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

farmergeorgeandthepigs

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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Independence Day, Books, Homeschool, Weekend Links and more

Happy 4th of July!

Thanks to all of the veterans and those currently serving in the military!

When we were in Disney World a few weeks ago, my dad was chosen as Veteran of the Day at Magic Kingdom.  We had gotten to the park very early.  While we waited at the rope for the park to open, one of the cast members struck up a conversation with Dad.  In the course of their talk, he asked if dad was a veteran and invited him to be part of the Flag Retreat that afternoon.

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I’d heard of the Flag Retreat ceremony before, but I didn’t realize what a special event it is.  A brass band played.  The Dapper Dans sang the National Anthem and God Bless America.  The flag was lowered, folded and handed to my dad to carry up main street.

The rest of the family was also invited to follow the band up Main Street.  We were part of a small parade.  People were watching from the side walks and waving.  My sister and I said if we’d known that would happen we would have cleaned up a little more!  We were looking pretty “theme park awesome” by that time of day in sunny, humid Florida.


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Dad was given a certificate and a special pin that is only given to those who participate as Veteran of the Day.  There was also a photographer there to capture the whole thing.  She took quite a few photos for us.

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This was the highlight of the trip for all of us.  It was such a surprise and an honor for my dad.

Crashed site, books, homeschool and weekend links

Last weekend, I moved my site to new hosting.  The process didn’t go as smoothly as hoped.  The site completely crashed twice.  And even my emails started bouncing back to the sender.  If you sent me an email last weekend through Monday morning and ended up with the email bouncing back, please resend.

As for books, I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately.

I’m most of the way through The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education.  I don’t agree with everything in this book, and that’s part of the fun.  But it’s chock full of ideas for non-traditional education.  I’m declaring next year a jubilee year in our homeschool.  I want to focus on reading good books and traveling.  Of course, we’ll throw in some math too.  (Anyone here used Life of Fred?  I’d love to hear what you think of it.)

This is my 18th year to homeschool.  We’ve had good years, hard years and everything in between.  Last year was hard.  One of the hardest so far.  We considered other school choices for this next year, but once again decided that homeschooling is in the best interest of our two school-aged kids.

But we all need a breath of fresh air.  We need to relax.  The kids need a chance to go deeply into the areas of their interests.  And they need to be encouraged to broaden their interests too.  I’m hoping that getting back to my unschooling roots will help.  When my oldest kids were very young, we took a much more unschooling approach to things.  Over the years, we got away from that, adding in more text books and classes, and such.  There’s a time and place for all of that, and this year is our time to relax a bit.

Now for a few weekend links:

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I follow Tsh Oxenreider on Instagram and she has been killing all of of with photos of Tuscany.  What a trip!  I loved reading her first post about her experiences.  I’ve got a travel goal of going to Scotland in the next few years.  After that, I think we may need to add Italy!

Seaking of Tsh, her latest Art of Simple podcast is an interview with Anne Bogel on all things books.  Anne blogs at Modern Mrs. Darcy.  I love her blog.  And I can blame her for filling up my Kindle with lots of good reads.  I haven’t listened to this podcast yet, but it’s on my list for this weekend.

I want to do this for a Sunday afternoon lunch:  Bruschetta Bar from What’s Gabby Cooking.

Have a fabulous weekend!

 

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Thai Style Pork – 100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

Ready for another trip around the world?

Slow Cooker Thai Style Pork

 

This is a recipe with Thai inspiration. I love the flavors in this one. Cilantro is such an aromatic herb and it goes so well with the spice and sweetness of Thai food. This is a one dish meal, but if you wanted, you could try out making some fresh spring rolls or buy some egg rolls to go along with it.

Click on over to get the full recipe and instructions.

If you love using your slow cooker, check out our All Slow Cooker Weekly Meal Plan.  It’s got all the planning done for you (including the grocery list) so you can go enjoy summer!

This is day  43 in our 100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes series.  Find the other posts by clicking here.

100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

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How I Make Our Disney World Planning Booklets

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I promised a while back that I would share how I put together our Disney World planning booklets.  We’ve used planning booklets on quite a few trips now.  This much planning and detail isn’t necessary for every trip, but here are a few instances they are helpful.

Use Disney World Planning Booklets if:

  • You are traveling with a large group
  • You are traveling during a busy, crowded season
  • You are trying to maximize what you can get done at park opening/rope drop

For this trip, we are hitting all three of the above.  We’ll be traveling with 13 people total and we tend to tour as a herd.  The biggest reason we stick together, especially in the mornings, is to optimize what we can get done at rope drop.  If you hit the rides and attractions in a particular order and get there first thing, you can really avoid a lot of lines.

I use small photo albums from Dollar Tree to make the booklets.  I thought about just using our phones for this, but not everyone in our party has a smart phone.  And I think it’s simpler to pull out the booklet.  Each family unit gets one, which keeps me from having to repeat the same info over and over.

What goes inside our booklets:

[Read more...]

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Weekend Links, couple of Wedding Pics, what C.S. Lewis ate, and more

Before I get the weekend links, I wanted to share a couple of wedding pictures.  Our daughter, Meredith got married last weekend.  It was such a special time to celebrate with friends and family.

We don’t have photos back from the photographer yet, but I managed to snap a few with my phone.

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Instead of wedding cake, we served donuts from North Lime Coffee & Donuts.  When Meredith and Stephen first told me that’s what they wanted to do, I really wondered about it.  But it turned out to be a big hit with the guests!   [Read more...]

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Weekend Links – Reluctant/Resistant Readers, Book recommendations and more

I woke up the other day thinking about our homeschool plans for next year. Of the two students I’m still homeschooling, one is a reluctant reader and one is resistant.

Since I love books and reading, it makes me a little sad that I haven’t been able to instill that same love in my kids. So, I started thinking about how to renew my efforts. Learning to read was a bit of a chore for both of them, so it stands to reason that reading for pleasure might not be high on their list.

They do like being read to. I read to our kids, even when they are in middle school and high school. Yes, they read to themselves too, but we love a good read-aloud. I love this article about the benefits of reading to older kids.  But I also want them to grow up to be readers.  Maybe not nose-in-a-book-all-the-time type readers, but hopefully, several books in a year.

That led me to google something like “making readers out of kids who hate to read”.  And that led me to several interesting articles.   [Read more...]

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Freezer Friendly Homemade Pizza Sauce – 100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

Need to make pizza for a crowd? Don’t like buying premade pizza sauce? This is exactly what you are looking for.

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Pizza night has become something of an Americanized tradition for oh, probably 99.9% of American Families. There’s nothing quite like a pizza made just how you like it–from the crust, to the last shred of cheese on top. And in my mind, the sauce is what makes or breaks the level of delicious when it comes to pizza night!

If you tend to make pizza for a big crowd, and especially if you like to know exactly what’s in your food, you’ll love this super simple pizza sauce recipe you can make in your slow cooker. Make a big batch of this, and you’ll have enough for pizza night and plenty to freeze for next time, too!

If you like to make and freeze your own pizza dough or buy pre-made frozen ahead to stash in your freezer, this is a meal you can make from scratch easily whenever you get the pizza time urge!

Head over to Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures to get this recipe for Pizza Sauce.  And psst…Tell us, what’s your favorite Pizza topping?

We’re sharing 100 days of summer slow cooker meals.  This is day 12 .  Keep your kitchen cool – don’t miss a single recipe.  Subscribe to the email list. You find the other posts in this series by clicking here.

100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

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