Wordless Wednesday: The Payoff

All those days of teaching and reteaching Chipette how to make her bed are finally proving productive in the treehouse,



Tasty Tuesday: The Facebook Family Recipe Frenzy

Don't you just love when someone brings something delicious to a potluck and won't share the recipe because it's a "family secret." Ughhhh! That's like torture to me.

I recently learned of a woman whose grandmother unfriended her on Facebook. Why? Because she dared to share a secret family recipe. The woman didn't understand, though. How could it be a secret family recipe when it's on Taste of Home's website.

When I read her story, I just had to have the recipe. Any recipe good enough to make your own grandmother unfriend you on Facebook has got to be really good! Sure enough, the woman linked the recipe for me from Taste of Home's website, so now I share with you one delicious soup recipe.

Here's what you need for Cheesy Chicken Chowder:

3 cups of chicken broth (I used 4)
2 cups diced, peeled potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups diced cooked chicken (I used two large cans of chicken meat just because I didn't have any cooked chicken on hand and didn't feel like cooking chicken breasts.)

In a large saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat; add the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan; stir in flour until smooth.

Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened.

Reduce heat; add cheese, stirring until melted.

Add to broth along with chicken. Cook and stir until heated through.

The finished product is delicious, especially when served with a side of cornbread.

By the way, the woman and her grandma did reconcile and are once again friends on Facebook!

Wishing my grandma was on Facebook to share her recipes in the treehouse,



Mama Monday: Organized Simplicity Challenge Week 4

This was another good week for my home (and me!). Getting the two biggest rooms in my home out of the way the first week was an ingenious plan on my part, if I do say so myself. This past week I deep cleaned my kitchen and laundry room. I was able to add some unused serving platters, candles, and baby stuff to my yard sale pile. I pulled everything out of my cabinets and washed out the inside with vinegar, dish soap, and hot water.

Here is a before shot of one of the cabinets:

Not too bad, but the after shot is even better:

Cleaned, sorted, depurged, and restacked.

Well, I think my computer desk project is put on indefinite hold until we take our Spring Break. We use my computer too much for school purposes and setting it up on the floor to use is just not an option with a little Monkey running around. So over Spring Break when I can unplug and not need to plug it back in for a few days, then I will focus on redoing my desk.

Buuuttttt, never let the loss of one project stop you from coming up with another. After I had washed and dried the curtains in my kitchen and dining room, I decided to simplify those as well. I did have two yellow toille panels flanking solid red tie-up shades on the windows.

As I was preparing to hang the curtains back up, I was inspired, pulled out the hot glue gun (yes, I make my curtains with a hot glue gun!), and glued one of the yellow toille panels down the middle of each of the tie-up shades for instant simplification and glamorization that even My Man noticed!

I love the new look! This simplification thing is AWESOME!!!

Finally, I forgot to take and post pictures of my organization of the pantry that I did the week before so here are those pictures:

Upper part of the pantry with the new wire shelf to help organize the pantry instead of having a jumble of boxes, bags of chips, etc.

Lower half of the pantry with new wire baskets in the bottom for storing canned goods freeing up some more shelf space. I have a tiny pantry compared to those of you who have those entire walk-in closet type pantries, but it's waaayyy better than just having to store food in one of your kitchen cabinets which I've had to do every place we've lived before buying this house!

My challenge for next week is to organize and simplify the bathrooms using the garbage, sell, and give away approach outlined during week two's post and my major project is to figure out some better under the sink storage solutions. There are no linen closets in the bathrooms because they are both tiny so towels are stored under the sink along with bathroom cleaning supplies and anything else that needs to go under there! I'll have to walk around Target and Wal-Mart to come up with something great and functional.

Rising to the challenge each week in the treehouse,


Summary Saturday: Pirouetting to End the February Funk

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It's that time of year. The winter doldrums have set in, curriculum seems stale, and learning has lost the excitement that started the year...yep, it's February. I've been in a funk for the past week when it comes to our schooling, taking care of the house, cooking, etc. So to shake off the February Funk, we are dropping our normal curriculum (which we love!), Heart of Dakota, and pirouetting into a fun unit study on Chipette's favorite thing...BALLET!

This Summary Saturday post is a little different since I'm going to be sharing my lesson plan for our 6-week Ballet Unit Study.

Here are the items I've already acquired:

This is one of our core books for our unit study. Luckily our library had this one!

Our ballet project pack that I purchased for only $7 that incorporates a study of ballet with the animated Barbie ballet movies: The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. That's right, we're watching Barbie cartoons for school!!!

A FREE ballet lapbook/notebook that I found online to help create our awesome ballet notebook that we will be working on for the entire 6-weeks.

We will learn about Tchaikovsky and his music since our study will be focused on three of his ballets: The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and The Sleeping Beauty. I already had the CD (yay me!), but the notebooking pages I found for FREE!

Here are my beginning lesson plans:

Ballet Unit Study

Topics Covered: History of ballet, ballet vocabulary and positions, clothing and shoes, Peter Tchaikovsky, Edgar Degas, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker, biographical study of Anna Pavlova and Maria Tallchief

Academic Disciplines: history, geography, music, art, culture, and language arts

Main Books:

Additional Reading:

·         Peter Tchaikovsky by Mike Venezia

·         Tchaikovsky Discovers America by Esther Kalman

·         Edgar Degas: Dance Like a Butterfly by Angela Wenzel

·         Marie in Fourth Position by Amy Littlesugar

·         Swan Lake by Margot Fonteyn

·         Sleeping Beauty: The Ballet Story by Marian Horosko

·         The Nutcracker Ballet by Vladimir Vagin

·         Maria Tallchief: American Ballerina by Adele de Leeuw

·         I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina by Anna Pavlova

·         Dance of the Swan: The Story About Anna Pavlova by Barbara Allman

·         Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Media Resources:

·         Barbie in The Nutcracker (movie)

·         Barbie of Swan Lake (movie)

·         Ballet Shoes (movie)

·         The Story of Tchaikovsky in Words and Music (music CD)

·         The Royal Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty (DVD from Netflix)

So that's our big plan! We're using this next week to finish up the current week in American history then we will be moving on to our unit study. I will post a link to my daily lesson plans as soon as I get all of my books.

Update: BALLET UNIT STUDY This link will take you to Dropbox where you can download my unit study plans. Enjoy!

One of my favorite benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to learn what we want, when we want in the treehouse,



Freaky Friday (Magpie's Turn): Ode to Red Handprints

I love our homeschool group because we get to paint our handprints. That are red. Everybody loves my pretty handprints that are red. All because they love my red handprints that stick on the paper and wash off. If somebody sees my handprints they say, "Oh, I love the handprints of everybody."

By the way if somebody knows me, I know how to do ballerinas. And if somebody knows me, I do a curtsey if somebody bows down for me.

About our homeschool group, there is a fence that can play with balls. Monkey loves balls, blue and red.

By the way, mommy gave me a book I can have for reading. I dropped it and hurt my toe. And I love mommy because she teaches my school.

Providing a little insight into the free flowing thoughts of a four year old in the treehouse,



Wordless Wednesday: Library Groupies

Or our better known name: homeschoolers!

The Tree Dwellers with our books just for one week of school and pleasure reading.

On a first name basis with the librarians in the treehouse,


P.S. Thanks Grandma for the awesome bags that Chipette and Magpie are holding. They say: Raising a Reader. 

Tasty Tuesday: My First Food Compliment

I'm always telling stories related to my recipes before I post them, but food and memories are tied together quite a bit for me. It must be my Southern heritage. You can't be around Southerners for long before we want to feed you! And then the memories begin.

One of the first compliments I ever received as a cook was from my roommate after I'd graduated college. She told me that I made biscuits just like Cracker Barrel's. High praise indeed if you've ever had their biscuits! Every time I make biscuits now I think of her because biscuits and Runner Girl (her code on my blog!) will forever be tied together in my memory.

Here is what you need to make biscuits like Cracker Barrel (it's not actually their recipe) or to be honest, just like Paula Deen (it is her recipe minus the sugar).

2 cups self-rising flour (plus more for cutting the biscuits)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)

That's right, only two (or three if you want the sugar) ingredients for the best biscuits ever!

First, mix the flour and the whipping cream in a medium sized bowl.

Place dough on a surface sprinkled with some self-rising flour.

Pat out the dough until about 1/2 inch thick after sprinkling a little flour on your hands so the dough doesn't stick.

Cut out the biscuits and place in a baking dish or pan. It makes about 10 biscuits depending on how thick they are. My man likes thick, fluffy biscuits!

Bake 10 minutes in a 500 degree oven. Or until they are as brown as you want them. I like really brown biscuits, so I bake mine closer to 15 minutes.

The finished product is something Runner Girl would be proud of!

Always remembering good friends and enjoying good food in the treehouse,


Mama Monday: Organized Simplicity Challenge Week 3

So last week I gave out an assignment to work on this past week. I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself. My living room looks and smells fantastic! I'm still working on getting through some piles of books in the dining room, but for the most part it is done as well.

I wasn't able to sand and stain my computer desk, though. It was really humid and rainy here all last week. I'm not complaining, because we needed the rain, but it's not so good for getting tacky wood stain to dry. I switched out my projects and reorganized my pantry this week so I can try tackling that computer desk this week.

Here are some pictures of my progress on last week's challenge.

Everything pulled out of the living room and put into the dining room:

The top of the TV cabinet before cleaning:

And after cleaning:

Another big organizational challenge was the inside of the TV cabinet. It had gotten pretty out of control!

And after:

Last, but not least, my pile of movies that had to be removed from our home because they do not "Acknowledge Him." This was actually harder than I thought since some of these movies were my all time favorites, but definitely not ones that I want my kids to put in and watch!

So on the agenda for next week is to organize and simplify the kitchen and the laundry room, plus sand and stain my computer desk. Use the tips from Week Two's post (linked above) to work on your rooms. Or just look at my pictures from this week and think to yourself, "My house is not even close to as dirty and disorganized as hers was!"

Feeling lighter and smelling fresher in the treehouse,