Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You to All My Readers

Don't forget the cranberries.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"I Shot Every Deer I Saw", said Amber

Amber's first morning out hunting was a total success.  She sat with Warren and shot this spike buck all by herself at 8:30am.  They stopped up at the house just to hang the deer and then they were off again.  I loved hearing her tell the story; the huge smile, the excited voice and the way she looked at her dad when she explained how she didn't even hear the bang or feel the gun kick.  According to her story they weren't seeing anything so they prayed for St. Hubert (patron saint of hunters) to intercede on their behalf and send a deer and it wasn't five minutes and this buck showed up.

St. Hubert, pray for us!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Recipes To Use With Ground Venison

A reader writes:

What's your favorite recipe for ground venison? My kids don't care, they think it's beef - but my husband (yes, the hunter) can't find a way he likes it. But he continues to get one each year... suggestions??

My family prefers venison to beef, hands down.  So any recipe that calls for ground beef I substitute with ground venison.  I don't change anything about the recipe.  But if you or your family members find venison to be too strongly flavored or the texture too dry, here are my suggestions for using it and loving it.  First off start with recipes that contain a lot of flavor and spices.  Chili is an excellent dish for using ground venison.  Taco meat and nacho meat are good choices as well.  I've also found that crock-pot meals such as stroganoff and spaghetti sauce is a good choice as well.  Cooking the ground venison on low for a number of hours allows the flavor to mellow and the meat to tenderize nicely.  For those who like recipes here are a few of mine.
*We pack our venison in 1 1/2 pound portions.  All recipes use 1 portion.

ground venison
1 qt. tomato juice (I use home-canned)
1 can tomato soup
1 can kidney beans (with or without liquid, your preference)
water to rinse cans (about 1/2 full)
2 beef bouillon cubes
a few shakes worstershire sauce
2 T. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1/3 c. ketchup
1 c. macaroni, cooked

Brown meat.  Mix together all ingredients.  Bring to a quick boil, reduce heat and simmer until ready to eat.  It's always best the 2nd day so I tend to mix, bring to a boil, turn off heat and then place in fridge until the next day.  Reheat and eat.

Taco Meat
ground venison
1 medium onion, chopped or 1/4 t. onion powder
1/2 t. cumin
2 T. chili powder
1 t. salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 c. water

Cook and stir hamburger in skillet until light brown.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered,k stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Serve in taco shells with all the fixings. 

Nacho Meat
ground venison
1 small onion, chopped
1 16oz. can refried beans
1 16oz. jar salsa
1 6oz. can chopped black olives or chop a handful of black olives and throw those in
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 green onion, chopped (optional)
2 T. chili powder
1 t. salt

Brown meat and onion.  Stir in remaining ingredients and serve with tortilla chips and typical nacho fixings.  We eat this for a meal, not just a snack during football games.  I always make white rice with this.  Some of us mix the rice in with the meat and others don't.

Stroganoff click here

If anyone wants more recipes for things like Salisbury steak or meatloaf or my giant batch of spaghetti sauce recipe, please leave a comment and I will post more.  Now go cook something! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quilting Again

I finished up two quilts this week.  It's been a long time coming because neither one is very large.  This brick layer quilt was started last winter just because I'd seen these brick type quilts all over the internet and wanted to make one.  I made up my own pattern and I love how it turned out that the bricks are staggered in groups of two.  That happened by accident on the blue version I made first, but since I liked the look of it I made another in pinks.  All the brick pieces came from my stash.  Some of the fabrics dating back to the 70's, fabrics I received from Warren's aunt's stash after her death.
The backing and binding are new purchases.  It's hard to tell in the picture but the floral fabric has a light yellow background which I absolutely love.  The yellow and pink go so well together.
This quilt measures 35"x39".

The second quilt I finished this week is this tiny carriage quilt.  I found this pattern in McCall's Quick Quilts, May 2001.  I loved the quilt when I first got the magazine, but it took until this summer for me to actually make it happen.  Then I set the 16-patch blocks aside because I couldn't find the right setting square fabric until this fall when I was searching for fabric to make Amber's bean bag chair.  I just happened to run across this brown on cream print which I knew instantly was going to be perfect.  The pieced blocks and border fabric were all from my stash.  The setting squares and backing were new purchases.  I chose an ultra soft flannel for the backing so it would be super soft for a newborn.
This quilt measures 29"x33 1/2".
One girl quilt, one boy quilt!  Which one will it be?  We'll find out in December.
For more finished projects by people all over the world go here.Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gluing 101 for Toddlers

So Amber was asking me a while back why I wasn't teaching Joseph.  The other kids and I all looked at her wondering just what she meant.  So we asked, "What do you mean?"  She replied with a long list of things I should be doing with Joseph.  Things such as:  teaching him his colors, numbers, letters, and how to read and do math.  All this, she claimed, should be done with flashcards.  I tried to explain to her that when I dress him in the morning I say things like:  Let's put on your blue jeans or Would you like to wear your green sweatshirt or red turtleneck?  That's how toddlers learn their colors.  As for numbers I say thing like:  Would you like one or two crackers? or You have three books, should we read them all?  She did not think this was fair at all.  She claimed he was getting off easy.  Granted he's only 3, but to appease her I bought an I Can Paste workbook for toddlers to show her that I was not a slacker mom.  For his birthday we bought him a Mother Goose Fairy Tales sticker book.  The thought was to read a fairy tale each day and then let him place the stickers on the page.  He hated the stickers.  They stuck to his fingers and he tried shaking them off all while hollering "au, au" (translation off, off). 

Michael's had a number of toddler workbooks, all meant to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.  Gluing seemed the best option for Joseph at this time, but I wondered if it would be similar to the sticker incident.  I bought the book anyway and today was the day to start in on it since we had the glue and scissors out for Spanish.  The first page instructs the parent to cut out the pieces and have the child place glue on the page and place the pictures on the glue spots.  Joseph is no where ready to squeeze the glue bottle, suck on it yes, but squeeze it no way.  I cut out the clouds and then showed him the rainbow in the sky.  I even pointed to the colors of the rainbow, saying each color.  I made sure Amber was watching.  I squeezed three dots of glue on the page and then showed Joseph how to press the cloud onto the glue.  He dove right in, first smearing the glue a bit with his finger and then smacking the cloud onto the glue spot.  He'd remove it and place it on the other glue spot; this continued until most of the glue was used up.  Then he left the clouds to dry.  We'll do another page tomorrow where he'll glue fish (I'll count them with him) onto an underwater scene.  Joseph just had his first official day of preschool.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Science Curriculum Reviews

Emily poses next to her jello cell.  See the golgi bodies and ribosomes?

Midway through week 10 of our school year and I am ready to review the science curriculum I purchased for our 8th and 7th graders.  First let me say that I've never purchased a science curriculum before.  Having a science background has afforded me the ability to make up my own plans for the most part.  When the kids are in the early grades we mainly read lots of books, watch videos and observe nature.  As they become fluent readers I've had them read from animal encyclopedias, science encyclopedias and other non-fiction science themed books.  We've also done a number of unit studies on different topics such as botany, chemistry, and snow.  Making up my own plans can get quite time intensive and since we're adding another baby to the family this December I decided it would be for the best to have a pre-packaged curriculum for Emily and Nick. 
For Emily I chose Life Science:  All Creatures Great and Small.  I purchased it through Catholic Heritage Curricula where it was recommended for 8th graders.  This is not a flashy text.  The only color is on the cover, otherwise the entire book is in black and white.  I don't find that to be a bad thing and Emily hasn't commented on it either.  The book contains 25 chapters, all typical to any life science text:  measurement, cells, fungi, the digestive system, animal behavior, etc. Each chapter contains a crossword puzzle, written information, drawings, black and white photos, tables and an intensive chapter review.  The review often includes having the student write out all the chapter definitions, draw and label diagrams, answer tons of questions, do measurement conversion problems and more.  The book does come with a teacher guide which I've found helpful.  It gives basic objectives for each chapter, an idea for a hands-on project for each chapter and the answers to all review questions.  One thing I like about this book is that it's contained to just a book and answer key and I haven't had to purchase many extra materials.  So far I think I bought a piece of tag board.  Everything else for the collections chapter we had on hand:  plastic cups, pins, styrofoam.  I also like that it's introducing Emily to a large number of science vocabulary words.  I stress pronunciation and point out word similarities when I can.  For example cyclosis is the swirling motion of cytoplasm within the cell.  Doesn't cyclosis sound similar to cyclone which is rotating winds.  I think this has been an excellent addition to her vocabulary development.  What I don't like about the book is that sometimes the questions are asked using different terminology than the text uses.  Often she finds this confusing and needs my assistance to interpret.  I'm able to do this without any trouble, but I can honestly say if I did not have a science background I would find this irritating and probably pretty difficult.  With all that said, Emily will continue using this text for her entire 8th grade year and I will use it again next year for Nick. 

Nick demonstrates potential and kinetic energy with a super ball.

For Nick I chose Science 7 for Young Catholics which I purchased through Seton Homeschool.  It includes a text/workbook and answer key.  The book is consumable.  Nick likes that he does all his work right in the book, no extra notebooks or binders to deal with.  The book is full of color photos, line drawings, diagrams, tables and graphs.  The book has only 5 chapters:  Aeronautical Engineering, Geology, Rocketry and Space Travel, Physics, and Chemistry.  It's very boy friendly.  The activities have used things like a balsa model airplane, clay, and super balls.  Boys like this kind of stuff and I haven't heard any complaining from him about doing science.  What I like about this book is that it's all together, the chapter readings, directions for activities as well as the lab report forms and chapter review questions are all in this one book.  As with Emily's book if I didn't have a science background and a husband with a degree in water resources and geology some of the directions would seem quite vague.  For example the section on topographical maps was not clear to me or Nick, but once we got dad involved he explained how to draw contour lines.  I also haven't found the answer key overly helpful.  The easy answers are provided, but the more difficult thought questions say:  answers may vary.  Will I use this again?  I'm not sure yet.  It'll depend on the physics and chemistry unit. 
Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Daily Dove Chocolate

Yesterday I bought a bag of Dove Mint Bark at Walgreens.  Don't you just love their deals?  Last week I purchased holiday m&ms and a $5.00 coupon printed for more candy.  Love it!  I had to use the coupon this week before it expired and wouldn't you know Walgreens had Dove Christmas candies on sale for 2/$6.00 with a $2.00 register reward printing at checkout.  I used my $5.00 coupon and essentially made a $1.00 with that transaction.  Ok, so I tried the Dove Mint Bark and OH. MY. GOSH. It is divine.  I tore open the bag in the solitude of my bedroom to help get me through hiding Christmas presents in my closet and this is what I found:  a perfect little square of dark chocolate topped with a layer of crushed peppermints in white bark. I ate 2, then put away a couple things, ate another and twisted the bag closed.  Who was I kidding?  Put away a couple more things.  Opened the bag and had another 2.  I wasn't piggy about it though, I did pause between bites to read the cute little sayings on the wrappers.  My favorite was this:

Togetherness for the holidays is a gift in itself.
We all know this is true.  Being together with family and friends during the holidays really is a gift.  But my wanting to have a plan for everything brain read this as togetherness = having a plan, being organized, being ready, having supplies handy.  Moms know that with all that is expected from now until the New Year a plan is essential.  I believe it goes a step further.  A WRITTEN plan is essential.  My brain has so much swimming around it that if I don't write it down it's not going to happen or get done.  I've tried using all kinds of free printables in the past and find that really all I need is a simple notebook dedicated to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years planning.  I do make a paper pocket that I tape inside the front cover.  That's where I keep my online shopping confirmations and store receipts.  For those of you who like printables for everything under the sun, here's a great website with tons of free printables for planning your way to a "Together" holiday. 

My holiday planner is gradually filling up with lists of gifts to buy, cookies to make, new recipes, homemade ornament ideas, Advent books to read and a big reminder on every page that there'll be a newborn in the house.  Anything that gets checked off the list will be a good thing.  So since the holiday planning in underway, so must the holiday candy eating.  I'm heading off to have another piece of candy.  It'll only be my third for the day, but the bag is slowly emptying.  Hats off to a well-planned, enjoyable holiday season starting with Thanksgiving and ending with the New Year.