Countdown to Home

A hundred years ago (maybe not really that long, but it seems like it), before Pinterest was a thing, I made jars for my nieces when I went away to college. Each jar had the same number of candies as the days until I’d be back home. Two of my nieces were religious about the one candy for each day and the other ate all of it right away. I still think this is a cute idea even a hundred years later ;0) and even if one ate it all in a day.

When my husband and I went to Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I did a similar thing for our children. Since my parents were staying at our house, I wanted to give them a treat and something to do as well.

I made a package for each day that we would be gone. The first day it included a puzzle, movie, Oreos, a Paw Patrol gift for David, and little gifts for the girls. I also asked that they each find a happy story to share at dinner.

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The second day, they received Goldfish crackers, an Oreo Dirt Creations kit, a lemon bar mix, seeds to plant, a movie, and a “fossil” for David to paint. I also asked that they share a special memory about the person sitting to their left.

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On the third day, I included special chocolates, a movie, a gear art kit, a Jello pudding pop kit, lemon Oreos, and a fossil excavation kit for David. I also asked that they name two things for which they were thankful.

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The very last day, I included a huge roll of paper, coloring book, a Matisse art kit, a movie, chocolate chip cookie mix, Jello pudding pop kit, and another dinosaur excavation kit.

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When we came home the puzzle was done, the treats were gone, and all the excavation things were finished. I know they looked forward to opening the package each day.  Most items were from the dollar spot at Target. The Jello kits were on clearance at Kroger. The movies were all ones we owned.  I like the idea of them having something to look forward to when we’re away. This was pretty inexpensive and only required a little time to get together.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Fun

Tomorrow’s holiday provides a theme I thoroughly enjoy- the color GREEN! This has been my favorite color my whole life. When I was tiny, I refused to wear anything that wasn’t green and pink.

I have thought about all the ways to celebrate tomorrow.  Skittles and Rolos are great to provide that gold under the rainbow effect. I bought some chocolate coins from Oriental Trading to put into tiny jars. On my kitchen table, I placed Dove mint chocolates in a glass container.  I have shamrock’s hanging from the chairbacks and small rainbow and shamrock balloons in containers. Most of my St. Patrick’s Day decorations come from the Dollar Tree. I bought potted Shamrocks for decorations from Publix.

Past St. Patrick Day dinners have included green enchiladas with guacamole and Funfetti cookies. Stuffed green peppers, spinach pasta, pesto, chicken Florentine, salads, lettuce wraps are all good ideas for a green-themed dinner.  I like to make a mint or rainbow kind of dessert. Creme de Menthe brownies or rainbow sherbert are good ways to stick with the St. Patrick’s Day theme. If you want to stay with the green-theme, chocolate mint ice cream, pistachio ice cream, green Rice Krispie treats, and any green cookie or cupcake would be perfect.

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St. Patrick’s day trivia, bingo, or Heads-Up would all be fun to play tomorrow night.

Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow!

Happy Pi (3.14) Day!

I woke the children up to a hand-pie breakfast. They are super easy to make, and always a treat. I simply take a refrigerated pie crust and some strawberry pie filling. I cut the crust into thirds, put a couple of tablespoons of filling in the middle. I then fold it over and pinch the seams. A few little slits at the top finish off the preparation. I pop them in the oven at 350 degrees until they are lightly browned. They are piping hot when they come out of the oven, so they need to sit for a few minutes. I served them with a dollop of whipped cream. It was a sweet way to start Pi day. I also made my husband a Keto Key Lime Pie for his after dinner dessert. I love celebrating these types of things even if they’re just in simple little ways.  I’m planning some fun for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter is just around the corner too!

 

Breadstick Recipe {Keto}

The other day, I was recollecting my diet in college. I can’t believe I survived eating the way I did. I was a vegetarian and most certainly the unhealthiest vegetarian ever. I would go to Burger King and order a Whopper with no meat. I ate monster size fat free muffins from the coffee shop on campus. Looking back, my diet was  full of empty calories, huge amounts of carbohydrates, and completely lacking nutrients. Even with all the negative aspects of that college diet there were foods I thoroughly enjoyed and still look back at fondly. One of those was the breadsticks from Pizza Hut. I decided that I would like to re-create something that was similar and keto. I’ve made these twice and tweaked the recipe to make them better. Here’s how I did it.

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This is a picture of my first attempt. My camera is not currently working for me to take a picture of the new recipe.

Loved In The South’s Keto Spicy Breadsticks

Recipe:

2 T. Melted butter
4 cups of melted cheese
1 1/2 cup mayo
2 beaten eggs
2 T. Jalapeños
2 T. Hot seasoning
2 to 3 cups of almond flour ( slowly add until it’s like a dough and not a batter)
1 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Salt

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter in a bowl. Add mayo, beaten egg, almond flour, baking powder, salt, and seasoning. Stir. Add melted cheese.  Incorporate with a bread hook in a mixing bowl or knead on an almond floured surface until well incorporated. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Press out until long and flat. Bake until lightly brown. Cut with a pizza cutter. Enjoy as breadsticks or a base for a pizza. The possibilities are endless.

 

 

{Low Carb} Cupcake Recipe

9F47D194-BA90-42EB-AD21-D17F14C6A8ED25AFD926-2D26-4845-880B-4E092F03ECDBThese little treats were pretty easy to throw together. It took me as long to make the batter as it took my oven to preheat.  I put some jam the middle of a couple of them just to make them more appealing to the children. One of the girls made herself a strawberry shortcake as a snack with the cupcake/muffin.  These are very versatile. They could be frosted, filled with a variety of things, used as any kind of shortcake, or the base of almost any kind of muffin you might want.

Low Carb Cupcake/ Muffin Recipe

2 eggs (beaten)

1/2 cup butter or coconut oil (melted)

2 1/2 cup  blanched almond flour

3/4 cup Torani sugar-free brown sugar cinnamon syrup

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 Tablespoon cake batter extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add melted oil and syrup. Stir. Add dry ingredients. Finally, add the extract. Put into lined muffin tin. Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned and baked through.

 

Valentine’s Exchange {free printable}

This year I decided to go the easiest route of all, and let all the children give the same kind of Valentine card. I went to Amazon and got a 72 count tub of Haribo gummy bears since most everyone likes gummy bears. I chose this free printable from one of my favorite bloggers. We should be able to assemble these very quickly and easily.

 

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photo credit: Haribo

 

We have a little party planned for Valentine’s Day, and I look forward to sharing those details later.

Don’t forget tomorrow is Mardi Gras. Get those beads and King cakes ready!

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photo credit: Southern Living

Double Chocolate Cake {Keto}

I’m trying to experiment with new recipes at least a few days a week.  I also have a new obsession with avocados. I used to think they were so gross, but now they are among my favorite foods. Now I eat one almost every day.   Avocados are super nutritious and are one of the approved fruits for the keto diet.

 

Anyway, I was trying to make an avocado chocolate pudding the other day. After letting it refrigerate for a couple of hours I tasted it. It was not flavorful. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I decided that I didn’t want to waste it, and would see if I could make a cake with it as part of the batter to add moistness. The cake I made turned out to be delicious, and I am so glad that I didn’t waste that avocado.

Keto Double Chocolate Cake

1 avocado (mashed)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup Stevia (or sweetener of your choice)

1 egg

1 cup of Torani Sugar-free syrup (I used Belgian Cookie)

1/4 cup of softened butter

2 cups of almond flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. meringue powder

1/2 cup of Lilly’s sugar-free chocolate chips

Directions:

Mash the avocado. Add wet ingredients together. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients a little bit at a time.  Lastly, gently add the chocolate chips in and stir until combined.

Pour into a greased baking dish or cake pan. Place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick put in the middle comes out clean.

Let completely cool before trying to cut it.

This would be a lovely cake for a special occasion like VALENTINE’S DAY!

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Educational Sites Worth Visiting

As a homeschool parent, I am always looking for websites to help bring lessons to life, to enrich, or to explain in better ways all the things we are learning. Some of my favorites right now are Khan Academy, Mensa For Kids, and the History Channel. There are so many websites that are truly wonderful, but I want to share why I am particularly impressed with these three right now.

While my children do not yet realize it, we are going through the top eleven pieces of art recovered by the Monuments Men. The first questions of our second-semester art were: “Is art important? Is art worth protecting? Is art worth risking a life to save and why?” They each had to write out their responses to these questions, and we will revisit their responses at the end of the semester after we watch the movie. Khan Academy has been a tremendous help as we learn about these works of art. I just put the piece of art we are studying into the search area and a video with two professors explaining the piece of art comes up. It also has a quiz to make sure that the information is understood. I especially enjoyed the lesson on the Ghent Altarpiece. They explained so many tiny things that I would never have even noticed and most certainly not understood the importance of without the lesson.

 

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photo credit: Khan Academy

 

Mensa For Kids is another great site that we are currently using for our science lessons. It presents the lessons and has great questions for review. It also includes other sites to visit that help teach the lessons as well. I am fairly picky when it comes to science and find this site to be a very comprehensive one for the lessons we are covering.

Obviously, the History Channel is a great resource for teaching history. Personally, I learn best visually and auditorily so watching things on History Channel is very helpful.  We are currently learning about the slavery and the Civil War.  Roots has been remade and is on the History Channel. Their website has a full guide to help students as they watch the show. It is very comprehensive and has many other sites to visit. It also has thought-provoking questions. There are activities that are suggested to help the viewers explore their own roots and to understand the time period better.

We are very excited to have discovered these sites and to be learning more from them every day.

Caramel Chocolate Cookies {keto}

IMG_3500IMG_3501It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a recipe so I wanted to do that today.

My husband and I were looking for a treat, so I decided to whip up a batch of cookies.

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

1 stick of softened butter

2 cups almond flour

1 1/2 cup stevia

1/4 cup salted almonds (chopped)

1 bar of unsweetened chocolate (chopped)

1 Tablespoon of caramel extract

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Baking soda

Mix all the ingredients together. Place in small spoonfuls on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until lightly browned (it took mine 7-8 minutes).

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

Dream On

I have a saved Zillow search for certain kinds of houses. These homes share one major quality. They’re all on the water.  Lots of homes come through my email, but I found my actual dream home in my inbox the other day. As I scrolled through the pictures, I actually got a little teary. This home has EVERYTHING I could ever want or dream to have.

This home is gorgeous! It’s on the water. It is picturesque and romantic. It has a history. I think I long for something with roots. I want something with a story. I think that’s why I have a fascination with antiques and cemeteries (I don’t think I’ve ever told you all about that). I love a good story.  As I look through the pictures, I can imagine so many different conversations. I imagine all the things the house could say if it could speak.

 

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photo credit: Zillow

 

 

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photo credit: Zillow

 

 

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photo credit: Zillow

This search is really a dream search. I will probably never move from my landlocked home. I will probably never have the kind of money it would take to buy and maintain my dream home. So I will continue to dream of the stories of the past in the homes I find in my inbox.