Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Blog Sensation Sweeping the Nation

Have you heard of it?

Don't be fooled by the simple logo.  Behind it lies wonders you can only dream of.

Pinterest is a by invitation only website that uses visual bookmarks to organize all that wonderful info you're finding all over the web.

This is an example from some of my boards:

It's super simple to use.  Download the Pin It button to your toolbar.  When you find something that inspires you or you want to be able to go back to later you simply press the pin it button.  Select which photo from that page you want to use as your reminder, and you're done. 

When you want to go back to the page, simply click on the picture.  Pinterest has automatically saved the url so it directs you right to it.

I have some Pinterest invites and I would love to give you one.  Just send me your email address and I'll send you an invitation.

**Warning, it can be very addicting, enter with caution**

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Website for Teaching Reading Strategies

When I began researching helping my daughter next year with reading, I found countless information telling me the importance of reading strategies.  


Reading Strategies?

What kind of strategies do you need to read?  

"Team Red Bird to to Team Eagle Eye.  Pick up the book, start with page one, first word.  That's it, not too fast now, wouldn't want this situation to get all out of control.  What's that?  We have reading! I repeat! We have reading."

Sorry for that...

Anyway, I guess I didn't understand the concept.  I have been reading books since the ripe old age of three.  When I was Fashionista's age I had such classics as Little Women and The Hobbit under my belt.  There was no strategy to it.  It was fun, it was exciting, it was EASY for me.

And I think that's why I have such a hard time in this area with my daughter. She struggles daily just to get through a simple paragraph.  She loves stories, she loves books, but she hates to read.  Reading just plain takes too much effort for her.  She has a million and one things going on in that little head of hers to focus on the words on the page.  But, I digress.

Reading strategies, come to find out, are a tool utilized in classrooms around the world.  Who knew?  Once I started researching I could see the value... but, how to TEACH it?  I was at a loss.  Then I came across this handy website.

Into The Book is separated into two sections.  One for students and one for teachers.  

On the student side they have the eight strategies broken down in a fun format and everything is interactive.  

On the teacher side they have great downloads, including songs, posters, bookmarks, and many others.  

And, of course, the BEST thing about the site is IT'S ALL FREE.  I *heart* free.  Truly a remarkable site for those of us who need a little help teaching reading.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Baseball Pot Roast

That's not it's official name, but that's what I call it around here.  Why?  Because I can stick this baby in the oven, go to one of my son's baseball games, and it's nice and ready when I get back.  This is the most delish pot roast ever and couldn't be more easy.

Easy Baseball Pot Roast

You need:
chuck roast, as big or as little as you want
water, 3 cups 
Lipton onion soup mix, 1 pack
thyme, to taste
butter, 3-4 tablespoons
bay leaf, to taste
mixed veggies, canned (or small diced fresh carrots and potoatoes)
mushrooms, small can or 1/2 cup fresh

1. Heat oven to 400
2. Brown roast in a skillet (about 1 min on each side).
3. Put in a casserole dish (size doesn't matter).
4.  Sprinkle the roast with the dry soup mix and thyme.
5. Place bay leaf (or leaves) onto roast.
6. Fill casserole dish (or crock pot) with water, up to the halfway mark on your roast.
7.  Cover with foil.
*** if you're out of foil, as I was, put a cookie sheet on top of your dish ***
8.  Put in oven and cook for about 45 minutes, 
be sure to check that your water isn't evaporating out of the pan.
9.  Turn your oven to 200 
10.  Go to your son's baseball game for approximately 3 hours.
11.  Put veggies, mushrooms, butter, and a little broth from your roast into a skillet (when you get home) and sautee until they're cooked the way you like them.  Throw them into your roast.
12.  Serve it up to your hungry ball player and his eager siblings.

*** If you're one of those lucky people who have a working crock pot (which would not be this girl right here) then after you brown the roast, just throw everything into your crock pot and call it a day ***

A Girl and Her Dog

Everyone always talks about the bond between boys and their dogs. That just isn't the case around these parts.  Don't get me wrong.  My son loves the dog (as we all do) but there is just a special understanding between these two guys that I will never get.  And I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Food Repurposing Done Right

We've all done it.  We've thrown away perfectly good  food because we didn't have any idea what to do with it.  What could we possibly do with one cup of leftover rice?  Or one lonely little chicken breast left untouched by finnicky eaters?

I use to claim that my family "didn't eat leftovers".  And we didn't.  Mostly because every time I would put something in the fridge to save it sat until it was nearly unrecognizable.

Then, today, while trying to figure out what to do with leftover sausage from Easter I stumbled upon this little internet jewel.

Love Food, Hate Waste is this beautifully designed, wonderfully organized mecca of recipes and information on what to do with your leftovers.  You would be hard-pressed to NOT find something to do with all your leftovers.  

They have a fabulous Rescue section that helps you "rescue" food you would otherwise have thrown out.  

Their perfect portion section is perfect for me.  Going from cooking for 10 on a regular basis to only cooking for 5 really throws me off, and I tend to overcook A LOT.

The thing I am most excited about is how much money I can save.  If I can turn that one lonely chicken breast, or leftover sausage, into another full meal, well then my friends, I don't have to tell you how much money that would put back into my barely there bank account. Not to mention how much time it would save... it's really a win-win.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Life's a Picnic

Remember those chore charts I talked about here?  One of my son's items that he bought was a Day at the Park.  Today, being extremely GORGEOUS ,he wanted to cash in.  

Four Lunchables (and a can of aerosol cheese) later we were happily enjoying ourselves on the swings, on the Playscape, and *cringe* in the sand.  What a sweet, wonderful day with my sweet wonderful family.

Blackberry Pickin'

Pickin' (as we say in Texas) blackberries is one of my fondest childhood memories.  My grandmother would want to get us out of her hair send us with an older cousin during the summer down to the end of our street to pick blackberries by the lake.  

I always wanted to do it with my children but the opportunity never came up.  Then, my husband found these little beauties in our front yard this morning.
So, we grabbed the nearest butterbowl we could find and set out for our adventure. (Some of us had to get dressed in our swimming attire before proceeding)

 The kids had a lot of fun deciding what they were going to do with all the berries.

Fashonista:  "We could make mud pies"
Twister: "We can eat 'em all up"
Gamer: "Daddy and me can take them camping with us and set them out for the bears.  And then, when the bears come, I can shoot them with my bow and arrow"

I don't know where he gets this stuff.  I mean, bears don't like blackberries.  

Our adventure didn't yield more than enough to constitute a snack but the kids had a really fun time- all for free in our front yard.  You can't beat that.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Baked Lemon Chicken

Spring is in full bloom around here.  Nothing says Spring to me better than bright, sunny, yellow lemons.  Therefor, I was not surprised that I ended up with about three pounds of lemons from my last grocery shopping trip. Tonight I made the first of many recipes using these lemons.

Easy Baked Lemon Chicken

chicken breasts, 4
whole lemons, 3
lemon extract, 1 tbsp
butter, 1/4 cup
garlic powder, to taste
Mediterranean sea salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Slice one lemon and squeeze juice onto the chicken.
3. Place chicken into the oven
4.  Melt butter and lemon extract in pan.  Squeeze the remaining 2 lemons into the butter.
5.  Remove chicken from oven and drizzle butter sauce onto them.
6. Sprinkle chicken with sea salt and garlic powder.
7. Put back in oven and cook for another 35 - 45 minutes.

And, of course, what goes better with lemon chicken than

 Mmmm... enjoy!

New Print Button

I have added this
 AWESOME little button at the end of each post.
You can now print out a post that you like with or without pictures.

Job Chart in Our House

We began using this online job chart about 2 weeks ago and it has revolutionized our house.  Gamer's birthday was last week and he actually turned his birthday money ($20.00) into Job Chore points (2000 points) so that he could buy "something special".  What did that little rugrat end up buying?  An ice cream cone, 1 hour of computer time, a morning of sleeping in, and (my personal favorite) a date with his Daddy. 
What Gamer still has left to earn
 Gamer and Daddy played hookie from church Wednesday night and spent the evening eating snacks and playing Xbox.  When us gals got home, I was informed it was "the best night ever".  How sweet is that?  My children actually come home asking what I need them to do around the house, there has been a lot less arguing in the morning getting ready for school, and (the best part for me) NO arguing at bed time. Since my kiddos can earn points daily for doing all these things (and points translate into money) they are happy to do them.  It's a win-win situation in my book.

Language Arts Curriculum from Scholastic

I LOVE getting stuff for free.  Especially when it comes to school. Homeschool for Free is a fabulous resource for gathering information.  They have yet to let me down.

This little gem from Scholastic is no exception.  It is a complete workbook, with teaching instructions and aides.  Including a sample class schedule.  Definitely on my list of "things to work into next years curriculum".

Lesson Pathways- A Homeschooler's Dream

When I homeschooled my kiddos a couple of years ago, I was flabbergasted with the prices of curriculum.  I had 5 little learners at the time (1 was my niece) ranging in age from 1st grade - 6th grade.  There was no way I could afford to get separate, quality, curriculum for each grade level.  Then, a blessing from above.

Lesson Pathways, previously a subscription site, began to offer it's services for free. The things I love most about this site are:

* it does all the planning for you, in every subject
* it gives the student flexibility
* it has built in accountability
* it appeals to the right brained learner as well as the left brained (BIG plus for this house) and...

The only negative things about the site is that there is a lot of reading, through different websites, so if you have a child who is easily bored with reading on the computer, the activities may need to be broken down a little further.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Best Chore Chart Ever

I scoured the Internet for months for the perfect chore chart. NOTHING seemed like it would work for my family. Then we stumbled upon this.

This online chart has it all.
* You can individualize it for each child
* It tracks everything for you
* You can get updates via email or text message
* It teaches children how to save and to donate to charity

No paper to keep up with. No dry erase markers to hunt down. No stickers getting stuck everywhere but on the chart. Definitely a win.