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Biology – High School Students

This year I’ve had the pleasure of guiding a group of High School Homeschoolers through Apologia’s Biology Curriculum. The scholars are 15 to 18 years old. The material itself is not hard. Because of that we are able to focus on writing useable reading notes and taking detailed lab journals. I like that this curriculum explains Biology in-depth enough that the scholars are leaning about creation AND it talks about different worldviews. I take my time with the scholars very seriously and do a decent amount of outside research. I do the reading assignments along with them and take notes. I often show off my notes because they are looking really cool. By keeping up with the curriculum and brief research about the different topics, my research about the different parts of Evolutions produced the following joke that I did share with the scholars.

If the hypothesis of Macroevolution is true, I hope that within 20 or so years the human race radically changes into a new organism. Specifically I hope I change into a new organism. My dream is to be able to put sugar, flour, and shortening into my mouth and I poop out donuts! It’d be an awesome evolutionary change for human kind to create food within their own bodies. I hope for donuts.

Jokes are excellent introductions to new topics. My joke not only grabbed the group’s attention, but it stuck in the group’s minds. I’m still hearing jokes about what we could possible poop one day and by what biological process this could someday happen. In the specific talk about Evolution, I got to say how brilliant Darwin was and we discussed the circumstances around his research. We concluded that Christians don’t hold all knowledge to everything, and that there is a vase amount of useful research out there. We also discussed how an authors worldview should be known prior to reading. This way we can choose to respect their research with proper regard. We can also see if their conclusions/research align with truth or if it’s a bunch of really interesting ideas.

I love the time on the research and time with the scholars so much, that I hope to continue pouring this love into guiding homeschoolers. Specifically High School Scholars. There excuses can be called out and they are responsible for their work. It’s no longer “mom’s” fault. They either did the assignments/readings or they did not.

Before the Fall Semester started, I spent time researching information on how other people studied and taught this curriculum. This helped me to figure out and organize how we would go through it at home with my daughter and how I would guide the scholars in our Challenge 2 Group. Home Schoolers Resources website was detailed well and I used it heavily during the beginning of Semester 1. I have my own flow now and don’t use it often, but if I have a question of how another group ‘did’ something I will reference this web site first.

I do physically or mentally do each lab/experiment prior to our time together. I make sure we have ALL the materials prior to class. Actually I go through the science labs before the beginning of the semester and gather materials for each experiment then. Believe it or not, I’ve experienced labs where it was the guides first time through the experiment. This did cause some issues. Someone in the room should know what is going on and what should happen. Specifically if it’s a bunch of high school students using a set curriculum. Experiments can be a waste of time and resources if everyone is scratching their heads for an hour.

For the reading notebooks:

1. Use the $1 Composition Books that have the pages sown in. The spiral note books always seem to fall apart to easily and at the end of a whole school year, the first few pages usually rip out on my. The sown binding holds well to the abuse that I put on a notebook. If there are any mistakes, I just cross through them and move on. There are no reasons to rip pages from the notebook. They are not a presentation but a colleague of thoughts. Some times thoughts are messy.

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For note taking structures:

1. The beginning of a new module/chapter needs to include the date started, module/chapter number, and module/chapter name

2. The bolded or underlined Headings of the module should be tracked with Roman Numerals.

3. Important details or vocab should be labeled with indented A, B, C…. until notes are done from that section. Each new section starts A,B,C… over.

4. If more details are needed for the A,B,C… notes indent and use 1), 2), 3)….

5. Figures, Charts, & Graphs can be copied and pasted into the notes or sketched. I save time by copy/printing all the figures before hand and pre-cutting. So I can simply paste where they go in my notes.

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For taking Lab/Experiment Notes:

1. I use the $1 stitched seem composition notebooks.

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 2. Each lab needs to include date, team member names (if any), purpose, procedures, data & observations, and conclusions. If time/experiment permits, work the Scientific Method into notes. Make sure diagrams get labeled. We often don’t have time to take full notes during labs, so during our time together we focus on data & observations. The scholars are expected to fill in the rest of the notes before the next session together. I suggest that they fill out the notes on their way home in the car or before they go to bed that night so that experiment information will still be fresh in their minds.

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The Problem With New Writers

I am by no means an experienced or a seasoned writer. So really I’m working within the thickness of problems with new writers. With my 30 something years of life experience and my 3 months of actual pen-to-paper writing experience, I’d like to share the top problems of new writers. This list is specifically pointing fun at my own mental state.

1. Clueless – Yes, new writers are clueless. Clueless about the publishing and literary agent industry. Clueless about what gets published. And clueless about their ‘writer’s voice’. Fix: read advice blogs, buy books, and ask for help. I’ve already spent endless hours reading about the writing/editing/publishing process and have bought a few books. I’ll let you know, once I publish my first book, if this advice actually works.

2. Manic – New writers are manic about their writing habits. From what I’ve read, some seasoned writers have boundaries and set hours of work. They can easily do life and writing. As for me, I can sit down to write for a week and my life falls apart. My house is a mess and my husband is concerned that I should leave the house once in a while. Who cares if there are no more clean clothes or no food in the fridge anyways? My writing takes over my thoughts and I’d rather hang out in my head with my story than real people. Fix: create working boundaries?

3. Tri-Polar – New writers often swing from ‘I’m an awesome new writer’ to ‘I don’t know how to write’ to ‘My writing sucks’. All three of these thought patterns can happen over the course of a week or all in one day. One day last week, I cycled through these thoughts twice. Fix: prior to becoming a new writer, warn the people in your life about the “problems with new writers”. Take a list of the names and emails of people who you know are willing to read over your work and can critique you or encourage you.

4. Distracted – Right after I wrote #3 I got a phone call, checked email, check Facebook, checked Twitter, checked email again, and ate lunch. You can bet I rechecked Facebook and my email before I writing again. By the time I opened this post back up I had forgotten what I was writing. Once I reread the title and the already created content, I thought I was funny and checked my Facebook. I ripped my attention away from the other things on the computer and started typing again. Fix: Start with…. hold on, I need to check my email.

5. Dreamers – New writers can be the most annoying type of dreamers. They all, at least sometimes, think they will be the next best thing to hit the market. They are all insanely over-confident and may even become offended by suggestions that their work needs work. They spend time they could be writing and editing on day dreaming about fame. Statistically, their dreams will stay in dream land and their books will sit on their laptops. Fix: learn to cycle through “Tri-polar” phases so that you can quickly go from dreaming to doubting.

Mountain Covering the Sunset

I sure wish I could have seen this sun set before it was this far gone! I wonder if the whole sky was pink.

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So What’s Next?

As a youngster, I spent my time chasing after an education and dreaming about the person I’d become as an adult. I wanted to rip apart any thing that was ‘traditional’ and ran from ‘normal’. Somewhere in the middle of my 20’s, I began to shift my thoughts from myself and my progress to my future generations. Traditions started to look good. In my early 30’s, I was marked with the passing of my brother. Every bit of immaturity or unbelief was exposed during that time, and it helped to push my journey to tend to my generations.

When I was on a Fellowship of the Sword – Heartquest event in the spring of 2010, I was able to spend a month intentionally spending time with the Lord. The most important words that were laid on my heart were to “tend to my generations”. I had been thinking about quitting my job as a computer monkey and pulling my kids from Public School to home school them. I did pull the kids out and we started homeschooling August 2010. In September 2010, my brother died. That year was a radical shift in our lives!

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I can remember the day my brother died. I was fairly solid in my faith in God and I thought I had everything figured out. Prior to that day, my suffering usually came from the bottom of a coffee creamer bottle. UGH! How could I possibly live when I couldn’t drink what I wanted at the moment I wanted it. Post that day, I wanted my suffering to be the bottom of a coffee creamer bottle. I wanted the last drop of the sweetened liquid to sting, but after that day, it just didn’t matter. Every bit of me was shaken apart.

My brother had been sick for a long time with multiple different things and his sweet body was just worn out. He had gotten so sick that his lungs could no long supply enough oxygen to his body on their own. He was put on life support. There came a day that we had to make a choice to let him go. His oxygen stats kept dropping no matter how much oxygen they gave him. His body was done.

When he was passing, I fully expected something supernatural to happen. A flash of light, an angel swooping into the room to take him away, a full body ghost lifting from his body and floating towards the ceiling, something!!! But there was nothing. Since he was on life support before I could fly in, there were no final conversations to say “last time” things or for him to give final instructions. Rather uneventfully, his lips turned blue and he left this life.

Before that day, I knew in my head that life was short. Death is never in short supply. But after my brother left my life, I knew in every part of my being that my time on earth was limited. I learned how final and cold death is. There was nothing supernatural about his death and there were no messages from beyond the grave. Just no more phone calls and no more funny jokes. The families just did their best to make life continue.

~

So what’s next? Life is short and once we’re dead, there’s no more words. Unless we leave them NOW on purpose.

This book that my girls and I are writing together will be finished because of this dream to leave words behind. I want my grandchildren’s children to hold a piece of this life in their imaginations. With this blog, I can leave words for my girls and maybe tend to their hearts or their children’s hearts long after I have departed.

Tammy Kling keeps posting thoughts about how “Words are Currency” and I agree with her. I think that currency that can be spent by the generations. Currency that can be buried and dug up hundreds of years from now and regarded as precious. The currency of words can help someone today!

Words can be a light-hearted adventure shared to encourage or they can lay the foundation of truth. Take time to write out who you are and what’s important to you. Leave something to stir the imaginations of those who are coming after us. Inspire YOUR generations and don’t let your life just slip into death.

A Snip From Our Book – What do you think?

So, I’m on my 3 ‘touching’ of the manuscript. The 1st touch built the story and the 2nd touch added life and fat. The 3rd touch is trimming the FAT. <- I touched this again this morning, so I’ve pasted the fresh copy below.

Target Audience: Middle Grade / Adventure Fantasy

Please do tell me what you think! Does this get your attention? Do you want to read more?

Ordinary Day

“Are you going to get started with your day or do I need to light a fire under your butt?” Faith’s mother interrupted with no regard to the day-dream that Faith was enjoying.

The morning had just started as Faith sat at the window peacefully. That is until she was startled by her mom’s voice. She wanted to continue watching the golden Aspen leaves flip around like butterfly wings in the light breeze. Her mom’s grouchy question couldn’t break her concentration from the world outside the window for too long. Faith was trying to figure out if she could mix her water-color paints to match the assortment of colors that the trees in her neighborhood wore. She spotted leaves stained with fiery reds, saturated yellows, and burnt oranges. She was thankful that the Pine Trees and Douglas Firs were holding on to their green foliage. They were helping to round out the full picture of Fall.

The air had shifted from a clean crisp summer day to the fragrance of fallen leaves. Faith could smell the smoke from wood burning fireplaces. The tempo of everyone’s lives had changed from the slower pace of “relax and enjoy” to running around with busy schedules and weekend soccer games. Faith picked up her hot chocolate and took a sip.

“Yes mom,” Faith answered as she dreamily looked towards her mother, “I was just trying to figure out how to paint the trees.”

Faith stood up with her drink and walked into the kitchen. Her nose was greeted by the smells of her sister’s cooking. The kitchen was filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread and cut herbs. Faith’s sister, Annmarie, seemed to have a knack for waking the family up with a new food creation for breakfast. It was as if Annmarie was sharing her love in the food.

Today’s creation included an egg quiche sprinkled with Cheddar Cheese, Parmesan Cheese shavings, a pinch of Rosemary, and a few scraps of shredded roast from last nights dinner. Annmarie took the time to slice, butter, and crisp up each piece of bread from a loaf for toast. Once the quiche was cooked just right, Annmarie stylishly presented the food and handed her sister a plate.

“I don’t want eggs,” Faith mumbled as she put her plate back onto the counter. She did want the bread. So she picked up the hot buttered toast and took a bite.

“Good! More for me,” grinned Annmarie as she scooped up Faith’s quiche and put it onto her own plate.

This was the first normal feeling day that Faith or Annmarie had in a while. There father was deployed again and every time he left it seemed to make everyone crazy. At least for a little while. The first few months and last few months were always the hardest.

Living in a Winter Wonder Land

The best part of a day of snow is the sunny morning after! Cheers!

*** Please forgive my messy learning process! I’m not sure yet how to best display photos. If you have any tips, please do share!!! ***

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“The Magic of Shirley Jackson” Inspired Me To Try

Who can pass up the opportunity tobook3 buy an old book? You know the kind of book I’m talking about. The books with that smell. The smell of history and days long past. I’ve smelled this book about 5 times while I’m trying to describe its smell. (I’ll be picking book worms from my nose for days.) Really the smell of the book is nostalgic and happy for me. I have always adored antique shops and old buildings. Okay, I’m not an antiquer but I do LOVE the thrill of looking for treasures in Antique Stores and Thrift Stores. I generally don’t buy things… but I touch as much as possible. I love the smell of books and day dreaming about the items-on-the-shelves in their past lives. I mean, who can resist imagining who drinks from the glass drinking cups with orange mushrooms painted on them. Now before you think of me walking through stores everyday smelling used clothes, know that I don’t do this often and that is not what this post is about.

A few years back, when we lived in Texas, I went to an Estate Sale down the street from our house. Imagine all the day dreams I had in those dearly departed sales. I think of people fondly while I’m wondering through their earthly possessions that were left behind. I think of them living in their houses using the items in their kitchens or wearing the clothing left in the closets. In my thoughts, people are always happy and healthy with rosy cheeks. And then there are their books. The people must have spent hours sitting under a dimly lit lamp reading mounds and mounds of old hard back books.  Possibly they were smoking an evening cigarette with a scotch-on-the-rocks nightcap. I love to look at the books left behind.

On that specific date that I’m thinking of, I ran across a copy of “The Magic of Shirley Jackson” that was printed in 1965/1966.

Come back with me to that day and see the book with me. There the book was in a pile of various other books. Those other titles I can’t remember and the other treasure seekers hadn’t seen it yet. But that book with its faded blue binding and golden letters grabbed my attention. I picked the book up and allowed its yellow jagged pages to fall open in my hand. I flipped through the old pages and then turned back to the front. I read through the Table-Of-Contents and saw THE LOTTERY. I wasn’t an avid reader at that time but I wondered if that was the story about that town that killed one of their people once a year based on a lottery. I flipped to The Lottery and scanned the story. It was THAT story.

I couldn’t return that book to the pile. I handed over my few bucks and walked out with my prize.

~

I sat down to read “The Lottery” out loud to my kids. While I was waiting on them to come sit down on the couch, I read through the Preface. The preface was written by her husband and it was after her young death. She passed away when she, in my opinion, was in her writing prime at 47 years old. In the Preface, the husband writes fondly about his wife and her accomplishments. He defends her honor and her reputation. He displays an ideal love from a husband post-mortem.

Reading words from a husband that admired his wife was worth my few bucks, but what really got me was what he wrote in the first few lines.

“People often expressed surprise at the difference between Shirley Jackson’s appearance and manner, and the violent and terrifying nature of her fiction. Thus many of the obituaries played up the contrast between a “motherly-looking” woman, gentle and humorous, and that “chillingly horrifying short story “The Lottery”… it seemed to surprise people that the author of her grim and disturbing fiction should be a wife and a mother at all, let alone a gay and apparently happy one.”

When my eyes devoured those words, the lights came on. A bridge was built from “I don’t write” to “I could be a writer one day”. The walls of “I CAN’T” were torn down by the PREFACE of a book. Talk about making your words count! This guy nailed it. My way of thinking was profoundly changed at that moment and I knew it. My identity changed. For the first time in my life, any title I had placed over my life was torn down. Not only could I be a happy mother, a grateful wife, but one day I too could be a writer.

#3 Foster Kitty Family – Aug/Sep 2014

We arrived home after a nice long visit with family that lived out of state. I shot the Humane Society an email and told them that we were ready foster. They asked if we’d be interested in a bigger family than we had fostered before and with much excitement we said yes. There were 8 kitties and 1 momma in this bunch. Needless to say, we were on kitty clean up 24 hours a day until we got smart enough to put them in a room during the night. They got into everything and climbed everything. Each one of these babies was adopted out to a family. 🙂

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#2 Foster Kitty Family – July 2014

#2 foster family came to our home with their momma. We only had a few weeks in between travels so this family didn’t stay long. The momma cat was sweet and took good care of her babies. Each one of these babies was adopted out.

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This Is How We Brew It – Home Brew Kits & Recipes

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I like dark brews that aren’t too hoppy. So with that said, if I took photos of each brew they would look like a dark brew. From this point on I will take photos to go with reviews. I do prefer the ingredients and kits purchased at MidwestSupplies. com vs the local home-brew supply store. The beer just tastes better and the kits work as promised. My husband did brew a few more kits, but I can’t remember what they were.

1# lesson that we have learned – check to make sure fermentation is finished prior to bottling. We had one batch that was bottled too soon. With that batch, every lid that was popped caused a huge mess. The whole bottle turned into foam. I used most of those beers as crock pot liquid filler.

2# lesson that we have learned – ingredients do matter. Make sure local brew store has ‘fresh’ supplies before buying and check for online suppliers. I personally like Midwest Supplies because the brews have been good and customer service is also good. They were able to answer my questions when I needed help. 

Happy Holiday Ale Kit

Would I Brew Again? Yes

Brew Date: Dec 2014

I bought this brew kit from Midwest Supplies.com on a 1 for 2 special during the Christmas Shopping Season. The web site and brew directions said that this brew needed to age much longer than we aged it prior to drinking. We were out of home-brew and broke into this stash 2 weeks after bottling. It tastes great. Our kit turned out to have a lower carbonation than the others we made. I don’t know if this is due to the fact that our house is colder during the winter OR if the kit needs to sit longer. Either way, I love this beer. It’s has a pleasant spice flavor without drinking the whole spice rack taste. It’s dark and smooth. YUM. Thankfully, we just started drinking this brew. I hope it last a good long time.

Pumpkin Spice Ale Kit (sold at local home-brew store)

Would I Brew Again? Not from Local Brew Store / Try our own Brew Next Fall

Brew Date: Oct 2014

I bought this brew kit from the local brew store. Our first batch of yeast didn’t start the process in the cartboy as it was supposed to. So we bought another pack of yeast and added it. The brew was ok. I don’t know if it was just the fact that I KNEW that there was 2 packs of yeast in it or if the flavor was off, but it tasted yeasty to me. We hope to try our own recipe next fall that will include roasting pumpkins and making our own ‘kit’.

Xingu Black Beer (My #1 Choice)

Would I Brew Again? YES! Please!

Brew Date: May 2014

My husband bought a beer brewing recipe book called “Clone Brews / Recipes for 200 Commercial Beers“. Using the “Xingu Black Beer” recipe, I purchased all the ingredients from Midwestsupplies.com and gave them to my husband for his birthday. He brewed this beer up and wow was it good. The ingredients cost more than the normal kits we buy, but it was worth it. It tasted a lot like a store-bought verity but fresher and a more full-bodied flavor. It was dark and smooth.

White House Honey Ale Beer Kit (sold at local home-brew store)

Would I Brew Again? Maybe

Brew Date: Early 2014

My husband picked up this kit locally and as I remember correctly, it was another simple brew kit. This kit was brewed over a year ago and didn’t last long after the carbonation period. It was long enough ago that I don’t remember details about this brew. It was probably good.

Nut Brown Ale 20 Minute Boil Kit

Would I Brew Again? Yes

Brew Date: Dec 2013

This Kit from MidwestSupplies.com was an excellent choice for a first time brewer. It was easy. The kit acted like it was supposed to. It carbonated quickly and it was good. The flavor was a little sweet and not bitter. This kit proved 5 gallons of liquid comfort during the first few months we lived in Colorado.

A Writer Is Born

B oldGood Day All! It’s cold outside and there is a lot of snow on the ground. My husband said there is more on its way. Yay. And that was a sarcastic yay. I tend to like ‘real’ winter for the first few days and then I start to get annoyed with it. It’s not that I’m not thankful for the winter snow and how the cold weather kills the bugs. It’s just that I like to spend time outside without a mountain of clothing on. I think living in Central Texas spoiled me on winter. It did get cold there… at least a week a year.

Over the past few months, I’ve started a new adventure. Let me back track a minute. When I was in my 20s, I had babies and was focused on capturing the next big job title with a full time job. I didn’t spend much time or thought on my family or husband past the point of making money and doing chores for them. The baby sitter opened up at 6:30am and the kids were dropped off until I returned around 6pm. (I now miss that time but that’s another posting) Just before 30, I finished my BS degree in Technical Management. At that time I took a part-time job. I enjoyed taking my kids to school in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon. I began to be intentional about the time spent with my family and husband. Then when I was 32, I quit working at a “job” and began to home school my kids and I invested much of myself into my family. Good times! Of course God’s hand was in all of this. I’m smitten for this journey through life with the Lord’s guidance and teachings. I appreciate the discipline and the many blessings.

My oldest daughter is now in 10th grade and my youngest daughter is in 8th grade. I’ve really enjoyed our time together as we have homeschooled. I originally thought I could do a better job than the schools were with educating my kidos and now, well, I hope they continue to love learning through out their life times. To not settle for cram-n-dump knowledge. (again, another posting)

Together as a family, we have been working on letting the kids have the freedom to become who they are and to also train their minds correctly. With the 15 yr old, that means she gets to have a boy friend and having her map out plans for her future as either a Chief or a MD. The 13 yr old gets to start telling me what she’s interested in and has started voice lessons and volunteering with the children’s ministry. I don’t volunteer in the children’s ministry and think I may even be allergic to it, so I know that’s all her.

The kids are started off on their own life adventures. Within a few years, they will not need me the same way or the same amount of time they need now. I realized some time last year after moving from our “home” of 13 years in Texas to Colorado, that I had no idea who I wanted to be when I grew up. I briefly lost a sense of my own identity. I couldn’t see myself continuing in the computer field or with government contacts. I suppose I could work on computers, but I was wanting to have a bigger goal. I don’t want to turn screws on a computer box forever and that technology is on its way out anyways. Besides that, I’m not the brightest bulb about computers when being compared with my more up to date peers.

I wrestled a good few months on who I was and who I was going to be. Then something changed. I follow Tammy Kling on Facebook and she posted a challenge to “WRITE”. A few years back, I got an opportunity to meet her and I had no idea who she was or what she did. From that one meeting, I stopped using an alarm clock every day. Yes, I had been using one almost every day.

I took that challenge in the beginning of Nov 2014 to “Write”. My daughters and I came up with a story line and I wrote a book. It’s meant for a younger audience to teens, but I love the story too. 🙂 The initial story took 2 months to write and was only about 24,000 words. Now with my first edit almost complete, it’s 36,000 words, but I plan to add some more. So it’s a work in progress. When I started writing, it was very bare boned and now I’m having fun adding the life. 20,000 words was my original goal. Now it’s 40,000 to 50,000+. I hope to have a finished product (at least finished enough to get an agent or a publisher to pick it up) in the next few months. Cross your fingers and say a prayer for me. My 2015 goal is to make some $ for my words. YIKES!

That brings us to now. I started this blog so that I can establish that I can write or at least I’m willing to try. But the other day, I was using the blog as a distraction from my editing. And today I know the blog and the editing distract me from the home school. So I’m learning (or going to have to learn) to juggle all three. This very short post hasn’t turned out as short as I intended, but I’m feeling satisfied by getting it onto the screen.

My goals for this blog are to post at least a few times a week with whatever catches my attention. Sometimes I get lost in thoughts of my past, my future, organization, cooking, and what ever comes to mind. I used to want to be smart and a science minded expert, but now I want to embrace who I am and just think and write. I used to be offended to be called unique, now I hope it’s an edge. I am a Romantic Idealist.

In closing, I extend a challenge to you, WRITE. Start small or start big. Just start!

Green Superfood

I was shopping at Sprouts earlier this week and saw that they were green foodhaving a 25% off sale on health items. Naturally I needed to see what was included in this sale. I strolled down the vitamin/supplement aisle and ran across the Super Green Food section. At 25% off, I was willing to try Green Superfood.

I took my green prize home and couldn’t wait to break the foil seal under the green lid. Once I broke the seal, the green dust rose up. I stuck my nose just above the lid rim and took in a full sniff. Ok, I really couldn’t put my finger on how it smelled exactly, so I will say that it smelled of sweet dirty vitamin green.

I grabbed a cup and filled it up with water. The directions said to use at least 8oz of water or juice, so what would it hurt to use 14oz of good old H2O. I used the little scoop provided and plopped the first trial into the cup of water.

It looked like blended up lawn material with a bit of sand mixed in. My first sip was almost my last sip, but I’m too cheap to let $20 go into the trash. The initial taste reminded me of my spice rack. It tasted like they put my whole spice rack into a mix and added some grass. It had a very earthy flavor. The trouble of using 14oz of water was that now I had 14oz of this stuff to chug down. With that taste, there was going to be no sipping! After about 10 minutes, it was gone and I was able to keep it down.

The next morning I talked my husband into trying a shot of the goodness. He hadn’t watched my reaction the day before and I was stressing how great it was for him. He agreed to try it. I mixed us both a small cup with 1 scoop of green with about 4oz of water. Down the hatch it went. I liked that it was gone in a gulp, so that was an improvement over the first taste. My husband was a good sport and finished the whole 4oz green shot. He politely said, “No more” and walked out the front door to work. I don’t think he liked it much because this morning when I went to make more 4oz green shots, he declined the offer.

The 4oz green shot method works good for me and I drink a lot of other fluids during the day. I haven’t noticed any huge differences in how my body feels or how I think, but I did create a whole new blog and wrote over 2000 words yesterday after taking the 4oz green shot.

My only negative comment so far was my mouth’s reaction to the drink on the first taste. Food sometimes irritates my system and the first drink of the green stuff left a mild ulcer on the side of my mouth. Taking the green stuff in the form of a shot has not caused any further ulcers. I hope that it’s not causing ulcers in other parts of the digestive system, but I’m sure I’ll know soon on that issue.

I will continue to take the 4oz green shots until this bucket is finished. I’ll repost any updates.

UPDATE – 1/12/14

On Saturday and Sunday, I did not take the Green Superfood. My body didn’t feel good. My joints hurt and my guts felt like they were loaded with concrete. A few years ago, I once set off an episode of “bad food intolerance” by adding ground Flax Meal to my diet. I did an allergy skin prick test and my whole back swelled up. The Flax probably wasn’t the only thing but after adding it (within a week) an allergic flare up happened in my body. The pain that I felt this weekend was similar to that past flax episode, so I was cautious and stopped taking the 4 oz shot for the weekend. I also worked out pretty hard at the gym last week. I couldn’t tell if the pain was from what I was eating or exercise.

Today I took the 4oz shot and am drinking a bunch of liquids. I feel great. But it’s Monday and I’m writing. I will keep you posted on the Green Superfood.

 UPDATE – 1/21/14

To be honest, I haven’t continued to drink the Green Shots every morning. I keep forgetting to take the gulp of green juice. Maybe it’s because my brain is protecting my tongue from a gritty green assault OR I just don’t like it enough to continue. I wish I could stamp a giant “F” across my post because I have failed to try the Green Superfood more than a few days in a row.

Honestly, adding a few hours of exercise every week and adding some water to my diet has really helped me feel better and those 2 changes have greatly improved my mood. It feels great to jump on a tread mill for an hour while I catch up on reading or watching TV. If you try the Green Superfood and have any noticeable benefits or negative effects…. I’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below.

Why A Writer?

B oldThe man sitting across from me handed over a piece of paper with a hand written message scribbled in pen:

Stand in front of the mirror and say out loud 3 times a day

“I am a good writer”

“I like to write”

“I like to read”

I had just served 4 years in the US Army and finished up my initial contact. Yes, I spent most of my enlistment on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu and there were no wars. I am still thankful that’s were they needed me most.  The Army offered me money to go to college on TV Ads and so I earned my money running through the jungle and putting up camo netting. At the end of my enlistment, I was offered counseling to help me find a job in the civilian world. I was 22 years old and ready to take on a new challenge.

In the ACAP (Army Career and Alumni Program) counselors office, I filled out the bubble questionnaire that was going to tell me what my ideal job was and what my personality was most suited for. Well apparently I filled in too many bubbles that indicated that I hated to read or write… in any form. I never did stand in front of the mirror for those daily affirmations. But I still remember them after 15 years and they often roll through my head. Mission affirmation accomplished. I enjoy reading and listening to audio books. I’ve even jumped into the idea of being a writer. More specifically, on Nov 4, 2014, I began the process of writing a book.

Shaking The Soda Habit? Try Home Brewed Tea

I will not make any claim on the teas I make and drink with my family other than they taste good. I am pleased that we are drinking a lot of virtually calorie free liquid. And the caffeine is put in it. And its good. Did I mention that I LIKE to drink tea. 🙂

In this posting, I will show you our favorite tea mix and how we brew it. Please fill free to comment with feedback and/or suggestions. My intentions are to make the tea quickly so please do not be offended by this method. We just started brewing our own tea mixtures this summer.


1# Fruity Caffeinated Tea Recipe:

  • 2 T SweetLeaf Stevia and Cane Sugar Mix (or preferred sweetener)
  • 2 T Loose Leaf OoLong Tea
  • 2 T FireBerry Fruit Tea (or preferred fruit tea)
  • 2 tea bags (or 3g) of Yerba Mate Tea

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STEPS TO BREW:IMG_9225

Step 1: Clean and assemble needed equipment.

  • 3 qt pot to boil water in
  • teas & sweetener
  • 2 large mess tea balls
  • 1 T scoop
  • 2 – 2qt pitchers

Step 2: Bring water to a boil. Some teas require specific temps for the perfect cup of tea. For this method of tea brewing, I simply bring the water to a boil and use.

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Step 3: Prepare Tea and put it into the pitchers. 1T of Sweetener and 1 bag of Yerba Mate Tea per pitcher. In the tea ball, scoop 1 T of Oolong and 1 T of Fruit Tea and then close ball. Attach ball and tea bag to the handle or side of the pitcher so it doesn’t fall in.

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Step 4: Fill both pitchers up with hot water until tea ball and bag are covered. Allow hot water to steep tea for 5-10 minutes and then top off both pitchers with cold water.

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Step 5: Allow the tea to sit for 4-6 hours at room temperature. I usually brew the tea in the evening so that it can sit over night.

Step 6: Serve! I like to fill a Quart Jar up with ice cubes and then add brewed tea.

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A Produce Sale Usually Means More Dehydrated Snacks For Us

If you are a person that enjoys snacking, try dehydrating sale or reasonably price produce.IMG_9248

During our shopping trip to Sprouts, we found a great sale on Red, Yellow, and Orange Peppers. YUM! There was no way that we could eat our ten peppers raw and I already had enough veggies for our meals. So we broke out the dehydrator.

This morning, my 15-year-old daughter cleaned and chopped up the peppers for drying. She organized the pepper pieces on the dryer and it’s drying now. We do not season peppers because they dry into tasty bits without the added cost of seasoning. Once the peppers are dry and crispy, we will pull them off the drying racks and put them into a 1 Gallon Sized Ziploc Bag or a reusable container. This time I will be opting for the Ziploc because we will be taking the snacks with us in the car.

I bought my dehydrator at Walmart right off the shelf. It’s not fancy.

Our drying or dehydrating method for fruits/veggies is simple and I do not add anything.

Steps:

  1. Buy bulk fruits or veggies (I like sales!)
  2. Wash fruits/veggies. (I soak fruits/veggies in a big salad bowl of a mix of water and 1 cup vinegar for 10ish minutes to help get wax off)
  3. Cut fruits/veggies into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick pieces
  4. Allow to dry over night or as many hours as it needs to dry food out.

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Home Beer Brewing

Thankfully, my husband is an adventurous guy and took on the challenge in Dec 2013 to start brewing beer at home. It’s an adventure that I really enjoy. His new beer crafting hobby has forever changed my taste buds for the dark suds.

For Christmas 2013, he got a @$100 home brewing kit from MidWestSupplies.com and a 20-min boil brew. The kit was a Nut Brown Ale that didn’t last too long after it carbonated in its bottles. To the kit, we’ve bought bottles from a local home-brew shop as well as a few beer kits.

From there he made a few different kits that included a Pumpkin Brew, Holiday Brew, White House Ale, and a Spice Beer. I’ve enjoyed them all…. except the brew that wasn’t finished brewing before you bottled it. It was a ‘bit’ too foamy!

beer brew bottleing bottles

#1 Foster Kitty Family – June/July 2014

We got our first kitty fosters in June/July 2014. We had no idea what we were getting into, but it turned out to get a great experience! The Manx kitties were about 4 weeks old and we got 2 girls and 1 boy. The 2 girls were short-tailed or no tailed and the boy had a full tail. Unfortunately, 1 of the little girls had a bad spinal birth defect that was not allowing her to grow and probably caused a lot of pain. She suffered from Mega Colon for a short time before she was allowed not to suffer any more. Her older brother and sister grew up to be strong and healthy kitties that were quickly adopted into their forever home once they were old enough.

  2 othersapril

7 Super Easy Freezer Meals for the Crock Pot

I’ll add photos and notes as we eat these dishes. We made the meals on 1/7/2015 and they were all placed into the freezer. I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions! Happy Cooking!

UPDATE: It’s 1/22/15 and we’ve tried 5 of the meals. My family LOVED 4 out of the 5 so far. The first 4 we tried were so good that when we tried the General Tso’s Slow Cooker Chicken we were just expecting to be blown away. I’m posting photos and notes on each one we’ve tried so far. I’d give my recipes 4 or 5 stars!

On 1/7/2015 – I was inspired by the following website. The shopping list and all recipes that I provide were adapted from that web site. It is one of the tastiest pages that I’ve ran across for crock pot freezer meals. I’ve tried a few other make ahead plans from the internet and I am most excited about this one. Other websites provided some meals my family did NOT like. So I did scrub the recipes before hand since I knew what would NOT work for us.

I did not clock myself making this batch of freezer meals but it didn’t take much time at all. It took a little time to buy the food and bring it home to wash, cook, and organize it. I packed the freezer bags right after I got home from the grocery store. The ingredients on the list I provided should be easy to find and the prep is as simple as I can make it. I did not pre-cook anything and left items in their cans until it was time to cook.

The canned items were bought and then I used a permanent marker to write the name of the recipe on the top of the can. I simply put the can into the cupboard until needed. I wrote the instructions, what needed to be added, and what side dish to prep on the out side of each bag with a permanent marker prior to filling. Because of my lack of planning, I usually take frozen meals and place them directly into crock pot. But I’ve seen many recommendations to thaw meals the night before use. I noted ingredients for serving suggestions with  (optional) label.

Below is the ingredient list that I used. Please use your favorite brands or your own variation of ingredients. I invite you to make it YOUR meal. Shopping list can be copied and pasted into a word processing program like MS Word or Open Office Write to be modified and printed. I did not print my recipes. I just used my laptop on prep day when I put all the ingredients into their recipe bags.

The 7 meals are:
**Spicy Shredded Meat – (not tried yet)
**Veggie Loaded Chicken Stew – (not tried yet)
**General Tso’s Slow Cooker Chicken – (okay, 3 out of 5 stars)
**Cranberry & BBQ Sauce Chicken – (yum, 4 out of 5 stars)
**Thai Peanut Pork – (YUM, 5 out of 5 stars)
**Sausage Soup with White Beans – (YUM, 5 out of 5 stars)
**Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff Soup – (yum, 4 out of 5 stars)


** SHOPPING LIST **

Meat

      • 5 lbs Chicken Tenders (not the breaded kind) or Chicken Breast (which ever has a better price)
      • 4 lbs Roast (Beef or Elk or Deer)
      • 2 lbs Pork Tenderloin
      • 1 lb Pack of Chicken Breakfast Sausage (Or Sausage You Prefer)

Dairy

      • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
      • (optional) sour cream / cheese (Spicy Shredded Meat)

Fresh Veggies / Items From Produce

      • 4 lbs Redskin Potatoes (do not freeze)(buy 1 or 2 per people serving)
      • 4 Large Onions
      • 4 cups mushrooms
      • Lime Juice
      • Minced Garlic
      • 6 Large Carrots
      • 12 Celery Stalks
      • (optional) shredded lettuce / tomatoes (Spicy Shredded Meat)
      • (optional) Shredded Cabbage (Cran & BBQ Chicken)
      • (optional) baby carrots (Cran & BBQ Chicken)
      • (optional) butternut squash (Cran & BBQ Chicken)

Frozen Veggies

      • 1 16oz Package Frozen Green Beans

Cans

      • 1 Can Whole Cranberries With Sauce
      • 1 Bottle Weber’s Original BBQ Sauce
      • 1 Bottle Soy Sauce
      • 1 Can Chopped Green Peppers
      • 1 Jar of Favorite Salsa
      • 2 Cans Wolfgang Puck French Onion Soup
      • 3 – 14 oz Cans of Great Northern Beans
      • 1 – 28 oz Can of Diced Tomatoes
      • 1 – 15oz Can of Crushed Tomatoes

Spices and Other Supplies

      • 10 Pack of Gallon Sized Freezer Bags
      • 1 Jar of Chicken Flavored Broth Base & Seasoning OR “Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
      • Apple Cider Vinegar
      • Chili Powder
      • Mediterranean Herb Seasoned Salt
      • Black Pepper
      • Cornstarch
      • Creamy Peanut Butter
      • Granulated Coconut Sugar (Or Regular Cane Sugar)
      • Organic Worcestershire Sauce
      • Dried Rosemary
      • Dried Parsley
      • Dried Oregano
      • Dried Ginger
      • 100% Real Honey
      • (optional) Cashew Nuts – to sprinkle on meal (Thai Peanut Pork)

Break / Grains

      • (optional) rice (Spicy Shredded Meat) / (Thai Peanut Pork) / (Sausage Soup)
      • (optional) 8-12 corn or flour tortillas (Spicy Shredded Meat)
      • (optional) 4-8 Sandwich Buns or Hawaiian Rolls (Cran & BBQ Chicken)
      • (optional) egg noodles or other preferred noodles (Beef & Mush Stro Soup)

Back to Recipe List


** Spicy Shredded Meat ( Elk / Deer / Beef)

Cook Time: 6 – 8 hours / Yield: 4-6 servings

*** Freeze ahead option – Put all ingredients into a 1 Gallon Freezer Bag. Do not put (optional) ingredients into bag. To save room in the freezer, do not add canned items into the bag. Use a permanent marker to write what recipe the can will go into and put the cans on the shelf until you are ready to cook crock pot meal. Put canned items in when other ingredients are added. ***

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb of Elk Roast (beef roast or deer roast can also be used)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 15oz Can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Chopped Green Peppers
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 2 T lime juice
  • (optional) corn or flour tortillas
  • (optional) shredded lettuce / tomatoes (do not freeze)
  • (optional) sour cream / cheese
  • (optional) rice

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into slow cooker & cook on low 6 – 8 hours.
  2. (Optional) Cook Rice.
  3. Remove meat from slow cooker & shred or chop.
  4. Place shredded meat back into strained liquid and cook 20 additional minutes (or start eating).

Suggested Serving Options:

  • Warm up Tortillas (corn or flour) and dress with shredded meat, optional veggies, sour cream / cheese
  • Rice can be cooked and used as a side dish.

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** Veggie Loaded Chicken Stew

Cook Time: 6-8 hours / Yield: 4-6 servings

*** Freeze ahead option – Put all ingredients into 1 Gallon Freezer Bag. Do not freeze POTATOES or CORNSTARCH. ***

 Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs chicken tenders or chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, wedged
  • 6 whole carrots – chop the top on bottom and toss in the whole carrot
  • 6 celery stalks, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T seasoned salt
  • 2 t parsley flakes
  • 1 T Chicken Broth Base
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • ITEMS THAT DO NOT GET FROZEN:
  • 4+ red potatoes, washed
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • ½ stick of butter

Instructions:

  1. Line the bottom of the crock pot with 4+ red potatoes and add the bag contents over the potatoes.
  2. Cook for 6-8 hours LOW.
  3. Use a whisk or fork to stir cornstarch into water.
  4. Stir in water/cornstarch mix into slow cooker and cook 10-20 minutes on high.

Suggested Serving Options:

  • Load bowls with stew.

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** General Tso’s Slow Cooker Chickenphoot o joof

Cook Time: 4-6 hours / Yield: 4-6

 *** Freeze ahead option – Put all ingredients into 1 Gallon Freezer Bag.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. cut up chicken tenders or chicken breast (long strips or 2 in squares)
  • 5 t minced garlic (I’ll double next time)
  • 8 T honey
  • 2 t dry powder ginger (I’ll double next time)
  • 6 T soy sauce (I’ll double next time)
  • 1 16oz. package of frozen green beans
  • (optional) rice

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook 4-6 hours LOW.
  2. (optional) Cook Rice about 30 min before serving.

Suggested Serving Options:

  • Put about a cup of rice in a bowl and add desired amount of Crock Pot General Tso’s Chicken over the rice.

Notes:

This recipe was okay. I’d put more sauce next time. I was happy about the green bean choice. I served this meal over rice and added pepper & garlic sauce to make it yummy. Everyone did eat this meal, but it was not our favorite of this bunch. The meal did it’s job on a busy day, so I can not dis it too much.

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** Cranberry & BBQ Sauce Chickenfood

Cook Time: 6-8 hours / Yield: 4-6 servings

*** Freeze ahead option – Put all ingredients into 1 Gallon Freezer Bag except (optional) ingredients. Do not freeze (optional) ingredients. To save room in freezer, do not add canned items into the bag. User a permanent marker to write what recipe the can will go into and put the cans on the shelf until you are ready to cook the meal. Put canned items into crock pot when other ingredients are added. ***

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • (optional) 4-8 Sandwich Buns
  • (optional) Shredded Cabbage
  • (optional) baby carrots
  • (optional) butternut squash (Cran & BBQ Chicken)

Instructions:

  1. Clean butternut squash and remove seeds. Cut into 6 large chunks.
  2. Place ingredients in slow cooker. Chicken mixture on the bottom and stack squash on top.
  3. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Suggested Serving Options:

  • Prepare Sandwich Buns by toasting them in a skillet or a toaster.
  • Pile cooked chicken & shredded cabbage onto buns with favorite condiments.
  • Put baby carrots on plate as side dish.

Notes:

My family liked this recipe a lot! Once this recipe was cooked, we pilled and mashed the squash. The squash was added as a toping. It can be eaten as a side. I did not get a dressed up photo of the sliders. We cut open the rolls and piled on the chicken, shredded cabbage, and squash. We ate baby carrots as a side.

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** Thai Peanut PorkIMG_9260

Cook Time: 6-8 hours / Yield: 4-5 servings

*** Freeze ahead option – Put all ingredients into 1 Gallon Freezer Bag. ***

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 3 T water
  • 2 T dried ginger
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • (optional) rice
  • (optional) cashew nuts to sprinkle on meal

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into slow cooker. Cook on low 6 hours.
  2. Take Tenderloin out and cut into bit sized pieces.
  3. Return meat to crock pot.
  4. (optional) cook rice.

Suggested Serving Options:

  • Put a cup of cooked rice in a bowl and top it with Pork.

Notes:

I needed to leave the house before 6:30am and did not want to mess with this meal. So I  allowed this meal to thaw in the crock pot over night. It cooked on LOW for 9 hours. It was a tad over cooked but not too much. I and my whole family really liked this meal too. I served it over short grain rice. We all went back for a second helping. When I make this meal again, I may add veggies. I’m not sure on what veggies but I will update this recipe if I’m inspired with anything good!

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** Sausage Soup with White BeansIMG_9255

Cook Time: 6 hours / Yield: 8 servings

*** Freeze ahead option – Put all ingredients into 1 Gallon Freezer Bag. Do not freeze (optional) ingredients into bag. TO save room in freezer, do not add canned items into the bag. User a permanent marker to write what recipe the can will go into and put the cans on the shelf until you are ready to cook the meal. Put canned items into crock pot when other ingredients are added. ***

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb breakfast sausage (raw)
  • 3 minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 6 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 – 14 oz. cans Great Northern Beans, drained
  • 1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 t dried rosemary
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t dried parsley
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 3 T Chicken Flavored Broth Base
  • 6-8 cups of water (depending on size of pot / add water until water line is within 2 inches of top)
  • (optional) rice

Instructions:

  1. (optional step that I did NOT do. I put raw sausage straight into freezer bag) Breakfast sausage can be cooked prior to bagging. Make sure to drain & let cool.
  2. Place all ingredients from bag into slow cooker.
  3. Add water until water line is within 2 inches of top of crock pot.
  4. Cook 6-8 hours LOW.

Suggested Serving Options:

  • Serve in a bowl.

Notes:

I took this meal from freezer  and put it directly into crock pot. I cooked it on LOW for 6 hours. Another meal my family loved. The flavor was just right and the texture was pleasing. I did serve the meal over short grain rice that I found on sale. The soup could be served without rice. My family likes rice. 🙂 We did have leftovers but the leftovers were eaten very quickly.

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** Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff Soupbeef strog

Cook Time: 6-8 hours / Yield: 4-6 servings

*** Freeze ahead option – Put all ingredients into 1 Gallon Freezer Bag. Do not freeze (optional) ingredients into bag. To save room in freezer, do not add canned items into the bag. User a permanent marker to write what recipe the can will go into and put the cans on the shelf until you are ready to cook the meal. Put canned items into crock pot when other ingredients are added. ***

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs stew beef (I used Elk Roast)
  • 2 cans Wolfgang Puck French Onion Soup
  • 1 c diced onions
  • 3 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (DO NOT FREEZE)
  • (optional) egg noodles or other preferred noodles

Instructions:

  1. Put items from freezer bag in into crock pot and cook 6-8 hours LOW.
  2. Once meat is cooked, cut cream cheese into cubes and place into slow cooker. You may need to break cream cheese up with fork. Allow soup to cook another 15+ minutes.
  3. (optional) cook noodles

Suggested Serving Options:

  • Stroganoff will be soupy.
  • Add 1 cup of noodles in a bowl and scoop Stroganoff into bowl as desired.

Notes:

I took this meal from freezer  and put it directly into crock pot. Cooked on LOW for 6 hours. The family LOVED this soup and the house smelled great when we got home. We filled our bowls and enjoyed this dish as a soup. Although I think it was intended to be thicker, we enjoyed the soupy texture. You can thicken with corn starch if desired or add less water. YUM! When I make this again, I will most likely add more veggies. Maybe carrots?

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Foster Animal Volunteers

B oldWe are a volunteer family at the Pikes Peak Humane Society here in Colorado Springs, CO. In 2014, my girls and I volunteered almost 300 hours. My husband joined in with our volunteering effort later in the year had her volunteered around 150 hours. We’ve played with many cats and dogs at the Humane Society building, but we most enjoy the time we get to care for kitties in our home.  We have come to love each kitty and accompanying momma cat. We will up date this page with each foster family visit.

The Pikes Peak Humane Society in Colorado Springs, CO asks for people to volunteer their homes for a short period of time to act as foster care providers for animals. We happen to help with kitties that are too young to adopt out. By having the under aged kitties in our home, we are helping them to become ‘socialized’ with people and to be better pets. The first 8 weeks of a kitty’s life with humans has a huge impact on how the cats will react with people for the rest of their lives.

About Us

My name is Wendy and I live in Colorado with my family. I’ve been a lot of different titles.

Sister, Daughter, Mom, Wife, Soldier, Student, Teacher, Computer Monkey, Volunteer.

Time for a new title. In November 2014, I started a reading and writing journey. Presently, I am working on a middle grade / pre-teen / teen adventure fiction manuscript. I also help direct a Biology seminar for High School students.

We are a life time learning type of family and we don’t stop changing. We love to go on new adventures and try new things.