Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Quick and Easy Lasagna Roll Ups


I my house Italian food is always a going favorite. When we manage to have a little bit of extra money set aside and we are wanting a meal out often time a nearby Italian food restaurant is on the list of places we might want to go.

Unfortunately, meals out are less frequent while we focus on getting our budget back under control and work toward some financial goals.

And, if you're like me you often have the idea that making any good Italian dish other than Spaghetti and Sauce is just too much work. All the boiling of noodles, mixing and grating of cheeses, and layering into the pan takes more time than a busy wife and mom has to give.

Recently I have been really working toward adding a few more meals into our menu rotation and as I was flipping through one of my many cookbooks (when I say I have many cookbooks I mean MANY! I might need an intervention!) and I came across a recipe for Manicotti. I thought why not. I can make that meal work out this week.

And boy was it good.

However, Like I almost always do, I over bought on some ingredients and bought just enough of some other ingredients. So as I was working on my next weeks menu and I was shopping through my own fridge and pantry I realized I had everything I needed except a bit more cheese to try out another Italian recipe I have seen come across my social media news feeds several times.

Lasagna Roll Ups

I have seen this recipe or a variation of such several times and I had never taken the time to try it out. Finally, almost out of desperation, I made the decision to give it a shot.

Man I wish I would have done it so much sooner! This meal was so yummy!

Step 1:


I started with preheating my oven to 350* ( That is basically what my oven lives on all the time. If a recipe calls for anything higher or lower it throws me off.)

I started with boiling the Lasagna noodles. Then I laid them out to cool just a bit.















As those were cooling I was busy mixing up the filler.

1 15 oz container of Ricotta Cheese
1-2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
Italian seasonings.
You can also add shredded Parmesan cheese but I was out and didn't realize I was out until it was too late.

Step 2:

I took just a bit of the sauce and spread a thin layer of it along the bottom of the pan. The more sauce the better right!
My poor baking pan has seen better days!

Step 3:

Once the noodles were cool enough to touch I scooped a bit of the filling out and spread it across one of the long noodles. Then I carefully rolled it up. I was pleased that very little of the filling squeezed out. Once it was rolled I carefully laid it in the pan on top of the sauce.








Step 4: 

Once all the rolls were made up I poured the rest of the sauce over the top. I spread it as evenly as I could get it and then topped it with more shredded mozzarella cheese. In my opinion, the more sauce 
and cheese the better! 










Once the sauce and cheese are on there just right its time to stick it into the oven. Let that hang out in there until that cheese is good and bubbly and melted. 
This finished product could have used more cheese but I
used what I had.


Step 5: 

Serve this yummy, melty goodness to your friends and family. Or eat it all yourself!
Lasagna Rolls with Oven Roasted carrot chips.

And there you have my quick Lasagna Roll Ups. I was really surprised at how quickly and inexpensive this was to make so I can tell you this is something that will be on our menu again real soon!

What are some of your favorite quick and easy recipes? Share them in the comments!



Friday, September 9, 2016

What's in Our Morning Basket





Last week I shared how we started a new routine in our home for the start of our school day. Starting Morning Time in our home, even in just 2 weeks, has changed the tone and atmosphere in our home. It has really changed how we interact, react, and engage with each other, not only at "school time" but during the whole day.

To say I am hooked would be an understatement.

So what exactly goes into a "Morning Time Basket?"

That is a great question. Take a look at what we have in our Morning Basket!

Items in the basket.

Devotional

The first thing that everyone I have listened to, read, or talked with has said that the first and most important part of their morning time is their Bible time.

Every morning I get up about an hour (sometimes more) before the rest of the house. It is calm and quiet. Its the perfect time for me to open up my Bible and just spend time with God. I read, journal, and pray through what ever passage I am studying. I get my day, before the rush of activity, started on the right foot.

If that is good for me to do to ensure my day starts out on the right foot what makes me think it wouldn't be the same for my children?

That means the first thing we do is start our day with God. Recently we were given a copy of a children's devotional titled Relentless, Too: A 40 Day Journey for Kids. This is 40 day devotion walking the kids through Psalm 119. Each day we read through a section of the Psalm and the story that brings that concept into terms they can understand. Then we take some time to talk about what that particular section means in our own lives and in our neighborhood. It is so FUN to hear how these kids are processing these concepts and ideas.

This particular devotion book is designed in the way that in the morning you read though the devotion in the morning and then at night before bed there is a prayer to pray through with your children. We actually have taken that and put it together in the Morning Time.







Prayer Time

Once we finish with our devotional reading but before we read the prayer at the end we move on to our own prayer time. When we pray at bedtime with the kids its always the same prayer and for the same person (generally for daddy). I really wanted to find a way to teach them to start thinking outside of our home and our family. I came across a Prayer Pail Tutorial on Pinterest and I knew this was it for us.

With a mason jar, some cute scrapbook paper, and large Popsicle sticks our Prayer Jar was born. Each stick has a name written on it. When prayer time rolls around each child gets to pull out one of the sticks and they get to pray for who ever is written on the stick. I also pull out a stick. We take turns going around and we pray for who is on our stick then I finish up prayer time by reading the prayer at the end of the day's devotion. The kids have enjoyed this so much they beg to pull out more than one stick at a time and ask if we can use the prayer jar at meal times and before bed prayers!

Memory Verse

I just love the bright colors of the dividers!
I will be working on cleaning up those tabs SOON!
The next thing we move on to is memory verse time. This is a fairly new thing for us so we are starting off small. Each unit in the Sunday School material at our church comes with a key verse. Collin has just moved up to the "big kid" class. In that class if they learn the memory verse they will be able to get a sticker on the chart to earn their way to a prize. Collin has looked at that prize bucket for 4 years, not so patiently waiting for his turn to get to dig in. I decided that since he needs to be learning those verses anyway we will start there. Slowly we will begin to add more but for now this is what we are going to start with. 

I created our memory verse box following an example on Simply Charlotte Mason. Luckily, we had a extra card box and the dividers.  I will take some time soon to walk through how that system works, but for now here is what we have going.




Poetry and Read Alouds

The next activity on our Morning Time schedule is Poetry. To be honest this wasn't something I had ever even considered adding into our school schedule. But I am SO glad I discovered it. I have a copy of the "Core Knowledge: What Your Preschooler Should Know" and "Core Knowledge: What your 1st Grader Should Know" I am not a fan of the "Common Core" curriculum they use in the public schools (one of the many reasons we home-school) but these books have several fun poems to start out with. Eventually I hope to get one of the lists I have found on line printed out and start working our way thought that. I am still getting into the swing of a "poetry study" but for now we are enjoying learning and memorizing new poetry.


Once we are done with our poetry we move onto our read aloud time. I have been picking a short story that goes along with the units one of the kids are studying and we read though then talk about them. Again, once we get more into the swing of this we will probably pick one of the longer books on one of the recommended reading lists that are floating out there. For now we are just enjoying hearing some of our favorite stories that I haven't taken the time to sit down and read in a long time.

Once we read through the story then we discuss it. We retell the story in our own words, we talk about the characters and what they are like, and we just really get into what the story was all about. It is SO MUCH FUN to hear how their little brains are processing through the stories. It will amaze you at how much they really understand and what they get out of each story.

A Few Extras Here and There

That is all we do for the time being but every once in a while we will toss in some doodling, play-dough time, or a nature discussion if we feel like it. That is the joy of homeschooling.

Morning Time has changed the way we learn, grow, and thrive here at Mars Hall Legacy Academy, just another step in making our family Our Greatest Adventure!

What part of "Morning Time" sounds most exciting to you?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Inspire




I have a cabinet full of coffee mugs and tea cups. I have them placed all around my house as useful decorations. Some have cute pictures on them, some have words printed across the front, and some are just plain, functional cups.

I tend to go through phases where I will latch on to one particular mug and that will be the one I use for every glorious cup of hot tea that I drink in the mornings while I get my day started.

Recently it has been this one:
I got this one at our church's ladies retreat back in April. I have used it off and on but over the past few weeks this one has been my go to for my morning cup of tea. I love the size and the shape because it is easy for me to wrap both of my hands around.

But the real reason that I like it is because as I sit down to read my Bible, go over my schedule in my planner, look at kids lesson plans, or whatever else I might need to do first thing in the morning I am able to have this gentle reminder to INSPIRE.

Dictionary.com defines the word inspire in this manner
"To fill (someone) with urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative"

 I want to inspire.

I want to inspire my children to learn and to grow.

I want to inspire my husband to be the best of himself that he can be.

I want to inspire my friends and my family to live the life they were designed to be living.

But I don't want the inspiration to come from me.

I want to be the type of person that other people see and they think to themselves "I want what she has" because of the life that I am living through Christ.

I want others to see that no matter what life might throw my way I have the hope of eternity in my Lord. 

I want them to stop me when things are getting hard and ask "How can you have such a good attitude about this?" or "How do you do it?"

I want them to ask these questions so I can say "I DON'T" 

Only Jesus Christ through me makes the hard times a little less hard to walk through. Only Jesus Christ through me makes the sun shine brighter each day. It is only through Jesus that I am able to get up in the morning and put my feet on the ground. 



What I want my kids to know

These are the lessons I want to tech my children. I want to inspire them to find their own fulfillment in Jesus Christ. I want them to watch me deal with real life situations and always turn back to the promises of God before relying on the broken promises of man. 

I want to inspire my children to be the people that GOD intended them to be and not fall victim to the falls impressions of the world. 

I want to inspire my son to be a man of honor and integrity. I want him to know what it means to trust God fully and completely. I want him to want to be in the light each and every day.

I want to inspire my daughter to be a woman of grace and beauty. I want her to know that her worth is found in Jesus Christ and not in the latest hair, make up, or clothing trends. I want to inspire her to run so fast toward Jesus that the right man for her has to run hard and fast to catch up.

I want to inspire our children to allow our family to be our grandest adventure.

And I want this inspiration to come not from the things I am doing but from the way Christ is shining through me.

What I want Dusty to know

I want to inspire Dusty to be the leader that God has designed him to be. I want to inspire him to continue to study and grow in God's word. I want him to be so fired up he can't wait to teach and train our children in all the things God has to offer. I want to come along side him in life and be his biggest champion and his best friend. I want to be the helper to him that I was designed and called to be.

And I want it all to be Christ living through me!


What I want my friends and family to know

I want to inspire my friends, family, and anyone else who is watching me to be better. I want people to want to be a better version of themselves today than they were yesterday. I want people to know that if they have dreams or aspirations I will do everything I can to help them achieve those dreams or meet those goals. I want to inspire creativity and adventure. And I want Christ to shine through all the more for it. 


Inspiration can and most often does come in many different ways. My desire is that no matter who might be watching I am able to inspire them. My prayer is to live my life so that in each and everything I do Jesus is shinning through and it will be for that reason only that  others around me are inspired too.


What inspires you? How do you want to inspire others?




Friday, September 2, 2016

Making Morning the Best Time



Once upon a time I was a morning person. I would be the first one up bright and early. I would shower and be dressed, complete with hair AND make-up done well before anyone in the house was even considering moving a muscle. I would sit and wait impatiently as I waited for everyone else to get moving and be ready to leave the house. I would feel like I was running late while everyone else was glad they would be making it on time.

And then I graduated high school.

I went off to college, I started to have classes in the evenings rather than first thing in the morning, and I didn't have a single commitment or place to be before 11 AM.

And I learned the beauty of sleeping in. Or just sleeping in general. And I was hooked!

Fast forward 12 years of life, 8 years of marriage, and 2 kids later and I still LOVE my sleep. Longer days, later nights, and choppy sleep patterns due to kids not resting or crazy work schedules for the hubby have all had a hand in the change in my sleeping patterns but no matter what the reason mornings have not been my friends.

Back in February I went through the online course created by Crystal Paine (author at author at Money Saving Mom) called Make Over Your Mornings. I blogged my way through that and you can read more about it here. I did really well with it and I have kept most of those patterns going but the summer got some of that out of habit. I have picked back up on those routines now that my semester has started but I quickly began to realize that while I was having a wonderful and peaceful morning of mental and spiritual preparation for the day the rest of the family wasn't.

I started looking for ways that I could better prepare my kids for the day to come. Breakfast in our house has always been a bit lax. The kids usually have something like cereal, fruit, or toast/English Muffin with peanut butter on it. I just nurse my one cup of hot tea and hope that I could get enough from that to make it through until lunch because I am not really a fan of breakfast foods. And Dusty would cook himself some type of hearty breakfast before heading off to work. As the kids were eating and usually watching something on TV I would shout out various warnings such as "We will start school in 30 minutes" only to realize it was going to take me longer than that to finish getting everything prepared for the daily lessons.

The rest of the day would run pretty much similar to our chaotic and uninspired mornings.

And then I discovered the "Your Morning Basket" podcast. While listening to this podcast I discovered "Morning Time"


Insert light bulb over my head turning on HERE!


This is a concept that I wasn't unfamiliar with. When I was teaching preschool we called it "Circle Time" It was the time of the day that we read our story for the week, went through our alphabet and number memory, sang fun songs, and went through our calendars each day. It helped to get all the kids on the same page and we were able to learn together as a group. We would have a TON of fun during Circle Time.

So why had I never thought of incorporating that same concept into our daily home-school time? That's easy. Because once kids got past preschool or maybe kindergarten if they are lucky, circle time stopped. It was all about sitting in a desk listening to the teacher talk and you following directions from there.

And then I realized something else.

My goal is to HOME-SCHOOL. Not to recreate SCHOOL AT HOME


So why couldn't we do things a bit different? Why couldn't my 1st grader start the day with a bit of music and movement, and getting our heads and hearts in the right place?  So I jumped at the chance to begin incorporating "Morning Time" into our home-school day.


Now each morning, right before we get ready to go outside, we have our Morning Basket Time.

We go through a family devotional, we pray for friends, family, and our country. We read and recite some poetry, and we read aloud and discuss the story.

All together we take about 15 to 20 minutes to get through our morning basket time and then we are done. We are prepared for learning and we are ready to take on the day.

Next week I will break down what our Morning Basket Time looks like and all the fun things that I have planned to incorporate in the coming weeks and months!

What do you do to start out your day? Do you have any fun rituals or traditions?