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Monthly Archives: February 2013

I’m Still Here!

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This is an appology to all of my blog followers for my absence the last few days.  I have  been very much under the weather, and there hasn’t been much cooking or homeschooling going on around here.  I didn’t think you would find blogs about sitting on the couch very interesting.

I am on the mend, and promise a blog tomorrow…hopefully something food related because I’m getting hungry.

Momma’s Tex-Mex Salad

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This is a salad I made up a few years ago.  I love that you can just start throwing stuff on a salad, and it usually turns out yummy.  Well, within reason.

Salads are great on busy days (like mine was today), or on lazy days when you just don’t feel like cooking.  Just throw a potato in the oven, mix up a salad, and, voila, dinner is served!

This is a loose recipe (mostly ingredients list) because you can add as much or as little of whatever you want.  I like a little spinach and a lot of bbq and tortilla chips…I know, I can make anything unhealthy!

Here’s the list:

Baby Spinach leaves

Cherry tomatoes

Oscar Mayer Mesquite Turkey Breast (torn in pieces)

Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican Fine Cut Shredded Cheese

Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits or Pieces

Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce

Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

Texas Toast Brand Chipotle Cheddar Tortilla Strip

You can use any brand you want, these are just the brands I prefer.  Throw all these ingredients together any way you wanna, and enjoy!

Warm Buttered Apple Cider

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This has become one of my favorite winter drinks.  I love this on a cold evening when I’m curled up in front of the fire.  Hope you enjoy…



Mix 1 stick softened butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon until combined.  Put the butter on a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a 1-inch-thick log; wrap and chill 1 hour.  This roll will last you for several drinks.

Heat 3 cups apple cider in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave in a microwave safe cup.  Divide warm cider among two large mugs.  Pour 1 shot bourbon in each mug.  Top each mug with a slice of the spiced butter.

Perfect for you and your hubby (or wifey) to enjoy together!

The February Funk

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It happens this time every year…the funk.  We are stuck in winter, but we know spring is hiding just around the corner.  We want to stay under the blankets and hibernate until spring decides to, well, spring!

Our family has been dealing with sickness since just before Christmas, as I know many have been dealing with this season.  Sleep has been hard to find, as well as any motivation.  It’s hard to get anything done when all you want to do is sleep!

So, how does this affect homeschooling?  For us, we have on days and off days.  Some days, we feel like we have a little bit of that energy…those are the days that we learn.  On those days where we feel like we are walking around in a daze…what’s the point in even trying to learn?

Luckily, we homeschool loosely pretty much year-round.  We can afford to take a bit of a break in late winter without falling behind.  We start our days later,  and do all of our learning on the couch in pjs (well, that’s normal for most of the year).  We accomplish much less in a day than we would the rest of the year, but I always make sure my kids spend time reading, writing, and doing math…yes, we always cover the 3 Rs.

Don’t get me wrong, we love learning in this house, and usually look forward to learning something new, but this time of year just slows us down a bit.  So, I say, take it slow, and enjoy being a little lazy for a change…we won’t have time for lazy when spring comes!  And there are different forms of learning.  Sometimes I think we need to learn to slow down.

So what am I doing today?  Well, I’m sitting on the couch with my kids.  We just finished breakfast at 11am.  We are watching Singin’ in the Rain with our stuffed animals with no thought of leaving the couch in the near future.  Do I have other things to do?  Yes!!!  Do I feel bad for taking a day to be lazy with my kids?  Absolutely not!!!  My “things to do” will always be there, but my time with my 6 and 7 year old kids who still like to snuggle won’t.

Enjoy all of life’s moments…even the funks!


Cupcake Update

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I just made my Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes again for a birthday party, and learned two things about the frosting.  Baking is always such a fun learning experience!

First, my recipe called for mixing the softened butter, cherry juice, whipping cream, almond extract, and salt together before adding any sugar.  Well, this makes quite a mess.  My mix was splashing all over the place while I was mixing it, even on low speed.  So, I tried adding 1/4 of my powdered sugar this time, and no mess!  It took much less time to mix and seemed smoother when I was finished.

Second, one recipe just doesn’t make enough frosting for 24 cupcakes.  At least not the way I like to frost my cakes!  So make a double batch, and you can eat the leftovers with a spoon.  Double win!!!

Here’s the new Cherry  Frosting double recipe:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

6 Tbsp. maraschino cherry juice

1/2 cup whipping cream

1  tsp. almond extract

1/4 tsp. salt

2 (16 oz.) packages powdered sugar


1.  Beat first 5 ingredients and 1/2 package of powdered sugar at low speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

2.  Gradually add the rest of the powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended.  Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until creamy.

Hope my update helps save someone from splashing pink milk all over their nice shirt…yes, I did that!  Enjoy!

Momma’s Memories

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Not only am I wishing my little babies (I know, they aren’t babies anymore) would stop growing so fast, I’m also really wishing summer would roll back around…I miss the sunshine!

This Momma’s Memory is from my little kiddos very first trip to the beach.  They were 3 and 2 at the time, and they had a blast.  I remember the look on their faces when they first saw the ocean.  They weren’t too excited to go in the water then, but they absolutely LOVED rolling around on that sandy beach!

Just look at those chubby cheeks…I miss baby fat!   I miss my babies being babies, even though I’m enjoying every second of this journey with them.  And, I miss summer.  Ah, memories of babies and summertime…

My Furry Family

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Well, you’ve met my husband and kids, but have you met the rest of my family? They are all covered in a great amount of fur!

I keep saying I have a sign up somewhere at my house that says, “Strays Welcome Here”.  I haven’t found it yet, but I know it’s there.  Either that, or all the strays are sending out the message that a big softy lives here.  Yep, that’s me, big softy.

We started out feeding this little gray and white cat that kept hanging around.  He was so adorable, and I actually wanted to take him in, but he only wanted me for my food.  So, I kept feeding him in the hopes that he might warm up to me.  Well, he didn’t warm up to me so much as he did the little female stray that showed up on our porch on a cold November evening a few years ago.


Chessie, as I named her because she reminds me of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland, wandered right into the house…and there she has remained.  She is a very shy cat, and I’m pretty sure she was abused at some point before coming here.  She showed up cold, scared, and without claws, and my softy heart melted.  My vet thought since she was declawed, she was also spayed…she even saw the scar.  But that’s a story for a little later…

Well, Chessie is, as we came to find out, a Bengal cat.  These cats are a breed between a domestic cat and an Asian Leopard cat.  She is the most beautiful cat I have ever seen.  She is also very snobby and aristocratic.  She talks, yes, she talks, and opens doors.  I’m just waiting for her to start flushing the toilet…just kidding.

Shortly after Chessie came into our home, the little gray and white cat followed.  He had been injured in a fight with another cat and had to be inside for over a month, and he just stayed.  We named him Grayson.  Grayson is a very large cat, and now that he is so pampered and loved on and fed, he is a very fat cat…and so adorable.

Our next addition was a little black cat who must have seen the sign on my front door.  He got to us through the children.  He is the most loving cat I’ve ever seen.  He’s always bumping against us for a good petting or jumping in our laps.  When the kids realized they could actually pet and hold this cat, they wanted him…and softy couldn’t say no.  My son named our little black cat Punch.  There’s a funny story behind that name…Wallace and Grommit…bunnies named Munch…my son hearing the name wrong…and Punch was born.


Here’s where Chessie being “spayed” comes into the picture.  Punch was not neutered when we first got him.  And clearly, Chessie was not spayed, because she started getting really fat.  And a short time later, she had 5 little kittens.  We had no intention of keeping them…3 cats is enough!  Well, softy, that’s me, got attached, and so did my kiddos.  And whether hubby will admit it or not, he did, too.  So we added 5 more cats to the already full house.  And here are their names (get ready…they are super original)…Moseley, because he looks like an old man, Whitey, because he’s white, Climby, because he likes to climb, Scrapper, because she likes to fight, and Baby, because, you guessed it, she’s the baby!  I told you they were original!  Hahaha!


So one would think with 8 cats (no, they don’t all live in my house, only Grayson), we would find a way to remove the “Strays Welcome Here” sign.  Obviously not, because this past summer, a little puppy showed up in our yard.  At the time, I thought it was an old dog on its death bed.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen an animal in worse shape.  She was so skinny, I could see her ribs.  She had  fleas jumping all over her.  She had huge bald spots and sores from the fleas and secondary infections.  She was so bad off that she wouldn’t eat, even though she was clearly starving.  Just to get her to drink water, I had to put it on my hand and stick it to her mouth.  She was dying.

We took her to our vet to see what could be done.  We got rid of the fleas, got antibiotics for the infections, and got all the vaccinations for a 14 week old dog!  I couldn’t believe she was just a little puppy!  We planned on helping this pup until a friend could arrange a transport for her to a new home…and she is still here today.  After all the love and attention we put into saving her life, we couldn’t send her to live with someone else.  So, my husband got the honor of naming our latest, and hopefully last, addition…Lady.


Almost one year later, Lady is no longer a bald, skinny pup.  She is a shaggy, healthy, happy dog, and I hope she loves her home here with us as much as we love her…and all the rest of our furry family.

Kids in the Kitchen: No Bake Cookies

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I always loved cooking.  My mom started me out pretty young helping in the kitchen.  I loved making cookies and cakes with her.  She let me measure ingredients, stir them in, pour batter into the pans or drop cookies onto sheets, and lick the bowl…my favorite part!

I now have children of my own, and they love cooking in the kitchen.  We are always making cookies and cakes together.  And they get to measure ingredients, mix them together, and pour batter or drop dough, and of course, they want to lick the bowl, too.  Who doesn’t love a good cookie dough?

So, today, my kids wanted to make one of our favorite cookies, No Bakes.  I still beg mom to make these for me, and now I’m making them with my kids, too.  These are super easy cookies, and no baking is required…thus the name.


Here’s the recipe:

No Bake Cookies


2 cups sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup milk

1 stick butter, cut into small pieces

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup peanut butter (I always put in a little more)

3 cups quick oats


1.  Mix first 4 ingredients in a pan.


2.  Cook , stirring constantly, over medium heat just until mix begins to boil.


3.  Remove from heat.  Let cool for 1 minute.

4.  Stir in vanilla and peanut butter.


5.  Slowly, add the oats.  Mix well.


6.  Drop by spoonfuls onto aluminum foil.  Allow to cool.


Makes 24 cookies…or less if you make them as big as I do!  Enjoy!!!

So, What Are You Reading?

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Let me start by saying I LOVE BOOKS!  I LOVE BOOKS!  I LOVE BOOKS!

I love reading books, owning books, and smelling books…yes, I said smelling books.  I remember when I was younger, and the book mobile came to school, I loved just walking through the door and smelling all those pages.

I also have a serious problem with buying books.  I must have them in my hand and on my shelves and floor and anywhere else I can find a place to stick them.  I have books in just about every room of my house.  My office bookshelves have overflowed onto just about every surface in the room.  My kitchen bookshelves are sagging with cookbooks.  My dining room houses my birding, nature, and gardening books…I know, makes sense to me, too.  My living room is a catch-all for whatever we are reading at the moment…as well as my bedroom and bathroom.  My kids even horde books in their rooms, even though they have shelves in the play room…which are also too full.  You know, I think I need to buy more books…I don’t have any lying around in my laundry room!

Most of all, I love reading books!  I love imagining I’m there, in the pages of my books.  This goes quite well with yesterday’s blog.  Imagination creates books and books create imagination.  What a wonderful circle!

Anyway, I love traveling through time in the pages of my books, or seeing places I’ve never been.  I love learning new ways to spice up a meal, or how to make my flowers bloom bigger.  I even love reading in my best British accent when I read Jane Austen.

My husband also has this great love of reading, and so, it passed on to our children.  We have always read to them and with them.  We have always supplied plenty of books for them.  They have always watched us enjoy reading, and so they now enjoy reading, too.


My son, the oldest, is a very fluent reader.  He is currently reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Magic Treehouse, and any animal books he can get his hands on (especially reptile books).  Most of  the day, I can find him with a book in his hands.  He’ll run up to me and say, “Momma, did you know that a Brown Basilisk can walk on water?”  And I’m thinking, “What is a Brown Basilisk and why does it want to walk on water?”  He knows more about reptiles than I will ever know!

My daughter is a sprouting reader.  She is very fond of Dick and Jane, and is currently “reading” Wimpy Kid with her big brother.  She is so proud of herself when she finishes a chapter of Dick and Jane, just knowing she did it herself makes her happy.  She also loves the American Girls, specifically Kit.  We are reading this book set for our family bedtime reading at the moment…and my son loves it, too.

What I’m trying to say is that we are all very much in love with literature in this household.  I’m so glad that my children are loving books as much as I do.  I hope they will pass down the joy to their children, and their children’s children, and so on.  May the circle of imagination and literature never die!

So my question is…What are you reading?

Imaginative Children

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Why, yes, my daughter does have a mustache and beard.  Thank you for noticing!

My daughter was the perfect inspiration for my blog today.  I woke this morning to be greeted by my daughter pretending to be her father.  She put on his shirt and his hat and was talking in her “man” voice.  Then, she decided she couldn’t possibly be her dad without a mustache and beard.  So, off to the play room she raced to cut, color, and tape on a paper mustache and beard.  She sat down by her dad, and said, “Look, I’m Mr. Sizemore”.  You know, I almost couldn’t tell them apart!  Just kidding!

Anyway, this little adventure makes me think of how very creative and imaginative my children are.  They are always visiting some far off country like Australia or Indonesia.  Or climbing to the top of Mt. Everest in search of the Yeti.  I’m not sure on any given day whether my children will be people or animals.  Some days they are pirates running through the house with entirely too many swords.  Other days they are small lizards or rodents hiding from the poachers (too much animal documentary viewing going on in my house).

I have always encouraged my children’s imagination any way I can, even if this means being a rat on the run or wielding a sword myself, which I do frequently.  And you know, I still have a blast acting like a kid!

To me, a person’s imagination can take them anywhere.  I cherish these moments with my children, watching the way their minds work.  I hope they never lose that spark…that imagination.


May I introduce Mr. Sizemore…and Mr. Sizemore

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