Friday, December 28, 2012

Biblical Archaeology - Ancient Finds

This kind of discovery is so fascinating to me! I would love a full documentary to show how and what they discovered. Wouldn't it be amazing to be on an archaeology team like this?

2,750 year-old Temple Found near Jerusalem

Read the rest of the story here.

Fascinating, isn't it? Who lived here and what happened in this place? So many interesting questions to think about. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

For a cold evening...Creamy Potato Soup with Broccoli and Ham!

OK, so when winter rolls around, I turn to my big soup pot. Out of it comes some yummy stuff. It has taken me years and years to figure out how to make a good soup. I have watched some of my friends create the best things and learned from them. Now I like what I make and so does my family. This is a big step up from ten years ago when my "chicken soup" was more like "watered-down chicken with soggy veggies." Can you identify with that?!

So, in light of that, and since I figured out how to finally get my potato soup to taste like I want it to, I wanted to share it here so you could enjoy it this winter if you are a potato soup kind of gal. :D

Start here:

It doesn't matter what kind you use as you will blend them up and they all taste like potatoes to me.

I used ten pounds for my soup tonight. Your amount may vary, but I cook for seven mouths and I mean to have leftovers so I go big. You can freeze this too if you are a smaller family - just don't add the broccoli or the ham until you reheat it.

10 pounds of potatoes, chopped, rinsed, and set aside.

Three large onions, chopped, mixed with a full bulb of chopped garlic - saute all in two tablespoons of olive oil (or vegetable oil of your choice - I don't recommend coconut oil in this one as you don't want that flavor in the soup.) Saute until brown and really full of flavor. This is the KEY to this soup so don't skimp on the sauteing time.

Once they are done, toss in the chopped potatoes and cover with chicken broth of your choice (homemade or from a can or cube - your choice here.) Let this simmer until all the potatoes are soft. 

While simmering, chop up a full head of broccoli or at least six cups of it. I saute this in another pan until it is bright green - you don't want to overcook it as it will continue to cook in the soup. I take a package of ham sandwich meat and chop it up. If I had leftover ham, I would use that, but I need easy for most days of the week and a package of sliced ham is not hard to come by!

Once the potatoes are done, you will want to blend it by whatever means you have. I happen to have one of those hand-held blenders that I can place into a cooking pan, turn on, and it blends for me. I have used a blender too - whatever you have to make it smooth. While blending, add three cups of milk. Whole milk is, of course, the best, but we used 2% tonight and it was fantastic. I bet half and half would be like heaven. I am not going there...

So once this is done, you stir in the broccoli and ham, serve into a bowl, sprinkle with cheddar cheese, and enjoy!

Let me know if you make this! We love this recipe and think it is perfect at the end of a busy day. It doesn't take too long to do and is wonderful with homemade biscuits, toast, or a whole wheat bagel. :)


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Enchilada Casserole

Per the requests of a few of you, I thought I would share my "recipe" for Enchilada Casserole. I don't often cook by a specific recipe so I will put it together as best I can for you. Do you cook that way or are you a strict recipe follower? I watched my mother cook growing up and she was a toss this in and toss that in kind of cook and that is how I do it too. (Unless it is baking in which case I pay a little more attention to a recipe! :)

Start with this:

OK, so I cheat a little bit! This is the only cheating I do in this recipe. :D I have made enchilada sauce from scratch, but we really like this sauce and I cannot make it like Las Palmas so I run with it. You can use their red enchilada sauce, but we have come to like the green better.

Take two large onions, one full bulb of garlic (at minimum - for real), and chop them up. Then, saute the living daylights out of them in a tablespoon of oil. I mean get them good and yummy and soft; set aside.

I use leftover chicken from a meal we have already eaten for this OR three chicken breasts, cooked and cubed; set aside.

One 29 ounce can of black beans; rinsed and set aside. 

18 corn tortillas. 

Three cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese. You can use cheddar, but MJ is the best in this recipe.

Two cans of black olives, sliced. (Optional, but man these are good in this recipe!)

Put it all together:

I use an 11" x 15" glass Pyrex baking pan for this. You can use a 9" x 13", but it will be a bit more packed in there. Either way, it works.

Pour enough of the sauce in the bottom of the pan to lightly cover the bottom. Line the bottom of the pan with six tortillas flat. On top of this, layer the onions and garlic and then spread it around so that it covers the tortillas. Over the onions, layer the cubed chicken; spread around. Layer another six tortillas flat over this and pour an equal amount of sauce over the top of these and spread around with a spoon. Make sure you do not use all the sauce as you will need to top it off. Then, sprinkled the beans, sliced olives, and cheese in layers and then top off with the last six tortillas. Cover this with the rest of the sauce and spread it around so that the tops of the tortillas are well-covered. Cover the whole pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for a good 30 minutes until cooked through. You can top with sour cream, more cheese, salsa, or nothing. It is delicious just as it is!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Literary Archaeology!

I love all things archaeology, but it is a beautiful rare thing to find something in the literary world. Look what they discovered?

Hans Christian Anderson's First Fairy Tale

Danish experts believe they have found the first fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875).

Titled "Tællelyset" (The Tallow Candle), the ink-written manuscript was found by local historian Esben Brage at the bottom of an archive box. Brage made the discovery in October in the historical archive on the island of Funen, where the Danish author was born.

Two months later, historians confirmed that the six-page manuscript was indeed written by Andersen. They dated the document to the mid-1820s, when the writer was in his late teens.

"I am in no doubt that it has been written by Andersen," Ejnar Stig Askgaard of the Odense City Museum told the Danish daily Politiken. (The rest of the story is found here.)

The newspaper has translated and published a version of the story in English.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On the 1st and 2nd Days of Christmas, the Crew Blog gave to Thee...

On the first day of Christmas, the Crew Blog gave to Thee...

An Isabel Writing Bundle just for your little she! :)

On the second day of Christmas, the Crew Blog gave to Thee...

Apolgia's best in a bundle of books for your homeschooling!

And you will have to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog each day and subscribe to see the rest of the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Nature - December Glory

I have not been on a nature walk in a long time. I wonder why I wait so long when I finally get going. It is wonderful to be outside with my children enjoying the beauty of the land around us. Even in the suburbs you can find open spaces to run and enjoy.

It is much nicer full size - and in real life. :)

Here is my number two and her dog. 

Oldest and youngest running through the paths - that never gets old, does it?

It was just a gorgeous bright sunny day.

We have had a  monstrous amount of rain in the last two weeks so we found all sort of 
different types of mushrooms.

This was so huge and so neat. I don't know the names of any of them or how poisonous or edible any of them are. We didn't touch them - just admired their intricate beauty.

And we took some wonderful pictures of my wonderful children. 

And our crazy dog, Rocky. 

It was a lovely time.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Coming Along Beside - Encouragement and Help for Your Homeschool

I know we don't always get the encouragement we need to keep on keeping on our homeschool journeys. I know that sometimes it can feel overwhelming or we need a little perspective change. I know we also wonder--just how do we get this done? What are some practical ways to homeschool? Enter...

Just look at some of the things you will find!

Yes, I really do love this magazine, but more importantly, it really does help people right where they are. Come and find something that meets your needs! There is a lot to choose from and great deal of encouragement to be had!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Coloring Pages!

I receive the Dover Publications Sample emails each week that have samples of their books, many of them activity books for children, and they often have fun free printables that are definitely worth using with your little ones. Here are some of the coloring pages that have a Christmas focus:

Then they have the coolest samples of things like this:

They also have pretty graphics like these for free:

I have received these emails for years and every week they have something different. I don't know how long they are there so definitely download them and save them to your computer if you want them! :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monday Musings - well, OK, it's Tuesday...

What I'm thinking: I have so much going on right now. We are beginning our new Crew year with 120+ new folks and that is a lot of excitement! Many of the veteran Crew are anxious to get back into our forum and we are all looking forward to a great year. I praise God for such an amazing group of people!

What I'm reading: I have been *so* itching to post about what I have recently finished reading.We are studying World War II and I try to immerse myself into whatever time period we are studying. I will hold off on talking about it because I want it to be a whole blog post on just the books I have been reading. Powerful!!

What I'm listening to: It is Christmas time (well, OK, almost) and I have been enjoying Enya's Christmas album, And Winter Came. I especially like the song, "White Is in The Winter Night" because it is so pretty and takes me places my California "winter" simply doesn't. Some day I will experience a real winter, but it will not be in California I think!

What we're learning: I mentioned above that we are studying World War II. I find the whole time period very moving and powerful. So much happened around the world shortly before, during, and after. It shapes everything we experience and know today.

What I'm watching: I am looking forward to watching a few good Christmas movies with my children. What are your favorites? We recently watched Brave and Madagascar III. We enjoyed them both a lot. Have you seen them? Did you enjoy them too?

What's cooking: Oh dear. Am I supposed to cook too? Just kidding. :D I did make a very tasty turkey soup last week. I learned, in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, that if you make a broth, to cook it for many many hours. I cooked our turkey carcass for close to five hours on simmer (and it could have gone longer). It draws out the flavor in the marrow and makes for a truly delicious broth. I *highly* recommend that you try it if you have not done so. I have done it for chicken broth and for beef, and they are just as delicious. I know that some of you do it in the crockpot overnight, but I like more broth than my crockpot allows so I do it on the stove all day. YUM. Soooo good!

What I'm buying: Christmas presents that I cannot disclose here because I have children that read my blog! I will say that Library and Educational Services is having a marvelous sale on all sorts of things. (That is only a clue for those that do NOT read my blog. hehe!)

What I'm thankful for: Oh, where to begin? God is so ever and always faithful to me. Even in the midst of my faltering faith and fears, He is able. God is always able to do more than we ask or think. He is full of mercy and loving-kindness. His word is TRUTH. I rejoice in the mercy and love of my Savior!

What I'm creating: I am crocheting again. I have not done that in forever. It is fun to do it, but I realize that I am on the computer so much with the mouse that I can only do it for so long and my wrist gets wonky. It is a good thing I don't crochet for a living! We have been listening to R.C. Sproul on CD in the morning and I get to actually sit and listen and crochet. I love it. :)

What I'm praying: That I will be the wife and mom I need to be. That God will give me the words to use when my children seek my counsel and that I will be humble before the Lord. I am also praying that His grace will extend to those we know and love that do not know Him. We are also praying for a brother in Christ who is very ill.

What I'm planning: Christmasy things and Crew things. Can't give away too much! :D

What we did this last weekend: Oh, last weekend was so delightful. It was four-dayer and there is not much more wonderful than knowing that my husband is going to be home for four days! We had a delicious and most agreeable Thanksgiving with the best of fellowship and game playing with some of the best extended family. Then, to top it all off, on Sunday after church we played a game of baseball in the sun with wonderful friends and fellowship back here. It was a fantastic weekend. If only all my friends could have been there in that one place, but then, life doesn't always work like that, does it?

What I'm looking forward to: Several Christmas parties are coming up and those are great fun. I am looking forward to getting more into the Christmas spirit (as I am still quite happy to be in Thanksgiving mode!)

A picture to share:

I am also looking forward to getting to know the new Crew members joining us this week.

Have a lovely week!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Diary of Anne Frank

My daughter recently finished Diary of Anne Frank. I asked her to share her thoughts about the book with our co-op. This is what she shared.

Diary of Anne Frank
Written by Hannah Grace
November 6, 2012

Have you ever wondered if something you wrote would be read by future generations? Did you ever think about the fact that you may be known as part of “ancient history” someday? If you knew that, sometime in the future, millions of people would be reading what you wrote, what would you say to them? My paper is about someone whose diary is her legacy, a diary that has been read by millions all over the world. Anne Frank was a sensitive, outwardly vivacious, opinionated, and extremely intelligent Jewish girl, who lived during the tumultuous chaos of World War II. Her Jewish heritage was enough to place her life in danger, so in 1942, when she was thirteen, she and her family fled their home in Amsterdam, Holland to seek refuge in secret rooms behind her father’s business warehouse. They called their hiding place the “Secret Annexe”, and it can still be visited today, if you care to go to Holland. They lived in these secret rooms for over two years, until they were betrayed by a neighbor to the Gestapo. In total, there were eight Jews who shared the secret rooms: Anne, her older sister Margot, her father Otto, her mother Edith, and the Van Pels family, Hermann, Auguste, and their son Peter. Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist, joined them a few months into hiding.

During their time of hiding, Anne wrote a detailed account of her experiences in the Secret Annexe, and what she thought of the people who shared the hiding place with her. She thought her father a patient hero, her mother an anxious, quick-tempered, but well-meaning woman who never understood her daughter, and her sister the model of meek goodness. She disliked the fastidious, stubborn, and self-absorbed Fritz Pfeffer. Anne loathed the chattering, gossipy, complaining nature of Mrs. Van Pels, frequently writing harsh, uncomplimentary descriptions of her latest follies. Anne thought Mr. Van Pels an irritable, pushover husband who was forever quarreling with his wife. She thought their sixteen-year-old son Peter a quiet, rather uninteresting boy, but later on, she found him much deeper and more attractive than she first supposed.

Over the course of their time in hiding, her relationships with her family are strained and tested, always underscored by Anne’s belief that they never understood her, or gave the benefit of the doubt. This was exacerbated by Anne’s habit of saying exactly what she thought, which garnered rebukes and lectures from everyone else in the house. Eventually, Anne confided her frustration to young Peter Van Pels, and found to her surprise that he felt the same way about his parents. As the diary progressed, Anne described how their friendship and mutual confidence deepened over time, how they fell in love, and finally kissed. Interestingly, the only times Anne described being happy were during the time when she was friends with Peter. Her perspective entirely changed, and she became far more attuned to the feelings of others. The beauty of nature outside her window thrilled her, and she described being indescribably happy and grateful to God for her blessings. However, as time went on, she began to have doubts, brought on by a better understanding of her newly adolescent self, and the behavior patterns of those around her. Her diary ends with her yearning to become something more, and to be understood for the outwardly vivacious, but inwardly vulnerable and thoughtful person that she was.

I had mixed feelings about this book. Initially, I strongly disliked Anne, as her character, though intelligent, perceptive, and honest, was also extremely vain, arrogant, selfish, and judgmental. It didn’t help that she was a huge flirt in the beginning of the book. However, in spite of myself, I began to like her. Anne Frank lived up to her last name, and wrote what most of us only think. Her biting sarcasm is very funny at times, and her descriptions are often quite accurate. However, she softens a good deal, and her sensitivity is redirected and turns into a greater concern for others. Her writing talent is obvious, and well beyond her years. Moreover, the book itself is an honest, yet timeless snapshot of the universal struggles of young girls going through adolescence. She also writes many entries on the political events around her, and provides a close-up look at how the war affected her people. It is quite easy to see why her diary is such an enduring classic.

Now is the question, what happened to Anne? After she and the other Jews were betrayed and captured on August 4, 1944, they were taken to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam and imprisoned. On September 3, the same day that the Allies captured Brussels, these eight were among the last shipment of a thousand Jews to be sent out of Holland. They were herded aboard a train which took them to Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp in Poland. When they arrived, the men and women were separated, which was the last time that Anne’s father saw his family. She and the other women with her were forced to work twelve hours a day digging sod, only to be locked into a crowded barracks at night. Surrounded by the threat of illness, which automatically meant the gas chambers, and guards with machine guns, the prisoners were eventually deadened to their circumstances, and traveled about like sleepwalkers, oblivious to the horrors, feeling nothing. A survivor recalled from the camp, “But Anne had no such protection. I can still see her standing at the door and looking down the camp street as a herd of girls was driven by to the crematory, and Anne watched them go and cried. And she cried also when we marched past the Hungarian children who had already been waiting half a day in the rain in front of the gas chambers because it was not yet their turn. And Anne nudged me and said: ‘Look, look. Their eyes…’ ” In October of 1944, Anne, her sister Margot, and Peter’s mother, Mrs. Van Pels, were moved to Belsen in Germany. Left alone in Auschwitz, Anne’s mother died in the infirmary barracks. Anne’s father Otto watched Peter’s father, Mr. Van Pels, taken off to be gassed. Fritz Pfeffer, the dentist, died in another German concentration camp. Peter Van Pels was brought along by the SS when they left Auschwitz to escape from the advancing Russians. He was never heard from again. His mother died in Belsen, where Anne’s sister, Margot, died around the beginning of March, 1945. Anne Frank died of typhus very soon after her sister. Another survivor recalled, “Anne, who was already very sick at the time, was not informed of her sister’s death, but after a few days she sensed it, and soon afterwards she died, peacefully, feeling that nothing bad was happening to her.” She was not yet sixteen. The war ended in May of 1945, a few months after Anne’s death. Her father was the only survivor of the group of eight Jews. He published Anne’s diary as a memorial, and his wish is fulfilled, as her story shall never be forgotten.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” 
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Friday, November 09, 2012

Exciting Stuff!

So I have been a busy bee this week, pouring through all the Schoolhouse Review Crew applications. What an amazing group of people have applied! I am thrilled and impressed with some of these lovely homeschool mamas and really look forward to working with them.

It is almost the end of our Crew year and this has been a whirlwind of a year. I took over the Crew in January, and so much has changed in my work life over the past year. I love working with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It is an amazing company and the publishers have a beautiful heart for the Lord.

There are some things that happen in one's life that make all the difference. I have had the real privilege and honor of working with and becoming friends with two of the dearest homeschool mamas I know, Debra and Marcy. Both of whom have incredible blogs (for your edification and enjoyment) and even more incredible families and hearts. It is a team that was designed by the Lord and I am very grateful to Him for His kindness to me.

The 2013 year is fast approaching. How did that happen? Where did the 2012 year disappear to!? I look forward to the new Crew year with fresh hopes for a great team of amazing homeschool families. Will you join us?


Monday, November 05, 2012

Ancient Bible Archaeological Treasures

I don't know about you all, but I love archaeological discoveries. They get me excited because they help us peep into the past--sometimes the very far off and long-ago past. You have to know that I just love history--all aspect of history--so this really fascinates me. I remember spending hours in the British Museum in London because it was so marvelous. I wish we had its like here in California, but we do not.

I came across this article, Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries of the Twentieth Century Relating to the Biblical World, written by Keith N. Schoville who is the Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was fascinating. There are things you expect to see there, the Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, but I did not know anything about a good number of these discoveries and it is worth the read.

I love it when the discoveries of man bring to life the glories and truths of God. I hope you enjoy the article!

Friday, October 26, 2012

California Dreamin'

A few weeks ago, my three oldest children went with their grandparents on a trip across the back of California. It isn't the California most of us know or think about, but it has a very stark beauty all its own. I thought I would share some photos to show you what I mean.

They went to Bodie. Everyone just up and vacated the town. It was left as-is; with everything in the buildings.

On the road.

Convict Lake

On the way to Death Valley.

A view of their "town," Stovepipe Wells.

This is the lowest point in the contiguous USA, Badwater Basin. It is 282 feet below sea level. From Badwater Basin, they could see the highest point in the contiguous USA, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet above sea level!

I didn't think I would find their photos so beautiful because I love the lush look of the coastal areas of California and the oak and pine tree forests in the Sierras that I live so close to, but I did. The empty openness was hauntingly beautiful and I could see why they liked it so much. There is something amazing in the grandeur of it all. It was an open display of God's glory!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cranberry Orange Bread

For those of you that asked, here is the recipe for the best fall-ish sort of bread ever! :)

Cranberry Orange Bread

4 C white flour
2 C sugar
3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 C butter (or shortening - butter is better!)
2 eggs, beaten
3 T grated orange rind
1 1/2 C orange juice (or water or milk or part of one and part of another)
bag of cranberries, whole

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter with pastry cutter or two knives. Add egg, liquid, and orange rind and stir until moist; fold in cranberries...

Cook in well-greased loaf pans for 50 minutes to 1 hour (until done). Makes two loaves that look like this:

I modify this a bit by using the whole rind of the orange. I really like the orange flavor. The bread is delicious!