Monday, June 30, 2008

Great Salad Recipes

We are having a little break between overnight guests, and I thought I would take this opportunity to post a couple of salad recipes that have proved winners here. As you know, I have been stressing (I am happy to say, mildly) over what to feed all our guests this week, but I am doing pretty well.  I still have my head, but it is only Monday, lol.

There was a day when I used to go all-out, cooking all day and making sure everything was just perfect, and collapsing in an exhausted heap at the end of the day. Since then I have either
become lazier or more sensible.  I'm not sure which, lol.  But I successfully fed the ten of us this weekend, and no one got sick (from the food) or went hungry. The meals might not have been exactly memorable, but they were good and satisfying.  I was rewarded by a request for the Napa salad recipe, and comments like, "Oh, this is good!" on the pasta salad, so the "cooking" was a success!

Napa Salad
- 1 medium head of Napa cabbage, sometimes called Chinese cabbage, chopped. (Look for a head with green outer leaves, not all pale-looking.)
- finely chopped veggies (broccoli, green onions, carrots)
- chopped Romaine lettuce for dark green color
- cooked chicken, steak, or pork, cut into bite-sized pieces, and chilled
- one package of Top Ramen,
uncooked, same flavor as the meat you are using
1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 C water
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 t salt
dash of pepper

Mix the cabbage, lettuce, veggies, and meat in a large bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients and set aside.  Crush the noodles. Just prior to serving, sprinkle the seasoning packet from the Ramen over the salad and mix well. Pour dressing over, using as much as you like (I don't like my lettuce swimming), then add the crushed noodles and toss.

Cucumber Pasta Salad (thanks, Daisy!)

12 oz macaroni pasta
2 cucumbers or 1 English cucumber (see note BEFORE starting)

2 boiled eggs


Dijon mustard

Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Cook the pasta al dente, drain, and run under cold water. Place in a bowl.
2. Hard boil 2 eggs. Cool & rough chop (I use one of those egg slicers). Add to pasta.
3. Shred the cucumber using a box grater. *You can shred it with or without the peel. The peel looks wonderful in the salad but I suggest using the English cucumber, if you go this route, since the peel is less bitter. Squeeze the excess moisture out of the grated cucumber and add to pasta.
4. Add a big spoonful of mustard.
5. Add mayo until it's to your liking. I don't like it super wet, but that's just me.
6. Salt and Pepper to taste.

I followed the above recipe, using a heaping teaspoon of mustard.  Next time I am going to chop the cucumber rather than grating it, and I am going to add just one grated baby carrot for color.  And maybe a touch of red onion?  This was very good.  I think I'll bring it to our 4th of July picnic.

I Have Not Been Educated

Have you been educated in the one thing that matters?  Kysha posted this great poem, which I have already printed out and posted on my refrigerator.  See her blog for the rest of it.

I Have Not Been Educated

by Carolyn Caines

If I learn my ABCs, can read 600 words per minute, and can write with perfect penmanship, but have not been shown how to communicate with the Designer of all language .... I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I can deliver an eloquent speech and persuade you with my stunning logic, but have not been instructed in God's wisdom.... I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I read Shakespeare and John Locke and can discuss their writings with keen insight, but have not read the greatest of all books -- the Bible -- and have no knowledge of its personal importance... I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.  (cont'd).....

Thank you, Daisy, for the tip!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tag of Two's

Bethanyrae encouraged me to do a few more tags.  Here's one:


Two names I go by:

Two things I'm wearing right now:
khaki skirt
flowered t shirt

Two of my favorite things today:
a clean bathroom

Two things I want at the moment:
Christ's coming
a servant's heart

Two favorite pets I have had:
a malamute/samoyed mix named Cody
a Siamese cat named Chu-Chu

Two people I hope will fill this out:
Alizona (I got you back, hee hee)

Two things I did last night:
killed ants

Two things I ate last night:
brownie batter

Two people I last talked to:
my father-in-law
my daughter

Two things I am doing tomorrow:
teaching Sunday School
eating pizza with guests

Two farthest trips I have taken in the last 5 years:
Norfolk, VA
Wichita, KS

Two favorite holidays:
4th of July

Two favorite beverages:
cold water
cold water
(I live in the desert, remember?)

Hm.  That wasn't a very revealing tag.  I'll do another one sometime.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Culinary Foreshadowing

I mentioned in my last ramble that we are having overnight guests twice in the coming week, and that I would be spending my week stressing over the food. This evening I wanted to get a little jump on the dessert, so I baked, or rather, tried to bake some blond brownies, the "best ever", guaranteed-not-to-fail recipe.  Uh huh.  Right.  I took them out of the oven after 25 minutes, just like the directions said, because they were pulling away from the edge of the pan AND they passed the toothpick test.  Forward about 1/2 hour.  The kids have gone to bed, and I am going to sneak one, just a little corner piece. No!  It's like batter inside!! So I heat up the oven again, and stick the pan back in. Can you do that?  Will it work?  Apparently not. Twenty minutes later they are still goo inside, but I have decided to go to bed instead of having a baking marathon tonight.  I do hope this is not a portent of things to come....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

She Rambles

Before I forget, the Carnival of Homeschooling is up, right HERE, at Dewey's Treehouse.  Sorry, I haven't been over there yet, so I can't even tell you what's going on.

Okay where are all my organized friends with menu plans for the summer?  We are having overnight guests over the weekend and again during the following week, with a picnic to follow (yes, all this within seven days!), and I need some help.  Anyone want to come over and do some planning and cooking for me?  Bring your recipes.  And your cookware -- mine's not very good.  I do love having company, really and truly I do, but I always stress out over what to feed everybody.  And summer. That means as little cooking as possible! And no, we don't have a grill.

My BIL just left us after a very short 18-hour visit.  Emily walked out of her bedroom in tears this morning, pouting that Uncle Alan had left already.  He is the Best Uncle, because he brings gummy worms. That is not to say the other uncles are bad, but they don't come to see us.  If they did, they could be in the running for Best Uncle.  We had to let him experience what it means to really be hot, so we went to the lake again yesterday for an afternoon of convection oven hot air and shivers at the same time. I know you don't know what I am talking about unless you have been here, so I won't even try to explain that.  We went home, ate supper complete with The Best Ever Banana Cake, had a short musical talent show so Best Uncle could make a little video for the cousins, and then it was good night.  OTR truckers need their sleep, you know. Al isn't really an OTR trucker, but he is this week.

About that cake, oh is it good. If you go to Recipezaar and look at the directions, it is a little different from your normal cake recipe. I followed it exactly except I used powdered buttermilk (you add the powder with the dry ingreds and then use water when it says to pour in the buttermilk).  And yes, you really do bake it at 275°.  Elisabeth was a bit (okay, a lot) disappointed when I slathered it with cream cheese frosting, because her favorite thing in the world is banana cake with PEANUT BUTTER frosting. But after a taste test, we agreed that the cake was superb and that next time we will experiment with a peanut butter/cream cheese frosting.  What do you think, cooking friends of mine?  Jenn, you're married to a baker.  Any tips?

Next subject, ordering for school. I was going to get some Uncle Eric books for Alison for history, but after reading the Amazon reviews of his WWI and WWII books, I think we'll just stick with his economics lessons for now.  I really need to sit down with her and her dad (I've been saying this for years) and make a plan for the next four years, because waaaaahhh this is the beginning of the end of her homeschooling. As I told my friend, Daisy, I just got her!  And now we are getting ready to get rid of her!  I just don't like to think about that one bit. Anyway, it's important to me to get both her input and her dad's about her high school years. I feel like I have only four years to teach her everything she will need for the rest of her life, which isn't really true -- there are always gaps to be filled. Little sigh. It's no fun.

Next subject, tangles.  I have a child who gets dreadlocks overnight.  Every day I threaten to cut off all her hair, and of course, that does not endear me to her.  After getting online and googling "tangles", we came up with some solutions that actually work! One, use regular conditioner in her hair before combing, and don't rinse it out. Two, pull it back into a soft scrunchie before going to bed.  Three, don't go to bed with wet hair (guilty of this one 99% of the time, but no more).  And four, use a silk or satin pillowcase.  Well, we don't have any fancy stuff around here, but we found that dressing up her pillow in Elisabeth's slip works great.    We have now had three tearless mornings in a row (thank you, Lord)!

I've been reading in the book of Judges lately.  What a mixed up time that was, when every man "did that which was right in his own eyes"!  Does anyone else see a correlation between the recent marriage ruling in California and the 800+ wildfires that they are battling this week?  Hmm...

Don't forget, I need your feeding-a-crowd summer recipes.  Just call before you come over; I'm still not ready for unannounced company (you church ladies know what I am talking about ).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Biology 101 Giveaway

Heart of the Matter Online Magazine is giving away not one, not two, but THREE sets of Biology 101 DVD's.  "Biology 101: Biology According To The Days of Creation" is a video series that gives an overview of Biology from the Biblical perspective. It comprises four DVDs covering plants, aquatic creatures, avian creatures, land animals, mankind and genetics, all based on the days of creation. The total length of the series is 4 1/2 hours, and a guidebook which includes quizzes accompanies the series. The creator of this wonderful series has geared it toward 15 year olds and higher but my younger kids will love to watch these.  You can learn more about Biology 101 right HERE.

To enter the contest (should I give you this link? I want to win!), go to Heart of the Matter Online.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rebellious Teen Blogger Tags Her Mother in the NO TAG Zone

Okay, I guess since this IS a homeschool blog I could do this tag....  Here we go:

  1. How long have you homeschooled? Since my children were born.  Doesn't everybody start out by homeschooling?

  2. What grade did you start homeschooling? You mean, when did we start buying graded books?  I suppose it was around first grade, but we learned so much before we ever bought books....actually the first grade material was a waste of money.

  3. What grade are you in now? I graduated from high school in 1981.

  4. How old were you when you started? I was 37 when I started homeschooling. (It's an education for me, too, lol)

  5. Do you like homeschooling? Oh yes!  I only wish I were going about it differently!

  6. Have you ever gone to school? Yes, all my life.  I'm still in school. The School of Experience, School of Life, whatever you want to call it... Academy of Humility? (I'm a long way from graduation in that one.) School of Patience?

  7. How long did you go to school? see #6

  8. Do you intend to home school your kids when you grow up? If I ever grow up, yes, unless by that time I am helping to homeschool my grandchildren.

  9. What are two things that you like about homeschooling? Oh, only two?  Okay... I like the fact that I know exactly what my kids are learning and NOT learning, and I love seeing my kids "get" a new concept or show interest in a new topic.

  10. Do you totally go against public schools? Totally.

  11. Do you have friends who are not home schoolers? Yes, but none of them have kids who are school age.  Almost everyone in our church who has kids homeschools them. Outside of my church friends, all my other friends with kids are homeschoolers also.

  12. Is it hard to get along with public school friends? Well, it wasn't when I was in the government school...

  13. What is the first thing other people say when they find out that you homeschool? Honestly, the most common response I get is, "Good for you!"  Maybe the general public is catching on?

  14. Who are you going to tag? Since this is a no-tag zone, it really wouldn't be fair to tag anyone.  If you want to be tagged, you are.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Peculiar People

“…that he might redeem us from all iniquity,
and purify unto himself a peculiar people…
” Titus 2:14

The word “peculiar” brings to mind the thought of being rather eccentric and unique, maybe a bit strange.  Are you peculiar? Most of us don’t like to stand out or have attention drawn to us, but it would seem here that the Lord desires that we be noticed.

Consider whether a girl or woman displaying these things would be considered by many to be peculiar in this time and place:  courtesy, sobriety, modesty, hospitality, faithful church attendance, kindness, quietness, punctuality, a joyful countenance, and especially, a tongue that speaks naturally and gracefully of Jesus Christ.  Even many Christians would consider a woman who exhibited these behaviors to be a bit different!

But the word “peculiar” doesn’t just mean unique.  According to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, peculiarity has to do with belonging to another, to the exclusion of others.  In other words, when you received Christ as your Saviour, you became the exclusive property of God  Almighty.  He owns you, and he only.  That is a wondrously special privilege! Not everyone has that privilege. Belonging to the Lord makes us peculiar just by definition. But a lady who behaves in the ways listed above shows the world that she is not her own; she is owned by another – by Jesus Christ. Her being a bit “peculiar” tells the lost world that they do NOT belong to him. God has elevated her to a privileged place. If you are saved, he has elevated YOU to a privileged place. Let us strive to be peculiar in our words and actions, that others may see whose we are.

Note to self: used 3/12.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

129th Carnival of Homeschooling

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is right HERE.  You'll appreciate this if you are a big movie aficionado. One of my favorite things about the Carnival is when I find a fellow (or fella) blogger who thinks like I do.   I found one!

For the archives, go HERE.
For the schedule, go HERE.
To submit an entry, go HERE.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Surprised?  I am still exercising.  No, I have not checked in for three weeks.  There is nothing to say, except that I am still doing it, and probably need to do more if I want to see any kind of results.  So I guess when and if I ever really get really serious about this, that is when I will be able to report any changes or weight loss.   By 6:30 a.m. it is already too hot out for a comfortable two-mile walk, but I am still plugging away.  This exercising thing is not the only major change I have undertaken -- it's the getting up early in the morning part that is huge for me! LOL. I have been at it for ten weeks, and that is a record-smashing length of time for me to exercise with no results.  I think I must start out on a very l-o-n-g plateau. If nothing else, it is a good discipline, right? Thanks, everyone, for your encouraging comments!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Homeschool Freebies

I'm telling you, you want to get in on this!  Look at this week's free downloads at Homeschool Freebies:

Monday: The Star Spangled State Book from KnowledgeQuest

Tuesday: The Intentional Planner by Sheri Graham

Wednesday: Write Like Crazy - The Homeschool Speed Writing Method

Thursday: G. A. Henty's "One of the 28th" (Audio Dramatization)

Friday: Home Geography (Classic curriculum study for Grades 1-3)

Go here to sign up for the head-up list!  The link is on the left sidebar.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mom and Dad's 50th

WARNING: Long post ahead.

We had a great few days this week at Camp Pendleton (Oceanside, CA) with my parents, who are celebrating the Big 5-0 this month.  Mom and Dad would much rather spend some time with their kids than have a big formal party or reception in their honor, so instead, my brother arranged for all of us to go "camping" (I use that term lightly) together instead.  My brother and his family were camping on the beach.  The rest of us had a couple of nice modern cabins to stay in, complete with showers, stovetops, and refrigerators.  That's the kind of camping I like.   Anyway, the U.S. Marine base has this campground for servicemen and their families (my brother is a Coastie), and it really is a nice facility.

We had cool, cloudy weather for a couple of days, which was a beautiful change from the desert sun, and then our last day the sun came out and brightened everything up, including our noses, cheeks, and the tips of our ears. Solarcaine and aloe vera to the rescue!

The rocky area was great fun!  We saw crabs (LOTS of crabs) sea slugs, hermit crabs, mussels, clams, one lonely sea anemone, and lots of lobster parts. Sadly, this mother threw away the collected specimens of dismembered sea creatures before the family drove the seven hours back to the desert, and the children were very disappointed.

Amazingly, we unearthed these little boys while we were walking along the beach!  They very happy to be freed from their sandy graves:

Cousin Nate

Counsin Drew

Why is it that everyone else's family has all the fun toys? (Have you ever heard that one before?)  The family in the tent next to my brother had Stomp Rockets, and some sort of balloon-shooting type thing, and also a game where two golf balls are tied together and thrown over a horizontal bar (the target). Those were a big hit! We also played badminton, touch football, bocce, and played in the sand (even got Grammy to play in the sand) .

Monday night we had a little celebration in honor of my parents, and we three siblings and our families presented them with a photobook that I made with Picaboo. That was a great deal -- I found an online coupon code for 50% off the first order!  Yay!!  The photobook started with Mom and Dad's wedding and traced our family up to the present.  It has huge holes of time in it, but it was fun to do, and a neat keepsake. Here's a sample:

So that was fun.  The next night we had a talent show with poetry, music, singing, and lots of silliness, and the cousins presented their grandparents with a cute cookbook with recipes they invented, and illustrations.

And there were more good times...

Smores, of course!
A new friend, a fellow homeschooler!
My SIL, Erin, and nephew, Victor.
On this particular morning my brother stepped on a sting ray -- that ended the surfing!
Dad (I love you, Dad) Mom (Love you too, Mom)
My brother, Todd (I love you, too.) My younger brother, Andy, and his girlfriend, Heather. (I love you, too, Andy!)

Our daytime crew. (Andy only joined us for an evening or two.)

I have only two three regrets. One, we don't live by the ocean!  And two, it's so FAR away!!  And number three, Andy's girls weren't able to join us.  A great time was had by all.  Even with the sting ray injury.  Thank you for staying with me this long.  I promise the next entry won't be so long.

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