Travel Bucket List

e0ae0b13fc6271285182d3d2ea7084b9 There are so many places that I want to visit and see. I have created a Life Long Travel Bucket List for myself so that I can keep them in order and prioritize as we plan vacations, etc over the years. I may be 23 years old, but I’m going to need the next 70 years to visit every place (;

Read more about my travel bucket list over at Alabama Women Bloggers today!

 

PreSchool from Home

Our daughter attends an awesome preschool built on the structure of “Learn & Play”, in the city where I work. I wish so much at times that I could be at home full time during these years, so that I could experience the joy of teaching her myself; however, at our house that doesn’t work out for us. But I do insist on still being a strong force in her education in learning. It can get a little intimidating when I work all day and then in the evenings I just want to relax or sit down and play with her. But we are doing our best to work out a routine that works best for us. I’m not promising we will be able to implement a lesson or project around learning EVERY day (we are going to shoot for 30 minutes a night, Monday through Friday), but I think as long as we have a schedule that it will work out more often than not having a plan! These are a few of my favorite places to get free worksheets and ideas for working with our daughter at home. Please patronize their amazing sites and resources.

The Inspired Apple

Scattered Sea Shells

Preschool Palace

Teachers Pay Teachers

I also found a great book at Wal-Mart that is like 3 inches thick of preschool worksheets. It covers everything from colors, shapes, letters, numbers, to cutting and pasting matching shapes, learning less/more, larger/smaller, above/under. So we do a little combination of everything at times! Here is a sample of my plan to keep me on track:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

 

·   Practicing letters

  Writing

  Recognizing

  Matching

  Sing ABC’s

·   Practicing Numbers

  Writing

  Recognizing

  Matching

  Counting

 

·   Shapes and Colors

  Drawing

  Recognizing

  Matching

  Patterns

·          Bible Study Lesson

OR

·          Science Lesson

 

·   Arts & Crafts project

-Holiday?

-Season/Weather?

-Theme?

 

 

Now I plan to take all of the materials I do have and implement them into this plan. The only thing I will have to really research and plan ahead of time is the Friday Arts & Crafts projects to make sure I have the right materials for the current craft. When she reaches the three year old class and gets her new evaluation next January, we will change our plan and focus. I received her 2 year old evaluation right after the new year, and she really is ahead on many things and on target with the rest! Which made my chest swell with pride. Ha! She can name all ABC’s and count to 15 without assistance (they only expect to 10 at this time.) She can recognize all of her shapes except an octagon. I mean, I am not stressed about a two year old not recognizing an octagon if she can recognize a trapezoid. I think we are good here. And she knows and recognizes all of her colors. The teacher did tell me that she can recognize 3 letters of the alphabet and 2 numbers by sight and that recognition by sight for numbers and letters is a three year old skill. Well, I want to help her master that skill!! That will be our focus for the next year and learning the sounds of our letters. I’m actually really excited! Either I am just one of those overly excited moms or I should have chosen a degree in something other than criminal justice. (;

Also, I recently purchased this 3-DVD Set that focuses on learning Sight Words. I love it!

Sight Words DVD

Do you do preschool at home with your child(ren)?

Shoot me ideas for craft projects and toddler science-y things!!

Daddy Daughter Date Night

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Recently, our local Chickfila hosted a “Pretty Princess Daddy Daughter Date Night.” If you follow my blog and have read my bio, then you already know that my daughter is THE princess of our kingdom. I’m not ashamed of that. For example, time got away from us last night and so Man of the House headed “to town” to grab something quick to eat. She hugged him with the saddest voice and choked back a cry while her face was in a permanent and uncontrollable frown. He had a millisecond internal war with himself and was like, “put this baby some pants and shoes on.” She rode to town with her daddy and came back beaming with pride that she had gotten me a drink. Definitely not spoiled. Ha!

Needless to say, since she already thinks she is a princess every time she wears a dress of any kind, I knew they just had to go to this event. I’m so glad I signed them up! She still says she went to a “Princess Ball.” She dressed up in a Cinderella dress up out fit. Dress, purse, tiara, “high heels”, necklace, and gloves. She was ready!

I had built it up to her telling her that she was going to a “PRINCESSS PARTYYYY with her DADDYY!!” Ha! I never was able to do stuff like that as a little girl and I love making sure they participate in anything “Daddy-Daughter.” As a result, I am the perfect play mate as long as it is the two of us, but if Man of the House is on the property she “not wike mama.” Oh, okay, so I was just good enough while dad wasn’t home. Honestly though, I love it that they are so close. I WANT her to have an amazing relationship with her daddy. I know that we have a great Mom-Daughter relationship because she doesn’t cry for anyone else when she’s hurt (; and we spend time playing Barbies, painting toe nails, or doing arts and crafts. Things Daddy prefers not to do.

At the “Pretty Princess Daddy Daughter Date Night” they had to make reservations. (How cute?!) You didn’t order at the counter this time, a Chickfila employee took your order and brought your food to the table. Each daughter was given a flower and a princess goodie bag, which of course contained a miniature stuffed Chickfila Cow. They also had their picture taken by a photographer in front of a zebra print backdrop. Chickfila even printed one 5×7 for us free and we picked it up a few weeks later in the store. Oh, and they each received one free mini ice cream sundae for dessert! Our daughter thought it was the most AMAZING thing in the world. I mean, she had just turned three and she had the chance to go to a princess ball! She is like the coolest three year old ever! (;

When they got back home she was so excited to tell me alllllllll about it. I asked who to her to the ball and she said, “my prince.” Swoon.

I hope your local Chickfila offers events similar to this one, and I definitely suggest finding out if they do! I love positive things for parents and children especially in the world we live in today.

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Maybe I’m Old Fashioned? Part 1

So, I have recently realized that I am either an old soul or was born in the wrong era. Is there a difference? Ha!

Maybe it is because I am a mother and view the world differently than I probably would as a single-bachelorette-23-year-old. Whatever it is, I find myself wishing that I knew how to do things that probably never cross many American’s minds.

For Example:Sewing. I do not know how to work a sewing machine. Somehow I feel less of a woman because of that. Ha! This seems ridiculous to me because my grandmother and great-grandmother were quilters. Serious quilters. Every child received a hand made quilt for their first Christmas. I also received a hand made quilt for my 18th birthday. During my early childhood, they ALWAYS had a quilt project going on. I don’t particularly want to learn how to quilt as of now, but I cannot even tell you how to work a sewing machine. Embarrassing. So I ordered a desktop sewing machine in order to start learning how to make some pillow case dresses and ruffle pants (like the ones that I refuse to pay someone else $100 a pair of pants for.) FYI, you are free to spend your money however you please, but if you buy your child of any age a pair of pants for $100, I have judged you and will ask forgiveness for it later. I cannot make myself buy my 3 year old toddler clothes that she cannot be a child in. I have better things to do with my time than stress myself out controlling her and making her stay clean because I spent an insane amount of money on her clothes. I’d rather be playing and spilling ice cream with her. (; The thought of $10 worth of material on sale at Hobby Lobby makes me happy!

photo (2)Here is my new sewing machine!
 

I sit here now and wonder how come I never learned how to sew, considering how much my grandmother enjoyed it. Then I remember, it is because my mother and aunt were still around to help with those things; therefore, we were told, “get in the yard and play.” As amazing as that was for our creativity, imaginations, and bonding with cousins… it failed us in the aspect that other than clean house, we never learned domesticated tasks that are probably quite simple. How hard can it be to work a sewing machine? Surely it cannot be that difficult. I just have never been shown how to do it. I am determined to learn how to do this. I consider myself a pretty intelligent person. I’ve lined up a friend who is quite talented with a sewing machine and, after laughing, she agreed to teach me how. I’ll have to practice on a few outfits before I share a final product. (;

 
I am going to do a series of the different things I want to learn how to do that seem like forgotten knowledge or have been made unimportant by such a technology based society. A few future topics will be: canning; gardening; homemade jellies; and homemade biscuits. I may add to that list as I go!

Why Do I Hate the Word Elopement?

marriage_proposal_clipartMan of the House and I are getting married in October of this year. I previously posted about our engagement that happened last November (“Mommy Will You Marry My Daddy?” ) We have slowly planned over time versus having to rush and do it all at once. We originally found a place in Gadsden, AL that I am still in love with. If you ever need a venue for such an occasion or banquet, etc. please consider patronizing J & D Farms. It is an absolutely beautiful place.

orchard

barnIt is absolutely beautiful. Check out their website if you have time.

We planned to use J & D Farms when we were going to have a traditional style wedding with ceremony and reception following, everyone invited, all of that good stuff. Then it began to feel like things were getting a little out of hand and also making it feel stressful for us. That stopped us in our tracks. We changed our plans completely.

We decided to go on our honeymoon, get married there in a private ceremony, and then have a reception the following weekend when we returned home. Perfect. There will still be a wedding dress, officiant, photographer, etc. at the ceremony. There will still be a full blown reception with food, family, music, drinks and fun. Oh, and a photographer there as well. Our daughter will still have a pretty little dress, and I’ll still get my hair done professionally for both days. Here’s the deal, though: It will be less stressful, it will be per our wishes, and we won’t have any regrets. Sounds like an absolute perfect wedding day(s) to us!

Then what happened was every where I looked in the Asheville area, offered elopement packages. “Great venue for your private elopement!” Hotels offer elopement packages, there are officiant and photographer combined elopement packages. Elopement, elopement, elopement. I hated it. Elopement? We are not eloping. Are we? To me an elopement is a spur of the moment hey, let’s go get married kind of thing. I was still taking 8 months to plan our  day and trip and honeymoon. Does that count as an elopement? I guess since we aren’t inviting anyone and it will just be us then it is considered an elopement? It still makes me want to be like “wait, this is still like a wedding and we are still having a reception! No one is running off and secretly getting married??” Ha! I know I am being ridiculous, maybe. But I still hate the word. Our invitations for the reception say “following a private ceremony”. Cannot bring myself to say “we are eloping.” To each his own, right? I don’t view it as an elopement, so who cares in the end. (;

Am I the only one who doesn’t like using that word to describe my wedding events?

Birthday Bucketlist: Try a new Food

Quiche

Okay, is it fair to put a quiche in here as “try a new food”? I mean, I have tried everything used in the quiche I’ve tried lately, just never together and never as a quiche. Like the ham and Swiss or the spinach and mushroom. I’ve decided though, a quiche itself was new for me. And it was A-Ma-ZING! A local bakery offers a quiche of the day which comes with a hot fluffy crescent roll and a “taste of fall salad.” I may or may not have had the quiche special twice in one week. If you are ever in the Decatur area, find All Wright Bakery during the week before 2 p.m. and try their Quiche Special!

swiss-chard-quicheThis is not my exact dish, but it is exactly what my mushroom and swiss quiche looked like when I picked it up.
 

Gyro

For the record (and in displaying my southern ignorance in all its glory).. I learned after eating this that it was pronounced “euro” NOT guy-roe. HA. Regardless, I love them. A new restaurant has opened up one street over from where I work. I have never tried Greek food and this was a great first impression. A gyro consists of meat that is roasted over a vertical spit. I could actually see this in the restaurant I visited. I found that interesting and cool enough. I went pretty basic with the first visit, just to be on the safe side. I did not want to end up hating it and have to buy lunch twice. Everything was great. I even loved the sauce they provide, even though I ate it with the fries and it might have possibly been intended for the gyro.

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52313383eca59.preview-300This is the Gyro Uno location in Decatur, AL now!

Rabbit

I saved this one for last because I didn’t want to scare you away. Ha. Man of the House is very self sufficient and likes to use a pellet gun to shoot rabbits, dove, etc. (He also hunts, fishes, and bowfishes.) I made the mistake of letting him know that I had NEVER eaten rabbit. I’m not sure it had ever became an option during my childhood? We always had deer meat, or venison, plus store bought chicken and our own beef and pork. I wasn’t sure how I felt about eating an animal close enough to the ground to be similar to the rodent family. Okay, kidding, I do not consider rabbits a part of the rodent family, but still. We have cooked rabbit for dinner as of last night. I had printed 4 different recipe choices so that we could decide what we really preferred. Man of the House wanted Rabbit Stew, but I just couldn’t go for stringy rabbit the first time. We used a recipe that had the fewest ingredients. 1 whole rabbit, 1/3 cup of honey, mustard, salt, pepper, butter. (I substituted the butter with Coconut Oil so that it wouldn’t be so greasy.) We added extras of both the honey and mustard until the sauce tasted how we wanted. It baked for an hour at 350 degrees. I’ll admit, I was too much of a chicken to try one of the thighs. But I did eat a piece of the tenderloin and it was alright. Not my favorite dish ever, just reminded me of dark meat chicken. It just felt so thick trying to chew it up, or maybe that was me being paranoid. Either way, I definitely tried a new food with this dish! And can attest to the fact that if something gets real crazy here in America, I will not starve. Unless the rabbits are all gone. Not sure where I could go from there. Ha!

First Ever Rabbit REcipe

So, I am just trucking right along marking things off of my Birthday Bucket List. Yay me!

How about you? Are you getting some yearly Bucket List things done now that we are a quarter of a way into 2014? Are you trying new foods as well? Share them with me so that I can try them as well if I have yet to do so!

Coconut Oil

With my recent life changes and trying to be healthier (and possibly living a little longer), I have found Coconut Oil. I think I may be somewhat behind on this craze, but I am so glad I found it! Coconut Oil has SO many uses it can be completely overwhelming. Even Man of the House says, “let me guess, Coconut Oil can help that, too?” Ha. He won’t admit it, but his heartburn went away the other night after I convinced/forced him to eat a spoonful of coconut oil.

A few of its uses apply to us as a family or individually. Man of the House is not altogether sold on the idea of it, but he goes along with certain things just to please me. Like eating a spoonful to see if it helped his heartburn. He didn’t complain any after that. (For the record, pure virgin, non-GMO coconut oil has zero taste. The consistency is like when butter melts in your mouth, but there is no taste. It is slightly strange at first. It is similar to eating a spoonful of water and butter at the same time.)

Here are some new ways we are using and substituting with Coconut Oil:

  1. Substituting butter. Perfect example: We grilled on Sunday, and I made sliced ranch potatoes. I placed the coconut oil in the aluminum foil wrapped around the potatoes instead of butter, and it cooked the same but with less fat.
  2. Energy Boost. I read to dip a tablespoon of coconut oil in Chia seeds for an energy boost and to NOT take this at night. I tried it one morning when I was dragging, definitely better than drinking coffee and ending up with stained teeth, etc. TRY IT! (:
  3. Healing Stretch Marks. Hey, when you have carried a child and you end up with stretch marks, no matter how minor they are, you’d like a little help making them a little more subtle. I have noticed a changed with only two uses! I will eventually do a separate post on extensive results over a period of time.
  4. Helping with weight loss when consumed on a regular basis. I don’t have results or proof of this theory yet, but I am testing it out.
  5. Reducing appearance of cellulite. I’m actually not using it for this purpose, but my sister-in-law is. She is a small framed woman who does not need to lose weight, but is uncomfortable with the appearance of cellulite on the back of her thighs. How many of you are in the same situation? Well, I will keep up with her and see how it turns out! In the mean time, it wouldn’t hurt to start trying as well. (;
  6. EXTREME FACIAL MOISTURIZER. Unless you have EXTREMELY dry skin, I suggest only using this two or three nights a week. And only at night. (:
  7. Helping with Heartburn. Well, this is a premature assumption since we only tried this once. Will be trying this again in the future just to find out.

There are many, MANY other uses for Coconut Oil, but these are the ones we are utilizing right now in our lives. I was given a listing for 101 uses for Coconut Oil! I am going to eventually try as many of them out as possible as long as they apply to our needs and life.

Do you use Coconut Oil? What is your favorite way to incorporate it into your routines?

Ways to use Kale: Lasagna Soup

Lately I have been trying to eat more greens and healthy foods. I have learned within the last year that I have a type of anemia where I do not absorb enough B12 from an every day diet, causing me to have a B12 deficiency. I do give myself a B12 shot monthly, but I am trying to make a point to eat more foods that naturally have B12 and other vitamins. So I have chosen Kale as a new green to begin adding to food and recipes.

I got the original version of this recipe from http://www.ohsweetbasil.com. I really am just starting out in my cooking adventures, so I do not have an arsenal of recipes already. Working on that, though. (:

Here is my modified version, and how I made it work for us.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (or more. I used more. Don’t have an exact measurement.)
  • 4 Small Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Green Pepper, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon basil, chopped
  • 1 Lb Ground Beef
  • Beef Broth (32 oz)
  • 1/2 Cup Ricotta
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes, 28 oz
  • 2 Cups Broken Lasagna Noodles
  • 1 Cup Mozarella Cheese, shredded
  • Kale: just shred by hand an amount you prefer to be in the soup.

Instructions

  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, over medium high heat, add the olive oil until it just starts to shimmer. Add the garlic, stirring as you add it and cook for a few seconds. Turn the heat down to medium and stir occasionally, about 3-5 minutes. Add the green pepper, oregano, parsley and basil. Stir to combine and let cook for one minute.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until browned and no longer raw. I started adding kale here. Add the beef broth and ricotta, whisking to break up the ricotta and help it to melt into the soup. Add the brown sugar, tomatoes, stirring to combine. I let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. The last 15 minutes add the broken lasagna noodles and cook until tender.
  4. Place the soup in oven safe bowls or soup mugs and top with cheese. (I used my small Corning Ware bowls.)
  5. Heat the broiler to high heat and place the soup in the oven. Once the cheese is golden and melted remove from the oven and serve with warm bread.

kale

Here is after adding the beef broth, kale and ricotta cheese. I promise, it turns out better (;

lasagna soup

Here is the final product. I believe I could’ve left it in to brown a little longer on the cheese so that it would have looked more like lasagna, but I loved the cheese just like this. And I loved using the small serving bowls from our Corning Ware set because they came with lids and I could prepare a few additional individual servings to take to work for lunch.

This actually turned out amazing! If you would like to try the original recipe, you can find it at Oh Sweet Basil!

She has tons of amazing recipes available.

Do you already use Kale a lot? What are some ways you incorporate it into your daily diet?

Have any recipes you’d like to share? (;