Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Taco Soup

Today, I am going to share my adaptation of Lisa Taylor's Taco Soup recipe...Her Grande Cooking technique was used by my homeschool support group every so often as we would gather and prep meals for our families.  It was a fun time of fellowship and many hands making light work.  What I love most about this particular recipe is that it is SO EASY to throw together and get into the freezer.  You cook the meat and pretty much open cans and dump it in a bag.  Some may shudder, but let me tell you...I NEED meals like this to keep my sanity...and it is MANY steps away from the Golden Arches!

Here are the measurements for one meal's adapted by me for my family's preferences.

1.5 lbs ground beef, cooked with onion and garlic.
3 cups tomato puree- we do not care for tomato chunks in our soup
1 c tomato sauce
1 15 oz can refried beans- slightly thickens the soup and we LOVE refried beans
2 cups salsa- we have a produce stand that sells a pico style salsa that is DELCIOUS...but Costco's Organic salsa is also very careful though, sometimes it has a bite.
1 can pinto beans
1 can chili beans- not chili
1 can kidney beans
3 c water
1 pkg. taco seasoning

After the beef is cooked, dump everything in the bag.  I use empty #10 cans to set my bags in to help with finishing this recipe.  That is one of the best things I learned from our freezer meal sessions.  Sometimes I stir everything up in a LARGE pot first to break up the refried beans and just measure into the bags, but most of the time I just dump it into the bags. I HIGHLY recommend using 2 gallon bags for this OR making a double batch and dividing it between three bags.
You can use Rotel or diced green chiles in this if you like, we prefer it without.

To cook: Thaw and pour contents of the bag into the crock pot...cook on low 6 ish hours or heat in a pan until hot.  Serve with cilantro, sour cream, cheese and corn chips.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Love Letters from God

Love Letters from God
Written by Glenys Nellist
Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp
Zondervan Publishing
Ages 4-8
Price: $16.99

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.
From the website: Love Letters from God, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp, is a whimsical collection of eighteen iconic Bible stories that include little love letters from God written especially for the reader.

Love Letters from God is a Bible Story book, with beautiful illustrations for children ages 4-8.  Retelling some of our favorite Bible Stories, one thing that makes this book unique is a lift the flap letter that you can personalize for your child (Or children) that gives an application that is at the child's level.  Children love to get letters, and it is fun to lift the flap and read the letter at the end of the story.  My son was a bit old for this book, as he is reading the Bible on his own...but he still enjoyed looking through the pages and lifting the flaps.
I think this book would be best used to read one story/letter per session, whether you do it daily, weekly or as you think of it.  It is too much to take in all at once and it would be sad to rush through it just to get to the end.  There is a lot to see in the illustrations and much to talk about in the story and letter.  There are some good lessons in, for Joseph: God will never leave you...or David and Goliath:Do not be afraid of the giant things in your life.

One thing that I did not care for were the little extras the author added in to fill in details or make the story more interesting to read.   For instance, In the first story, the author refers to the day as one magical morning...well, that sounds pretty harmless, but are we unintentionally taking away from the majesty and power of our God by saying that?  Was it magic or did God speak everything into existence.   In The Lions Who Lost Their Lunch, the author seems to give the lions a voice in this retelling of the story.  They knew Daniel was coming, they were looking forward to eating him, he smelled good, the lions almost laughed out loud...It seems to just make the word a bit ridiculous.  In the Very Smelly Belly, Jonah prays while holding his nose and when he gets vomited out onto dry land, it says he did "several flying somersaults".   I could go on, and these are little things, but  I do not think we need to dumb down the Word of God and God's Word does not need embellished. You might want to look through this book and see if those things bother you or not before you purchase it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jonah and the Great Big Fish

Jonah and the Great Big Fish
Written by: Rhonda Gowler Greene
Illustrated by: Margaret Spengler
Zondervan Publishing

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.

From the Website: “God told Jonah to obey, said, ‘Go to Nineveh this day.’ But, stubborn Jonah fled instead. Didn’t do just what God said.” Jonah’s disobedience landed him inside a big fish! And there he had time to think and pray. Children will feel the waves and hear the splash as Jonah sinks “down and down and down” into the belly of the fish. This story serves as an excellent reminder of how important it is to listen to God.

Written in the sing song rhythm of poetry that children LOVE and remember, this book encourages children to listen and do the things God wants us to do.  With beautiful illustrations and text that you will be quoting after you read it a couple of times.
The book ends about half way through where the Bible book of Jonah gives the full account, with Jonah waving to the big fish and then going to Nineveh.

I really loved this book, but wish it would have told the whole story and while I understand making young children's books must have a fine line in which parts you choose to tell, I think waving goodbye to the fish was a bit much.

NIV Teen Study Bible

NIV Teen Study Bible
Zondervan Publishing
Ages 12-15

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.

From the Website:
As an on-the-go teen, you’re moving fast. God is moving faster! The Teen Study Bible will help you keep in step with all he has done, is doing, and will do in the world---and in your life. This bestselling Bible will help you discover the eternal truths of God’s Word and apply them to the issues you face today.

Features include:

We Believe: Upacks the Apostle's Creed to reveal the biblical foundation of faith

Panorama: Keeps the big picture of each book of the Bible in view

4 full-color pages

Key Indexes: Help with in-depth Bible Study

To the Point: Reveals what the Bible says about pressing issues

Dear Jordan: Offers Biblical Advice for Teens

Instant Access: Tells what God says to you personally

Q & A: Tests your knowledge of Bible Trivia

Bible Promises: Highlights Bible verses worth remembering

Book Introductions: Provides an overview for each book of the Bible

8 page, full color map section

Complete text of the New International Version of the Bible

We received a paperback version of this Bible for review purposes.  The look of this Bible would be nice for boys or girls about ages 10-13 or so.  I think that older teens would prefer a study Bible, but this might be a great segue from a children's Bible to a study Bible.  The font is a nice size and the extra features are fun to read, but I think mostly a little light for older students.

The one area you might want to consider with this Bible is the Dear Jordan portion.  Some of these topics are pretty heavy, rape, incest, abortion, Aids, alcoholic parents, cyber sex...just check into that and see if you think these are appropriate for your family.  There is a list of the back under the title Teen Life Index and you can get a feel for how this would work in your home.

The Preview sections give a basic rundown of what is happening in the book, with some key things pointed out.  I think these sections are nice so you have a little background into what you are studying.

In our home, our older boy was not interested in this and my younger boy was too young for the topics covered in the Dear Jordan sections.  My daughter liked the look of the Bible, but I don't want these topics brought up to her either right now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Berenstain Bears Keep The Faith

The Berenstain Bears Keep The Faith
Mike Berenstain
Zonderkidz Publishing

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.

From the website:
Brother and Sister love science. But when their friend Ferdy Factual shares his questions about God creating the universe, the cubs are confused. A trip to see Preacher Brown helps them understand the meaning of faith.

I grew up LOVING the Berenstain Bears.  Originally created by Stan and Jan Berenstain, I would read the books and watch the cartoons of the bears often.  I was excited to introduce the much loved Berenstain Bears to my children, especially with such a great topic as faith.  This book is written by Mike Berenstain, son of Stan and Jan.

In the beginning of the book, you see Brother and Sister's Friend Ferdy, who loves science share that he doesn't believe in God, because he believes in science, ..."in things you can see and test and prove."  The cubs were confused and talked with their parents over dinner.  During the conversation, the question of what is faith comes up.  Mama and Papa do not answer the question, but plan to take the cubs to Preacher Brown to get an explanation, because Preacher Brown "knows all about faith."  I understand that discussing topics that are hard for adults at time to grasp is difficult, but I really would have liked to see the cubs parents talk with them about what faith is.

The next day, the family goes to see the preacher.  The preacher refers the children to the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den.  The implication is that the Lion's didn't eat Daniel because he had faith that God would save him.  Then he says, "That's what faith in God is all about- trusting in His love."  

At the end of the book, the bears head towards home.  Storm clouds are gathering and Sister started to be afraid.  She remembered Daniel's faith and that helped her feel braver.

I know this is a children's book...but it seems to send the message that if we have faith, nothing bad will ever happen to us.  I don't think it really addressed the issue of what is faith either.  The Bible says   " Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)
I guess I would have liked to have seen that addressed and then taken back to the comment from Ferdy that he believes "in things you can see and test and prove", rather than taken off in a tangent that was not even an issue.  I feel like the answer just muddied things up more.

While I personally did not care for the direction the story took the question of "What is Faith", my children enjoyed the story and we were able to talk it through more deeply, which is probably the best part of the whole thing!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Three Things Thursday

Three Things Thursday

So, school is coming towards us much faster than I would like...friends are grabbing out their planners and curriculum, placing orders, creating daily lessons and so much more. I feel like I am in a might be called denial!  I have been thinking about school this year and praying a little.  I feel like the Lord is leading us a particular direction and I am excited about that, but still needed to sit down and develop our action/battle plan. I thought I would share three of the Scriptures that are on my heart as I am praying about what our year is going to look like and casting vision for each of us.  I have shared this with my husband, but we have not yet had an opportunity to talk about it.

1. Nehemiah 4:6, 19-20 (emphasis is the focus of my prayer)

So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another.  At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us."

(now, I KNOW that this is completely out of context, but the words help me form my vision for what I believe the Lord is calling us to... Schooling children is a great and extensive work.  My children are separated by several years, at some places we need to come together and work and I am asking the Lord to help us complete it and give all of us a mind to work.)

2. Proverbs 1:1-7

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding
To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion,
A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

3. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

I love that the planner I am using this year is helping me step through this process...beginning with asking for wisdom from the Lord and then prayerfully proceeding from there.  If you are in the market for a new planner, can I recommend Debra Bell's Ultimate Homeschool Planner.  I really LOVE this planner and the focus on the Lord and documenting His faithfulness to us as we walk along the way.

And THAT is my Three Things post for this week!  Do you have three things you want to share?  #linkup, #3ThingsThursday

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Three Things Thursday

So, I don't NORMALLY do these things, but my friend Heidi had a 3 Things post that made me giggle...books on her nightstand...So I thought I would post on facebook a picture of the books on my table...because I ALWAYS have a stack going all the time...I wasn't planning on blogging this, but it has been a L O N G time since I have blogged about anything I thought I would go ahead and do it afterall... #3ThingsThursday

So, number one:  The books on my nightstand...I actually had to tidy up my nightstand to get this picture...the book on the bottom cannot be seen well because of the dark spine, but a biography on George Washington...some of these books I have been working on for a LONG TIME...others, just breezing through...a couple...just got set aside...but I always have a stack that I am always reading at one time.

Number two and three are a bit combined...we have a friend from Illinois visiting and this is what is seen quite a bit at my house!  LOVE IT!

I am so thankful for the friends my children have!

So, If you want to join in on the can #linkup too!