what i am eating

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

I would love it if you could grab the what i am eating badge below, include it in the post you are sharing, put it on your link page, or put it on your side bar.  Thanks!

what i am eating

I got the most amazing pineapple tomatoes from the co-op last week.  They were absolutely delicious!  I had never tried one before - or heard of them.  They were HUGE though and just the perfect balance of sweet and acidic.  After a couple days I realized that I had way too many to continue eating only in salads.  I decided to make a pasta sauce for our noodles.  A few chopped tomatoes, some red onion and garlic, sauteed on the stove for a bit, and poured over pasta - it was amazing.  I love a simple dinner like that!

Last week I was very inspired by the zucchini bread recipes that I saw, so I decided to make a loaf myself.  I actually spent a lot of time grating zucchini for the freezer.  I ended up with 6 cups in addition to what went in the zucchini bread worth from the zucchinis I picked at the beginning of the week, so into the freezer it went!  I feel so good about putting food away for the colder months.

Now my favorites from last week!

Let's see what everyone is cooking up this week!

first day of homeschool!

Yesterday was our first "official" day of homeschool for the year!  Yes, we are still schooling all year long, however, it has been much more relaxed the past several months - which I plan to still incorporate into our weeks as well.  With Emma involved in sports this year, we are much more aware of the public school calendar, and yesterday just happened to be the first day for everyone else, so I figured what the heck!

This is also why I haven't been in this space as much this week.  Tuesday was spent trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do.  I realized, after a very long day, that we would be easing back into school.  I want to take some time to review some of the math concepts and reading that we haven't spent as much time on this summer.  With a three day week this week, and four days next week, I figured I might as well spend the time reviewing rather than mess up my five-day schedule right at the start of the year.

These first few days are mainly about getting used to a routine again.  This summer it has been all about going with the flow, which I absolutely love during the summer.  But, when it starts to get cooler outside, I feel the need to get back on schedule again with bedtimes and school in the morning etc.

This is also the first year I am really involving Jack.  Last year he mainly played, and came in and out whenever he was interested in a story we were reading.  For the most part he was just playing.  But, I want to involve him a bit more, and also give him something to do rather than try to play with his sister while she is attempting to read.

Overall I am really pleased with how the first day went!  Everyone was in a good mood.  They both liked the new circle time activities that I included and we accomplished quite a bit.  I also realized that Emma hasn't forgotten nearly as much as I assumed she would - that makes me very happy!  I hope to share a lot of what we are doing, where we are having school, rhythms that we are following and the resources I am using in the next several weeks.  But first, I need to figure all of that out for myself!

Are your kids back in school?  Do you have any favorite "back to school" traditions in your home?

what i am harvesting from my garden

The garden is really producing now!  I have to make sure that I get out there every day, otherwise my cucumbers get too big, and my zucchinis get a little out of control as well!  Typically each day I am getting zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, paste and slicing tomatoes and jalapenos.  I am still getting a ton of green peppers as well, but I didn't happen to pick any today.  The other thing I have a lot of is kale.  Tons and tons of kale.  I love it though!  I had been trying to conserve it by using it only for smoothies or green juice every day, but I think I am going to start making kale chips with it as well.

I was very excited to pick my first spaghetti squash and pie pumpkin.  It definitely seemed too early to be picking pumpkins, but this baby looked absolutely ready.  Orange orange orange, and I did the thumbnail press to see if the skin was still too tender.  It seemed to pass the test!  I have a bunch of other pie pumpkins growing, all in various colors from green to semi-orange.

This week I plan to start canning tomatoes.  I have ordered my normal 100 lbs from the local produce store.  I think I am going to concentrate on crushed tomatoes this year.  It seems to be the thing that we use the most, besides salsa.  I also want to make some salsa, but I probably won't get to make nearly as much as we need.  Honestly, I don't know if I could ever can enough salsa to last for an entire year!  It seems like we go through it so quickly!

I still have cabbage to pick, and I think I will be picking some of that this week.  The early cabbage is still pretty small, but it has developed into beautiful little heads, so I think it is about ready.  My red and green storage cabbage is still working on turning to heads, so I know that will be a bit longer, but it all looks great.

Overall I am really happy with how everything is developing.  I absolutely love going out to the garden every day to pick stuff for our salads or to incorporate into dinner.  I have a lot of plans for next year as well, and am already thinking about how many more garlic cloves I need to plant for next year!

What are you harvesting from your garden this week?  Have you planted a fall garden?

Linking up with the Homestead Barn Hop and Clever Chicks

Sunday Quotes

The winding down of summer puts me in a heavy philosophical mood.
~Robert Fulghum

what i am eating

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

I would love it if you could grab the what i am eating badge below, include it in the post you are sharing, put it on your link page, or put it on your side bar.  Thanks!

what i am eating

This past week I have been making a lot of veggie wraps for lunch.  I have an overabundance of delicious garden vegetables, and needed a new way to use them.  So I whipped up some chipotle mayonnaise, slathered it on a flour tortilla, piled on the veggies and rolled it up.  Absolutely delicious!  And the chipotle mayo was a big plus in my book!

My favorites from last week:

Looking forward to all the new recipes this week!  Please link up below!

PowerMyLearning review

Have you heard about PowerMyLearning?  I hadn't until recently, and boy am I glad that I know about it now!  With the new school year coming up, I am constantly looking for ways to get in a little extra educational practice with them.  Because we homeschool, that can become a full time job.  Do we have the right curriculum?  Are the worksheets challenging enough?  Are they really understanding the content that I am trying to teach them?

PowerMyLearning is a free digital learning platform for K-12 students, parents, and educators, developed by the national non-profit CFY.  PowerMyLearning makes thousands of the most compelling publicly available digital learning activities from across the web easily accessible and usable, creating an un-biased, go-to destination.

My kids were so excited to be able to have a new computer game to play with.  It is amazing to see how quickly the kids pick up on the technology.  Even though this is technically for Kindergarten up, my 3 year old was so excited to sit down with his big sister and "help" her play the games.

Some of their favorites would have to be the art games - my kids love anything that has to do with color and the virtual kaleidoscope was a definite hit.  I also liked that there were little videos for reading available, really letting my daughter dig into what she is learning with putting letters and sounds together to make words.

This is a great resource for any parent who wants their child to have a little more practice.  They have everything from reading to math and science, history and civics, and even different music games to play.  I think what makes it great is that the kids think they are playing a game, and when they are the age of my children, that is an important aspect to learning.  It should be fun.  This isn't just for little kids though, there are activities all the way through high school - statistics? yes there is something for everyone!  There is even a section on goal setting.

I was incredibly impressed with all the different categories, they really have thought of everything it seems.  If you are looking to get your kids interested in a subject, PowerMyLearning is probably the place to look.  I'm thinking of brushing up on my Spanish now with some of the Spanish games!

This is a sponsored post for PowerMyLearning.  I was compensated for my review.  The opinions and text are my own.

Back to school...almost

I can't believe that so many people went back to school yesterday!  I think that I must live in an alternate reality, because August 19th to me means there are still a couple weeks of summer left!  Well, I think maybe all of my southern friends go back to school earlier and get out earlier than us Northern folk.  I am still in the mindset of "starting" around Labor Day.  We may start next week though.

You may be asking yourself, "I thought they school all year?"  And you would be right.  We are just finishing up last year's curriculum and will be starting all of our new curriculum in the next several weeks.  Emma is ready for new books, I am ready for new books, and Jack is just ready to be included during "math time."

I am still trying to figure out exactly how I will work with a pre-schooler and a kinder at the same time.  I realized over this past year that Emma needs a lot of quiet for her math and independent reading, but she also needs me available to help her.  Having a little brother who just wants to play with you or "help" you do your work doesn't really work most of the time!   I think that the biggest factor is that my kids don't nap anymore, and the morning is the best time to get the work done.  But that morning is also the time that they like to play together the most.  My plan for right now is to get Jack set up doing something in one room, and hopefully having 15 minute blocks of time to work with Emma.

This year I will be doing a bit more schooling with Jack as well, now that he is 3.  He has always been around for the stories, but never really sat still enough to listen.  Mainly just running around while Emma and I try to work.  I plan to do a letter of the week curriculum with him, which I also used when Emma was his age.  Add to that all the wonderful stories from the Sonlight P3/4 curriculum, and we should be good!

The beauty of homeschooling is that we don't need to finish a specific thing each day.  But, it also means that we can get derailed easily enough.  I think that is the benefit of doing "school" all year though, because if we don't finish something today, we still have many days to come!

Are you gearing up for another school year?  Have your kids already started?  Do you homeschool all year?  How do you school more than one child? - no seriously, I need suggestions :-)

Linking up at the Hip Homeschool Hop

my garden in pictures

There is a definite shift in the air, and the garden is winding down.  There are still a lot of green tomatoes and my winter squash and pumpkins are going strong.  Some cucumbers and zucchini, and some green beans as well.  But, I know that it is slowly coming to a close!  I want to get out and do another planting of lettuce, but I am not sure I will get out there.  I have a lot of food inside the house that needs preserving.  I am slowly moving out of the garden and over to the stove!

Linking up at Clever Chicks and the Homestead Barn Hop

Sunday Quotes

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.  I can choose which it shall be.  Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet.  I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.
~Groucho Marx

Undeniably Yours review

When Meg Cole's father dies unexpectedly, she's forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of his empire.  The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with?  Her father's Thoroughbred racehorse farm.  She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.

Meg Cole grew up incredibly lonely.  Feeling that her father was more concerned about the family oil business than raising a daughter.  Knowing that she would eventually have to take over the family business, she wanted to make it on her own first.  Unfortunately, her turn to take over came sooner than she expected with the death of her father.

Having to deal with all of the employees and various other hobby businesses was not something she wanted to do.  In fact, most of her advisers told her to fire and sell off most of it.  One of the people to be fired is Bo Porter, the manager of her father's horse farm.  He has no desire to give up something he and his brother have worked so hard to build.

Meg is a great character.  She has constant anxiety dealing with a business she never wanted, and a troubled past that might just bite her in the end.  From the cover you can tell this was going to have a romantic element, but there was enough other aspects of the book for me to qualify it more as a good story.  I really liked Bo as a character as well.  He was very strong willed and fought for what he wanted, which was this horse farm.  Watching Meg's journey as she comes to realize she can use her father's business for good, and not just as a money making machine, was satisfying.

Becky Wade wrote an engaging book that was a fast read.  I felt like the characters were very believable.  You weren't quite sure where the author was going to take the story line, and that is always a plus in my mind, I don't want to know every single outcome before I read it!

Overall, this was a great light read, and after some of the serious books I have been reading lately, I needed something quick and light!  

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in return for my honest review.  The opinions are my own.

what i am eating - vegan cheese sauce

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

I would love it if you could grab the what i am eating badge below, include it in the post you are sharing, put it on your link page, or put it on your side bar.  Thanks!

what i am eating

My love of Mexican food shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone that has been reading here for a while.  But, what might surprise some of you is the lack of cheese that I eat my Mexican food with.  I gave up on cheese back in January of this year, and have felt so much better because of that.  However, I love my nacho chips, and not being able to make a big plate of cheesy nachos was a little much for me to handle.

This past winter I stumbled upon a vegan cheese sauce in a vegan cook book.  It is pretty easy to make, and honestly very addictive.  Not sure how healthy or not healthy it is, but I figure it can't be that bad and it means I can have more chips :-)

1 small jar roasted red peppers
1 large onion
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2-3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
coconut oil

Chop up the roasted red peppers, onion and garlic, season with a little salt and pepper and saute in a little bit of coconut oil until soft.  Transfer all to a food processor or high powered blender.  Add nutritional yeast and pulse until it is creamy.  It is delicious warm or cold, and I like to mix mine with hot salsa - delicious alternative!

If it is too thick to blend in your blender (it is in mine), add a bit of water, or vegetable stock, to help thin it out.

Now for my favorites from last week:

What are you all eating this week?  Please link up below!

entering the world of team sports

We have entered into team sports this year!  Last night Emma started soccer.  She has been so incredibly excited to play soccer since we found out she could a couple of months ago.  As someone who never really played sports, it is a little out of my element.  But seeing her excitement about it all is something else!

When we arrived, there were 3 other teams besides ours.  It was a little chaotic to see all of those little kids trying to kick soccer balls around on a very open field.  Once we got over the confusion and figured out where our team was, it was better.  I wish that Jack had met the cut off age to start, because there was another little team of 3 year old boys playing soccer right next to Emma's team.  Unfortunately, his birthday was a month past the deadline.  Although, after he realized he could use the playground equipment relatively uninterrupted, he was a happy camper.

I didn't realize the commitment we were making either.  I knew that we would be committed to practices and games, but I didn't realize the scope of such things I guess.  So we are going to be busy for an hour practice every week, and then games every Saturday through October 19th!  Add to this that she will also start cheering in the next few weeks...well...I am slightly overwhelmed!

As "official" homeschoolers now, we figured that involving her in some group activities would be a benefit.  And I think that she is going to have a blast!  Although, I may need to incorporate more coffee into my life with all the running around we will be doing.  All of the mama's that have been doing this for years, I commend you!  Seeing her at the end of her practice, and having her ask if she can come back tomorrow to play again, well that made this mama one happy lady.

Are your kids starting any new activities this year?

Heluva Good! Greek Style Yogurt Dip

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Heluva Good! I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.  The opinions are my own.

Have you ever tried Heluva Good! products before?  We have, and we love them!  We absolutely love their dips but they are usually reserved for special occasions and parties.  How excited was I to hear that Heluva Good! now has a Greek Style Yogurt Dip?  Extremely excited!  Finding a dip that I can feel good about eating every day is always a bonus for me.

The new Heluva Good! Greek Style Yogurt Dip comes in four amazing flavors.  French Onion, Southwestern Chipotle, Herb Ranch, and Fire Roasted Vegetables.  I had the opportunity to try them all, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint!

I think that my favorite by far was the Southwestern Chipotle.  It had a tartness from the yogurt and just the right amount of spice.  I tried it with chips and nacho chips, but I also used it with my oven fries.  So yummy!

Emma and Jack preferred the Herb Ranch flavor for their raw veggies.  I try to keep an assortment of raw veggies available for the kids to snack on whenever they want.  I have found that if they have something to dip it in, they are more likely to eat it!  Emma was constantly coming back asking for more!

The fact that these dips only have 45 calories per serving was a huge draw for me.  Oftentimes I will skip the dip because it isn't the healthiest choice, but with these dips, I felt fine about indulging.  And I did indulge...daily!  There are so many more combinations than just chips with this delicious dip.  You can pair it with sandwiches, or on burgers, and definitely on baked potatoes - yum!

You can find out more about Heluva Good! Greek Style Yogurt Dip by "liking" them on Facebook and following on Twitter.

let the canning begin!

Most people in Maine would probably say that canning starts with rhubarb and strawberries.  In fact, I was that person back in June as well.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen for me.  I was able to freeze a lot of rhubarb, which I plan to make into something...at some point...but the strawberries were missed entirely this year.

Instead, my canning started with pickles and dilly beans.  This is my first year making pickles.  More specifically, bread and butter pickles.  I never actually liked sweet pickles growing up, always preferring dill pickles, or fermented pickles.  But  a few years ago, we got a couple jars in our winter CSA.  I decided to try them, and what do you know, I loved them and ate the entire jar!  Having them on hand wasn't a priority for me until I realized that my kids developed a taste for these pickles.  The ones from the store just don't compare!

I have made dilly beans before.  One time.  And they were mushy.  I was not impressed.  I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.  I followed the recipe to a T!  This year I am trying a different recipe.  One that I think will change things dramatically.  Why?  Because it didn't call for me to blanch the beans first.  I think that one little change will give me the crisp dilly beans that my children love...at least that is the hope.

This year I also had my very first broken jar.  I think I had a pretty good record, 5 years of canning with no broken jars!  And it wasn't an exploding jar, so I was thankful about that.  When I put the dilly beans into the canner, I heard a little pop.  I thought nothing of it until I lifted the lid to see if the water was indeed boiling and instead of 7 pint jars sitting nicely in the canner, there was a jar floating.  And of course when I tried to remove the jar...all of the contents ended up in the canner.  I scooped out as much as I could though, and I think for the most part the jars sealed ok.  We shall see how they do!

What are you preserving right now?  Have you missed any "seasons" for fruit/veggies like I have?

Linking up at Clever ChicksHomestead Barn Hop, Homemade Mondays

Sunday Quotes

There is so squabbling so violent as that between people who accepted an idea yesterday and those who will accept it tomorrow.
~Christopher Morley

Tempted, Tested, True - review

There's no use pretending:  Everybody struggles with temptations.  Sometimes those struggles can wear us down and we don't know where to turn.  But, as authors Dr. Arnie Cole and Michael Ross write, "Each struggle presents us with an opportunity for growth and intimacy with God - not condemnation."

We all struggle with temptations, that much is obvious.  Whether it builds us up or breaks us down is what Tempted, Tested, True: A Proven Path to Overcoming Soul-Robbing Choices is all about.  The authors have gathered many real-life stories and information from thousands of surveys.  This is what puts it on a personal level, to see others journey through struggles that you may have as well.

What I really like about this book is how it has so much detail.  It clearly defines certain temptations that all people face, it talks about temptations specific to women, and those specific to men.  After each chapter there is a "nudge" that lists many different questions and information about the specific temptation, and how to work through it.

I think this book is really a great resource.  Because temptation applies to everyone, I honestly believe everyone can benefit from this book.  Sitting down and intensely evaluating your life and the struggles that you are going through is good for any person.  Finding a way to work through them, and turn the corner is important.

Obviously you don't want these struggles to control your life, and through the help of these questions and the stories listed, you can get to a much better place.

I received a copy of this book for free from Bethany House in return for my honest review.  The opinions are my own.

what i am eating

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

The past couple of weeks have introduced a lot of potatoes into our farmers' market, and I can't seem to pass up freshly dug potatoes!  It is a perfect snack in the afternoon, especially since it has been so much cooler here lately.  These are just roasted in the oven with a little olive oil/salt/dill.  Delicious!  I really enjoy putting a ton of cayenne pepper on mine...but the kids don't agree with the level of heat I like, so I end up tossing them with some cayenne after I cook them.

My favorites from last week:

knitting and reading

I haven't made as much progress as I had hoped on the shawl this past week.  Mainly because I was planning a birthday party for my little guy, who turned three yesterday.  But, I have made some progress.  I need to figure out how long I want to make this, and once I figure that out, I think it will move a little faster.  I usually feel like the second half of the project moves faster than the first half.  Not sure if that is how everyone feels, but it seems to be that way for me!  Once I know something is close to being done, I am usually able to put more time into it - probably because I want it finished!  I also need to figure out how to cast off this project as I have only ever done a straight cast off, and this doesn't have a straight edge!  When a pattern just says "cast off" that really doesn't help me.

On the reading front, I just finished reading the book of John last week with my hello mornings! group.   We had an excellent study on the life of Jesus, and wonderful conversation first thing in the morning.  My other reading has been mainly homeschool curriculum related.  I am trying to get everything situated for the fall.  Even though we homeschool all year, the summer is definitely a lot more relaxed and interest led.  I like to organize my thoughts, and also to read through the books the kids will be using before we start reading them.  I like to have a bit of an idea of where we are going with things!

We have all officially come down with an illness, mama being the last in the bunch to get it.  Hopefully the next few days will be restful enough for me to sit on the couch and knit while the kids play nicely together (ha!).

Linking up with Ginny, Tami, and Nicole

Happy Birthday to my *not so* baby boy!

Happy Birthday to my precious Jack!  I can't believe that today he is three years old!  3 years old?!  Where does the time go?  I have to say that I don't often think back about when he wasn't here with us, but at the same time I can't believe he is already three.  I know, time moves so quickly when you have kids.  And it seems like it moves even faster the second time around.

We had a big family birthday party for Jack this past weekend.  It was a fun time for all.  I let him pick out his own cake from the store, and he chose the Cars theme.  I think it is funny how my kids naturally gravitate towards certain things, and anything on wheels is what my little man loves.

Matt also gave him a hair cut this weekend, which made him look so grown up, and I'm not sure I am happy about that!  Several of our family members commented how grown up he looked, and I wanted to say "No! He is still my little baby!"  But, of course, he is growing up too.  And while it is kind of sad to see how quickly they grow, it is also amazing to see all the new things they are discovering and to watch their personalities develop.

Happy 3rd Birthday Jack!  I know this is the start of another wonderful year!

my garden in pictures

You all might be getting sick of my garden pictures at this point, but I am doing another garden post!  I love to have the record for the next year of how things were doing during different weeks.  We have gotten so much rain this year, that a lot of my plants are not doing well.  The leaves are yellowing, and things are not ripening the way they should be.  I have to say that my greens have been doing awesome though.  And the pie pumpkin plant and blue hubbard squash plant that I put in the leftover manure pile - both are doing amazing!  Here is my garden this week.

I pulled all of my garlic last week!  It wasn't as large as I had hoped, but I think that the amount of rain we had in June was a contributing factor to that.  I have eaten a couple heads though, and while the cloves are on the small side, it is absolutely delicious!

My green peppers are finally getting to a size where I can pick them!  So excited to have these in my garden!

The tomatoes are still green, except my sungold cherry tomatoes.  Those are starting to ripen.

Finally getting some cucumbers (and some zucchini!).  I guess the cucumber beetles didn't completely wipe me out, which is nice.

I love these green zebra tomatoes!  They are so pretty, and taste delicious.  Do you grow varieties that aren't typically found at the store?

This is my "early" cabbage - although I have never grown cabbage and have no clue when I should pick these bad boys.  I think I am going to wait another week or so, the heads have been forming nicely despite the many slugs that enjoy slithering around the leaves.

I think next year I will grow even more kale, it is the best producing plant in my garden this year!  Green smoothies every day!  And I think I am going to start making kale chips again since it has cooled off some.

This is one pie pumpkin plant, and there is a blue hubbard squash plant behind it.  It extends another 6 feet to the left of this picture...When they say you need a lot of space for winter squash, I guess they mean it!

I actually have a ton of spaghetti squash growing on this one plant.  And I love spaghetti squash!  I grew some a few years ago, but had an unfortunate squirrel attack on all the curing squash - hopefully we can avoid that this year!

My Amish paste tomatoes are starting to ripen.  I hope to get a lot for canning this year!

The jalapenos that I am growing in the earth boxes are doing quite well, despite all the yellow leaves.  I am picking them as they ripen and throwing them right into the freezer.  I find that freezing these is incredibly easy, and I can use them when it is time for me to can salsa, and just for nachos (which we eat a lot of!).

How is your garden looking?  Have you had a lot of rain in your area?  Or are you struggling to get the rain you need?

Linking up at Clever Chicks, Homestead Barn Hop, From the Farm