Don’t Blink…A Mamma’s Thoughts On The New School Year

 

Here we are. School Year 2020-2021 is well underway. We’re actually about 6 weeks in at this point. For the last couple of years we’ve been doing school year round because it gives our schedule a little more flexibility so we started back in July. We’d given the kids the choice of schooling year round or traditionally and they all voted to continue on this way.

Every year when I take these photos for their annual progress reports and portfolios, they take my breath away. The change in those little faces from one year to the next is astounding. The longer I am a mother, the more the words “Don’t blink” resonate with my soul.

These “little” years are so full and pass by so quickly. With each child it becomes more and more obvious to this Mamma heart that they must be deeply cherished because these little people will be grown so very soon.

So, even if you’re in the trenches of the little years right now, don’t forget to take pictures and cherish these moments. They will be gone before you know it.

Here we are with a 4th grader. A handsome, man-child with a big heart.

_MG_0466

A 2nd grader, full of charm and personality and cute as can be.

_MG_0502

A 4 year old preschooler who makes us laugh so hard we could cry and is just about the happiest and bubbliest little guy I’ve ever known.

_MG_0485

…and this sweet little beauty…she is so full of spunk and love. She melts us all.

_MG_0510

May God continue to grow each of these little souls for HIS glory. May this year continue to foster in them a love for learning. I pray that even when we’re in the middle of the hard days of homeschooling, we will be able to know and feel how blessed we are to be on this journey together. ❤

Chocolate Chip Scones Recipe

scone 2

I have a tasty breakfast treat for you all today! These delicious scones are made from 100% homeground whole wheat flour (though you can certainly subsitute store bought whole wheat flour as well). They taste just about the same as a chocolate chip cookie, just slightly less sweet. Not only are they delicious, they are super easy to make and take only a few minutes to bake. Perfect for a weekend breakfast treat!

 

Chocolate Chip Scones

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

scone

2 cups flour (I used freshly ground hard white wheat)

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt or pink himalayan salt

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2-3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup butter (cold)

101/2 tsp vanilla (pure vanilla)

1 egg

1/4 cup heavy cream (you can substitute milk if you don’t have cream, but the cream does make a tasty scone)

** you may find that you need slightly more cream…after adding the first 1/4 cup, add a tablespoon at a time extra if needed to make the mixture come together**

Step One:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine all dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and chocolate chips)

Step Two:

Combine your wet ingredients (egg, cream, vanilla)

Step Three:

Cut in cold butter to the dry ingredients

Step Four:

Combine your dry ingredients and wet ingredients

Step Five:

Shape the dough into a slightly flat circle and cut into eight pieces with a pizza cutter

Step Six:

Bake on 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown

Enjoy! 🙂

Summer Bible Study Resources and Activities

Are you wondering how to keep the kids going on Bible study and VBS alternatives? I did some research for my kids as well as some of the kids at church because we were all wondering the same thing…how can we keep them growing and learning and in the habit of church and Bible study when everything is so different.

I wanted to share with you all some of the fun, inexpensive (OR FREE) resources I found while researching options available to us now, in the midst of this strange season.

First, let’s talk about Superbook videos are excellent to add into screen time to reinforce some of your Bible study lessons. We’ve really enjoyed these. All three of my boys (ages 9,7 and 4) have loved watching them. My little guy incorporates these into his “school time” when the older boys need quiet to focus on harder subjects.

download (1)

 You can find those here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmkgg5el8Fg3IX_baZyfSaQ

Another great resource are these Answers in Genesis videos and activities for some fun creation related content. These are also free. You could use these along with other resources to do a “creation week” group of summer lessons.

images

https://answersingenesis.org/kids/videos/

You can also subscribe for their magazine as well if you’re interested. There’s both a kids version and an adult version.

download (2)

https://answersingenesis.org/store/magazine/

If you love watching family friendly movies with your kiddos…check out Pilgrims Progress, you can currently view the movie for FREE with your children by providing your email address! This was a great movie with a wonderful lesson! My boys thoroughly enjoyed it! Just keep in mind there are a couple of spooky parts so if your little one isn’t quite there yet you may want to forgo this one for now. 

download (3)

We like to do Friday night pizza and movie night at our house and this would be a great movie for such a night!! Get out the popcorn and treats and ENJOY! 

https://www.revelationmedia.com/watchpilgrims/

Let’s look at some daily Bible study materials next:

You can check out this one by Christian Preschool Printables. It’s a Bible study tool with a 4 day per week/26 week study for kids with printables! All you have to do is download and print!! 

Here are the free coloring pages:

https://christianpreschoolprintables.com/free-bible-abc-coloring-pages/

If you’re interested in the whole study, it’s very affordable at $15.

https://craftyclassroom.com/product/bible-abc-letter-of-the-week/

Another great and very affordable resource would be Teachers pay Teachers’ website, they have many different options for easy & printable worksheets, activities and posters that focus on the fruits of the spirit.

These could be very fun to carry through the summer weeks and then wrap up your study at the end with a fruit themed party! Don’t forget the fruit flavored popsicles and a fruit pizza! 

download (4)

Check out the recipe here:

https://pinchofyum.com/fruit-pizza

There are also lots of other free and affordable options for fruits of the spirit lessons if you’re not interested in this particular one. 

Free Fruit of the Spirit coloring pages:

https://ministry-to-children.com/fruit-of-the-spirit-index/

Now VBS is one of those things that my two older boys really love and look forward to but given the circumstances I wouldn’t be ready for that even if it were offered. I’ve been trying to think of some ways to keep the tradition going through all of this and when I stumbled on this I thought this may be a genius alternative to traditional VBS. 

download (5)

Check it out… a quarantine friendly VBS option! You can get a family license for $25! 

Here’s what’s included:

Single Family License. . . $25

  • Permission for a single family whose church is not hosting BOLT
  • Access to the “Family Portal” where you will find…
  • 3 days of video content (approx. 25 minutes per day)
  • Parent and Leader Guide with step-by-step instructions
  • Game directions
  • Materials list
  • Coloring sheets
  • Origami instructions
  • Spotify playlist with featured BOLT VBS music by “Citizen Way”

https://www.gocurriculum.com/bolt-vbs

I also wanted to share a couple of books you could use with your kids for Bible study. I’ve personally used and loved both of these. Of course there are many other affordable options out there as well but these two are books we’ve used often and know well. 

The first one”Know Your Bible for Kids” includes very short quick lessons on various topics. Perfect to use with a preschooler because it’s short and sweet and includes a verse to go with the lesson that could be shortened as needed for the younger kids. You can get it on thriftbooks.com for under $6.

kyb

The second one is a little more expensive but still very reasonable. We have used it for homeschooling, but it’s also a fantastic resource for family Bible study whether you homeschool or not! It’s called “Art and the Bible for Children” and includes short Bible stories and that’s followed by an art lesson.

abc

Christianbook.com has it for under $17. My kids have loved this one for several years.

The last thing I wanted to share with you is the Ark Encounter

download (6)

Learn more about it here: https://arkencounter.com/about/.

Now I realize that this may not be happening in the next couple of weeks, but from what I understand this whole year, all children under 10 get in free. Given that circumstances, they may even extend that offer into next year (that’s my hope… so I’m keeping this one on my radar). If you like to take educational field trips during breaks or you’re just looking for a fun family activity once things get back to normal, then this could be something of interest for some of you. 

There’s no denying it. It’s going to be a different kind of summer for all of our kids this year. One like we’ve never had before. I still believe that with a little bit of extra effort and creativity we’ll be able to make it a memorable one. Most of all, I’m hoping that the most memorable part of it will be extra time spent together as a FAMILY.

 

Homemade Butter & Buttermilk

I’ve been baking bread for a long time. The store bought stuff just doesn’t compare. It’s worth the extra time and work every time! So what do you do with a fresh loaf of homemade bread?! You pair it up with some fresh homemade butter, of course! It sounds crazy…making your own butter, I know. A couple of years ago I was a little nervous to try it. If you have a mixer, it’s basically making overwhipped whipped cream! Within a few minutes you can turn a 32 oz bottle of heavy cream into about two sticks of butter. Just make sure to stay by the mixer because it goes pretty quickly and if the mixer is turned up too high it’ll make a terrible mess. I recently stepped away for a “second” to change a diaper and returned to buttermilk splashed all over the mixer, the counter, the floor. It wasn’t pretty.

Here’s what you need:

32 oz bottle of heavy cream

bottle or jar to store the buttermilk in (I reused a bottle from juice)

mixer with whisk attachment

butter dish and parchment to store the finished butter in (I put one in the dish and store the other in parchment in the fridge)

butter 1

Step One: pour the whole bottle of cream into the mixer and set to about medium speed.

butter 2

You can see the bubbles starting to form.

butter 3

Getting close to “soft peak” whipped cream.

butter 4

butter 5

Step two: Here we’re at about overwhipped whipped cream stage. At this point I would turn the mixer down just a little.

butter 6

butter 8

It’s getting thicker now. Not much longer before it starts to separate.

butter 9

butter 10

Step three: it’s separating now and most of the solids will stick to the whisk attachment.

butter 12

Check out that buttermilk! It’s great for biscuits, pancakes, homemade ranch and more!!!

butter 13

Step four: take the butter out of the mixing bowl and work out the rest of the buttermilk using either your hands or a wooden spoon/spatula.

butter 15

Step five: shape the butter the way you like it. Sometimes I leave it like this but most of the time I separate this into two sticks of butter.

butter 16

Step six: pour buttermilk into your jar or bottle. I generally prefer glass over plastic.

butter 17

There you go! Six easy steps to fresh butter and buttermilk!

butter 18

Now make yourself some English muffins and enjoy! 🙂

english muffin

Homemade Sour Dough Tortillas

Today I’m sharing a family favorite with you guys! We thoroughly enjoy a good burrito in our house! They’re even more tasty (and healthy) with these homemade sour dough tortillas.

So let’s get started…

What you’ll need:

*see full recipe and instructions at the bottom of the post

  • all purpose flour (I prefer something unbleached like the King Arthur or Arrowhead Mills Organic)
  • salt (I like either a regular fine sea salt or fine pink himalayan)
  • olive oil (just a plain old olive oil will do)
  • water (I typically use hot water)
  • sour dough starter (you can omit this if you prefer to make them without it, just use less flour)

A few notes…

This is a great recipe for beginners because there’s truly not much to it! The hardest part is rolling out the tortillas thin enough and getting them flat in the pan. That just comes with practice. After the first few it’s smooth sailing. The dough is so simple to make, anyone can do it. There’s no special technique required! Make sure your pan is good and hot but not too hot. I prefer a cast iron skillet. Here’s what I use:

https://grocery.walmart.com/ip/Lodge-Pre-Seasoned-12-Inch-Cast-Iron-Skillet-with-Assist-Handle/5969633

The tortillas usually keep well in a ziplock bag for about a day or two.

That’s pretty much it! So easy!

Here’s a few photos of the process:

Tortilla

OSFL_02

OSFL_01

OSFL_03

OSFL_04

Homemade Sour Dough Tortillas

  • Servings: 10-12 tortillas
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

OSFL

Ingredients:

4 to 4 1/2 c all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 c sour dough starter

1/4 c olive oil

1 2/3 c hot water

Directions: 

  • Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (Start with about 4 cups of the flour and add more if necessary)
  • Add in sour dough starter
  • Add in olive oil and hot water
  • Combine (add additional flour to dough until it’s no longer sticky)

**Generally when I make this recipe I like to allow the dough to sit for a few hours prior to making the tortillas to maximize health benefits from the starter, but if I’m in a pinch and I need them fast, I’ve made them right away with no problem at all. The beautiful thing about these tortillas is that they don’t need to “rise” so they don’t take nearly as long as a loaf of sour dough bread.**

Flour the surface you’re working on and set out your dough,

Separate into 10-12 small dough balls.

Roll out the dough balls very thin and place in the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side on medium heat.

5 Simple & Frugal Christmas Decorating Tips

Today I want to share some of my favorite decorating ideas for creating a festive home on a small budget with 5 simple tips.

  1. Christmas lights: 

Lights add so much coziness to a space! Even if you don’t have time and money for anything else, just adding a few lights can make a big difference in your home. In our early years of marriage before I had accumulated Christmas decorations, lights were pretty much all I had! Of course this was almost 17 years ago and we didn’t have Pinterest to show us all the lovely  & inexpensive DIY decorations! How did we make it without Pinterest?!

OSFL_0010.jpg

2. Christmas fabrics & patterns:

The right fabrics and patterns also play a large role in the coziness of your home at Christmas time. Burlap is one of my favorites to have around the house for the holiday season. This year we added Burlap ribbon to the tree as well as the table runner. One of my favorite combinations is the rustic/natural burlap and sparkly gold accents or the warmth of the golden glow from the Christmas lights. Plad is another of my favorites because of the large variety in colors and patterns available. Combinig the more masculine plads with softer crocheted pieces works very well.

OSFL_0011

3. DIY Garlands & Greenery:

OSFL_0009

Store bought garlands can be crazy expensive! The thing is, the right garland in the right place looks pretty amazing! Whether you prefer the good old simple green garlands or something with more color, both can easily be made at home for a fraction of the cost. Depending on where you live…if there’s any kind of evergreen trees in your yard, it may not cost you anything for a simple green garland for a fire place, stair case or shelves.

OSFL_0007OSFL_0008

Other garlands you could try for a pop of color are these cranberry garlands. The beautiful red pairs so well with white and it costs very little to make.

OSFL

OSFL_0006

These also go well with the green Christmas tree and pair well with popcorn. Here’s a garland from last year’s tree:

OSFL_0002.jpg

For some additional color, add in a dried orange garland in a window. These look beautiful when the sunlight streams in the window.

$(FILE_NAME)_04

4. DIY snowflakes:

Another very inexpensive and easy craft you can try are these snowflakes. They can be a fun family activity as well for the holiday season. They look beautiful in the window or on a fireplace.

osfl_01.jpg

OSFL_0003

The popsicle snowflakes also make wonderful diy ornament gifts. You can add a small photo of your child in the center along with small sparkly jewel stickers and the year, for a sweet keepsake.

OSFL_0005.jpg

5. DIY ornaments:

Ornaments aren’t necessarily super costly if you’re buying one or two a year, but when you’re first starting out as a new husband and wife with not a single ornament to hang on a tree and very little money (that was us)…that all adds up fast when you think about how many ornaments it takes to fill up a tree!

My favorite thing to do is purchase one special “fancy” ornament each year to add to our collection and then make most of them ourselves. We use salt dough and apple cinnamon ornaments mostly and occasionally we’ll add in cranberry or dried oranges as well. I’ve also used pinecones to make ornaments before. Another thing I love about making diy ornaments is the fact that our tree is very different from year to year and as we look back on the photos, there’s fond memories of what we did this year versus the year before and the year before that.

OSFL_0001

A few extra thoughts on decorations:

Dollar store and Goodwill:

Don’t forget to check places like Goodwill or the Dollar store if you’re looking for inexpensive decorations! It’s a great place to start if you’re just starting out because sometimes you may find an entire collection of glass balls for a few dollars.

Hobby Lobby 50% off sales or 40% off coupons:

I love Hobby Lobby! It’s my “Target”. I’ve had people tell me it’s too expensive but I honestly don’t think it is, even on a small budget. The key with Hobby Lobby is patience and coupons or sales! I’m not sure if I’ve ever paid full price for anything since I found out about their 40% off coupon! Also, if you pay close attention to their sales, the way they work…their sale items change on a regular basis, you’ll have metal art on sale this week…frames the next time….paper goods after that.

Just before Christmas they had Christmas decor on sale 50% off and we were able to get our “fancier” annual ornament for a couple of dollars.

Hand me downs:

This may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I actually really love (some) hand me downs. I have a love of old things so anything pretty and vintage I will gladly use if I have space for it.

I’ve gotten an old adorable wooden rocking horse ornament this way. It’s one of my favorite! This is also why I typically look at Goodwill or other thrift stores for decorations because I thoroughly enjoy the old items.

Multi-season items like candle holders, vases, etc:

If you’re looking for ways to decorate on a tight budget, use items that can work with your style through the rest of the year as well. Wooden pices, metal buckets, glass or ceramic vases. These pieces can easily transition from one season to the next.

The little metal bucket sitting on our table with the greenery looks just as nice with some wheat for Thanksgiving or flowers in the spring and summer.

Simple and inexpensive decorations are just as pretty as the pricier store bought decor and they only require a little extra preparation. Additionally, they can make for wonderful annual family traditions that will help you create lasting memories!

Also, don’t forget to check out my other Christmas craft ideas here:

Mini wreaths:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2019/12/08/mini-wreath-tutorial/ 

Dried orange garland:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2019/12/14/dried-orange-garland-tutorial/