Faith: Our Word For 2014

For our first crew round up of 2014 the topic is “Word for the Year”. This is something I have actually been thinking about for a while. As we were getting into November of last year, I started feeling like I had somehow lost the focus for our homeschool. Yes, we were falling into a routine for schoolwork, and we had a schedule that was working, but I had started to feel like we had lost our….spark. My boys are now in 7th and 10th grades, and I know our homeschool years are coming to a close, especially with my oldest. I have been contemplating exactly what it is I want my boys to leave home with, and I know that it is a firm faith in the Lord.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we have had a focus on God ever since we started homeschooling. We do Bible everyday, my kids know tons of Bible verses, and they have come to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. But this year, I want to go deeper. Since my boys are older, I would like to go further in studying the Word. Not just reading and memorizing it, but thinking and talking about what it means and how to apply it to our lives. I know that, especially for my older son, a firm grounding in God is going to be necessary for adult life. As his time in high school draws to a close, I want to prepare him for life beyond. I have no idea what the Lord has planned for him, but I want him to be able to stand and face the world with a deep trust that God will lead him and guide him as he follows whatever path is set before him.

I am currently looking for additional resources I can use to further our study of the Lord and his Word. I would like to find some materials I could use for Bible study aimed at teen boys and young men. If you have any ideas or suggestions, let me know in the comments. I am hoping for 2014 to be a faith-filled year in our house! To see what other members of the crew had to say on this topic, click here:
Word for 2014

Chicken Soup

Homemade chicken soup

Ahh, the winter season, cold weather and, well, colds. Last year I got sick with the flu and my best friend made me a pot of this chicken soup and brought it over. It was so good I asked her for the recipe. Now I make this whenever somebody in our house gets the sniffles.


1 whole chicken

2 cups cooked pasta

1 onion

4 celery stalks

4 carrots

4 cloves garlic

2 chicken bouillon cubes or packets

1. Place the chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water.
2. Slice the carrots and celery in half and add to the pot.
3. Quarter the onion and chop the garlic and add them to the pot.

4. Cook over medium-high heat for 1-2 hours or until the chicken falls off the bones.
5. Remove the chicken to a baking sheet and pull the meat from the bones.
6. Use a hand-held strainer to remove the vegetables from the pot. Chop the celery, onion, and carrots into small pieces.

7. Stir the bouillon into the pot and add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pot.
9. Stir in the cooked pasta and heat through.

There you go! This recipe makes enough soup to feed my family of four for a few days, and it tastes great as leftovers. Make it yourself as a comfort food when you or a family member are sick, or just make it on a cold night! Feel free to pin or share this recipe. If you have any great soup recipes of your own, let me know in the comments. See the rest of the recipe ideas from Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Top 10 Posts of 2013

To celebrate the end of another year, I’ve decided to link up with other bloggers to share my top ten posts of 2013. Looking at my stats, it seems the majority of my most-viewed posts are recipes! I love to cook, so it feels good to know that others may enjoy sharing my recipes. These are my top ten:

1. This recipe for Easy Chicken Quesadillas was my number-one post.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

2. My recipe for Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches was the next most popular. We are actually having these for dinner next week.

Simple Calzone

3. This recipe for Simple Calzones is probably one of my all time favorites. We had this for Christmas Eve dinner!

Easy Pot Roast

4. I got my mom a crock pot for Christmas (can you believe she hasn’t really had one before??) and this recipe for the Easiest Pot Roast Ever was the first thing she cooked in it.

Peppermint Bark

5. Peppermint Bark is my boys all-time favorite holiday dessert.

Spanish Rice

6. So can you tell I really love my crock pot? This recipe for Spanish Rice is the third crock pot recipe on this list!

A day in our life

7. This post, Come Over to Our House, was one of my favorite blog cruises of the year. I love getting a peek into other homeschoolers days! (Of course, my teenage son was less than cooperative about taking pictures and I was only allowed to take them from behind! 🙂 )

Sharon Watson Writing

8. I am so blessed to be a member of the TOS Review Crew! We have gotten to try out so many great products and I have learned so much about blogging and homeschooling from the other crew members. This review for Writing With Sharon Watson was my seventh most viewed post.

Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables

9. I am always on the lookout for new ways to cook vegetables. This recipe for Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables made my top ten for this year!

Supercharged Science

10. Rounding out my top ten list is another review, this one for Supercharged Science, a really fun online learning program.

So there you have it! My top ten posts of 2013. I have loved sharing my thoughts with my readers here on my blog, and getting to read the thoughts and ideas of others. Each year I feel like I grow as a blogger, and I am excited for 2014! What was your top post of the year? Let me know in the comments. And make sure to visit the link-up here at Campfires and Cleats.

Menu Plan Monday 12/30/13

I can’t believe 2013 is almost over! After a wonderful holiday, I guess I’m back to regular cooking. This is our menu for this week:

Monday: Fish Tacos
Tuesday: Taco Style Stuffed Shells
Wednesday: Burritos
Thursday: Crispy Chicken and Potatoes
Friday: Sloppy Joes

Make sure to check out the rest of this week’s plans on Menu Plan Monday! See you guys next week.

Booklovers Anonymous: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

In last week’s post I told you about the book Zathura, by Chris Van Allsburg. Today I am going to share another one of his books, however, this picture book is great for use with older students (I’m talking middle school and high school students) to inspire some creative writing. I stumbled upon The Mysteries of Harris Burdick in my first or second year of teaching and immediately recognized it’s potential!

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

The book begins with an introduction from Mr. Van Allsburg explaining how he stumbled across Mr. Burdick’s pictures via a friend. Apparently, each picture was created for a story that Harris Burdick was writing. He brought them to an editor was supposed to return with the rest of the stories, but instead, he disappeared. The intro on its own is enough to whet any kids appetite! From there, each of the pictures is shared on it’s own page, with the title of the story and a one sentence caption on the other page.

Harris Burdick title and caption

The titles and captions are simple, but leave enough description to get a good sense of what a story could be about. This caption for the story “Another Place, Another Time” simply states : “If there was an answer, he would find it there.” That’s it…can you just close your eyes for a minute and imagine where you could go with that? Try it!! When I do it myself I come up with so many ideas!! And that is one of the things I love about this book. You could have three kids write about the same picture, and come up with three completely different stories!!

The pictures, as usual for Van Allsburg’s books, are exquisite and inspire creative writing on their own:

Skipping stones? Maybe, maybe not!

Sometimes they feature people (usually kids) in a situation that gives just enough information to get the creative juices flowing:

This could definitely be a fun story!

Other times, the pictures are of a place:

A hidden room? Treasure? Passage to another place? You decide! That’s what creative writing is all about!

However, all of the pictures are a great idea for creative writing story starters. When I used these in my classroom, I actually bought two copies of the book. I tore out and laminated the pages from one, and hung them around the room. I read the other copy out loud to my students then I asked the kids to walk around, find their favorite picture and study it. Even my most reluctant writers enjoyed this assignment, and many of them wanted to write more than one story! The only requirements I had for their writing was that the use the title of the picture as the title of the story, and they had to work the caption into the story somewhere. Other than that, they had the freedom to go in any direction they wanted.

Now that we are homeschooling, I do generally the same thing with my boys. When we are working on creative writing, I take this book off the shelf and we read it together. Then I let my boys thumb through it on their own and choose a picture to write about. The most difficult thing is narrowing their choice down to just one! I keep The Mysteries of Harris Burdick handy and use it a lot for times when we do “light” schooling as well. You know, those busy seasons (like the holidays). I like to work lots of different styles of writing into their schooling, so we may focus on persuasive writing for a while, go on to narratives, then go back to creative writing for a little break. Over the years, my oldest son (now in 10th grade) has written about many of the pictures from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

It’s funny how you can do so much from just a simple picture book isn’t it? So, if you have a student, younger or older, who needs some inspiration for their creative writing, I would suggest you add this book to your library. Believe me, you will use it for YEARS to come! Thanks for joining me for Booklovers Anonymous again, be sure to come back next week!

Crock Pot Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder

This is an easy and yummy recipe for a cold night!

6 diced potatoes
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole kernel sweet corn
2 cups chicken broth
2 packages diced ham
1 small onion, diced
1/3 cup butter
2 cups heavy cream

1. Put both cans of corn, the ham, potatoes, chicken broth, and onions into the crock pot.
2. Cook on low for 8 hours.
3. Add the butter and heavy cream.
4. Mash until the potatoes are broken up into bits.
5. Cook on high for another 30 minutes.

Serve with some warm rolls and you’re done! If you have your own twist on corn chowder, let me know in the comments! Check out the other recipes from this week’s Try and New Recipe Tuesday here:

Menu Plan Monday 12/23/13


I am so excited about Christmas this week! My hubby is actually going to be home for the holiday (for the first time in three years!). We are having dinner with friends, and I plan to eat leftovers for a couple of days, so this is an abbreviated menu.

Monday: Crispy Chicken and Potatoes

Tuesday: Calzones

Wednesday: Christmas Dinner

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Leftovers

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! Make sure you check out the other menus on Menu Plan Monday!