Monday, August 29, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Stuffed Shells

I've only made this a couple of times 'cause stuffing the shells takes a little more work than usual but my kids really prefer it to spaghetti and meatballs.  The ingredients are almost exactly the same as for lasagne.

Stuffed Shells
15-20 meatballs, quartered
1/2 box of jumbo shells or manicotti
1 jar spaghetti sauce
3 c. Ricotta cheese
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 tbsp Parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
16 oz. Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Cook shells according to package directions. Mix ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, salt, and pepper. Stuff shells or manicotti with cheese mixture and place in a 13" x 9" baking dish coated with non-stick spray. Scatter meatball quarters over shells.  Spoon spaghetti sauce over each shell and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350°F.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Finds: Etsy Treasury

We went camping last week and found a ton of wildflowers but none of my favorite- columbine.  So I went searching for them on Etsy instead and I found some gorgeous examples:


Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to Teach History (my way)

We are starting our homeschool on Monday.  (My oldest is going to public school part time this year and that starts tomorrow, but that's really beside the point.)

I know I haven't shared much about homeschooling on this blog.  It really hasn't been as high a priority as it should have been the last several months. (It's amazing how much kids learn even when there isn't much formal education going on... also beside the point.)

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to share some of my thoughts and ideas about how I homeschool.  I'm not trying to convince anyone to do it themselves; I've just found that a lot of people are curious about how it works.  I've been homeschooling for going on 10 years now (wow, really?) and if I'm not an expert on the subject... well, I probably never will be.

So, I thought I'd start with my favorite subject- history.  I know, I know, for most people that's near the bottom of the list.  It's a miracle I don't hate it.  I probably had the worst high school history teachers in- well, history.  Except one, I can't remember his name but he was the football coach at New Plymouth High School.  I loved his history class.

Anyway, I digress (again).  History is one of the easiest subjects to teach.  Why?  Well, because all it is is a bunch of true stories all strung together.  It's the textbooks and the teachers that make it boring.  Be honest with me, is it really that important to know the exact date Columbus reached the Americas or would it be better to know why he was out there wandering around in the ocean.  Of course, it's important to know a general timeline for major events- it's probably a good idea to be aware that he sailed in 1492 and not 1942.  But isn't it the adventure, the excitement, the wonder of the event that a child will remember?  They can learn the dates later, when they've got the stories down pat.

Have you figured out where I'm going with this?  The best way to learn history is to read about it.  And get this:  The books you read don't even have to be non-fiction!  Of course, you have to be aware that the historical fiction is not completely factual but in most cases, the people, places, and events give a pretty good picture of what that time was like.

The first of the Tennis Shoes books.
  I read this for the first time when
I was about 12.
Most of you have probably never heard of my favorite historical fiction writers because they are both LDS (Mormons, which I am).  One is Chris Heimerdinger and he wrote a series of books called the "Tennis Shoes" series in which characters travel back in time to various Book of Mormon and Bible locations and times.  They meet incredible people from history and witness events that we can only dream about.  The first book is for 11-12 year olds and each book in the series is a little more advanced reading than the previous. By the 11th one (so far), they get pretty deep.  I understand many of the scripture stories way better than I ever would have had I not read those books.

My point here is not necessarily to sell you on Chris' books (although I highly recommend them) but to illustrate just how great an impact good historical novels can have on one's understanding of history.  Of course, reading some of the non-fiction is a good idea as well, just to clear up any question about whether certain events really happened.

Now, all of this isn't to say that I just pick up school books that take place in another time at random.  There actually is a series, written for homeschoolers that we use that took me 8 years to find.  It's called "Story of the World."  The history of the entire world has been broken down into 4 years worth of lessons.  Each year is broken down further into major events, and those are broken down into individual stories.

We are studying Ancient Times this year...
A couple of times a week we read aloud one of the stories together.  They are easy enough for the youngest kids to understand but have enough "meat" to keep the older ones' attention.  I check out books from the library for more about the time period/place we are studying. (Everyone reads those on their own time.)  We have activities for the little kids, supplemental (required) reading for the middle ones, and research assignments for the older ones.

Of course, my enthusiasm for the subject probably helps a lot with being able to keep their interest but all in all, I think we've finally found what works for us in history.  Now, if I could just learn to love science...

I hope this wasn't too long-winded and that you were able to get something out of it.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What I've Been Working On...

Once again, not my blog. :)

I actually haven't done much claying either because we went camping with all of the kids and my mom and dad and sister last week. 

We were at a place called Warm River where the river is never more than a few feet deep (in most places not above your knees) and has a hot spring running into it so it never gets below 51 degrees.  The kids take their tubes and walk upriver a ways and then get in and float back down to their campsite.  It's gentle enough that even the smallest children can ride on it. 

For those of us that find the water too cold in spite of the hot spring, there were service berries everywhere just begging to be picked-- we filled 2 5-quart ice cream buckets with them and could have gotten a lot more.  We're hoping they make good pancake syrup.  (They make really good eating!) 

Now, for the pictures I took.  (Grandpa got tons of pictures of the kids floating down the river but I haven't gotten copies of those yet.)

Berries weren't the only things we picked.  I know you're not supposed to pick the wildflowers but there were just too many women (and girls) in the group to not pick a few. :)  Mom wants to recreate some of them in embroidery and I (of course) want to recreate them in clay.  So we picked one or two of each, put them in my juice pitcher, and brought them home where I took photos of all of them.  It gave me some good photography practice, too!

I probably should have paid more attention to the background...

Something ate part of this flower before we got to it.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Blogger Bug

For the last several weeks, I have not been able to comment on blogspot blogs because of some sort of bug in the system.  Google doesn't seem to be doing anything permanent about it but, in case you are experiencing the same problem, I thought I'd share with you a couple of solutions.  (BTW, this only seems to be affecting those using Internet Explorer.)

1.  Log out of your Google account and then log back in without checking the "stay signed in" box.  Annoying solution for me as I never log off my Google account.

2. Use a different browser.  I've been working as a web designer the last several months and so I have several browsers installed on my computer for testing purposes.  I tested the problem in Google Chrome and in Safari and both work fine.  I'm sure others will as well.

Hopefully one of those things will work for now and hopefully Google is trying to come up with a solution to this problem (although I, personally, am not holding my breath).


Monday, August 22, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Broiled Shrimp with Parmesan

We love shrimp in our house... 'nuff said. :)

Broiled Shrimp with Parmesan
1 lb cooked shrimp
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/4 cup shredded fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
I remove the shrimps' tails before cooking to make it easier for my little ones to eat but this step is optional.  Preheat broiler to 450 degrees. Toss everything together in a mixing bowl or large plastic bag.  Spread it all out on a broiler pan tray and put it in the oven.  Broil for 5-10 minutes until everything is hot and cheese starts to melt.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Macaroni and Cheese

It's that time of the week again!  Recipe day!  This is one of my family's favorite recipes.  My 14-year-old doesn't usually care too much what she puts in her mouth but she had seconds and thirds the last time I made this.  It tastes absolutely nothing like any of the boxed varieties (and that's a good thing).

This recipe is a really basic one for me.  I wanted homemade mac and cheese one day so I just started making it.  I really don't have it written down anywhere (until now).  You can also eliminate the macaroni and use the sauce for fondue- it's wonderful on cubed bread or toast and fresh veggies!

It's not the healthiest recipe but at least when you make something from scratch, you can substitute healthier ingredients- and you know you're not getting all of those chemicals.  Use whole-wheat pasta (I used the rainbow kind here), skim milk, lowfat mozzarella (for the cheddar), and, well, there's not a lot of substituting you can do for the butter but you can use a lower-fat margarine (don't try to brown it like the recipe says-just melt it).  I'm more worried about avoiding chemicals than fat and sugar (for right now, anyway) so I just use the butter.

Macaroni and Cheese
Sorry for the lousy picture- I had to use my cell phone...
12 oz bag macaroni
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded fresh parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Boil the macaroni in lots of water until it's done, drain it and set aside. Melt the butter over fairly high heat, stirring often, until it starts to brown. Add the flour all at once and whisk until smooth. Lower the heat to medium and slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Continue stirring until mixture has started to thicken. When it's about the consistency of a nice, thick cream gravy, take it off the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to cool a little. Put the sauce back on the heat (low this time) and add the cheeses and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, over low heat until the cheese has melted and the sauce is nice and creamy. Add the sauce mixture to the macaroni and serve.

I usually serve it as a side dish with pork chops or salmon.  It's also great with a baked ham!


P.S.  If you ever try one of my recipes, come back and comment.  I'd love to know what you think!