Weekend Links

I enjoy sharing some of the non-food things I come across during a week. Books and links and the like. It’s a nice change from writing about food all the time. As much as I love food, I enjoy other things too.

Last week I heard from a reader who said I should stick to the topic. And maybe I should, but I’m not going to ;) I enjoy having the freedom to explore and share other things of interest. I hope you enjoy it too. If not, come Mondays we’ll be back to food.

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Last weekend we had the chance to walk through a home for sale in our area.  We drive past this beautiful place a few times each week.  Mia and I especially love looking at houses, so when we saw this one would be open on Sunday we were excited!

It was built in the 1950s and sits on about 7 acres, surrounded by horse farms.  It’s that perfect blend of being close to the city and everything you need to do in a week and still feeling like you’re way out in the country.

And the kitchen!  A food blogger’s dream!

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There’s plenty of counter space.  Double ovens.  A walk-in pantry (still not as cool as my pantry though).  A small office area, which you can see on the right hand side of the photo.  But most importantly, this kitchen has a ton of natural light due to the skylights above the island.  And there’s also a sliding glass door on the opposite side of the island.

The house is completely empty right now.  And since it’s listed at $895,000 it won’t be us who move in!  We loved getting to see it though.  You can find more info and photos by clicking here.

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We watched Moms’ Night Out last weekend.  Even the kids thought it was funny.  Definitely worth watching.  Plus, the guy who made the movie was a homeschooler.  I love stories like his. <—Watch this, especially if you’re a homeschool mom who could use some encouragement.

 200 lp12 slow cooker freezer meal plans

 

You can still save $2 through 9/16 on the 12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans.  Just use the code FALLFREEZE.

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Weekend Links

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I watched this documentary on Netflix the other day.  It’s about a 14 year old Laura Dekker who sailed around the world by herself.  She finished her trip when she was 16.  Laura and her parents had to battle the court system in Holland in order for her to make the trip.

The documentary is really interesting, although I wish it would have told more about how sailing worked.  There wasn’t too much about the details of how she navigated and sailed.  One small note, Laura Dekker is not just a sailor, but she also has a sailor’s mouth.  The bad language isn’t too pervasive, but it is there.

I’m intrigued with the idea of sailing now.  I’d love to give it a try, with someone who knows what they’re doing, of course!

This post by Seth Godin is thought provoking.  And I love how he talks about the true purpose of education in this Ted Talk.

Tsh Oxenreider and her family are about to embark on an around the world adventure.  When Meredith was much younger, she and I would dream about doing an around the world trip.  We’d play around with planning, deciding which direction to head first and what countries to visit.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Meredith actually makes a trip like that one day.

I loved this post where Tsh shares how they will be world schooling.

This week I discovered CNN Student News from a link on Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog.  CNN Student News is designed for middle and high school students.  Each segment is 10 minutes long and gives a good overview of what’s happening in the world.  I like it, because it isn’t overwhelming and they explain the back story where necessary.  Most world news sources assume you already understand all the issues.

I hope you have a great weekend!

 

 

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Recent Reads and Wondering if My Book Quitting Habit is Linked to Reading Digital Copies

I just finished the book, Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.  The book gets compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, The Help and The Notebook.

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I really enjoyed this book.  And while it does bring to mind some of the books mentioned above, I wouldn’t put it in the same category.  It’s definitely a good read though, and if you like this genre of fiction I think you’ll like Calling Me Home too.

This week on the blog, one of the most clicked recipes has been Chicken and Dumplings.  Which makes me think of Crisco, since some people use Crisco to make dumplings.  And that makes me think of the wonderful Crisco scene in The Help.  I may need to watch this movie again soon!

I’ve mentioned The Noticer by Andy Andrews before.  I decided to start our school year off by reading The Noticer aloud to the kids.  I think there is a kid version of this book, but since my kids are older* and since I own this version, this is what we read.  They really liked this book.  We had a lot of good discussions prompted by the story.

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I’m planning to read The Noticer Returns later in the year, as well as The Traveler’s Gift, which is also by Andy Andrews.  I highly recommend all of these books.

*{Yes, I read out loud to my kids, even when they’re in high school.  And yes, they read for themselves as well.  One benefit is being able to stop to discuss things as we go.  There are other benefits too, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.}

Insight into my book quitting habit

I’ve shared before that I have a bad habit of quitting books part way through.  I’m a slow reader and if the book starts to drag or get long or I get distracted I will just quit reading it.  This is something I’m finding frustrating about myself.

Recently I gave up on The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.  I’d been reading it in my Scrib’d account, but decided to cancel the account.  I’d already put the book aside by then anyway, but I’m not sure why.  I was enjoying it.  Even now I remember where I left off in the story.

I do have a suspicion though – I read on my Kindle a lot, especially using the app on my phone.  It’s just so handy.  But I also think it makes it easy to quit the book.  In contrast, I read a paperback version of Calling Me Home.  I did get to  a point in that book where I felt like giving up, but I could see that I was half way through.  So I kept reading and finished the book.

The Kindle also lets you know how far you’ve read in a book, but that doesn’t have the same impact for me as seeing the physical pages before and after my bookmark.

Maybe I really need to be reading paper books instead of digital.  But I do love my Kindle too!  It’s easy to hold.  I can carry a whole library with me.  The books download instantly.

So, I’m conflicted.

Has anyone else experienced this problem of quitting books more often if you’re reading digitally?

 

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Give up on perfect and embrace good enough for weeknight dinners

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I know that picture is weird.  The cauliflower looks blue in places.  But I’m embracing the imperfect with this post and encouraging you to do the same.

That photo shows how I cut cauliflower quickly for a side dish to go with a weeknight meal.  It takes all of 1 minute to cut up the head and have the veggies in the pan cooking.

In an ideal world, we would all have time for elaborate dinner prep.  We’d make our time in the kitchen unhurried.  Sometimes those slow evenings happen and it’s wonderful when it does.

But many nights dinner prep happens fast and furious, either coming at the tail end of a long day or squeezed in between activities.

I’d much rather get the cooking done fast, even if it means it’s not perfect.  I want to have a nutritious meal with my family, preferably with plenty of time around the table to eat together.  And I’m willing to sacrifice the “right” way to do things for just getting it done.

As part of the 15 Minute Meal series, I’ll be sharing quick cooking tips with you.  This week though, instead of a tip, I wanted to share this perspective:

Dinner doesn’t have to be perfect or elaborate.  A simple meal with your family is a weeknight gift.  Enjoy it!

Whether your having pot roast or grilled cheese sandwiches, the important thing is that you’re having dinner together.

One more note:

Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone together.  Once kids grow into the teen years, they are busy with work and activities.  Just as dinner doesn’t have to be perfect, not everyone has to be home for it to count as a family dinner.

At our table, sometimes we’ve got 7 people for dinner.  And sometimes it’s just two of us.  Either way, we still make it a habit to sit down together with whoever may be home.  Whenever family members are gathered at the table – no matter how few or how many- it still counts as a family dinner.

 

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen this Week – August 25

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

Chicken Party

Meredith and I have been having semi-regular chicken parties recently.  What’s a chicken party, you ask?

We hit up Costco and buy 4-5 chickens.  Then we bring them home and take the meat off the bones, pack it in zip top bags and stick it in the freezer.  This is one of my favorite quick cooking tips.

I used to cook chicken for stashing away, but since Costco is so close to us now I usually just buy theirs.  At $5 for a large rotisserie chicken, it’s hard to beat.

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Sometimes I buy the white meat that’s already packaged.  I then repackage that into 2-3 separate zip top bags.  Honestly, I think the taste is better when I use their whole chickens.  Maybe it’s because that also includes the dark meat.  And it’s a bit cheaper to use the whole chickens too.

We often drag other people into our chicken party.  Both Jim and Mia are great at picking the meat from the bones.  More people make for a better party ;)

One thing we haven’t tried yet is making broth from the bones.  I know this is easy and good and I have no excuse for avoiding it.  If you make broth this way, tell me about it in the comments.

Here’s a post I wrote on how to use and freeze the meat from a Costco chicken.

Picnic for the soccer game

Isaac had a soccer game in Louisville one night.  Instead of grabbing dinner at a fast food place, which would have taken more time (we were late to the game anyway!), I made a Pasta Salad.

This is one of my go-to game night meals.  I can fix it ahead of time and mix in either rotisserie or grilled chicken.  And the pasta salad recipe is so adaptable.  This time I used a little broccoli, carrots, a large tomato instead of the cherry tomatoes I usually use.  I was out of bow tie pasta, so I used shells instead.

We did stop at Culver’s after the game for frozen custard though!

New giant skillet

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I’ve been needing a large skillet for a long time.  My daughter had gotten one in a Christmas gift exchange a couple of years ago.  She kept it in her room, waiting and ready for when she was married, but I borrowed it several times.  Well, now she’s gone and she took her skillet with her!

I found this one on sale at Amazon the other day for just $18.65.  It’s a 5 quart skillet with non-stick coating.  Perfect for lots of things, including a big pan of Migas.  I don’t know how long it will be on sale, but I couldn’t resist snatching it up at that price.

What’s been working for you in the kitchen this week?

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What’s next? Changes coming to the blog (hint: I think you’re going to like it!)

We are rapidly coming to the end of the 100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes series.

Whew!

This series has been a great one!  We’ve shared everything from fish, to desserts, to granola, to dips, to Indian food, to Mexican, to…well, just about everything!

I’ve had a blast with it, but in all honesty I’m ready to move on.  And I bet you are too.

Bookmark that post though, because all those slow cooker meals will come in handy as school gets back in session.

But let’s turn our attention to something else, shall we?

3 Things That Work

3 Things that work in the kitchen

I have struggled with my Monday posts for a while now.  I used to share menus with you.  For a long while, I shared what my family was eating each week.  I’ve found it hard to make these posts both useful and interesting for all of us.

After much pondering, I’ve decided to try sharing 3 Things That Work.  Each Monday, I’ll think back over the last week and post about 3 things that worked in my kitchen, for our family meals, for shopping for groceries etc.

I want to make this a fresh, easy to read post with tidbits of useful info.  We’ll see how it goes ;)

A New Series is Coming

15 Minute Meals for Back to School

For the last couple weeks of August and the month of September, we’ve got a new series starting.  This one won’t be an everyday series though.  Look for recipe posts a couple times a week, plus quick cooking tips posts on Thursdays.

The series kicks off this Thursday with a new 15 minute recipe.  Here’s to cooking quick after a summer of slow!

Looking Ahead…

During the month of October we’ll focus on repurposed leftovers.  Cook once, eat twice!

And of course, we’ll be sharing plenty of good comfort foods, fall favorites, baked goods and more over the next few months too.

Make Meal Planning and Shopping Easier!

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If you’d like to make quick work of your meal planning and shopping, check out our Weekly Meal Plans.  They’re color-coded so they’re easy to use and a lot more fun than shopping with a spreadsheet.

Choose from Traditional, Slow Cooker or Whole Foods Plans.  Each plan is full of simple meals.  Find out more here! 

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Becoming Conference, Biltmore House and a Giveaway!

Last weekend I went to North Carolina with a friend for the Becoming Conference. We made a long weekend of it and it was a blast, despite the rainy weather.

We met lots of new people, heard some great speakers, tried out chalk paint in a furniture painting workshop, window shopped in Asheville and Black Mountain and more. One of my goals for the weekend was to sit on a swing for a while and just be. Thankfully the rain held off long enough for me to do that.

We also got to tour the Biltmore Estate.  The views are incredible from the house, even on such a rainy day.
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Teresa took this photo from the porch of Biltmore House.  I swiped the picture from her Facebook page.  I was terrible about pulling out my phone for pictures, so I don’t have many.  I find that when I really relax into an experience, I tend not to take many photos.

Splurging for the Biltmore visit turned out to be a great idea.  The tickets are a little pricey, but it’s so worth it.  If you get to go, spend the extra for the audio tour.  Hearing about the details of the house and learning more about the family really enhanced our visit.

Weekend Link

I wasn’t planning to have any links for you this weekend, but I have to link to this post.  It’s been floating around in a lot of places this week and for good reason.  If you’ve been needing a new perspective on something, go read this post from The Momastery.

Giveaway!

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Another highlight of the weekend was getting to meet Christy from Southern Plate.  I bought two copies of her new cookbook, Come Home to Supper.

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One copy is for me.  And one is for one of you!

Christy even signed them both:

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I think you’re going to love this cookbook!

To enter, leave a comment here telling me what you’re favorite southern recipe is.  I’ll choose a random winner on Thursday 8/21.  U.S. residents only.

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Washington DC, Mt. Vernon, Monticello trip highlights

A few weeks ago I asked for advice on touring Washington D.C.  Thank you so much for all the info and recommendations!  We had a great trip.  I don’t have many pictures, because my phone battery isn’t holding a charge like it used to.  I found myself looking for outlets in restaurants and even bathrooms to keep it charged up!

We had four days to make the trip.  Two days were devoted to touring D.C.  Jim was working both of those days, so we toured without him.  We stopped at Monticello on our drive out.  And on the way back, we made a stop at Mt. Vernon.

I was worried about the weather being hot and muggy, but we lucked out.  Other than our afternoon at Monticello, when it was 95 degrees, we had beautiful weather.

Monticello

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We all loved Monticello!  We learned so much about Thomas Jefferson and the beginnings of our country through this tour.  The docents were all excited about sharing Monticello with visitors and that made for a lovely visit.  (Our visit to Mt. Vernon turned out to be a stark contrast, but more on that in a bit.)   [Read more…]

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Ice Cream, Pedometers, Becoming, Pigs

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No.  Not becoming pigs.  And not in that order either.

Let’s Start with Pigs

That photo is of my brother-in-law, George.  He and his wife have started a small farm with pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys.  These pigs went to market earlier in the week.  Half of one of them will be filling my freshly, cleaned out freezer.  Here’s to farm raised meat!

Becoming Conference – Want to Come?

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I’m really excited about going to this conference with a local friend in a few weeks.  It’s not a blogging conference, but there will be some bloggers there who I’m excited to meet.  My friend, Jen of Beauty and Bedlam is one of the organizers.  I’m looking forward to seeing her again.  And I can’t wait to meet Christy of Southern Plate.

Mostly, I’m looking forward to doing something that feeds my creativity and provides rest for my soul.  The conference takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC.  There’s still time to register and the prices are very affordable.  I’d love to meet you there!

My New Pedometer

I decided to buy a pedometer in an effort to encourage myself to walk more.  Before I bought it I even googled, “Does using a pedometer make you walk more?”.  Turns out it does, as long as you write down the number of steps you take each day.

I liked the price of this Omron pedometer and it has great reviews on Amazon.  It’s easy to use too.

I’ve been walking in the mornings and being able to see how many steps I’ve taken (or how few) encourages me to keep going.  I’m surprised at how few steps add up in my day-do-day living.  If you want to hit 5000 or 10,000 steps goal that gets promoted so often by health experts, you really have to be intentional.  It’s a lot harder to do than I expected.  Even with taking a long walk in the morning and sometimes a second walk in the evening, I’ve yet to hit 10,000.

Ice Cream, You Scream

Have you ever wondered about the difference between ice cream and gelato?  The Kitchn has the answer for you.

I love any kind of ice cream or gelato or anything closely related.  Love, love, love!  This Sunday, our local Graeter’s ice cream store is having a sale on their cones.  $1.40something each to celebrate 140ish years of Graeter’s.  I know what I’ll be doing Sunday afternoon.

What will you be doing this weekend?

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Saturday Chatter – Washington D.C. touring advice needed, books I’m reading and more

I finally feel like we’ve had a few weeks of summer.  To me, that means having a mostly free schedule.  Free play.  Time for home projects.  Afternoons reading on the back porch.

I’ve been making an effort to declutter the whole house.  I wish I could say I’ve been methodically moving from room to room.  Instead, we’ve jumped from bedrooms to bookshelves to junk drawers to garage.

The only thing I have trouble clearing out is books.  I decided I could finally part with some of our homeschool books.  We’ve got five tall bookshelves full and I’d like to pair it down to just three.  Let’s just say, I’ve still got some work to do.

It’s hard to say good bye to all those good read-alouds from Sonlight.  My kids got sentimental about some of the books too, even the kids who aren’t really into books.  Reading together builds memories.  It’s hard to beat the good feeling that comes from a mom and kids snuggling up together to read.

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I’m not very crafty, but I’m super happy with the giant spoon and fork we hung over the sink.  I found them at a local place called Street Scene.  They were brown wood.  I’m guessing they hail from the 70s.

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The silver spray paint made all the difference.  Can you see the little tikis carved on the handles?  I think those are so fun!   It reminds me of ‘Ohana in Disney World.

Washington D.C.

We’re going to tag along with Jim in a few weeks to Washington D.C.  The kids have never been.  We’ve only got two days, so we’ll have to be selective about what we do.  I’d love to know if you’ve got ideas.  And if you’ve know of any must-eat restaurants, let me know!

Books

I’m in process of reading two different books right now.  I started The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.  I found this one on Scribd, after hearing about it from several people.  So far, I’m really liking it.  I’ve heard it said that if you like Downton Abbey, you will like this book.  I think that’s a fair assessment.

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I got part way into the book and my Scribd account expired.  It was a Valentine’s gift from Jim and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to renew it or not.  In the end, I decided to renew.  They gave me a free month and I can cancel at any time.  It was the same price to get a month of Scribd as to buy the kindle version of the book.

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The other book I’m reading is  Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindburgh.  This is such a restful book.  She wrote it during the 1950s, but it is amazing how she deals with so many of the things that modern women wrestle with.  She talks about the feeling of being pulled in many directions, busyness, distractions, finding simplicity and more.  The book is timeless.  It’s as if you’re on the beach with her as she shares her thoughts on life.

What are you reading now?

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