Monday, December 19, 2016

Let's Talk Christmas Food

What are you serving for Christmas?

That's actually what I am starting to ask myself.

I have to plan for a caroling night with friends, my own nuclear family's celebration, and my first year hosting Christmas for my family. I am still deciding on foods, and of course, there are plenty of options!

Here are some of my favorites and prospects:

Poptarts and/or Slim Jims in stockings
Cinnamon Rolls
Granola, Yogurt, and Fruit Parfaits

Strawberry Spinach Salad
Chicken Piccata
Chicken with Cream
Personal Pizzas
Crescent Roll Pizza Ring
Potato Casserole (I may try PW's funeral potatoes this year)
Roasted Veggies
Beef Stew - sounds cozy and warm

7 Layer Salad
Cranberry Salsa
Cheese Fondue - with bread, broccoli, baby carrots, tortilla chips...
Mexican Layered Dip
Baked Brie and Puff Pastry - this would be a first for me

Strawberry Pretzel Jello
Red Velvet Cake
Christmas Cookies: Snowball cookies and Chocolate crinkles are some of our faves!

I'd love to hear what's on your Christmas menu!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Giveaway - Early to Rise Experience for Moms by Andy Traub

UPDATE: Since I had posted this, Andy Traub communicated with me so we are giving away FIVE copies of his book. One from me, and four from him! What a blessing! 

Well, it's Christmas time,
and what better time is there to do a Giveaway?!

AND I have a neat story to go with the product.

A few years ago I submitted some work to Andy Traub as a potential addition to his book. He was writing this book for Moms, based on his prior book, Early to Rise, and this time around he wanted moms to contribute their thoughts. 

I had done his Early to Rise challenge in March of 2013 and I was excited about the prospect of reaching out to other moms with this beneficial information.

I submitted my work, signed the release form, and waited for the book to release. I don't remember receiving an email, and I checked back for a while and never saw the book come out, so I just assumed it hadn't. 

This week I had seen that he was promoting his upcoming book for dads, and I wondered why the book for moms never came to fruition.

Well, lo and behold, it did!
A couple years ago, eh hem...
AND sure enough, I am in there.
p. 134 to be exact ~smile~

The one unfortunate part is that my last name is spelled wrong, but it is a small thing to suffer for the opportunity to be published in someone's book. It is an honor and a privilege!

With that said, let's get to the Giveaway.

This book isn't just about getting up EARLY. It's about getting up EARLIER, but more than that!
It's about time management, self-care, vision-building, and lots more -- filled with many days of short reads to fill your heart daily.

A winner will be randomly chosen next Sunday, December 18. Then, I will send the book via Amazon Prime, and you should have it within a couple days. Best wishes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, November 7, 2016

A Great Big Tray of Delicious Nachos

I started making these nachos over the summer. I am trying to make some simpler meals that I can pretty much make from memory, and this one fits the bill.

A layer of tortilla chips, seasoned ground beef and refried beans, cheese sauce, and cheese broiled to perfection and then topped with some tomatoes and cilantro! YUM!

Easy peasy. Fairly quick. And delicious.

These are perfect for a family dinner or for an appetizer to share with company. I like to make them on the weekend especially.

Alter the ingredients and toppings to your delight, and you have something your family will enjoy!

A Great Big Tray of Delicious Nachos
Printable Version
1 bag of tortilla chips
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Taco Seasoning (1 t of each: paprika, chili powder, cumin, and salt. 1/4 t of cayenne pepper)
1 can of refried beans
1 jar/can of cheese sauce (I like to use Taco Bell's Salsa Con Queso)
1-2 cups of shredded cheese, your choice
diced tomatoes, optional
chopped cilantro, optional
sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to broil.

Spray a half sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Fill the sheet pan with tortilla chips.

Prepare ground beef:
Sauté beef in a skillet with onion, garlic, and taco seasoning until beef is browned. Drain.

Put ground beef back in the skillet and add the can of refried beans. Cook until it is warmed.

Spread the beef and bean mixture over the tortilla chips on the sheet pan.

Place cheese sauce in the warm skillet and warm through. After it is heated, pour the cheese sauce on top of the beef and bean layer.

Put shredded cheese on top of the other layers and stick in the oven to broil for just a minute or two, until the cheese is melted. This will cook fast so keep your eye on it!

Dress with your choice of toppings. I like tomatoes, cilantro, and sour cream.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Motherhood: Why I Am Treasuring Every Moment

The days are long, but the years are short.

I have heard this.
I have said this.
And these days I am feeling it.

The years are short.
Time is flying.
And these days I feel not only that the years are short, but the days are too!

Life is cruising at maximum speed.
Most everyone I talk to feels the same way.

Schedules are packed.
Activities are endless.
Choices and decisions abound!

Time is happening at warp speed.

This summer my oldest son spent half of his time away from home. He went to a Christian camp for a week, and to the Philippines for a mission trip for three weeks. These experiences, combined with the fact that he is now in his junior year of high school, keep reminding me that my days with him are to be treasured. I missed him tremendously when he was gone this summer, and in two short years, I will be sending him to college, most likely locally, yet I will see him less and less and soon enough, he will move out of my home.

Life happens. It continually happens. It doesn’t slow down and wait for us. It keeps going, keeps moving, and keeps presenting a challenge to us.

Will we treasure the moments we are given?
Will we savor the time with our loved ones?
Will we saturate our lives with thankfulness?

My kids are growing up, rapidly. I don’t want to miss out on the people they are now. I want to appreciate these days, and I am trying to do that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

As Life Unravels, Remember: God Gives Good Gifts

Recently a decision was made for my family, a decision that brought a lot of confusion, frustration, and disappointment to be frank. It was a decision that was made for one of my children, yet, in the end involves the entire family.

As I analyzed and dissected the decision, it just didn’t make sense. And it hurt.This decision started a myriad of emotions and conversations in my heart that I had to settle and choose to walk away from.

Be still and know that He is God.
Psalm 46:10

In the midst of the confusion and the chaos, I had to step away from the entangled ball of yarn and see beyond it. I had to stop looking at the negative and see what good could come from this decision.

I had to ask myself:
How could this benefit my child?
How could this benefit my family?
How could this benefit the community of which we are a part?
How could God use this in our lives?
And I began to see good things.

I began to see how God could give us greater rest and simplicity through the decision.
I began to see how God could use this situation to bring growth in my child’s life.
I began to see how God sees the whole picture, and we only see a sliver.

In the middle of the entangled mess,
God and His goodness are there.

I admit… Right now, while the decision is fresh, I struggle. My disappointment is real.

YET, I confront that struggle with the reality that God is good and He gives good gifts to His children.

What are you facing right now?
Are you disappointed?
Are you heartbroken or frustrated or confused?

In the midst of your heartache, step away from it,
and ask God to help you see His goodness.

Ask God to help you remember that He loves you and has a plan for your life.

Ask God to help you remember that He does give good gifts,
and He will use your situation for good in your life.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights.
James 1:17

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Our Whole30 Experience

Well, it has been a month since we have been off the Whole30 diet. I intended to write this post as soon as we got off the diet, but May is always one of the busiest months of the year for us as we juggle the end of our homeschool year, soccer season, music recitals, birthdays, our anniversary and other parts of life.

What is Whole30? A quick summary…

The basic gist for the Whole 30 is this.
No dairy.
No sugar.
No grains.
No legumes.
For 30 days.
For more specific details, check out the Whole30 web site.

Overall Feelings

Overall, I will say that our Whole30 experience was positive. It was very difficult at times, even though I did get used to it after the first several days. It still was hard to get over the feeling of deprivation and not look forward to some of the things I enjoyed eating.
However, because of the benefits we received, I would say the Whole30 program is a good option for people.

How the Journey Went

Week One was a difficult week, especially the first handful of days as we adjusted to our new way of eating. The difficulty of Week One led my husband to decide he would add his Dunkin’ Donuts coffee back in after the first week, and that is how he continued his journey.

Week Two was definitely the best week. We were getting used to the foods we could eat and had a lot more energy. We felt better, in general, and life felt easier.

Week Three. Hmmm… I thought this week would be fairly easy, but I was wrong. I didn’t feel great. I actually felt quite fatigued and around Day 20 my stomach hurt an entire evening and followed into the next morning. I thought my body was missing something and decided to have a piece of toast. I had one piece of toast and that seemed to do the trick. I know…. I know… According to Whole30 rules, I blew it… and so did my husband after the first week… and that means you START ALL OVER. However, I told myself that I would stick to it as best as I could, and I didn’t start over. I just kept going.
HOWEVER, I will say that even though this week proved harder than I thought, I also saw a good amount of victory. I hosted a tea party at the end of the week, and it didn’t even phase me to stick to my Whole30 eating.

Week Four. The last week was hard because we knew we were so close to the end, and we just wanted it to be done. We weren’t very patient, and the days seemed LONG. We looked forward to eating tacos and pizza and chocolate goodies.

Pros and Cons

Even though the journey was not a piece of cake (no pun intended), there were definitely many Pros of being on the diet.

Weight Loss – My husband lost 15 pounds, and I lost 10 pounds.
Renewed Energy and Stability – Overall I had more energy. I woke up feeling refreshed and felt less anxious and more stable throughout the day.
A Desire to Eat Healthier – Even now, after the diet, I have a desire to eat healthier. I have seen and felt how eating healthy makes me a better person, and I want to promote that!
”Glowing” Skin – I received remarks from people that my skin was “glowing”, and I could definitely tell a difference in the way my skin looked and felt.
Better Health – Most mornings when I wake up I have a lot of sinus congestion. I had much less of this during the Whole30. My body felt stronger and experienced less symptoms as a whole.

Some of the cons were:

Feeling Deprived – Truth be told it is just hard not to think about the foods you COULD be eating, especially when you are having a bad day.
Expense – Maybe I would get better at spending less money on groceries if I ate this way all of the time, but I was at the grocery store multiple times a week, partly because I wasn’t fully used to how we were eating to be able to plan well enough and partly because I needed to stock up on fresh ingredients again. Also, some of the ingredients we used: almond milk, almond butter, etc… are more expensive than their counterparts.
Time – Not only did I spent a good amount of time planning our meals for the week and shopping at the grocery store, I also spent a large amount of time in the kitchen. Fresh, homemade food comes with a price. Making salads and their dressings, having boiled eggs and cut veggies for snacks…. Basically cooking every meal from scratch and not being able to grab a bowl of cereal or eat out when life is crazy. It definitely takes time!
Very Extreme – The diet is very extreme, and to be truthful, we didn’t follow it as strictly as taught. For instance, the bacon I used was nitrate/nitrate free, and pretty good turkey bacon in my mind. It is what I always buy for my family. However, Whole30 says no to it because Sugar is listed on the label. It is very hard to find bacon without added sugar, and this is one of the things I chose not to make a big deal about. Also, the diet doesn’t want you to make smoothies or eat Larabars in general, but these are options we decided to keep for ourselves lest we became crazy at times.

What We Ate and Enjoyed

When we were on the Whole30, I did some posts about my meal planning. You can see some of what we ate there:
Day 3 and a Meal Plan
This Week’s Whole30 Meal Plan
Our Final Week

Some of our favorites:
  • Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato/Potato and Bacon Hash
  • Lettuce Wrap Tacos
  • Asian Lettuce Wraps
  • Burrito Bowls
  • Beef Stew
  • Roast

How the Diet Affects Us Now

The Whole30 reminded me of the great value of eating healthy foods to promote a better life. We have always tried to eat fairly healthfully, choosing whole grains, fresh foods, quality meats, etc., but the Whole30 made me realize I have only scratched the surface.

The foods and recipes I have come across have broadened my horizon and stretched me. I continue to glean and grow and seek to make healthy, fresh foods for my family.

Now I am, all the more, trying to incorporate more veggies, protein, and better sweet substitutes into our weekly food choices. I am still trying to figure out exactly what works for us. It is a journey.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Hats Off to All Moms, Everywhere

Moms are amazing, and I don’t say that because I am one.

I say that because I see it in the lives of those around me -  my mother, my mother-in-law, my friends, the women at church, the women at my homeschool co-op, the women at the grocery store, the women at the soccer field … the women all around me.

Mothers have a tremendous concern for their children. When a woman becomes a mother, her heart is suddenly attached to another human being FOR LIFE.

Moms stay at home, work from home, and balance career and home life, trying to fulfill the needs of their family members.

Moms juggle schedules, energies, monies, and time.

Moms cook, clean, organize, run errands, shop, chauffeur, nourish, provide, work, play, and pray with and for their children.

Moms wear a badge of honor when their children succeed and a spirit of compassion and encouragement when they don’t, always hoping the best for their children.

Moms invest their resources and time to give their children opportunities throughout their lives.

Moms give and give and give.
And then they give some more.

Moms protect their children from harm and hurt, as much as they possibly can.

Moms discipline, teach, train, mentor, and love, planting seeds of truth and love in hearts that they hope some day will bloom to fullness.

Moms deny careers, interests, and needs for the sake of their children.

Moms carry grief, frustration, and emptiness when their children grow up and leave the values they taught them and explode with joy when their children make good, solid decisions and manifest high caliber character.

Moms lavish their children with generosity. They plan parties, celebrations, shopping sprees, and dates.

Moms sit in the audience and cheer, stand at the end of every performance with an “encore”, and run beside their children every step of the way.

Moms never stop caring. Period.

To every mom out there, I salute you.
Happy Mother’s Day!
You are special!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Whole30 Meal Planning: Our Final Week

Well, we are cruising into the final week of our Whole30, and I admit… We are glad. There have been a lot of pluses to this diet, but we do feel bored, restricted, and ready to get back to some of our old foods.

One more week! And here is what we have on the menu:


Roast with potatoes, and carrots 
White Chicken Chili - with potatoes instead of beans
Chicken Tikka Masala and cauliflower rice
Shepherd’s Pie – the mashed potatoes will be made with almond milk and olive oil
Cabbage Rolls
Paleo Sloppy Joe’s – without honey
Turkey-Bacon Meatballs with tomato sauce

Breakfast Ideas:
Monkey salad – banana, coconut, and almonds, and I add frozen fruit – usually strawberries, raspberries, and/or blueberries
Fried eggs with fruit
Bacon with fruit
Potato or
Sweet Potato Hash - Saute bacon, onion, and potatoes or sweet potatoes. Serve with fried egg, if desired.
Hash browns with fried egg

Lunch Ideas:

Salad, salad, and more salad - fattoush, tuna nicoise, simply vegetables with homemade dressing. Seek to add some sort of protein or fat - boiled eggs, avocado, bacon, nuts, grilled chicken...
Leftovers or breakfast options

Monday, April 18, 2016

This week’s Whole30 Meal Plan

Well, today is Day 17. I have made it halfway through the diet. I plan to write more about it when I have finished.

Below are some of the things we ate last week and will be eating this week. I hope to post some of these recipes soon!

I serve most of these with a side of vegetable, fruit or cauliflower rice.

Dinner Ideas:
Mexican Chicken Soup
Crustless Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Skillet - sauteed chicken with onions, a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, and cilantro
Surf and Turf – Grilled London Broil Steak and Tilapia, sauteed mushrooms, steamed green beans, and Cantaloupe
Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes – one of our savory favorites!
Chicken Fajita Bowls – Grilled chicken with onions and peppers. Serve with salsa and fresh guacamole.
Lettuce Wrap Chicken Tacos – Cooked chicken with taco seasoning, grilled onions and peppers, and fresh guacamole on lettuce leaves
Burgers - pile with sauteed vegs., lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard atop shredded lettuce or inside lettuce leaves OR top with bacon, mushroom, and avocado
Asian Wraps – ground chicken, vegetables, and spices inside lettuce leaves

Breakfast Ideas:
Fried eggs with fruit
Bacon with fruit
Potato or Sweet Potato Hash - Saute bacon, onion, and potatoes or sweet potatoes. Serve with fried egg, if desired.

Lunch Ideas:
Salad, salad, and more salad - fattoush, tuna nicoise, simply vegetables. Seek to add some sort of protein or fat - boiled eggs, avocado, bacon, nuts, grilled chicken...
Leftovers or breakfast options

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sweet Potato, Bacon, and Apple Hash

*On Left: with cooked apples. On Right: with raw apples.

As we are trying to do the Whole30, we are also trying some new dishes. It’s amazing that this regimen claims to produce various good results, one of them being to break some of the psychological reasons for eating foods, YET I find myself thinking about food all the time.

On this program, I am continually planning, shopping, cooking, snacking, and creating ideas about food!

The other night I was thinking about sweet potatoes, bacon, and apples. It sounded good. I browsed a bit online, found a recipe, and made this yummy hash for breakfast the next morning. The original recipe that inspired me uses maple syrup, but being on the Whole30, we can not use that right now.

Sweet Potato, Bacon, and Apple Hash
Original Recipe
Printable Version

1.5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, diced or shredded – see cooking instructions
Olive Oil
Sea salt

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add bacon to pan and start sautéing. Add onion and sweet potato and sauté. After a minute or two, add the diced apple (or you can put the apple on top afterwards raw, diced or shredded – and you can use whichever type of apple you like. I actually prefer it this way). Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon salt over the ingredients and sauté for about five minutes or so, until bacon and onion are cooked well.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover immediately with a baking tray. Allow the mixture to steam for a few minutes. The hash is done when the vegetables are soft.

You can eat this alone, but a fried egg on top sure does complete the meal.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Whole30: Day 3. My Honest Thoughts and My Meal Plan for the Week

Day #3. It’s been an interesting start to the Whole30. The first day seemed very challenging. The past two days felt like a rollercoaster, sometimes feeling victory and vision for the diet while other times feeling as if I just can’t do this.

My journey into the Whole30 really started with my daughter. Her ballet teacher did the diet with her husband, and they had tremendous results and loved it! My daughter felt inspired, and also wants her parents to be a little more, ahem, trim and healthy, so she thought we should go for it.

I also had recent exposure to the diet from my blogger friend, Lisa Marie, who just finished the diet and appreciated it as well. She is in the midst of writing some posts regarding her experience so make sure you hop over to her blog for some encouragement if you are thinking about the program.

The Basic Rules for the Program

No Grains.
No Legumes.
No Dairy.
No Sugar.

For 30 days!
*See more details on their web site.

I have to be honest… At this point, I don’t know how long we will do this. I am not quite sure we were prepared for such a radical change. My husband and I were teasing tonight that we may just do the Whole7 or something.

However, I am trying to stay positive and take each moment as it comes, choosing healthy options, trying new recipes, adding more vegetables to our repertoire, and gaining more perspective.

My Meal Plan for This Week:

  • Beef Burrito Bowls (Beef with seasonings, Sauteed onions and peppers, Lettuce, Tomato), Cauliflower Rice, Watermelon.
  • Burgers without a bun, piled with sautéed onions and mushrooms, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, and a good dollop of mustard. Steamed green beans.
  • Roasted Chicken, oven-roasted cabbage, mashed potatoes.
  • Chicken Tacos, wrapped in lettuce instead of shells. Baked sweet potato or sautéed veggies.
  • Grilled Chicken Salad.
  • Indian Butter Chicken. Roasted Cauliflower.
  • Beef Stew.

Breakfast Ideas:

  • Sautéed Kale, Mushrooms, Onions, and Tomatoes with Baked Egg.
  • Bacon and Mushroom Omelet.
  • Fried Egg with Bacon and fruit.
  • Breakfast Scramble, without cheese.

Lunch Ideas:

  • Fattoush Salad, with or without grilled chicken.
  • Baked Potato, topped with a fried egg and bacon. Veggie or Fruit on the side.
  • Tuna Nicoise Salad.
  • Grilled Vegetable Lettuce Wraps. I am just planning to grill some vegetables and serve them inside lettuce with a vinaigrette dressing.
Have you tried the Whole30?
What was your experience like?

Are you currently making changes to your diet?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Life is Worth Living, Just Because HE LIVES!

The past week or two the circumstances of life were weighing heavily on my heart, and not just my own life’s circumstances but others that I know and the world at large.

Especially with Easter approaching last week, this well-known song started running through my head:

Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

I realized that I was placing so much of my focus on circumstances, the tangible messes and frustrations of life, rather than focusing on Jesus in the midst of these situations – what He could do and the goodness that still existed in my life and others’ lives because of Him, regardless of the disappointments and sorrows.

As I started to fix my gaze on the resurrection of Jesus, I reminded myself that it is because of Him that we can live in this world of imperfection and be victorious, having hope, joy, and peace.

Jesus Came. Served. Suffered. Died.
And then rose again – all for us!
His love for us is great, and He lives!
His love is current!

Because He lives, we CAN face tomorrow.

There’s no need for us to worry about what is to come. The present has enough worries of its own, and we can’t add anything to our lives by worrying. (Matthew 6:34)

Because He lives, all fear is gone.

Perfect love casts out fear, and God’s love is perfect. We know God and believe in His love for us and abide in Him. There is no need for us to fear. He loves us! (1 John 4:16-19)

Because we know HE holds the future.

No matter what happens here on earth, God holds the future. He has a good plan for us and for our eternities. He knows the end from the beginning and has the story all figured out!

And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

Life is worth living for no other reason than this -- God lives! He created us. He loves us and wants relationship with us. He desires good things for us. Simply to know and remember that God is watching over us and longs for us – that should be enough to make us want to live the best lives we can and give Him glory.

Have your eyes been fixed on your circumstances?

Remember, He lives,
and it’s all worth it just because of that.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Our Easter Menu

This past weekend we had our first Easter celebration with my family. My dad is having surgery the
day after Easter, so we scheduled our dinner early.

Our menu consisted of:

Potato Roast
Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots
Broccoli Salad
Brownie Pizza
Sugar Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

My daughter did a wonderful job with the decorations and made the sugar cookies and a large pitcher of strawberry lemonade on her own. She makes me proud!

My mom and sister brought the meatballs, mostaccioli, and peanut butter cookies, which were a great addition to the meal.

I still have to make one more Easter menu. Some of the things I am considering this time are: turkey, chicken piccata, mashed potato or hash brown casserole, and green bean amandine.

What are YOU making for Easter?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Pioneer Woman's Brother's Tacos

Did you know that the Pioneer Woman has a brother?

And did you know that the Pioneer Woman’s brother makes exceptional tacos?

Yes, he does! I’ve tried them. Okay… I didn’t really eat tacos that he made for me, but I did try his recipe, and YUM! The tacos were delicious!

These tacos do take a while to make, since they are fried, AND since they are fried, you may not want to eat them every day. Well, you may WANT to eat them every day, but you probably SHOULDN’T eat them every day.

My family LOVED these!

Just a note: I actually misread the recipe and used 4 HALF chicken breasts and stretched it to make 16 tacos with that, so you may be able to tweak the amount of chicken and tortillas you use.

The Pioneer Woman’s Brother’s Tacos
Original Found Here

Printable Version

16 corn tortillas, small size (you may need more)
4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
salt, cumin, chili powder, to taste, or taco seasoning
2 T canola oil
2 cans (4 oz.) green chilies, diced, drained
1 1/2 cups grated cheese, Cheddar or Co/Jack
Sour cream
hot sauce or taco sauce
2 cups thinly sliced lettuce
4 whole roma tomatoes, diced
canola oil, for frying tacos

Heat 2 T of oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and flavor with spices or taco seasoning. Add the green chilies and cook until the chicken is well-cooked. Turn off heat and set aside.

*Be careful frying with oil*

Fill a saucepan with a couple inches of oil. Heat to 350 degrees. Put some of the chicken inside a tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half and hold it shut with a heat-proof pair of metal tongs while placing it, one side down, into the hot oil. Keep holding the taco for a few seconds to form it. When it stays put, leave the taco in the oil until light golden brown (probably no longer than 30 seconds), and flip, cooking the other side similarly.

When the taco is done, carefully take the taco out of the oil and pour the oil out of both sides, draining well. Then put the taco on a paper towel. (The Pioneer Woman recommends putting the taco into a stack of paper towels, folding the corners and sides in, and shaking the taco a few times to remove excess oil).

You should be able to fry 2 or 3 tacos at once, depending on the size of your pan. I preferred frying two at a time to keep the temperature of the oil more stable.

After the tacos sit for a few minutes, fill them with cheese to allow it to melt while you are making the other tacos.

Garnish the tacos as desired, with sauce and sour cream first and then lettuce and tomatoes on top.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Make Time to Care for Yourself

As a mom and even moreso, a homeschooling mom who is always on call, I feel responsible for a lot for my family: their health and nutrition, their education, their hungry bellies, their needy souls, their talents, their weaknesses, and everything in between. I wake in the morning, knowing that any moment can start rolling the ball of needs, demands, and inquiries. If I don’t intentionally start the day proactively with some time for myself, I will lose that precious time as my family waits for my love and service.

I have said to my husband at times, “Picture waking up in the morning to your boss staring you in the face, waiting for you to get to work”.

That’s how motherhood feels oftentimes. If I don’t rise before my children, soon enough they will be breathing in my face, waiting for breakfast and direction, possessing appetites and intentions and hopes for the day.

The day moves forward, and I serve and serve… Training, exhorting, encouraging, reproving, prodding, feeding, cleaning, driving, and tending to many needs.

It isn’t long before I realize that I need to be on my toes daily. I need to have my strength stored up and my ducks in a row. Well, as best as I can, and of course, rely upon the grace of God for the rest! Drier moments and seasons will come when we rely upon God to carry us through our days.

However, I believe we need to make time for ourselves
so we can make ourselves
stronger, wiser, healthier, and lovelier.

The blessed and sometimes unfortunate truth is
that our households are only as good as we are.

If we desire to have a clean house, healthy meals, happy hearts, a cozy atmosphere, well-trained children, hospitable moments, and thriving marriages, we will have to work hard to restore our strength and be filled up so we can pour good energies into our homes.

Taking care of our homes and the hearts that live there and visit is an immensely important privilege and also a huge responsibility. We should never take it lightly nor should we get to the point of despising the beautiful position God has put before us.

Taking good care of ourselves prevents burnout,
provides refreshment, and positions us to thrive.

There is no need to feel guilty about making time for ourselves, but everything should always be done with proper moderation. Too much focus on ourselves causes us to neglect responsibility and feel like we ought to live on an eternal vacation or merely feed our own desires. Too less of a focus on ourselves causes us to neglect ourselves and be susceptible to depression, lack of vision, sickness, fatigue and more.

How are you taking care of yourself?

Are you taking care of your spiritual self?
  • Reading your Bible
  • Praying
  • Memorizing Scripture
  • Attending church
  • Fellowshipping with the believers
Are you taking care of your physical self?
  • Getting enough sleep and rest
  • Eating well
  • Exercising / Adding movement to your days (walking, housework, etc.)
Are you taking care of your emotional and mental self?
  • Reading good books
  • Staying away from dramatic situations
  • Giving yourself quiet time each day or at least when necessary
  • Limiting social media and internet time
Are you taking care of your relational self?
  • Prioritizing and pouring into your marriage
  • Keeping peace and joy in your relationships with your children
  • Creating and maintaining friendships that are godly and encouraging
  • Finding a mentor, if necessary, to help you through tough times

There is a lot we can do to take care of ourselves,
and it isn’t really optional.

Taking care of ourselves isn’t about selfishness but about building ourselves up so we can be the best we can be for God and others.

What can you do today
to take care of yourself better?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cheesy Cauliflower "Bread" Sticks

Cauliflower has become all the rage over the past handful of years, especially as gluten-free eating habits have increased. I have wanted to tackle cauliflower pizza crust but made my way to these wonderful, cauliflower “bread” sticks first.

My husband ate them and said, “I wish you wouldn’t have told me that these were made from cauliflower.” The truth = He thought they were delicious.

I, too admit, they were delicious, and the texture and sight of these babies turned out well also – a hit on multiple facets!

Whether you are gluten-free, like to add more veggies to your diet, or just like trying new things, I recommend you try these!

Cheesy Cauliflower “Bread” Sticks
Original found Here.

4 cups cauliflower “rice”
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1 t oregano
1 t basil
1/4 t salt
1/2 t Italian seasoning
Marinara or pizza sauce for dipping, if desired (This kicks it up a notch!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

“Rice” the cauliflower. I did it the easy way. Clean and chop the cauliflower into chunks. Place the chunks into a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower looks like rice.

Put one inch of water into a medium to large saucepan and bring water to boil. Put cauliflower “rice” in the water and steam for about 5 minutes.

Use a fine mesh strainer to drain the cauliflower. Let cool for 5 minutes. Then place inside a clean dish towel and squeeze out the excess water.

After the cauliflower rice is drained and squeezed, combine with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, the egg, oregano, basil, and salt and stir well.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil. Put the cauliflower mixture on the baking sheet and form into a rectangle, about the size of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.

Place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, but keep an eye on it. Mine actually cooked in less time than this. Watch for the crust to become golden brown and firm.

Remove the “bread” sticks from the oven and cover with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and the Italian seasoning.

Return the pan to the oven for another 7 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it and watch for the cheese to melt.

Cut into “breadsticks” and serve with sauce if desired.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Make Time for Your Hobbies. They're More Important Than You May Think.

Writing this post feels a bit trivial at the moment. As my own household currently battles the stomach flu and the world juggles its own load of needs and concerns, hobbies hardly seem important. It feels like there are a lot more important things we could be doing: feeding the hungry, helping the poor, comforting the lonely, encouraging the disappointed, healing the sick… I can think of many noble, and menial, things to fill my time.

But let’s face it… Hobbies are part of our lives, or at least we want them to be. When I asked on my Facebook page what people wished they had more time for, hobbies were at the top of the list. Some of the answers were: quilting, crocheting, scrapbooking, and crafting, in general.

Although we obviously want time for hobbies, our hobbies tend to live at the bottom of the list, getting attention when “everything else” gets done. Some of us may even feel guilty spending time on our hobbies when we still have tasks that we could or should accomplish.

However, I have come to realize that our hobbies
actually play an important role in our lives.
  • give us a way to relax and take a break from our normal, every day responsibilities
  • still give us a sense of purpose as we accomplish something that is more fun and less pressure
  • bring variety, beauty, and newness to life, a breath of fresh air that refreshes us
  • provide a way to connect and share our interests with others
Spending time on our hobbies opens an
avenue for refreshment, purpose, and passion.

When I write or work on my blog, I feel satisfied, even if I have only spent a short while doing it. I enjoy writing, and it is one of my passions, so for me to spend time writing is for me to invest in myself and in turn, the people and products of my life.

When our hobbies exist at the bottom of our “To Do” list, if at all, they appear merely as a dream or a hope of “some day”.

However, if we really see that hobbies can be an important part of our lives and have a desire to better establish them, why not make some goals for ourselves?

Teri Maxwell, author of Managers of Their Homes, sewed for a half hour every afternoon during the week. This amount of sewing led to “four jumpers, two culotte jumpers, two vests, two baby outfits, one skirt, putting ruffles on ten baby outfits, plus mending projects” over the course of eight months. She said in her book, “For me, the slow, steady progress and accomplishment is better than not sewing at all. If I did not have this half-hour set aside for sewing, I would not get around to it. Other urgent things would fill this time space. So at 1:30 p.m., I am busy. I do not plan other activities during this time. It is reserved for sewing.”

Jessica N. Turner, in her book Fringe Hours, encourages women to use the spaces of time – waiting for appointments and practices and the like - that are already in our days to make time for ourselves and our passions.

How can we make time for our hobbies?
- Schedule small amounts of time, a few times a week or each day
- Schedule one time slot per week, i.e. Saturday mornings from 10 to 12 when your husband can watch the kids.
- Use the fringe hours of your days – when you’re waiting at a child’s music or athletic practice, traveling somewhere as a passenger, etc.
- Strive to work on your hobby for a certain amount of time each day, week, month or year.

Remember: Something is better than nothing!
And if you make a goal,
at least you are striving for something.

Not sure what to pursue for a hobby? Consider these:

  • Photography
  • Scrapbooking
  • Cooking/Baking
  • Card-making
  • Sports/Outdoor Activities
  • Writing/Blogging
  • Crocheting
  • Quilting/Sewing
  • Reading
  • Painting
  • Playing a Musical Instrument

Think about your heart’s passion and interest
and make a goal to pursue the things
that enrich your daily life.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fast Transcripts–Review: Create Homeschooling Transcripts Easily and Professionally

My oldest son is in high school, and I wanted a good product for making his transcript, something that would be easy to use and produce a high quality result. We are members of HSLDA, and I had seen an ad for their “Fast Transcripts”.  Sure enough, I tried it, and I loved it.

Within a short chunk of time, I was able to create a transcript for my son, by entering his information and data fairly simply. “Fast Transcripts” was easy to use and clearly laid out.

With little effort, at a very reasonable price, you can make a professional transcript that you and your students will be proud of!

Fast Transcripts enables you to track your high schooler’s courses via online record keeping, and then helps you produce an official transcript with an auto-calculation feature for determining yearly and cumulative GPAs.

You even have the option of having your final transcript printed on watermark protected, academic record stock!
~From the “Fast Transcripts” web site

“Fast Transcripts” is $12 for HSLDA members and $16 for non-members – a certainly affordable price for a product well-worth your money!

For more information about “Fast Transcripts”, check out their web site. You can even get a 30 day free trial to see if you like the product.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Make Time for God

In my last post, I encouraged you to make time for things that you don’t think you have time for, or things you need to have time for! Hopefully you have started to, at least, think about how you can make more time in life for some things.

One thing (person) you need to have time for is God!

Are you making time for Him? Are you setting aside time each day to pray, to read and meditate on His Word, to just be still and know that He is God?

It’s so easy to be caught up with living, to be caught up with the urgent things of life. When I wake up in the morning, my mind races. I think about what I am making for breakfast, the coffee and lunch I need to make for my husband, the long To Do list that awaits me… My mind is very active in the morning. It takes discipline for me to turn it off and just sit and direct it towards my Father.

In Luke 10:42, in the familiar story of Martha and Mary, Jesus said:
But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.

Each day we, too, have a choice to make:
to choose to sit with God and hear from Him,
to offer our hearts before Him,
to learn from Him,to surrender to Him,
and to have our minds, hearts, and souls refreshed by Him.

It will not just happen. We have to force ourselves to sit, to open our Bibles, to pray, and to be quiet. It is our job to MAKE TIME for God.

The other day a friend asked me how I find time to have my devotional time with God. I simply said, “I just make myself do it.” I don’t say that pridefully or easily. I say that with the same flesh and struggles as everyone else, with the struggle of juggling time and energies and entering into the rush and scurry of the day, with the hopes of accomplishing much and feeling like I have made a dent in my never-ending list of tasks.

Within the last handful of months, I have really placed a priority on having my Bible time in the morning… even if I wake up late, even if the kids are up, even if I feel swamped… I realize how important it is for me to spend time with my God.

Obviously I have a luxury of being a stay-at-home mom, so my schedule is a bit different in that way. I can be a bit more flexible.

I encourage you to try to fit in your time with God in the morning. It does help set your day on the right foot. Wake up 15 minutes earlier with the intent of establishing a morning habit. If and when you fail, don’t leave out your Bible time altogether, find another time during the day when you can spend time with God.

If the morning doesn’t work, get your Bible out during lunch. Take a break during the afternoon or before you start to make dinner. Take your Bible with you if you will be waiting for a child’s lesson or practice. After dinner, before you browse social media and the internet, read your Bible. And if you haven’t touched it before you are ready for bed, open God’s Word and take a few moments to reflect.

Some how, some way, MAKE TIME with God your priority
by MAKING TIME for it in your day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Make Time for What You Don't Have Time For

“I don’t have time for _____________________.”

It is a statement that many of us utter when we survey our lives. The load of responsibility, the privilege of opportunity, and the limit of time and our human selves fill our lives to the fullest. Margin seems inaccessible. The clock appears to move way too quickly, and we are left with a sense that we just can not fit anything else in or pursue some of our priorities and dreams.

Unfortunately, we sell ourselves short oftentimes. Yes, our schedules are full. Yes, we are finite. Yes, there is much vying for our attention.

However, life really is what we MAKE of it.

I took a survey on my Facebook page the other day to see what my readers wish they had more time for. Here were some of the responses:
  • quilting
  • crocheting
  • reading, for pleasure and for growth
  • scrapbooking
  • thoroughly cleaning out a computer room
Let me add some more:
  • reading the Bible and other spiritual disciplines
  • rest and sleep
  • exercise
  • time with loved ones
If we examine the lists above, we can conclude that all of these things contribute to our well-being. They, all, have to do with taking care of ourselves, giving ourselves well-needed breaks and rest, and fueling the passions and dreams we have. Wouldn’t you say that is pretty important?

The first thing we must realize when it comes to things we want more time for is that we have to MAKE time for them. If you evaluate everything you do today, you will see that you have established goals and habits that cause your day to flow the way it has OR maybe you, in a large part, have just “gone with the flow”. Either way, your day has been accounted for.

How do you want to account for your day? Do you really want to make time for the things you don’t have time for?

I will be posting more about this topic to encourage and motivate you to make time for these things that are really important in life.

Here is my current challenge to you:

Over the next few days, PICK ONE thing you want to do and set a goal to do it, even if it is only 15 minutes. Something is better than nothing!

When you have made goals and/or accomplished something, let me know! Catch me on social media. Email me at I would love to hear how you are moving forward and use your stories to inspire others.