Friday, September 30, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

3 cups cubed cooked chicken (I prefer dark meat, about 3 thighs)
2 cups mixed veggies(frozen, I like to add them to the meat while it cooks, along with the spices)
1/2 tablespoon of celery seeds
1/2 tablespoon of dried minced onions
garlic, salt, pepper to taste
After cooking, stir together remaining ingredients and pour into the pie crust. Cover with other crust.
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup of milk
1 can of cream condensed soup of choice. I usually use cream of chicken.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes-1 hour.

I usually make a double batch and freeze 1/2 on the chicken mix. Then when I need a dinner on the fly, I thaw it out, throw it in a pie shell and whala, homemade dinner!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our visitor this week

Our nephew, Finn, stayed the week with us. His parents were on a cruise and he could not have missed them at all, because my two girls were there at his every beck and call. Literally. Whether it was for food, drink, toys, sleep, fun, diaper change or whatever...they took care of it. I really only helped out when he was misunderstood and frustrated. He was a complete joy. It was a special time to spend it with him!
His best sleep was when he bunked with Liv... Steph and I like our space when we are sleeping!!

He cheered Liv on one night at the ball field. Snacks from the concession helped with keeping him busy...his favorite was the Ring Pop!

Legos, cars and balls were the hit around here. I loved how he laid down on his tummy to play! My girls always sat to play...interesting!

He was fine in the pool, but he really preferred to chase the kitty around or to just run around outside! Mosquitoes love him though, so it was dangerous territory!

Aunt Katie and Uncle Paul found all kinds of goodies to reward all of us for our efforts, but Finn's love and attention was enough. He is welcome any time!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pumpkin bread

Nothing says Fall like a batch of what we call Pumpkin Bread.

1 box of spice or carrot cake
1 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin (you could use fresh)
1/2 water

Mix all ingredients in a large ziploc. Once blended together, cut the corner and fill up the cupcake liners. We also use it in the mini muffin pan with no liners. If so, we oil the pan. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 350.

We prefer no icing. And some recipes skip the water and the batter is more dense. Our family likes this moist recipe. This is super easy and quick clean up...great for young bakers!

Fall Ball

Olivia is playing Fall Ball. This is a shorter season, only 12 games. She has surprised us all and is of course just good at it! She is as cute as can be in her uniform...and she always has her hair done! Some things are just a given.

Oh yes! She is a cutie!

This is warm up for the big game!

First time up to bat...we were all a little nervous. The pitching machine is sending it 40 mph, and all I could do is hope! First ball... SLAM...right past second...into outfield and she got a double! Then she got the first run of the season for her team! Oh you should have heard the screams of joy!

This was the first hit! Second game, she not only got a great hit, she made an RBI and got a run too! She is loving ball, but she has told us she is going to try cheer leading too someday!

Thanks for those who are coming out and supporting Olivia, she does appreciate it!

Florida History Part 1

Our first stationed co-op of the year was on Florida Indians. We had four stations. At one of them the kids went outside to play a game that some of the Appalachee Indians played. We did not play it as fierce or with such endurance. Inside Ms. Debbie shared with the students some of the foods the Indians might have eaten. There was much represented that came from the land. I am not sure any of it was a great hit, but it was very educational.

At anther station they made weapons and jewelry with rocks and shells! Fun stuff!

Some kids went with the idea of "the more the better", "not less is more!"

The soffkee was really good when mixed with the deer meat stew!

We are sure the Calusa, Timucans, Tequestas, Tocobagans and even some of the unknown Indians have such great histories, and we have had such a great time learning about them!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Florida Indians: People of the River

This week we went to visit Crystal River State Park for a field trip. It was a little last minute, but we pulled it off and it paid off, to my great surprise. The park is an amazing area to walk around and see where some of Florida's first people lived along the river. The Ranger was super great and so filled with facts, that even though he had plans for the day, he made time for our small group. The park includes a number of shell middens (trash piles) and two burial mounds. Before we went I wondered how anyone could tell if a small mound was just dirt or was an archaeological site, because after all, here in Florida every other mile there is a small hill or two. Of course I learned that many times it is not known until digging occurs and then "things" are found. This park is right next to a neighborhood. It is right along the River heading towards the Gulf. It is overgrown with all kinds of oaks, Magnolias and other hardwood trees. Grass covers all of the once white sanded, shell piled grounds. I think that was the most difficult part for the kids... transferring the vision of the model inside the museum to the outside green world. It was worth the drive and the large ceremonial shell midden was amazing! So was the stele with the face!
This is one of the burial mounds. It was the larger of the two. Fifteen feet down they dug and found a skeleton of a man with some artifacts surrounding him. They stopped digging once they released it was a burial ground. The other smaller mound is flatter. It was for the common people who were buried without tools or supplies for the afterlife.

This was atop the tallest midden. It was strange to find large oak trees growing out of the top of the pile. I like that it demonstrated how long that pile of oyster shells had actually been there....hundreds and hundreds of years.

This is the walkway up the shell midden.

This is the southern side of the large shell midden that was dug out when the sea wall along the river was being built. This is how the area was discovered. It is amazing. The kids were funny when they started talking about the chores of the Indian kids and how many times they had to take out the garbage to make a pile that big!

Most of the midden is covered in grass and weeds now, but under the stairs you can see the shells. Way cool!

The Ranger gave us great explanations of the time periods and some of their tools. I thought it was pretty interesting that the "spools" they wore in their ears like modern day "gages" were probably used for gathering of fibers...after all, pockets in clothing were limited, and it was a convenient way to always have it.

The Ranger took the group outside so we could practice using an ancient spear like tool called an atlatl. The kids were pretty good but they realized it would have taken LOTS of practice to have good aim. An extra portion of the tool was added years later by the Indians to make the spear move farther and faster with just a flick of the wrist. It was super fun to try them out!

We all were aiming for the trees. None of us hit the mark!

This is an adz. It is a tool that was used for many things. The whelk shell was a common find around the shores of Florida and multiple tribes used them. One story I read mentioned how some trees were covered with the shells that had been "holed-out" so as the branches grew, it would make a tighter fit. Some used sinew to tie the shell on.

If you need an outing for the day, it is worth your few dollars of entrance fee and a great place to spend a portion of your day. Bring bug spray, the little biting gnats and ferocious mosquitoes are awaiting!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Home schooling on the road

This is where we spent the past week living and home schooling. Yes, we are going to miss the turning of the seasons, and all the magnificent leaves as they turn their reds, yellows and oranges, but we got to enjoy the beginning of apple season. Since we were staying with the Russ family at the Smith house, I was able to plan a week of schooling that centered around apples. Yes, to some it was very primary...but we read some books, learned some facts and mostly had fun. The girls were blessed by a neighbor up the hill to have a morning of learning how to can apples. Another day we made an apple pie and shared it with friends and family. I would say it was a success.

An assortment of apples went into our sauce. Cortlands, delicious, granny smiths and a few others.

We peeled and cut up two huge bowls full. We ended up with many jars!!!

Keeping a watchful eye on the pot kept it from burning. It sure made the work load easier with so many hands!

At moments it was messy, but now they all know how to can !

Later in the week we all went to Barber's Orchard. It was the first time I had seen a tree full of apples.

They couldn't pick these... but they had to pose with them!

This is the way the Smoky Mountains looked as we were leaving... the morning fog had not lifted and it was dreamy like. We love it here and appreciate being able to visit. Steve's grandparents had a home for many years in Linville, NC...someday it would be great to have one too. A girl has to dream! I will forever be a Florida girl who is within miles of a beach, but those mountains have a pull all their own!