Pork and Pepper Stir Fry

Spicy Pork Stir Fry

This is a quick little recipe that is full of flavor. It also sneaks in a lot of vegetables!! And, since the rice is served on the side, it also fits into my lower-carb diet! 🙂

 

Ingredients:

2 bell peppers (use different colors for contrast)
1 medium onion
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 cup salsa
1 tsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. adobo seasoning
2 tsp. chili powder
1 lb. pork, chicken, or beef, cut into small strips
2 tbsp. olive oil

Peppers and onions!

Directions:
1. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to pan and heat over medium heat.
2. Chop the peppers and onions into thin strips.
3. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, until softened.
4. Add the peppers to the pan and stir fry for another three minutes, then remove mixture from the pan.
5. Add the other tbsp. olive oil to the pan then add the meat. Sprinkle on the seasoned salt and adobo seasoning and stir fry until cooked through.
6. Drain and rinse the beans and drain the corn. Add them to the pan with the meat.
7. Add the salsa and chili powder and mix.
8. Fold in the pepper and onion mixture and heat through.
9. Serve over cooked rice.

This recipe made plenty for our family of four (two teenage boys and mom and dad), plus leftovers for my hubby for work the next day! Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to come back next week. To check out more recipes, click here:

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Schooling Through The Messes

Storm Clouds are Building

 

Life Happens. We all know it. And in the midst of all the mess, it can be hard to find a way to keep moving on. This is where homeschooling gets real. Over the last six years, we have weathered many storms, from health issues, to unexpected catastrophes, to numerous other problems life has thrown in our path. I have approached each difficult season differently based on our situation. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that you have the flexibility to deal with things as they come up.

At one point, we went through foreclosure and had to find a new place to live very quickly. During this time, our lives were a mess of packing, searching for houses, making phone calls, sorting through stuff etc. Honestly, during this time, we simply stopped school for a short period. We were just too busy (and emotionally exhausted) to deal with reading, writing, and math. Instead, we spent a lot of time together as a family, getting ready for this move and trying to handle the feelings that went with it.

At another time, my husband became seriously ill. We were at a point where we did not know what was going to happen. This was in the summer right before school was set to start, and on top of the uncertainty we had going on, it also left us in a very serious financial predicament since our savings was eaten up by medical bills. I was left with no money to buy books and no motivation to really do school. However, this time, I decided to start some light schooling anyway. I borrowed books from friends and from the library, I kept things basic and did a lot of unit studies, Bible study, and reading out loud. I did this mainly to keep myself and my children from going insane. At that time, we were in a sort of holding pattern while we were waiting for the doctors to figure out what was going on and what they were going to do. So, rather than sit and dwell on our problem, I used school to keep us busy, and it worked.

Most recently, my father in law (who lives three hours away) has been ill. We have spent a lot of time driving back and forth between where my in-laws live and where we live. Basically, that means we are doing a lot of schooling in the car and in waiting rooms at hospitals. What we have been doing is bringing our work in backpacks, and my kids work through as much as they can over the journey. Once we get past this season, I will look at where we are and what we need to do to meet our goals at the end of the year. For my younger son, that may mean carrying some things over into the next year. For my older son, it may mean cutting down on some things and focusing on what is most important. Either way, we will finish what we need too.

I think the most important thing my kids actually learn during these seasons is the very real lesson that life does NOT go as planned. Which, as we all know, is just the way things go. When my kids get older, I want them to be the kind of adults who can adjust when they face the unexpected. I want them to be adults who do not let problems and difficulties stop them. I want them to be adults who lean on the Lord in times of trouble and move forward, adjusting as they need to. I think the best way for kids to learn this is to see their parents model it, and that is what I try to do.

So I guess, if you are going through a storm or a messy season right now, the best advice I could give you is to pray your way through it and be sensitive to your needs and the needs of your children at the time. In some cases, it may be a good idea to stick with the familiar routine of school, or maybe just do a few subjects. At other times, you may just need to halt school for a while to focus on dealing with the problem, and that is okay too. Don’t worry about messing up your school year, you can just make adjustments later. Relax and take a deep breath. This trial may just become a testimony for your children later on.

To see more advice from crew members about how to homeschool when life happens, click here:

Homeschooling When Life Happens

Menu Plan Monday 8/25/14

August has been a whirlwind for me! We have been back at (home)school for a week now and are starting to get into a groove. It usually takes a couple of weeks for our laid-back summer attitudes to wear off! This is what’s for dinner at our house:

Monday: Beef Fajitas (from a box!)

Tuesday: Spanish Rice (crock pot recipe)

Wednesday: Chicken Parm Casserole

Thursday: Grilled Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Broccoli

Friday: Pizza (getting ready for our Labor Day Weekend Cook Out on Saturday!)

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! Have a wonderful holiday weekend! See you next week.

Easy Chicken Parm Casserole

Yummy, cheesy, chicken

I think this is one of my favorite recipes ever! It’s a really simple one-dish meal that tastes absolutely delicious. If you want easy Italian fare, you should give this one a try.

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken things
1 jar spaghetti sauce
10 oz. garlic croutons
2 cups shredded Italian cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste
Italian Seasoning to taste

Directions:
1. Spray a 13X9 inch pan with cooking spray. Mince the garlic and spread it over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes.
2. Place the chicken thighs on top of the garlic.
3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Pour spaghetti sauce on top of chicken.
5. Sprinkle one cup of the cheese on top of the sauce.
6. Cover the sauce with the croutons.
7. Top with the remaining cheese.
8. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
9. Remove the foil and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake an additional five minutes.

I served this with a fresh Caesar salad and some breadsticks. It made plenty to feed my family of four, and provided leftovers for my hubby’s lunch the next day! This is one recipe I am going to add to our regular rotation.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week. Check out more recipes here:

Homeschooling in the Corner

The topic of our Crew Carnival this week is homeschool classrooms. Well, I wish I had one. It would be great to have a place to store all of our stuff. And I think it would keep the rest of our house cleaner too. However, the house we rent does not have extra space for a school room, but it does have a sort of “nook” in the living/dining/great room that we use for school. The area is defined by a built-in bookshelf where we do keep a lot of our books.

The messy bookshelf!

Now let me say, we are book people at my house. Seriously, we love to read. And while I have organized this shelf numerous times, I noticed it always became disorganized because of the number of people searching for books to read (which is not a bad thing at all). So, to save myself frustration, I pretty much gave up on trying to organize it! Since we got a new dining room table on sale at Big Lots, I got to use our old dining room table as a school table. The very old desktop computer does take up a good bit of space, but there is enough room for one of the boys to work there (and really, its better if they don’t work in the same space because then they don’t get a lot of work done!!).

I do have two cabinets for storage. In the upper cabinet I keep supplies, paper, colored pencils, pencils etc. My other cabinet holds books and notebooks. Our cat, Skippy, likes to hang out on the counter and sleep on top of the books. He knows if he does that there’s a good chance he will get lots of cuddles throughout the day!

Sigh…this is my other cabinet. This is when we were in the process of packing up last year’s school stuff to make room for this year’s school stuff.

As far as working goes, my kids tend to move around a lot during the day. Sometimes they work on the couch, sometimes they work at the kitchen table, sometimes it’s the dining room table, and sometimes it’s the floor. The way our house is set up, we basically have one big room off the kitchen, so I can see them wherever they are!

While I do wish I had a separate room (largely so I could shut the door and at least corral the mess) it is nice to at least have a corner. And, honestly, my kids would probably just end up in the living room anyway!! Maybe our next house will have an extra room…..

Do you have a homeschool room at your house? If not, where do you do school? Let me know in the comments. And check out other homeschool classrooms here: goes live 8/20/14)

Homeschool Classrooms

Curriculum 2014-2015

Books!

Well, it’s that time again. Summer has flown by and we are ready to start back to school on Monday. I am actually pretty excited. Although we’ve had a great summer, I am looking forward to digging into our new books for the year! For the last couple of weeks I have been anxiously awaiting the mailman every day looking for boxes! 😉 I am really happy with our choices for this year. For the most part, I didn’t change things too much, keeping most of our basic stuff the same. However, I added some cool extras, and we are using some of the stuff we really like from our tour with the Schoolhouse Review Crew too. This year, I really tried to get input from my kids too about what they wanted to try, and some of their choices surprised me! This is what we have on deck for this year:

 

The Oldest: (11th grade)

History/Bible/Litertature: My Father’s World U.S. History to 1877–this is our third year with MFW High School and I have to say, their program is impressive. Intense, but impressive! I managed to find this set used on eBay so I saved money on it too!! (and I will be saving it for my younger when he gets to this level). It is very thorough in all areas, and this year the Bible focus is on worldview.

My Father’s World High School

Algebra II: Life of Fred Advanced Algebra — After many years of struggling with math (pretty much all of them!) we finally turned to Fred last year for geometry, and it worked beautifully. I am all about sticking with what works, so we are back to Fred this year too.

Chemistry: High School Chemistry in Your Home – We got to check out Science for High School’s biology program last year and my son absolutely loved it!! It was one of his requests for this year. He will also take a chemistry lab with a college professor at a local student center.

Electives: This year my son has a few different electives going on. He takes guitar lessons weekly, which counts as music, and he is also doing dual-enrollment at our local community college. For the fall semester he is taking a course in Criminology. I also got him an SAT prep workbook that he will be working through this year, and he is registered to take the PSAT in October. He volunteers at our church, and is currently looking for his first job!

The Youngest: (8th grade)
This one is my challenging student, and some of our curriculum is stuff we are finishing up from last year. He is a very young 8th grader in many ways.

Bible: Apologia What on Earth Can I do? and Wise Up – I LOVE Apologia’s worldview curriculum. We have done the other three books in the set, and when I got this one through the Crew for a review, I was so happy. We do this together two days per week, and he completes the other study on his own the other days. I did Wise Up with his brother too and it is just full of great stuff for kids in this age range!

Math: Since Life of Fred worked so well for his brother, we decided to go with Life of Fred Pre-Algebra 1 and Pre-Algebra 2 this year. I think these are a good match for his personality.

Language Arts: This is broken down into several categories. I love the simplicity and thoroughness of Rod and Staff. Yes, they are straightforward and not exactly exciting, but really, grammar does not lend itself to excitement!
Spelling: Rod and Staff
Grammar: Rod and Staff/Analytical Grammar (just did a review on this one and we are going to see which he likes better)
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise
Writing:IEW Student Writing Intensive(another Crew favorite) and theme-based writing workbook
Handwriting: Rhythm of Handwriting – this is one of my son’s biggest struggles. Yes, he is in 8th grade, yes we are working on cursive. For the record, my cursive is pretty bad too, but I made it through college and became an English teacher. We have had some success with this program from Logic of English so far.

Reading: Mosdos. We have been using their books for the last couple of years and we love them. We will also be reading various novels.

History: Mystery of History, finishing Vol. II and moving to Vol. II

Science: Apologia Exploring Creation with General Science – We got the book and the notebook and they look great.

Electives/Extras: This year I let my son choose what extras he wanted to study and he chose two things we got through our reviews. The first was an economics video course (from Roman Roads Media) and the second was Veritas Press (a very meaty course, we scratched the surface this summer, but he wants to dig deeper).

We also read the Bible together as a family each morning (this year we are starting with Ephesians) and we belong to a co-op that meets weekly!

So, that is our curriculum for the year? What do you think? Are you using any of the same stuff? Have you used something and loved it? Let me know in the comments. My friend Jennifer over at Chestnut Grove is hosting a very cool curriculum link up so you can see what other people had to say! Check it out here: Chestnut Grove