Spinach Bacon Mac and Cheese

MMMMM….mac and cheese…one of my favorite comfort foods. Usually I make it as a side, but this week I decided I wanted a main dish mac and cheese, so this is what I came up with.

Ingredients:
1 box elbow macaroni
16 oz frozen spinach,thawed and squeezed
1 pack bacon, crumbled
2 cups chopped cooked ham
10 oz. cream cheese
16 oz. sour cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups shredded Italian cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:
1. Cook the macaroni according to package directions. While the macaroni is cooking, take out the cream cheese and butter to allow it to soften.
2. Cook the bacon and allow to cool.
3. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add the butter and cream cheese and stir until melted.
4. Add the tomatoes, spinach, bacon, ham, garlic powder, salt, pepper, Italian cheese, and shredded cheddar and stir.
5. Spray a 13X9 baking pan. Transfer the macaroni to the pan, cover, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
6. Uncover and sprinkle with the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and bake for 5 more minutes or until the cheese is browned.

That’s it!! Of course, you could easily customize this by using chicken instead of ham, or using different cheeses, this is just how my family likes it. To see more recipes for this week, click here:

Things I Love About Summer

I’ll admit it, I am one of those people who loves every season! In the fall I love the cooler weather and the pumpkins, in the winter I love sitting outside by the fire and celebrating the holidays, and spring brings welcome relief from the cold. Right now, summer is my FAVORITE season. There is just something about the lazy days with nothing important to do. Here are some of my favorite things about summer!

Family time in the pool! Florida is really hot right about now…90 degrees or higher every day. We are fortunate to have a house with a pool, and we take advantage of it! On my husband’s days off, he hangs out with us too. We play games and swim and just enjoy some hang out time together.

Beach days!! We live about 10 minutes from the beach and we spend a lot of time hanging out with friends there. (After all, the beach is free 🙂 ). For the 4th of July this year we spent the day surfing, boogie boarding, and playing in the waves. We also love to bring our portable grill and cook up some hot dogs while we are there. Being residents, we know the importance of a beach tent to keep you cool and out of the sun, so we and some of our friends set them up and make a day of it.

In the summer, the carnival comes to town! Heading out to the fair brings back memories of my childhood. The carnivals around here run for a couple of weeks, and they usually have a night when the families of local police officers and firefighters get in for a discounted price. We make sure to take advantage of that or any other offers we find. The last carnival had a great clown show the kids enjoyed, and of course, there are the rides and the food. It’s a pretty fun family night for us.

Afternoon thunderstorms are my next favorite thing about summer. We get them pretty much every day for the season. To me, there is nothing better than curling up in my comfy chair with a good book and listening to the rain come down. If my kids are bored we will watch a movie or play a game while it thunders outside.

Those are some of my favorite things about summer. What are yours? Let me know in the comments!

Spinach and Artichokes in White Wine Sauce

I love spinach. And artichokes. This is a tasty little side dish I cooked up the other day.

Ingredients:
1 bag spinach
2 cans artichoke hearts, halved
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the spinach and stir, cooking until it starts to melt.
3. Drain and add the artichoke hearts.
4. Stir in the white wine and sour cream, cook until heated.

That’s it! I served this when I made tilapia and it paired really well. To check out other recipes from this week, click here:

Victory!

Ah sweet friends! I write today from a very full heart. If you have been reading my blog you know that my husband has been struggling with health issues for these past few months. He was sent to the hospital from work back in May because he was having chest pain. The original diagnosis we were given was something called pulmonary hypertension. This is a scary and almost always deadly disease. After much research on the internet and discussion with doctors, all we felt was more fear.

I am a believer, and I know that God is in control of all things. But it is so hard when you are looking at your children and thinking about what you will do if their father is no longer there. After a lot of talk, we decided to seek a second opinion from an expert. My husband was experiencing daily chest pain and shortness of breath. A firefighter and athlete, he was becoming more and more frustrated by his inability to do the things he was used to doing. So, he made an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

At this point, I had decided to put this matter fully into the hands of the Lord. As hard as it was, every time worry would start to creep up in my head I would pray about it and give it to God. I trusted He would take care of it. During this time, especially during our vacation, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace. Like somehow, even in the face of all this opposition, everything was just going to be okay.

So, after his visit with the doctor, we were told he was misdiagnosed!! He does NOT have pulmonary hypertension. Instead, the doctor told him that his level of athleticism and his workouts had built up the muscle wall on the left side of his heart to the point that his heart had to work harder to pump blood. Imagine that…I guess there is such a thing as too much exercise. Talk about a miracle. After being told by numerous doctors that pulmonary hypertension was THE problem, and almost resigning ourselves to that fact, God moves and turns the situation completely upside down.

Now, there are still some matters to address. The doctor thinks my hubby’s chest pain may be asthma related. During the course of his job he has been exposed to all kinds of smoke and chemicals, which could have caused some damage to his lungs. He recommended that we follow up with a lung doctor here and perhaps try some medication for that. He also recommended a sleep study because he thinks that sleep apnea may be responsible for my hubby’s exhaustion.

So, what a difference a week makes. I am convinced that this is just another example of how God moves in our lives. These last few months have been difficult, but they have spurred a lot of discussion between my husband and I about what is truly important and what things we absolutely want to focus on in this life. There are things we have been wanting to do but have kept putting off because, well, life is busy and money is short. But here’s the thing, we are never guaranteed tomorrow and if you keep putting things off you may never get a chance to do them. So, we are now refocusing our priorities yet again, and actively working on accomplishing some of those goals we have been putting off.

I want to thank all of you who have been praying through this with me. Your support means more than you know. Our life is not easy by any means. We still don’t have enough money to go around….and with these doctors visits we are only going to owe more money (wrestling with our insurance company is a whole other topic I could blog about), but really, in light of what could have been, that’s okay. I know that we will get by. God will make sure that we have enough to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads, and as long as we are all together, then that is really all we need.

TOS Review: Christi the Coupon Coach

Have you ever heard those stories about people who use coupons at the store and saved hundreds of dollars and wondered how they did it? Christi the Coupon Coach explains how in her book Couponing Made Simple. I have to admit, I am one of those people who does clip coupons, but does not have the time or energy to go to extremes to do so. Fortunately, Christi’s book has lots of suggestions that you can implement as you choose.

The book itself has short chapters and is very easy to read. I took it with me and read it by the pool during my vacation. Christi includes lots of details about how she finds deals, and pictures of what she buys and how she sets things up. I found these very helpful because I am a visual person. She begins by talking about success stories and then goes into the basics of coupons. Did you know that those little coupons you collect out of the machines at the store are called blinkies? I didn’t!

The part of the book I found most helpful was the section on organization. If you have read my blog before you know that this is not an area of strength for me. I cut coupons from the paper and shove them in an envelope. I take this envelope to the store and then sort through it as I shop hoping to find something I can use. With Christi’s approach, you actually plan your shopping around the coupons, instead of hoping for a random connection.

In the book she details an extensive filing system for her coupon booklets, and also how to find internet coupons and link them to sales. Okay, so I did not apply the filing system exactly. What I did do is get myself a small file where I could organize my coupons by category, making them easy to sort through in the store. Actually, my oldest son (who frequently shops with me) had suggested I do something like this a while ago, and even said he would help, so I took him up on it. I had him read the sections of Couponing Made Simple where the author describes how she organizes and he took the reins and set up my coupon file for me. The file holder I got is small enough to fit in my purse, which makes it convenient to carry to the store.

I also appreciated the section of the book where Christi talks about using the internet to find sales and match coupons to them. Did you know that there are a lot of websites that link coupons to the sales flyers put out by local grocery stores? Christi has links to blogs where the authors sort through the flyers for well-known stores and provide links to printable coupons so you can print them and get the most for your money. You can find Christi’s link here: http://christithecouponcoach.com/Christis_favorites.html.

Now, I have not gone as far as to adopt every suggestion in the book. Like I said, time is my big challenge here, and this method of couponing does take time. However, just using a few of Christi’s suggestions saved me $60 on my last trip to Publix! When I came home and showed my hubby he told me I needed to do the rest of the stuff in the book! I plan to continue to work the rest of Christi’s suggestions into my routine over time.

Saving money is a big concern for everyone these days, and groceries are a major part of the budget. Couponing Made Simple is available on Amazon for $18.00, and I think it is definitely worth it. This book can teach you techniques that can potentially save you hundreds of dollars. If you are interested in trying to trim some money off your weekly trip to the store, check this book out.

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this book, click here:

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TOS Review: 25 Truths

Learning real life lessons is a very important part of growing up. I remember the little bits of advice my grandparents would give me when I was a girl, and many of them have rung true as I have gotten older. I try to make it a point to share the same principles with my kids here and there, and I have discovered a resource that makes this easier. For this review, we got to check out a book by Ed Douglas Publications. It is filled with easy to talk about life lessons that you can fit into your homeschool day. This book is intended for children in grades 6-12.

The book is called 25 Truths and it is written by Ed Douglas himself. Douglas is a former bank president, an avid tennis player and coach, and a Christian family man. The book is based on a list of tips Douglas would share with his high school tennis players in an effort to teach them about life as well as coaching the team. Over time, the tips evolved and he put them into this book.

Each chapter in the book is focused on one truth. They are focused on a wide range of topics including “tell the truth”, “never surrender”, “play to win”, and “you’ve gotta believe”. Each chapter begins with the truth itself, and few quotes related to it. Some of the quotes come from Bible verses and some do not. The chapters themselves are short, about 1-3 pages, and can be easily read aloud in a few minutes. At the end of the chapter are a short summary of the point and questions designed to encourage discussion about the topic. I found the questions to be very thoughtful, encouraging you to think about how each truth applies to your life. For example, in the chapter about being quick to apologize, Douglas asks you to think about a time when you did not apologize and you should have, and what the consequences of that were. He also asks you to think about a time you did not receive an apology and how that made you feel.

I read this book out loud to my rising 7th and 10th grade sons over lunch. We would cover one truth a day about 3 days a week. After reading it to them, we would talk about the general meaning of the truth first, and then I would give them some time to think about it. Later in the afternoon we would revisit the topic and go over the other questions. I found that my sons had some very thorough and thoughtful answers for most of the truths. When discussing taking things one step at a time, my oldest talked about how when he was trying to save over $300 for a camp he wanted to attend with our church youth group, the amount seemed overwhelming (he was 14 at the time). However, he decided to break that number into a monthly goal instead, and decided how many cars he needed to wash each month to get there. The result was he easily saved enough to pay for camp and some extra for spending money. My 12 year old son applied the “make every day your best day” truth to his favorite show, Phineas and Ferb 🙂 To him, they model trying to simply have the most fun they can each day, and they do not let setbacks get in the way!

I found myself thinking a lot about the truths Douglas writes about as well. The truth about seeing the glass as half full, and having a positive outlook on life spoke to me in particular in my life right now. My discussions with my kids also gave me a lot of food for thought.

This book is designed for kids grades 6 and up, but I think it could be used with those that are possibly even younger as long as you are reading it with them. An older child could also read it on their own, but I feel there is a lot to be gained by reading this as a family and talking about it together. It’s a great way to share your stories with your children, and for them to share their thoughts and feelings with each other and with you. 25 Truths costs $15.50 and I think it is definitely worth it. If you did three truths a week, you could finish in a couple of months. Of course, you could easily move faster or slower if you want to, and you could expand these truths into more thorough lessons if you wanted to add some picture books where the main character learns a similar lesson or search for biblical references. Douglas is a Christian, he does talk about God and faith in 25 Truths, but I did not feel the book was preachy, just honest. These truths are applicable to everyone, and this book could be used in any homeschool.

To see what other members of the crew had to say about 25 Truths, click here:
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Garlic Grilled Veggies

MMMM…the grill. We love cooking outdoors, especially when we are hosting friends. This is a really easy recipe for grilled veggies that we make frequently.

Ingredients:
2-3 zucchini
2-3 yellow squash
2 tablespoons butter
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)

Directions:
1. Wash and slice the squash and zucchini.
2. Layer some foil to wrap the vegetables.
3. Place the squash and zucchini in the foil.
4. Place the butter on top of the veggies and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
5. Close the top of the foil to seal the vegetables.
6. Place on grill and cook for 20 minutes over medium-high heat.

That’s it. This recipe is easy to customize for a crowd by simply adding more veggies! Enjoy, and check out other recipes on Lisa’s link up:

Peace

This is the view from my balcony in Lake Lure, North Carolina. I have been going on vacation there every year since I was seven years old. My grandparents bought a timeshare and passed it on to me and my husband when we got married. It is the best vacation spot ever!! We live on the East coast of Florida, so we are at the beach all the time, and I love it. However, there is just something about the mountains that speaks to me in my soul. It reminds me of the passage in 1 Kings 19, where Elijah hears God speak, not in the fire, nor in the earthquake, but in the gentle whisper that comes after. When I sit on this balcony and listen to the wind whisper through the trees, that is how I picture this passage.

If you have been reading my blog, you know we have some serious issues going in my family in relation to my husband’s health. I have not been feeling at peace in a long time, so this vacation was much needed. It was so nice for me to sit on my balcony, spend time in the Word, and just talk to God. We also got some serious family time to relax and have fun. We haven’t done that in a long time either.

My kids played mini golf and horseshoes and corn hole. And we kayaked and hung out at the pool. Even my hubby was relaxed (which hasn’t happened in a while). We are an outdoors family, and we love to enjoy nature together. We take a deer walk at least once in the evening while we are there. This time, we were blessed to see about seven deer playing and chasing each other on the golf course. We also visited the Pisgah National Forest, which is beautiful, and spent some time hiking and exploring there.

When we were sadly leaving Saturday morning, we were fortunate to see two young bucks along the road on our way home. I took that as a good sign. I feel rested now, but I have to admit that coming home has brought me back to reality. My husband is at the Mayo clinic in Jacksonville right now undergoing tests to see if we can find a treatment for this illness he is dealing with. Up to this point, I have held on to the fact that we have no expert diagnosis, and so maybe things are not as bad as they seem. The fact is, by the end of the week, we should know exactly what is going on, good or bad. Sigh…and that’s the crux of it…I am holding on to the hope for something good. Maybe the doctors were wrong…maybe there is something we can do to make this better…but what if that is not the case?? what then??

It is really too much for me to absorb at the moment. So, I am going to try desperately to hold on to this feeling of peace that I got while sitting on my balcony. I am going to remember the sound of the crickets, and the bullfrogs, and the wind whispering through the trees. I am going to remember that it is God who is in control of all things, and that He promises to work all things for our good. And I am just going to wait and hold on.

TOS Review: Science for High School

High school science…ugh…along with math it is the bane of my existence. Science and math are two of the reasons that caused me to question whether or not I COULD homeschool high school. However, my husband and I are committed to schooling our children at home until they graduate, so I am always on the lookout for materials to use for these subjects. Needless to say, I was very excited when I found out I would have a chance to review materials from Science for High School.

This curriculum was created by Bridget Ardoin, a fellow homeschooling mom with a degree in microbiology. After teaching high school, tutoring, and working with other parents, she decided to write her own curriculum just for homeschoolers! We got to check out the High School Biology at Home curriculum. I tried it with my oldest son, who is a rising sophomore.

This curriculum is very unique in that it is designed to be used with any textbook, research book, or even the internet. This makes it very flexible. When you order the curriculum, you receive both a parent and student manual. The parent manual includes instructions for how to use the curriculum, as well as a list of needed materials, answers to questions and quizzes, and instructions for labs. The parent manual is spiral bound, and well laid out.

The student manual needs to be placed in a binder. The course is divided into two semesters, and each week presents a list of questions on a topic related to biology. All pertinent topics are covered from basic cells, to the body systems, to plants and genetics. The idea is that each week, your child will use his own resources to research and answer the questions. If you have biology textbooks available, you can use that for the research, or you can check out books from the library or use the internet. Basically, I would assign the questions on a Monday, and we would discuss the answers together on Friday. My son would look at the number of questions he had to complete and determine the number of questions he would do each day.

I liked the fact that this curriculum really put my son in charge of his own learning. The fact that HE had to determine how much to do each day made him responsible for his own work. This is similar to what I think he will experience in college and in the work force. The first few weeks, he made the mistake of not “getting started” until Wednesday, which led to problems because he found he had a lot to do in a short time!! After that, we discussed how it is going to be important that he learn how to set daily goals for his subjects, because when he moves on to life beyond our home, no one is going to be around to tell him how to spend his time each day, and if he does not learn how to be responsible with his time now, he is going to be in trouble later.

My son enjoyed this type of learning because it was easy to see what he had to accomplish, and he could just “get it done”. I will admit that at first, his answers were very basic. However, when he found he wasn’t doing as well as he liked on the weekly quizzes (which are also included) he began to put more time into his work. I feel like he did not only learn a lot about biology from this curriculum, but also learned a lot about research.

The lab portion of the curriculum involves dissection and examining prepared slides. This is probably the hardest part of any homeschool high school curriculum. Finding the materials and getting them all together can be a chore. Science for High School does offer a dissecting kit and slides that you can order which will give you everything you need to complete the program, and I am seriously considering getting it (if I can find a way to put the money together). Lab kits are expensive, I know that, but unless you have another option (like a co-op or something) they are necessary. For parents that are science fans, putting together your own labs may be easy, but for those like me, who are not, a pre-made kit is very helpful!!

Personally, I loved using the Science for High School materials with my son. I think this is an incredible program that will definitely prepare your kids for science at the college level and, more importantly, for research they will use for every subject! The High School Biology program costs $79.99 for the manuals that I received. I think this is an excellent price. If you have looked at high school science programs you have seen they can be pricey. This basic package will give you all you need to help your child research the topics and do the labs. If you want to and can afford it, you can add the lab materials as well. I recommend this if you are looking for a biology program for your high school student. You can check out sample pages on the website.

To see what other members of the crew thought of this and the other programs we got to check out from Science for High School, click here:

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TOS Review: Classical Conversations

Okay, first of all, I want to say that I am an eclectic homeschooler who uses bits and pieces of many methods to make things work. When I first started homeschooling I read everything I could get my hands on, including books about the classical approach. While the overall method was not something I wanted to use completely, I did find parts of it appealing. A friend of mine from my homeschool group also belongs to a Classical Conversations group in our area. She had invited me to join, but after looking into it, I just felt it was a little too rigid for our taste. When a chance came up to review a product from Classical Conversations, I almost passed it up. Now, however I am glad I didn’t.

Handwriting is one of the more touchy subjects for my almost 7th grade son. I have to admit, his handwriting is still pretty juvenile. We have been working on printing for years, and have not even started cursive yet! It is a painful process to practice this skill in my home. The funny thing is, as much as my kid hates to “write” things, he loves to draw!! It’s so weird how holding a pencil to write a paragraph can be so brutal, but drawing a picture is not. So, when we got a chance to check out PreScripts Cursive Sentences and Art Lessons, I took it!

PreScripts is the third book in the handwriting program at Classical Conversations that begins with cursive letters and drawing, and moves up to passages and illuminations. I think it is a really cool idea to tie art lessons in with writing. Both require the use of fine motor skills and hand eye coordination, but for kids who look at handwriting as a major chore, the art lessons can be a welcome relief. This particular book is designed for ages 7-12. My son is age 12, but he struggles with handwriting, so this program was a challenge for him.

The book begins with a short review of how to form each cursive letter. If your child is totally unfamiliar with cursive (as mine is) you may need to spend a little extra time on this. The focus of the writing lessons is Medieval to Modern World history, so your child will be copying lessons related to these topics. These portions of the lessons aren’t terribly long, about 3-4 lines each, which was good for my son. We did not fight about getting the writing part done, which was a relief for me. Basically, he would first trace the words, then write them himself on the lines underneath.

The drawing lessons come after the writing portions and begin with simple elements like using a grid to draw, and progressing to more difficult skills like technical drawing. The lessons themselves were very well explained, and my son took off with this portion of the program. Like I said, he likes drawing, and I think practicing these techniques is good practice for handwriting as well. Of course, completing the drawing lessons after the writing was a nice reward for him as well. It includes 24 lessons and additional reviews, which is easily enough to fill one school year if you practice a few days each week.

The PreScripts book costs only $12.99, which is a very reasonable price. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a handwriting program.

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TOS Review: Institute for Excecellence in Writing

As a former English teacher, I love writing! My youngest son, not so much. In my old school, we used the Institute for Excellence in Writing for our classes, and I loved it. It was a program I missed when we started homeschooling. Therefore, I was very excited to get a chance to review the program as part of the crew!  We got to check out both the teacher and student program.

The Teaching Writing Structure and Style set is for parents. Basically, this section of the program is a seminar for parents about how to teach writing. Led by Andrew Pudewa, the founder of IEW and a fellow homeschooler, his unique brand of humor makes the videos easy to watch. The nine DVD’s include lessons about each portion of the program. You also get a binder with handouts for each section. I had watched the first few DVDs when I was teaching, but watching the whole set was so much more in depth than I imagined. IEW is a very detailed program, which can seem intimidating at first, but having the DVDs really makes it much easier than you would think.

There is an outline and suggested schedule for watching the DVDs included with the program. This was helpful because it allowed me to decide good stopping points for each section. Each session is about 1 to 2 hours, so you do need to allocate some time for this portion of the program, but if you do, you will find it is well worth it. Once you have an understanding of how IEW works, you can easily use it with all of your students. Practice exercises are available in the handouts, and three student workshops are also included, so you can see how the program actually works with kids. Of course, this is a lot of information to take in at once, so if you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed, consider watching one DVD at a time and implementing the program in stages until you get comfortable.

The second part of the program that we got to use is the Student Writing Intensive program. We used level B, for grades 6-8, but they also have programs for lower elementary and high school students. Student Writing Intensive is another series of DVDs, but these are aimed mainly at the students. They get to watch Mr. Pudewa teach a class using the techniques from the teacher program. If you do not feel comfortable in fully implementing the program, you may want to watch these with your child and do the activities together. The Overview DVD is for parents, although if you have watched the DVDs from the teacher program, it may not be necessary. This course also comes with a binder with handouts.

The included syllabus outlines how to use the program, including instructions on when to stop the DVD and work. Each DVD contains about 2 1/2 hours of material, so you will definitely want to break it up. The suggested schedule plans the program out over a course of 30 weeks, completing about one lesson each week. Of course, you can adjust the pace to suit yourself and your child. In my classes with advanced writers, we easily progressed through this program at the suggested pace. At home, with my son who is a reluctant writer, I find I am having to slow the pace down a bit to keep him from being overwhelmed. Make no mistake, at this level IEW is an intense and thorough program, but the level of writing skills it will produce in your child is amazing.

I have found that as kids get familiar, and comfortable with, the program, things do get easier. I really think the major obstacle is you getting comfortable. If you are not used to a lot of structure, this method may seem very uncomfortable at first. However, if you stick with it, especially at the upper levels, I believe you will be very pleased with what your kids learn. For my son, I have seen a big improvement in parts of his writing since we started. First, the note-taking method he has learned is really really effective for ALL subjects, and he does use it for science and history. Second, his expressive writing has grown a lot. I’m talking his word choice and sentence structure specifically. I think that as we continue to progress through the Student Intensive seminars, he will only get better.

Teaching Writing and the Student Intensive programs are not cheap. The teacher portion costs $169.00 while the student portion is $109.00. Do I recommend this if you have the money?? Yes! If you can afford it and you want a top notch writing program, get this one. However, for most of us (me included) spending that much money on just the writing portion of your schooling just isn’t realistic. Are there other options? Sure. What about using this program as part of a co-op or homeschool group? I can vouch for the fact that this program from IEW works really well in a group setting. If you split the cost up between a group of parents, it won’t be so bad, and once you know how to use the program, you can do it again and again.

To see what other members of the Crew had to say about IEW, click here:
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Chili Soup

This is an easy veggie soup I whip up when I’m tired. It is very filling, and of course you can make it as spicy as you want! I like to serve this with a nice spinach chef’s salad.

Ingredients:
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (I use the chili style tomatoes for extra flavor)
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chicken broth
2 sliced carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 cup cheese

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients except the cheese into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Stir in 1/3 cup of the cheese.
2. Serve in bowls, top with the remainder of the cheese, and garnish with sliced green onion and sour cream as desired.

If you want, you can cook up some hamburger to add to this, or sprinkle in some cumin for extra spice.

To check out some other recipes, visit Lisa’s blog here:

Waiting….

Have you ever heard the song “Waiting” by Tom Petty? The chorus has one line that describes where I am at right now, “The waiting is the hardest part”. Yeah, yeah it is. If you have been reading my blog lately, you know that my hubby has been struggling with his health. Right now we are in a holding pattern, waiting until later this month when he goes to his appointment with a specialist. I am both looking forward to, and dreading this appointment for a number of reasons. Mainly, looking forward to it because I am hoping we will at least finally have a firm answer for what is going on. Seriously, the not knowing, and second guessing, is driving us both crazy. How can we plan for treatment, or the future, or anything, when we don’t really know what’s going on? Then again, I am also partially dreading the appointment, because what if the answer is all of my worst fears realized? I don’t know how I will deal with that. Sigh….in the meantime, we are stuck here…waiting, as time moves on ever so slowly.

So, I have been trying to keep myself busy in the meantime. Of course, spending time in prayer and in the Word are regular activities, but these are other things I do to fill the time. These are some things I have come up with to do while you are waiting:

1. Clean the house.
2. Organize the closet.
3. Sort through last years homeschool stuff and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
4. Go through your books and decide which ones will make nice donations for the library.
5. Ditto for clothes…only donate to Goodwill.
6. Read a book that has been on your “want to read list” but you haven’t gotten to yet.
7. Work on your garden or front yard.
8. Organize your recipes.
9. Meet that friend of yours for lunch like you have been meaning to.
10. Catch up on a television show on Netflix.

So, that’s what I am doing right now. Trying to fill time and take my mind off all of the crazy possibilities. Do you have any suggestions on what to do when you are waiting on something big? if you do, leave me a comment.