick with worry if we do not watch him closely and intervene.  It is something we are monitoring, trying to teach him coping skills and right thinking.

All that to say, when I recently saw a friend talking about the book When Worry Take Hold, I was intrigued.  Anything we can use to help our kiddo  is great and the fact that it is a book is a bonus!

When Worry Takes Hold, written by Liz Haske, is a 30 page hardback back illustrated by InSong Nam. (You can also get it in paperback, but you know by now I am a sucker for a hardback book!)  The book is about a little girl named Maya that one day allows worry to enter her life.  With each new day and each new situation, her worry grows larger until she feels consumed by it.  Luckily for her, a teacher taught her a coping mechanism called calm breathing, to help her find her courage.

-One of the things that I love about this book is that it addresses that Maya made the choice to replace worry with courage by way of calm breathing.  It wasn't that she never worried again, but that she greeted it and then moved on.  Then she realized that she didn't meet each new thing with "what if", but instead replaced it with right thinking.

"I know you will get us there safely."

-The second thing I love about this book are the illustrations of worry.  It is like a whispy thought cloud seen over Maya's head at the beginning of the book.  You will also notice that the pages in the beginning are darker and more subdued.  As she finds her courage, the worry becomes smaller and lighter and then not visible at all in the pictures, which in turn have also become lighter and brighter.  The mood of the book changes as the mood of Maya and her family changes as well.

-The other thing that struck me was the reaction of the parents on the book.  "Her parents' smiles faded as they began worrying about her Worry."  This was a great conversation starter in our home about how our worry and fear can affect others as well.  I think it is also a good reminder to a child that they are not alone in their worry, and that the key is how we then handle it.

-And another one- the reminder that worry doesn't ever go completely away and that sometimes it is there to keep us safe, but that ..."courage was just a deep breath away."  I cannot think of many people who do not need to hear that at least several times in their lives.

-Finally, at the end of the book is a great how-to page on how to find your courage like Maya that explains in simple terms how to take a calming breath.  We practiced together after reading the book and now I simply remind Colby about it when he is beginning to walk the worry line.

Are our fears and worries gone?  No, of course not.  But I can tell you this book has been a God-send!  It has remained on my living room table for a week now and been read multiple times a day, together, but mostly alone by my son.  I think he has found comfort in the words, acceptance in the fact that he is not alone, and courage through the simple breathing technique. 

Empowering kids to work through their feelings is a must, and I think Liz has done a beautiful job in doing so


Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Menu with a Turkey

Welcome to a holiday week!  Thanksgiving is upon us and we are taking the week off of school to relax and reboot our family.  Sometimes parents and kids all need a break.  We will be minus Riley this year again, but she is joyfully flying to her grandparents' house this week to also enjoy some down time.  We are looking forward to having her home in December, right before her birthday!  She will be 20, oh my!  That is a separate post altogether!

So on to our menu for the week- notice there will be turkey!  Gobble gobble.  You will see its reappearance in a few meals next week as well, since I buy large and freeze in handy 2 cup portions to use for other meals.  Saves time and money!

Monday- Orange honey Glazed chicken  (yes, I know this was from last week, but we ended up going out and it never got cooked so I am trying again this week.  If you are looking for something different, pop some chicken breasts in the crock pot and add your favorite sauce.  Serve over rice!

Tuesday- Salisbury Steak with wine sauce

Wednesday- Egg Roll in a bowl

Thursday- Thanksgiving Meal- Just for fun here is what we eat:
  • turkey
  • mashed potato casserole (recipe below)
  • green bean casserole
  • cranberry sauce
  • rolls
  • gravy
  • stuffing
  • and of course, pies!  Can't forget the pies!
It is simple but we love it!  Family time needs to be more about the family and less about the food!  Do what your family loves and don't worry about the rest.

Friday- Thanksgiving leftovers

Saturday- Sloppy Joes

Sunday- Turkey and rice soup

So funny story- I LOVE mashed potatoes.  Like REALLY love them.  As in often ate them for a meal in college.  Just them.  (hey, it's what poor starving college students do, right? Except I was never starving!) Anyway,  I always loved to use Thanksgiving as an excuse to make them in large amounts.  One year we needed to make for a crowd so my mom and I made them quite ahead of time and set them aside.  By the time we got around to serving them, they had turned into a bowl of starchy mess.  Absolutely horrible, though it did provide a good laugh later.  Since that time, because sometimes we feed larger crowds and I prefer to be in the kitchen before people come, not while they are with us, I started making the mashed potato casserole, recipe below.  I make it (or two or three) the day before and pop it in the oven an hour before we eat. Saves time, and is just as yummy!

I pray your family has a beautiful Thanksgiving!  I am grateful for many things, including YOU!


Mashed Potato Casserole


  • 5 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1- 8 oz block cream cheese
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1-2 tsp garlic salt
  • butter


  1. Peel and cook potatoes until done
  2. Beat potatoes, adding the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth
  3. Add garlic salt and mix well
  4. Pour into a 9x13 pan and dot with butter.  You can sprinkle with paprika if desired
  5. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes


This can be made a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to cook.  You may need to add 15 minutes of baking time.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Friday, November 17, 2017

Homeschooling Through the Holidays

It's that time of year again!  The holidays are drawing near and the excitement is growing.  When you homeschool, that often means distracted kiddos and derailed lesson plans.  Let's face it, there is something about cold temps, warm fires, snow, and all things Christmas that can just pull at our attention.  Not to mention decorations to put up and big feasts to plan, right?

So how does one manage to actually get school done in these crazy, but exciting times?  Here are a few ideas for you!

Unit Studies! I admit these are not my forte, but the few times we have tried them I have not been disappointed.  There are so many out there, especially over the holidays, that make learning fun while concentrating on seasonal subjects.

Use what you have! Want to do math?  Count candy canes.  Need to get that art project in?  Make Christmas cards for your friends!  How about History?  Study Saint Nicolas or the very first Christmas!  Reading?  That's an easy one!  Grab a seasonal book and snuggle in for reading time.

Make learning fun!  When kids are distracted, learning gets a bit more challenging.  During these busy times it often helps to add a little something different to your schedule.  Put their spelling words into a word search or simply change locations of your "school room" for a few days.  Shaking things up can often keep kids more motivated.

Cooking Day- Save an afternoon or two and let your kids spend some time baking with you.  Measuring flour can surely count as math and following a recipe can be included in our home ec. lesson plans.

Jammies Day- We all know that the "homeschoolers do school in their jammies all day" concept is a myth for most of us.  But why not interrupt your regularly scheduled day to put on your jammies, grab a cup of hot chocolate and a plate of cookies and school by the fire?  Or at least on the couch!  Your kids will love it and you might even decide jammies for school are not such a bad idea after all.

Embrace the Crazy!- Take some time off of school and just enjoy the season with your kids.  Watch Christmas movies together, string popcorn, and sing songs.  School will always get done, but the season is short and your time with your kids is even shorter.