The Garden Grows!

I thought I would give an update on my garden. All the plants are still alive. I’m so happy!

I bought additional plants this past weekend. Those I decided to plant first. Tableplants
The tall, yellow-green plant on the left is a mojito mint. The one on the right with the smaller leaves is a true peppermint. Between them in the middle is a chamomile plant. If you look at the bottom of the picture, you will see the leaf of a cilantro seedling. It will eventually grow to fill up the space.

These are two pepper plants. On the left is a poblano pepper. A jalapeño is on the right. I can’t wait until these produce peppers so I can do lots of fun things with them! The leaf is courtesy of one of my children after they decided it didn’t taste like the mint.

Look at my little tomato plants. Aren’t they cute? They are Juliet tomatoes, which are like grape tomatoes. The plant will be shorter than an ordinary tomato plant and bushy.

I bought a strawberry pot to plant the herbs in, except for the lavender. I’m giving it time to grow a little bigger. Then I will mix some sand with the soil I plant it in. One of the employees of the garden center suggested that since it is a Mediterranean plant.

My kids have been eyeing this strawberry. It has slowly been turning redder and redder. I know they want to eat it; but I would feel bad having to cut a tiny strawberry in half. We have at least one other strawberry starting to grow; but I think it be summer before we have a large enough amount.

Hopefully in a few weeks, I’ll have more substantial growth to show off.  Keep your fingers crossed!

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B is for Bumpy

It’s my second week in the ABCs of Homeschooling, hosted by 5 Kids and a Dog. ABCs of Homeschooling

We are on a homeschooling journey and the road has not been smooth. The road has been under construction. I’m not sure when it will look the way I want it to. The road is hardly paved in gold like in the fantasies of Oliver Twist. Instead, I am reminded of the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Our road is covered in brambles and undergrowth.
First there are the naysayers. Most homeschooling parents have heard similar concerns:

  • We aren’t qualified.
  • The public schools are good enough.
  • You aren’t rich enough to homeschool
  • Homeschooled kids aren’t socialized enough
We’ve done our research.  We’ve weighed all our options.  None of these things bother us.  We know that we have made the best possible decision for our children and their future.  I don’t waste my time trying to convince people anymore.  I have a lot of supportive people on my side who I can talk to when things get tough.
It’s hard to start homeschooling, even with the most thorough preparation.  Curriculum choice is tough. This year, we put together a mishmash of different materials for each subject.  For some subjects, we had chosen wisely; they engaged our children and kept their interest.  Some of the books I had chosen didn’t even hold my interest.  Next year, our son will be attending a virtual school where all the materials will be provided. Hopefully, they will keep him interested.  I am not sure what we’ll do with our daughter.  She doesn’t seem to sit still long enough for much of anything.
It’s difficult to teach anything substantial to young children.  They will be listening to a story one minute, then hear the garbage truck outside.  I am learning to break up subjects into short, little sessions.  That way, if they are distracted, we have covered the key points for that session.  I am also learning that the flashier the lesson, book, or materials are, the more excited the kids are about sitting next to me for a lesson.  I am slowly discovering their personal learning styles.  My son is a kinesthetic learner, using his hands and objects to figure out solutions to problems, how to make states and countries, or how to spell a word.  His sister is an auditory learner in a way; much of her knowledge comes from listening to her brother and modeling him.
As difficult as this first year has been, it has been so worth it to see our children learn firsthand.  Whether it be from hands-on instruction or self-discovery, these tidbits of knowledge they are soaking up are valuable.  I am very happy and blessed that we decided to homeschool our children.  Although our road has been bumpy, I’m sure it will eventually smooth out.


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We had an interesting time Saturday night. We had no plans for dinner, so we used a gift certificate from and went to City Diner with the kids. We had been there before and enjoyed it. I had previously tried the City Benedict which is like eggs Benedict; but with spinach, andouille sausage, and tomatoes. I decided to go for some waffles instead, with a side of ham and country gravy. The kids liked the pancakes there, so we ordered them each a short stack of three pancakes.  My husband ordered the Big Country Breakfast which also came with pancakes.  They were out of waffles, so I wound up ordering pecan pancakes.

They brought out the pancakes first.  Remember, we had four orders of pancakes.  There was barely room for all four plates. These pancakes were huge.  I would guess they were about the size of a small pizza, ten inches in diameter.  When they brought out the rest of the order, we could hear the snickers from the other customers.  It was pretty fun, especially considering one of our fou-year-old son’s favorite show’s lately is Man Vs Food.  Of course, in this case, food won.  The kids both ate about a quarter of a pancake.  We took the rest of the pancakes home… in pizza boxes.  I froze them so we would have quick breakfasts on hand.

The funny thing is that the pancakes used to be normal size.  I don’t know why they are so big now.  It can’t be good for profits, especially considering that I suspect they are homemade.  They both smelled and tasted too good to be from a mix.  I wonder what would have happened if we had ordered omelets…

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A is for Alpha-bet

I’m a day late, but here is my letter “A.”

The word alphabet comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta.  The letter alpha itself

can signify a beginning. It’s only fitting that the alphabet began our homeschooling journey, while on a journey

of another kind.


It was late August of 2008 and we were contemplating evacuating for Hurricane Gustav.  Knowing how long

previous evacuations had kept me in the car, I wanted to prepare for a long car ride with my son and daughter

who were then almost two and one.  I packed some small toys, their blankets and a sleeping lovey each.  For

my son, I also packed an ABC book and some flashcards.  He knew a couple of letters. I think one of them was “I.”

At first, we had decided to evacuate to my brother-in-law’s house.  We decided to leave there and head to my sister’s

house in another state.  We wound up going in the opposite direction for some reason, driving all day until we found

a state that had hotel rooms.

By the time we settled down with the children in a hotel room, my son had somehow learned all the letters of the alphabet.

He spent the rest of our “vacation” spreading flashcards about various hotel rooms.  He loved letters so much that I decided

to decorate his birthday cake with the alphabet when we returned home.

My son still loves the alphabet. He makes them out of anything he can find: crayons, Mardi Gras beads, even socks.

When he started writing his letters on his own, I knew it was out of his love for the alphabet.  He has since taken on other subjects with the same fervor and enthusiasm. But it was the alphabet that started it all.

ABCs of Homeschooling

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Black Thumb of the Family

When I was a child, we always had a garden of some sort. One year, we tilled part of the backyard and built an enclosure for a vegetable garden. I remember how beautiful and plentiful the squash plants were.
For years, there was a prolific sea of irises under my bedroom window. They were yellow. At some point, there had also been purple ones; but I don’t know what happened to them.
My mother is a gardening genius. It is a trait she inherited from her aunt who had a degree in horticulture. Plants flourish under my mom’s care. She singlehandedly landscaped our backyard while undergoing chemotherapy, including a pond and shade garden. Unfortunately, Katrina didn’t appreciate all her hard work.
I have none of my mom’s talent. Absolutely none. Plants die around me. Ordinarily, that would stop a sane person from starting a garden. Not me. I went out and bought seeds. And a seed starter kit. I immediately planted the seeds, expecting not to see results for at least a week or never. Two and half days later, this is what I find: Seeds
There are nine sections of seeds, eight cells in each. In the middle, there is cilantro. Clockwise, starting from the upper left corner: lavender, tarragon, tomato, chives, parsley, oregano, basil, dill.
Once the seeds sprouted, I had to rush out and get supplies. I had a fantasy of what my garden and supplies would look like. My fancy watering can:
Such a watering can would make my plants magically grow, along with fancy pots. In reality, I am on a limited gardening budget and chose less ostentatious accessories. My modest, yet functional planters: Bucket
Anxious to see more advanced plant life, I also bought rosemary, lemon balm, poblano pepper, and strawberry plant. I put the poblano in one of the buckets, planning to add a jalepeno at a later date. I put the rosemary in a hanging basket, ad well as the lemon balm and strawberry in a separate basket. Strawlemon

So, we shall see if any of this year’s garden survives.

On a side note, the photos in this post were made with the Instagram app for iPhone. You can add filters to any photo for a vintage look. I love it!

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Dippity Do Da

Sometimes I like to pass the time by reading blogs. Who doesn’t? I have several that I like to read on a regular basis; one of my favorites is Wide Lawns. Occasionally, the lovely proprietress of Wide Lawns will entertain her readers with reprehensible dishes that she comes across, referring to them as Nasty A**ed Recipes. (I will refer to them as NARs since I an in a lazy sort of mood.
A few days ago, Wide Lawns posted what she described as the nastiest recipe of all time. It involves cream cheese and pepper jack. And White Castle Burgers?? You can view the recipe here. Then Wide Lawns asked if someone would make it. Of course, I volunteered. In the eighth grade, a friend voiced her concerns over the even stranger foods I might crave if I ever got pregnant. It was only natural that I make the recipe and document it for mankind.
First, I must transform these:

Into this:

They look like breadcrumbs, don’t they? I was pleasantly surprised. Then I started layering: a mixture of cream cheese and Dusseldorf mustard (I substituted a horseradish deli mustard after some research), chopped onions, and the burger crumbs. So far:
After I added a mixture of pepper jack cheese and milk, the dish began to resemble the vomit Wide Lawns had feared.
The finishing touch was vintage parsley flakes circa 2005 that I had pinched from my parents’ house post-Katrina. It went in the oven for 20 minutes and voila!

How did it taste, you ask? It wasn’t bad hot out of the oven. I would have eaten half of the dish if I hadn’t been so busy with other things. But I did need a second opinion, so I got my husband to try it without telling him what it was. He gave it a thumbs up until he found out what was in it.
If you are brave enough to try this dish, make sure you eat it hot out of the oven. It isn’t as good reheated. Happy cooking!

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Third Time’s a Charm: My Love of Cooking

I’m going to come out and say it:   I LOVE TO COOK!!!  Putting together culinary delights and then being able to enjoy them with loved ones. Ahh…

I first developed a love of cooking and food experimentation in kindergarten when each student was required to submit a recipe for the class cookbook.  I submitted a recipe for macaroni salad which included ingredients such as boiled eggs and pickles.  A few years later, I was required to both submit a recipe and cook a dish for my eighth grade Cajun Food Fest.  I was already adept at deviled eggs; I found a deviled egg recipe with a Bechamel sauce. Sound Cajun, right?  My sophomore year of high school, the geography classes put on a luncheon for the teachers.  You had to bring a dish from a certain country. I forget what my country was; but my dish was lamb.

In high school, I took home economics.  I would love to say that it taught me how to make all kinds of gourmet meals, but sadly, it did not.  I learned how to make biscuits from scratch during the cooking semester. Then the teacher went on maternity leave and the substitute suggested such concoctions as jello salad. Gag.

Eventually, I learned to cook on my own. My mom taught me some.  I followed recipes very closely; I loved trying out new ones. I would cook a fancy dinner every year for my mom’s birthday.  Eventually, I began experimenting more with recipes.  It’s hard to always find someone to be my guinea pig though.

I like to do all kinds of cooking now.  I can cook traditional dinners on the stove or in the oven. One of my favorite things to do is cook in the crock pot so I don’t have to rush to think of something later in the day. One site I like to use is A Year of Slow Cooking. She has her recipes organized well and all of them are gluten free.  With other types of cooking, I have used or, formerly Recipezaar. However, I tend to now put all my recipes in one place with the ZipList Recipe Clipper.

I have been trying to bake a lot lately, but I am going to save that for another post. I may post a recipe or two in the future!

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