Easy Garlic Chicken

My recipe for this week is another new family favorite that I found on Pinterest!! I love garlic, it’s one of my favorite things to use when I’m cooking (my hubby thinks I must be secretly part-Italian 🙂 ). However the brown sugar in this recipe gives it a slightly sweet taste that blends really well with the garlic. My hubby isn’t a huge fan of chicken, because they eat it at the fire station a LOT, but it’s less expensive than other meat, so I am always looking for new was to cook it!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
In small saute pan, saute garlic with the oil until tender
Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar
Place chicken breasts in dish (I use a 13x9x2 inch baking pan) and cover with garlic and brown sugar mixture
Add salt and pepper to taste
Bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes

Simple, easy and tasty! Let me know if you like it 🙂

To check out other recipes, click here:

Nature Study–On the Computer

The topic for this week’s blog cruise is “Winter Nature Study”. Well, we love being outdoors, but the problem is, we live in Florida. Our winter temperatures usually run in the 70’s, and this year have been running in the 80’s, so, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between our summer and winter nature studies around here! We look foreward to sea turtle nesting season in the spring, but for now, to get our “winter nature fix” we have to go online!! That’s why I love this website, that features live wildlife webcams we can watch!!

The site (Sportsman’s Paradise Online) first came to my attention when a friend of mine shared a link on facebook of these cute baby owls. You could watch them in the nest, sleeping, eating, etc. After checking out the site, I realized you could see all types of birds, from owls to hawks to eagles, as well as bears, deer, fish and other animals. The camera’s are operational at different times of the year, and the site includes some links to information about the animals that you can use for instruction. Typically, we will simply go to our local library and check out books about the animals we are watching, and my kids will usually log information in their nature handbooks.

To check out the webcams, click here:

Another thing we try to do is study the various types of birds we see in our yard as they migrate south for the winter. We live on the river and typically, a lot of birds end up in our big oak trees. We have a HUGE redheaded woodpecker that visits our yard, as well as finches, ducks that like to swim in the pool, and the occasional falcon looking for a squirrel. I have the boys take pictures of the birds when they are in our yard, and we research them, either online or at the library.

I even found this cool website “The Great Backyard Bird Count” for kids, which encourages them to keep track of the birds they see in their yard, and submit the info online. The site has info about birds and maps you can check out too!

So, that’s how we do our winter nature study. If you have other cool sites I can check out, let me know. To see what other TOS Crew members have to say on this topic, click here:


Nature Study for Your Homeschool

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

It’s recipe share time again!! This week, I am sharing one of my family’s favorite veggie recipes, Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower, which I found on Pinterest. It is easy to make, very healthy, and tastes delicious 🙂

1 head broccoli
1 head cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Preheat over to 475 degrees.
Chop broccoli and cauliflower, place in bowl.
Chop garlic, add to bowl.
Slice lemon, add to bowl.
Add olive oil, salt and pepper to vegetables and mix (use a little more olive oil if you need to, I like to make sure everything is covered)
Place on cookie sheet that has been sprayed with Pam (or lined with foil etc.)
Bake for 25-30 min. until veggies are browned and tender.

Seriously, my kids and my husband eat this like crazy, and they don’t even like vegetables! Give it a try. To check out some other great recipes, click here:

Praying without ceasing…

Okay, so I have to admit…lately my prayer life seems…well, a bit lackluster. I enjoy waking up in the morning to read my bible and spend time with the Lord, but I just feel like my prayers have become…rote, maybe? Like I keep saying the same thing over and over…the spark I used to have as I prayed and waited for God’s response just isn’t there. Maybe it’s because things are just so hard right now..or just because this is such a busy season in life…I don’t know, but I want the spark back!! I want the kind of prayer that leaves me feeling full of God. So, I have decided to make some changes.

What I want to do is spend a specific morning praying in depth over specific things. Like, Monday will be my day to pray for my husband and my marriage. While I will still pray for other things, as I feel the Lord’s leading, that will be my primary focus. I want to use scripture to pray over these things, and spend some time talking with God about them.

On Tuesdays, I will pray over my children and our homeschool. I will pray for wisdom and guidance, safety and protection, and other things as well. I plan to choose other things to pray about for the rest of the week as well, like our finances (always a source of prayer!), intercession for others, our church….etc. etc. For some reason, I just feel like concentrating on something specific each day will lead me to a more focused prayer life right now.

I believe that prayer is so important, and I have seen firsthand the impact it has had on my life. I know we all go through “seasons” where things can be rough, but I feel like I need to draw closer to God, and this is one of the ways I feel I can do so!

Chicken with Rice and beans

Last week I shared my recipe for Mexican Chicken Salad, which called for a half of a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Today I am going to share the meal I usually cook the next day, where I use the other half of the chicken. (Two meals in one!) I make a cucumber and tomato salad to go with it.

1 family size pack Vigo yellow rice
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans black beans
I packet Sazon Goya seasoning
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
1-2 tablespoons cumin
2-3 tablespoons lime juice

Cucumber Tomato salad:
2 cucumbers
3 tomatos
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In large pot bring 5 cups of water to boil.
Add 5 tablespoons olive oil to water and add rice. Stir for one minute.
Reduce heat, shred the remaining half of chicken and add to pot with rice, stir.
Cover pot and simmer for 25 minutes.

Drain one can of black beans and place in smaller pot.
Add second can of black beans undrained.
Add Sazon packet.
Add chili powder, cumin and lime juice to taste.
Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, bringing to a light boil.
Chop cilantro (I usually use about half a bushel) and add. Cook for another two minutes.

Cucumber tomato salad:
Peel and chop cucumbers.
Chop tomatoes.
Add olive oil and vinegar (you can add more or less depending on how you like it).
Cover and chill in fridge for 30 min.

Serve rice and chicken topped with beans. Garnish with cheese as desired. Serve with cucumber and tomato salad!

And that’s it. Another easy and filling dinner that my family loves! To see other recipes, click here:

Cheap and Easy Unit Studies

This weeks topic for our blog cruise is “How to”. I have to admit, I racked my brain for a while to come up with something for this. I am not exactly known for my creativity. In fact, most of my best ideas come from the internet!! However, there is one thing I do like to do, and that is make my own unit studies for my kids. We love unit studies. Usually, I choose a topic they enjoy, then create activities for each subject based around this topic. For this post, I am going to tell you how I made a unit study about one of my sons favorite topics: CARS!

My older son (9th grade) loves cars! So for this unit study, I started with my local library (I use the library a lot). I did a search for books about cars in general, the history of cars, specific types of cars etc. etc. Using this search, I narrowed down which books I wanted to use, and built my unit study around them. I also did a web search for these same topics, and bookmarked ones I thought would be useful (like the Ford website for instance).

After that, I decided on a length of time for my study (usually I do them in 2-4 week cycles depending on how much information I can gather on a topic). Then I set my mind to deciding what types of activities to do. Keep in mind, these are just examples, you could certainly study whatever you wanted within a topic!

For history (which was easy) I decided to have my son focus on how and why cars were created. What did the first cars look like? How did they run? I also asked him to trace the history of a particular model (like the Ford Mustang for example). As part of this study he read a biography of Henry Ford (reading), created visual models of the different body types of the mustang, and wrote essays comparing the original models to the current models, and a summary of the life of Henry Ford (which covers English!).

For math: we studied and compared the cost of cars when they were first created to the cost of cars now, we talked about inflation, compared gas mileage, created graphs compaing the mileage of different cars, used the Kelly Blue book website to calculate the value of our current cars. We also talked about dealer mark-ups and compared the cost (and value) of used versus new cars.

Science: (this is an area where I am a little weak) We read about and discussed how cars are crash tested and talked about safety ratings. We also discussed velocity and speed and how they factor into car crashes. My son and my husband researched and compared tires and how they type of tires you have on your car effects how you drive. They also discussed gas-saving measures ( a pertinent topic for my boy who will soon be driving!!).

English (writing/reading): Throughout the study my son read many books, and I had him write a summary of each. He also wrote several types of essays: compare/contrast, narrative and argumentative (we even had a debate about what kinds of restrictions we each thought should be imposed on younger drivers!!)

Presentation: I think public speaking is important, so my son was charged with creating a presentation of some kind to summarize what he had learned and present to the family. He chose to make a power point, and use his graphs to give a lecture on cars, and it was good!!

Of course, you could take a topic like this and go in so many different directions. I think when you are creating a unit study, the more general the topic the easier it is to find activities to build into it. The thing I like about unit studies is that kids can use their different strengths throughout the study. If you have a creative child (like I do) you can ask them to design their own car (which he did!). If your child is the read and recite type, they can do that too. For us, unit studies make learning more interesting and fun. When I first started homeschooling, the thought of creating my own study seemed very daunting, but I have found it to be rather easy. As the parent, you know your child best, why not build their education around the things they love??

Have you created your own unit study? I’m always looking for new ideas!! Leave me a comment if you have any. To see more posts in our “How to” blog cruise, click here:


Mexican Chicken Salad

A recipe sharing blog hop? Now this I can get into!! I love trying new recipes and I am happy to share some of my own. Today I am going to share a family favorite, Mexican Chicken Salad. I got this recipe from a friend of mine and I love it because it is easy and quick to make, and my husband and kids love it because it is just so good!!

Romaine lettuce (torn or chopped)
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1/2 bushel cilantro
1/2 shredded rotisserie chicken (I usually pick mine up from the publix deli)
Tortilla chips
shredded mexican blend cheese

Ranch dressing (I use whatever is on sale)
hot sauce
lime juice

To make:
Tear or chop lettuce into pieces and place in bowl
Rinse and drain beans, add to lettuce
Rinse and drain corn, add to lettuce
Chop cilantro, add to lettuce
Crush about 1-2 handfulls of tortillas and add to lettuce
Shred chicken, add to lettuce
top with a handful of cheese and mix

Mix Ranch dressing, hot sauce and lime juice to taste (I usually mix mine until it is a light orange color)

Serve salad topped with dressing, additional crushed tortilla chips and more cheese if desired.

Like I said, quick and easy and oh so yummy!!

If you try it, let me know what you think.

To check out some other recipes, click here:

This year I resolve…

I hate New Year’s resolutions!! Every year it’s the same thing…”I’m going to lose weight”, “I”m going to be more organized” etc. etc. Yet, every year, I always fall short. Sure, I start off strong, running every day, eating healthy, cleaning out my closets. But then, a month or so into the year, life just seems to get in the way, and all my lofty goals fall by the wayside! Well, I decided that this year is going to be different. This year, I am setting goals for myself…but I’m going to be a little more general this time.

My main goal for this year is to simply focus more on my health. It seems like every year I am busy making sure my hubby and kids are healthy, but I rarely do the same for me. So this is my year!! I WILL get my mammogram done for the first time, and I am going to go to the doctor for a checkup and get bloodwork done too, and I even plan to go to the dentist. Small things, but things that get easily put off. As I get older, I realize that taking care of myself is more and more important, and if problems are detected early, they are often easier to treat, so that is my first step.

With our change in insurance this year, we got a free gym membership, and I plan to use it. My goal isn’t specifically to lose weight, because that just seems to put a lot of excess pressure on my shoulders. I simply want to feel like I am getting more exercise. If I do lose weight, that will be awesome 🙂 but if not, that’s okay. I just want to get out there and do something.

I am also planning to change our shopping habits. Less snacks and more healthy stuff. I figure if it’s not in the house, I can’t eat it!! Our garden is doing well and I like having fresh veggies to cook with. I am spending more time on thoughtful meal planning, and having my older son help me with the cooking, so we don’t fall into the “lets just order a pizza” trap!!

I want this year to be the year I started to focus on taking care of myself. I don’t know why I haven’t done it before. Maybe it’s just a mom thing. We get so busy with all the other stuff we have to do, that we think about ourselves last. The problem is, my health is important to my family. I need to take care of myself so I can take care of them and do the things I need to do to make our household run.

So, no failed resolutions for me this year. Just goals to strive for! Did you make any resolutions?? To see what some of my blogger friends had to say, check out this link:


Where We’ve Been

Is it possible? Can it really be 2013 already?? What happened to 2012?? You know, when my mom said the years go by faster as you get older, she wasn’t kidding!! Here we are, another year in the books, and a new one facing us again. This is the time we naturally reflect on where we’ve been and look ahead to where we are going. So, as I look back on 2012, what do I see?

The loss of the house we built in and lived in for 14 years…and then the move to a great new house in an amazing neighborhood. Giving up a car, a boat, and other things we have worked and slaved for…but gaining time as a family, and a lot less bills. Illness, surgery, struggle…the loss of a few very good and close friends…but a gain of patience, faith, and an appreciation for each new morning.

My oldest still hates algebra, but he’s doing better at it. My youngest still doesn’t like to read, but he’s getting better at that too. My oldest is becoming more and more skilled at guitar, and my youngest on drums. They have both stepped up in their bible reading and journaling, and their hearts seem to be more turned to God every day.

I stared the year off in August organized, excited and efficient…then somewhere around November the blahs set in and I struggled with just getting our school work together on a day to day basis. I felt like I was failing….but then we spent the holidays with family, and they were again impressed with depths of knowledge my kids have. I guess when you’re in the trenches day to day it’s easy to lose sight of the “big picture”. My kids are growing, and learning. They can read, write and do math. They can even discuss history, politics and science. But the most important thing is they have a knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and they are filled with a deep desire to live for Him. What is more important than that??

I can still pick out things I want to improve. I have to get back to planning ahead and being organized. Yes, it is difficult for me, but it makes our weeks go so much smoother. I need to be less easily frustrated, and yell less (yes, I am ashamed to admit it, but I have my “loud mommy” moments when I have said something for the gazillionth time and it gets ignored). I want to streamline my housework so I can stress less and laugh more. And no, it doesn’t seem like the price of groceries is going to go down this year, nor is my hubby’s paycheck likely to go up…but I believe God has this firmly in hand and it is going to be okay!!

I guess when I look back on 2012, that’s what is most apparent to me. God’s hand, being active in our every day life. There are months when our bank account was still in the red, but we made it. At one point, I didn’t think we were ever going to be able to start school, but then, by a miracle, I was able to get some books! My hubby spent the first six months of the year with a knee injury and then had to have surgery, but we managed to get by. This was a year of truly throwing our lives into God’s hands, and He came through. It was a great lesson in “walking by faith” that ALL of us learned, and it helps me to look forward to 2013 knowing that God is with us, and whatever we face we will get through. I am looking forward to this year!! Happy New Year to all of you!!

To see what other members of the crew had to say about 2012, check out the blog cruise here: