Friday, January 30, 2015

Tackling the Fridge, Freezer and Floors!

So I've made it through Week 4.  Well, kind of anyway.  For 34 Weeks of Clean, the recent challenge was Fridge, Freezers and Floors.  We have the fridge/freezer, and a deep freezer.

I figured I should start with the refrigerator, because after weeks of not cooking real meals and having a two week old, it was in rough shape.  Husband's pizza box from the night before makes it look even worse.  Can you tell the kiddos have been helping put things away too?

I pulled the last four single-serve yogurt containers out of two different boxes.  I found a few expired things to toss.  Only one small bowl of leftovers.  I wiped shelves and washed out the drawers.

I planned creamy chicken tacos to use up the half jar of salsa that was in the fridge.

I found one of Eleanor's hairbows . . . ?

My little helper couldn't decide which apple she wanted!

Eventually I cleaned out the small freezer.  It was mostly creating tie-dye in the sink with all those random popsicles.  Then I grouped liked items together.

I didn't get to the ice machine yet.  I also didn't move any of the excess to the deep freezer yet, which would have made this look nicer.  That's because I ignored the deep freezer.

I'll use the excuse that the other freezer is in the utility room, and we're focusing on the kitchen.  No?  I have a newborn.  I can milk that one for all it's worth, right?  That's a bigger job so it will have to wait for the weekend when I have adult backup.

I did tack on one of the cabinets that I didn't get to last week.  The pots and pans were irritating me, so I started with that one.

I got rid of the miniature, wannabe loaf pans.  I also donated some cake pop thing I've never used for its intended purpose.  Then I moved the cheesecake pan and a few lesser-used items back to the far cabinet to make room for the slow cooker and other larger items that don't actually fit in that other cabinet.  This one has the slider drawer, and larger things actually fit here, so I don't know why I kept putting them on the other side of the kitchen when we use them fairly often.  The slow cooker was actually in use while I was doing this!

It's not pretty, but it's more functional.

I didn't scrub my floors and baseboards, but they got their usual cleaning.  The rugs will probably get washed this weekend now that I'm caught back up on laundry.

Next week's challenge should be a bit easier for me.  It's Recipes!  Well, that includes cookbooks, and while I'd happily reduce our collection, the husband might take some convincing.  I'll let you know how that goes!

©2011-2015 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Taco Tuesday: Taco Soup

My kids often want "Taco Tuesday" and while I don't mind to oblige them a couple times a month, I like to look for variations of traditional tacos to keep dinner from getting monotonous and boring. One of my favorite Taco Tuesday alternatives is Taco Soup! It's a good hearty soup for the winter months too!

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • minced garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn or 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • Taco Seasoning--packets or homemade--to taste
  • approx. 2 cups Beef Broth (or water)
  • Toppings:  cheese, sour cream, etc

The Process
I brown the ground beef in a large pot with some of the onion and garlic, and then drain it.  Next I saute the minced garlic, bell pepper and onion.  I dump the meat, all beans, tomatoes, corn, and pepper/onions all together in the pot.

I sprinkle with taco seasoning.  This is a good place to adjust the heat if you want it.  Use Rotel for canned tomatoes and/or spice up your homemade taco seasoning.  Whatever you like.  I keep mine on the tamer side, at husband's request, and also for the kids.  Stir everything together.  Next I add the liquid until it reaches the right consistency, and bring to a boil.  I let it simmer for about 15 minutes or so, until the peppers are tender.

Serve it up however you like!

Simplified Directions
  • Brown the ground beef in a large pot with a little onion and garlic.  Drain well.
  • Saute bell peppers and onions
  • Return beef to pot and add tomatoes, corn and beans
  • Add taco seasoning and stir thoroughly 
  • Add liquid as needed
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes until heated through
  • Serve with favorite toppings

The best thing about this recipe is its versatility.  You can add {or remove} virtually any ingredients you want.  Change the heat factor.  Use canned or home frozen corn, or canned tomatoes.  Use whatever beans you want or have on hand.  One time I made this, I specifically chose the recipe because I had leftover pinto beans from a beans/cornbread dinner and wanted to use them up!

You can also serve it so many ways.  My husband loves tortillas cut into small strips and fried up to serve on top.  For my non-soup loving kiddos, I use a slotted spoon to strain the liquid and add the "taco filling" to a tortilla or sprinkle on chips to make Nachos Supreme as Elliott calls it.  If I do that, I just add a little shredded lettuce, cheese and sour cream and they are happy.

This way, they get Taco Tuesday, and the husband and I get something different!

Try a New Recipe Tuesday

©2011-2015 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Relaxed Homeschooling: Fine Arts in the Early Elementary Years

Welcome to the last week of the 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair.  If you're not familiar with the VCF yet, it is hosted annually by Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds and this week's co-host is Lisa @ Golden Grasses.  This month long curriculum fair is where we give you a glimpse into our homeschool, focusing on a different subject area each week.  Our final theme is Seeking Beauty:  the Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty to our World.  This is where art, music and handicrafts fit into our routine!

Well, this is where art, music and handicrafts should fit into our routine.  Admittedly, this is probably my weakest area.  For some reason, Fine Arts is the subject area that I am least intentional about teaching, but when I think about it, it is easy to informally cover these subjects.  Thankfully I'm a Relaxed Homeschooler, and I don't stress about these subjects either.  I just cover them when I can, and let the kids explore them on their own as well.  I think variety and exposure is the most important element at this age.

I really wanted to finish the lessons in the ARTistic Pursuits books we've reviewed, but it just hasn't happened yet.  However, we've worked art into our days through other methods, and I'm okay with that too.

I strew Art by placing art books for children into our rotation, I add art apps to our iPad or Kindle, and I casually point out connections to art whenever they arise naturally.

Five in a Row does cover art too.  Often the manual will offer suggestions for examining the illustrations for specific details--comparisons to famous artists, or techniques like adding text to their art to enhance the story.  It is a good way to get the kids to notice details, which I appreciate.  When we rowed Cranberry Thanksgiving, we discussed how warm and cool colors were used and talked about the silhouettes, and I found a fun chalk pastel art project for us to do.

Another resource the kids love is Art for Kids Hub.  It is mostly drawing tutorials, but they are video based, and it's a father working with his kids doing the lesson.  He does a lot of popular characters and seasonal/holiday tutorials as well, and the boys love watching the videos!  Sometimes there are painting or oil pastel tutorials as well.  It's very casual, but there is a huge collection of material, so I can often find something for our rows or seasonal studies, and Elliott especially can get lost on the website, doing one tutorial after another.  This was his Leonardo after watching the video tutorial.

We are pretty casual when it comes to this subject.  I play a variety of music through streaming sites/apps like Pandora.  I want the kids to have an appreciation for diversity, so we play different genres regularly. Elliott has expressed interest in learning to play the piano, so I'm exploring that possibility.

I will say that we all love, love, LOVE the Maestro Classics productions, and I've bought two new ones since our review.  I have plans to buy more.  They are a great way to get music in, and they're perfect for the car.  I've told you before that we love audio books, but I play these occasionally when we're between books, and they're always a hit!

Some of the Art lessons from Five in a Row overlap with Handicrafts (weaving, origami, carving) so I tend to work these in whenever there is interest from the kids.  For instance, when we rowed Grandfather's Journey, there was a lesson on origami.  They were very intrigued, and we continued this one on our own after the row.  A pack of origami paper is relatively inexpensive, and there are tons of instructions online, so we had fun.  I just let the kids explore until their interests take them elsewhere.  

The one thing we still try to do semi-regularly is the Home Depot Kids Workshops.  They have them every month, and Daddy tries to take them regularly.  They get practice with tools, and Elliott likes working independently and showing me his project when he gets home.  

Right now, my biggest goal for Fine Arts is exposure.  I don't know what they will delight in the most, or where they might find a new talent, so I just try to offer variety and let their interests guide me.

Week 1 - Relaxed Homeschooling:  Language Arts in the Early Elementary Years
Week 2 - Relaxed Homeschooling:  Mathematics in the Early Elementary Years
Week 3 - Relaxed Homeschooling:  Science and Social Studies in the Early Elementary Years
Week 4 - Relaxed Homeschooling:  Fine Arts in the Early Elementary Years

2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair
Check out how the rest of the VCF participants bring beauty into their home, and if you have anything relevant to share, please remember to link up!

The Art of Organization�or How Clutter Almost Ruined My Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
The Shadow of Divine Perfection by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Fine Arts {Art Appreciation, Art, Composer Study Hymn Study} for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
Adding Sparkle to Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
And All the Extras by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Teaching Art Using the Bible by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Art In Every Subject by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Letting Art Just Happen in Homeschool by Amy @ One Blessed Mamma
Missing Art? by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
Do YOU Have Time for Extracurriculars? by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays
Fine Arts in Our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm
The Science of Beauty for a Delight-Directed Daughter by Susan @ The Every Day of Education
Seeking Beauty: How we Tackle the Arts in our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Learning To Appreciate Beauty With Fine Arts Resources@ As We Walk Along the Road by Leah@ As We Walk Along the Road

©2011-2015  Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.