Fish Tacos

My oldest boy has decided he loves fish tacos! He had some at our friend’s house and begged me to make them for his birthday. So, I called my best friend and got the recipe and made them. They were very easy to make and actually really good.

Ingredients:
6 Tilapia filets
seasoned salt
creole seasoning (I use Tony’s)
garlic powder
3 tablespoons butter
3 Roma tomatoes
1/2 red onion
shredded lettuce
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can chiles in adobo sauce
flour tortillas

Directions:
1. Melt the butter in the microwave.
2. Mix together the seasoned salt, garlic powder, and creole seasoning to taste in a shallow bowl.
3. Brush the filets with the melted butter and dredge in the seasoning mixture.
4. Add some olive oil to a skillet and cook the filets two at a time until the fish is cooked through.
5. Remove the fish to a baking dish and cover to keep warm.
6. Chop the tomatoes, onions, and cilantro and place in bowls along with the shredded lettuce.
7. To make the sauce, drain the sauce from the canned chiles into a bowl and mix it with sour cream.
8. Warm the tortillas.
9. Chop the fish into small pieces, and serve with the tortillas, sauce, and veggies.

Yum! I had never made fish tacos before and I was surprised at how well they turned out. It was an easy dinner because I just put everything on the table and let my hubby and the kids make up their own tacos. I served these with black beans and rice. If you are looking for a different take on taco night, give this recipe a try! To see some other recipes, check out the recipe share here:

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Where does the time go?

This is my oldest son when he was about two years old. He turned 15 this past week and I can’t believe it. The time has passed so quickly. I remember when he was born, and people would tell me to enjoy him because the time would by so fast. In the moment, busy changing diapers and feeding and potty training, I just didn’t get it. It seemed like endless childhood stretched before me. But now, here I am with a boy who just got his learner’s permit and is now learning how to drive.

Wow…instead of looking at endless childhood, I am quickly approaching the time where he will be graduating and leaving our home. That thought brings me to tears..and also emphasizes to me how important it is to enjoy every minute. This boy is so creative and thoughtful. He plays guitar in the youth band at church, and is an excellent photographer. He is great with little kids, often volunteering to help in the kids camps at church, and is known for his responsible and trustworthy nature. These things did not happen by accident. I truly believe that homeschooling my sons has allowed us to invest a lot of time in character training, which is oh so important in today’s world.

Getting older does have a bright side. My husband and I no longer need to find a babysitter for his younger brother when we want a date night! ๐Ÿ™‚ And I enjoy hanging out with this teenage boy. We talk. A LOT. We watch movies and shows together, and I still read out loud to him at night. He still enjoys hugs and cuddles, which I love, but he is also growing into his own person. It is exciting to see him mature, and I look forward to seeing what God has planned for him in the future.

He has great friends, and a lot of interests. He has a plan for where he wants to go in life. He is truly dedicated to the Lord. I am proud of the man he is growing up to be, and thankful for every day I get to spend with him. Homeschooling has let me get to know my son on such a deep level, as I have taught him and worked beside him over the years, and I am thankful that, although he is growing up, I still get to look forward to spending every day of the next three years with him.

TOS Review: Simplified Pantry

I love to cook, but I am forever looking for a way to make it easier. That’s why I was so excited when I got a chance to review these products from Simplified Pantry. The whole point of their products is to make life easier for busy moms! (and that definitely sounds like most of the moms I know :)) . These eBooks are written by Mystie Winckler, a mom who started searching for a simpler way to cook after her oldest developed food allergies. That led to the first product I am going to tell you about today, Simplified Dinners.

This eBook contains so many amazing recipes, just cooked off of basic pantry staples. It is seriously one of the easiest ways to cook I have ever seen. The book begins with a simplified shopping list full of things that are just standard in your pantry. It makes shopping so easy! Instead of looking for “rice pilaf” or “wild rice”, I just bought the rice and the spices and made it myself. In fact, one of the first things I made was the lime-cilantro rice,ย  and it has quickly become a family favorite. I have to admit, I’m one of those cooks who never thought I could just make anything from scratch. Simplified dinners showed me how!

The eBook is organized into sections by type of food you are cooking. So, from the roast section, there are several methods for how to cook a roast. Then lists of ingredients for different types of roast. You choose which recipe you want to use, and then apply it to the method you have chosen. So, I chose to make a pot roast using the crock pot directions. This is what I made, and it was delicious.

The cooking methods are the heart of the eBook. They are standard methods for cooking depending on what type of dish you want to make, and you just rotate out the ingredients. Honestly, after making the stir fry a few times (both with pork and beef) I can now make it without looking at the recipe. The first time I went shopping, I went through my pantry and checked off what I had that was on the master list. From there, I highlighted the items I wanted to buy. I need to tell your this was one of the least expensive shopping trips I have had in a while! Not buying pre-packaged foods isn’t only healthier, it’s less expensive.

This is the stir fry I made, and it has become one of my go to recipes. It is quick, easy, and tasty.

The stir fry comes with a number of different sauces, our favorite is the balsamic! The Simplified Pantry eBook is $12.99 and worth eveyr penny.

The author has also written a second version of the book Simplified Pantry Gluten and Dairy Free. This eBook follows a similar format to the Simplified Pantry but with meals for those who need to eat a gluten and dairy free diet. In our family, that is not an issue, but if it were, this eBook would provide the same options that the other one does. It is also available for $12.99.

The third product we got to sample was the Paperless Home Organization eBook. This book is designed to make it easier for you to keep track of all that stuff that piles up on the desk and around the house. The book shows you tools to set up a digital binder where you can track all of your paperwork using tools you already have at home or that are available for free online. If you feel like you’re buried under a ton of papers with nowhere to put any of them, check this eBook out. It only costs $3.99, so you really can’t beat the price!

I loved using these products from Simplified Pantry and I would highly recommend them to anyone. To see what other members of the crew had to say about these products, click here:
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Shrimp Scampi

I have only recently begun to cook seafood at home. This recipe for shrimp scampi was easy and tasty!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds of shrimp peeled and deveined (I used frozen shrimp)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup lemon juice
8 minced garlic cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley

Directions:
1. Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet and saute the shrimp for 3-4 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and stir for another minute.
3. Transfer the shrimp to a casserole dish and cover to keep warm.
4. Add the broth, wine, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parsley to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until half of the sauce has boiled off.
5. Pour sauce over shrimp and serve with lemon wedges.

There, a great recipe for a newbie seafood cook. Check out other recipes for this week here:

Our Year in Review

This is our last week of school for this year. The past two weeks have been pretty crazy around here and I have to say, I am exhausted and looking forward to summer. These are some of my observations when reflecting on this year.

First, we made it through my oldest son’s first year of high school! ๐Ÿ™‚ I was really nervous about starting high school with him, but for the most part, it went really well. He finished most of his curriculum, and enjoyed most of his courses. Some things I know for next year are, he doesn’t like computer based math. Unfortunately, upper level math isn’t really my thing, so I tried a computer based program this year. The program itself was really good, but it’s just NOT his style of learning. So, for next year, I am going to look for a textbook based program that offers video support. The downside to this is the fact that these programs are rather pricy, so I am going to have to get creative with my budget!

MFW High School rocks! We did Ancients this year, and I am amazed at what my son learned. Yes, this program is pricy as well, but totally worth it. Plus, almost everything in the program can be reused by my younger son when he gets to high school, so in the end, the cost will even out. The workload is pretty intense, and my son did struggle with that a bit. I have realized that I need to stay more on top of him in this area.

Sigh…Spanish did not go so well for us, so I will be searching for some type of computer program for that next year. The photography class my son took at homeschool group was awesome, and they may offer chemistry next year, which is exciting! (I am not a huge science person either ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I still have to take some time to do his transcript for this year, and enter his final grades, but I will get to that this summer. Overall, homeschooling high school is easier than I thought it would be.

For my younger son, things went really well this year. I loved using Mystery of History with Illuminations this year. We didn’t get through the whole book, but we will just finish up the fourth quarter at the beginning of next year. The Apologia worldview book we used was incredible. I am looking forward to finishing with the fourth book in the series next year. CLE Math is always a hit at our house, and Mosdos reading worked well again this year too. The only holes I really need to fill for him next year are writing and grammar. I have yet to find something that really works for my struggling writer. So, I will be perusing those programs over the summer. I also need to find something for spelling and vocabulary, something else he definitely needs work on. I think we are going to do some writing over the summer. I also need to figure out our science for next year.

We took some great field trips this year, and read a lot of good books. We took vacations for family visits, and also a few health issues that came up, and our year was a little disjointed. However, I think we all learned a lot, and I am most proud of how my kids have grown closer to God through all of our experiences. Our summer break will last until August, and we have quite a few things planned for the summer. I hope those of you who are wrapping up the year have an excellent vacation. If you have any curriculum suggestions for me, leave me a comment!

TOS Review: Joyce Herzog

Searching for curriculum is a fun, but also overwhelming, part of homeschooling. There are just so many choices out there to keep track of! For this review, I got to check out a book designed to make the curriculum search easier. Joyce Herzog has many educational resources available on her website. For this review, I got to sample the Choosing & Using Curriculum set.

First, the Choosing & Using Curriculum book is 28 chapters full of information about all kinds of homeschool curriculum. The book begins with a discussion of different types of curriculum and educational styles. It then moves into subject area chapters where different approaches for teaching each subject are described, and curriculums are described and compared. Each chapter of the book lists websites for the curriculums, as well as other useful websites to support that curriculum.

I appreciated how detailed the descriptions of each curriculum was in Choosing & Using Curriculum. The author does a very good job of providing a complete picture of the curriculum so you can envision what it would be like to use it in your home There were several curriculums in the book I had not heard of and am definitely going to check out. Herzog also provides extensive lists of resources for students with disabilities.

Choosing & Using Curriculum also includes chapters that give descriptions of general skills that are expected at each grade level, as well as chapters that focus on teaching reading comprehension and literature. I particularly liked her suggestions in the Tips for Teaching History section of the book.

The Choosing & Using Curriculum set also comes with the resource e-book. This book includes extensive listings of websites that are of interest to homeschoolers. In addition to links for curriculum, there are links for online practice in different subjects, links to sites dedicated to homeschooling, links to sites that support different learning styles, and much, much more. I have only managed to get about halfway through the e-book and I have bookmarked so many interesting things!!

Choosing & Using Curriculum is a valuable resource for any home educator. The book will help guide you as you sort through the many curriculums available, and the e-book will connect you with a lot of websites that could be useful in your teaching. I have a feeling this book is going to be a valuable reference for me for a long time. The Choosing & Using Curriculum set costs only $15.00. I would highly recommend this set to anyone!

To see what other members of the crew thought about this set, and the other products we got to try from Joyce Herzog, click here:

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TOS Review: High School Prep Genius

With my oldest son being a 9th grader I know college is right around the corner. To be honest, I entered this school year with a lot of anxiety. High school is important. How could I be sure that I was giving this boy everything he needs to go on to college? I am fortunate to have some homeschoolers close to me who already have high school graduates, so I was able to turn to them for advice. But of course, I still have a million questions. So, I was very excited when I found out that for this review I was going to get to try a product from College Prep Genius.

College Prep Genius was created by homeschool parents when they started thinking about how they were going to pay for college for their children. Their website includes all sorts of information that can help parents come up with a plan. For this review, I got to check out their book High School Prep Genius designed to help parents and their highschoolers come up with a plan to prepare for college each year of high school. This book is designed for parents with high school students and also for parents of middle school students who want to get a head start.

This book is full of great suggestions and ideas you can use each year your child is in high school, so that when they graduate, you will be fully prepared. The book is designed to be read by both students and parents, as well high school students who wantย  to take an active role in preparing for college. The introduction of the book contains a lot of helpful general information, like suggestions for the numbers of credits to be earned each year and practical record-keeping information.

One suggestion I really like, and had already begun to implement, was the creation of a college notebook, a central place where you keep all of your important high school information. I had already created one of these binders at the beginning of the year.

High school Prep Genius gives suggestions about what to keep in the binder, starting with a lists of the credits your child will need for their diploma. I looked up the requirements for a Florida diploma on the Department of Education website and printed them out and added them to the front of my binder. This way, I know exactly which credits I need to make sure he earns each year. I also have papers for us to record the number of hours he spends in each subject, and the resources we use. The book also suggests keeping track of volunteer hours and summer experiences as well.

It seems so simple, but you would be amazed how much better I felt after organizing my notebook. It was as though I suddenly had an organized plan for high school, and a way to keep track of everything!

The book also has a timeline for each year of steps students and parents should take to prepare for college. The timeline has a month by month sketch of what should be done. In the freshman year, the focus is on making goals, deciding what classes to take registering for the PSAT etc. The timeline for each following year gets more specific, moving toward looking at specific colleges and preparing for the SAT.

The first section of High School Prep Genius focuses on personal preparation for high school and college. The chapters are about fostering independence, developing personal interests and hobbies, developing your faith, and taking care of your health and finances. The chapters are interactive, including sections with questions to help get students thinking about how to apply what they are reading about to themselves. There are also sections for parents with suggestions on how to help their teens grow in these areas.

The other sections of the book include a section on academic success in high school and applying for college. There are sections on organizing time, studying, and choosing classes and activities with an eye on college. Practical chapters on what to look for when choosing a college, how to fill out applications, and financing your education are very useful for parents and teens.

My son is eager to take an active role in his education, as he does have some specific goals, so we both read the book and then discussed it. Typically, we would each read a chapter a week, then we would sit down and talk about his answers to the questions posed, and how we could use this information to help us develop his high school program. I really enjoy working with my son this way. This is how I always wanted high school to be with him, but I just wasn’t sure how to articulate it. With High School Prep Genius, it has all been put on paper for me and all I have to do is read the book along with him!

I find that my son is starting to give serious consideration to scholarships he might be able to learn, and what classes and volunteer opportunities may help him earn those scholarships. He has also been focused on looking into opportunities for dual enrollment, which would help him earn some of his credits while in high school. At the very least, this book has given him the desire to start really thinking about college and take on more responsibility for getting there.

I think this book is a fantastic resource for homeschool parents with a student just about to start high school, or current high schoolers. High School Prep Genius is available for $29.95, and I think it is definitely worth it, as you can easily use the book with more than one child. To find out more information about High School Prep Genius, and the other services offered by College Prep Genius, check out their website here:

http://www.collegeprepgenius.com/about-the-author/

To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say about this product, click here:

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