Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow Day

Here in the deep, deep south, snow is very uncommon. Yet, we awoke this morning to find a blanket of white on the ground. Here are a few pictures:

This is out of the upstairs window.

Here is A, enjoying the snow at 6:00 am. You can see the flakes still falling.
Here is N with a giant snowball. This picture was snapped seconds before he threw it at me, lol.
Here is their snowman.

I had hoped to get pictures of some of the area wildlife in the snow, but none were out. Not even the cat was willing to walk out in the snow. I guess they chose to live here to avoid the snow :o)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hummus recipe

We love hummus and it is so easy to make. Our hummus recipe is based on this one. Here is a picture of the ingredients we used last week to make hummus.
We like to have it with bagel or pita chips, cut up vegetables or warmed up flat bread (pita or naan). We usually buy our bread dippers already made, but surfing the other day, I found this recipe which we hope to try in the next few days.

Fall Garden Update

Here's a picture of a salad we grew in our fall garden. You can see pictures of the garden from a few weeks ago here. It is a square foot garden and we have one 4X4 foot "block" of lettuce and spinach planted. Currently, it is growing fast enough to make a salad for 6 every other day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Math Stuff

This morning, the boys were playing with some math manipulatives (not "playing" math - using the manipulatives as weapons in a Star Wars action figure war), and somehow, we managed to sneak some "math" into their play. The above photo is what our Kindergardener did with his chips (its hard to see in the photo, but the numbers are written on the paper and he put the matching number of chips on it). Our third grader made a long "chain" of chips, the counted it and wrote down the total number (sorry - no photo of that one - they turned into weapons again before I could snap, lol). Even though our 3rd grader is beyond really requiring counting practice, he still enjoys it and I think its good for them to practice things below their "grade". For N, it encourages him (he is really easily discouraged when he doesn't already know something or when he gets things wrong) plus, it helps with "fluency" just like reading below grade level. (jumping down off soap box :o)

This photo is of our Kindergardener's word box. Both boys have one. We put the words they recognized easily on cards and file them in the box alphabetically. Sometimes we just flip through the box and read the cards. Other times, the kids make up games to play with the cards, re-file them alphabetically, make easy sentences with them, etc. We started using this idea when I read about it in a book called Real Learning in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss. Great book! We are slowly incorporating many of her ideas - slowly (when I try to make them do too many planned "fun" learning activities, they stage an attempted coupe - not a fun time for the family, lol). They learn so much better, and much more enthusiastically, when I just stay out of their way. Your library might have her book, or if you are interested in buying it, you can click on my Amazon link in the side bar.

Also, if you enjoy any of the posts here, please consider subscribing in a reader so that you can know when new posts are made. You can find a subscribe link in the side bar and at the bottom of this page. Thanks :o)

My Favorite Snack ~~~ The Kids Like it, too

I finally got around to visiting the local health food store yesterday to pick up some cashew butter. You can often find cashew butter at "mega-mart" type stores and some grocery stores, too. I absolutely love cashew butter spread on graham crackers. Its a nice alternative to peanut butter (which we also love). The boys and I snacked on these and they were sooooo yummy. I find that cashew butter on graham crackers makes not only a filling snack, but also a snack that keeps me feeling full for a long time. I usually have only a small "sandwich" (1/4 graham cracker spread with a thin layer of cashew butter and topped with another 1/4 graham cracker - like in the photo) and feel full for hours. I guess something in the cashew butter helps prevent blood sugar spikes or something.

One day last week, I saw an episode of Good Eats (I'm a Food Network addict) about making crackers. Boy would I love to try homemade Graham crackers. Maybe one day . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Introduction to Multiplication for my Third Grader

I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. Our scanner is not working and this is the best I could get for the photos without uploading huge files.

As you can probably tell from this blog, we are very eclectic and somewhat relaxed (when I can relax, anyway) in our homeschooling. When N expressed an interest in multiplication, I decided to try a Charlotte Mason-"ish" approach to help with not only memorization, but also understanding the process. Here is what one of the pages looks like.

I try not to be too particular about small mistakes. In this example, he'd written the two backwards the first time (in red). A little while later, he came back to it on his own because he realized it was backwards and he corrected it. I really prefer this to me constantly correcting him. He almost always catches his mistakes and I think he learns better that way.

Here is an example of what he currently wants to do for reading/ spelling practice.

We both like it for the simplicity of it and the shortness of it. He's often happy to do many of these each day. He also writes all the words we review on an index card and files them alphabetically in a card file. He likes having lots of words in his file (our Kindergardener also has his own file of words).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Garden Update

With the move, the fall garden is very small (I'm actually surprised we have one at all). The only things I have growing right now are spinach and lettuce. Both are doing very well and we are having a salad with dinner tonight :o)

Here's our little spinach patch. I'm so skittish about commercial lettuce and spinach since the e-coli outbreak a few years back. We rarely eat leafy greens that we haven't grown ourselves, and since we live in the deep south, our greens growing season does not include the summer. Its been a long time since we've had salad on a regular basis and we are really looking forward to tonight.

Here is one of the lettuce squares. These are growing so quickly. We ate all of the "big" leaves on Saturday and already the smaller ones have grown enough for use to eat them - yay!

Are you growing anything this fall?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Menu Plan (Not) Monday: Week of Nov 2

I spent the weekend and beginning of the week being sick then recovering from being sick. Our menu for the week reflects my lack of motivation in the kitchen, lol.

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday it was "every man for himself" style breakfast with a choice of yogurt, cold cereal or peanut butter sandwiches

Strawberry Smoothies
Eggs, bacon and grits (twice)
Pancakes and bacon

Again, Mon., Tues., & Wed it was basically "get your own" such as Pizza (provided by my parents), hot dogs, peanut butter sandwiches

Leftover (really yummy) Potato, Corn & Shrimp soup
BBQ Sandwhiches

Chips and Salsa
Homemade granola bars (first time we tried them - they came out pretty good - nice taste, but a little too crumbly - we'll try again and tweak the recipe a little).
Hummus and homemade flat bread
grapefruit halves
cucumber and dip
carrots and dip
Way, way too much Halloween candy

Monday: Store bought roasted chicken, mac n cheese, cantaloupe, crescent rolls (relied a lot on convenience foods)

Tuesday: Used the rest of the chicken meat to make a Macaroni Grill Restaurant Favorites at Home boxed dinner (Creamy Basil). We got this as a free sample from Psst. It was tasty and convenient. If you would like a $1.50 off coupon, please leave a comment with your email address and I will email you a printable coupon. We had broccoli and mixed veggies on the side.

Wednesday: Cooked down the chicken bones to make a really yummy stock that was the base for Potato, Corn and Shrimp Soup (I'll try to post the "recipe" soon). We had these in homemade bread bowls that the boys helped to make.

Thursday: I cooked a roast in the crock pot and we are going to shred it and add BBQ sauce to it to make BBQ sandwiches. We'll have cucumbers and carrot sticks on the side.

Friday: We're having Spaghetti from the freezer with garlic bread and a veggie

Saturday: Baked fish, yellow squash, cheesecake for desert

I'm hoping to be back to menu planning on Monday. :o)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Settling in and Solar Car Project

I'm having trouble adjusting to a new routine. That's why I'm not blogging regularly. My kiddos are getting up before the sun since the move and that was usually my time to write. I'm hoping to find a regular writing time soon - I miss it.

I'm sneaking in a minute to write while the kids are outside playing with the solar car we just built from this kit Solar Car Book (Klutz) . It was fun, easy and the kids had fun working with circuits again. My oldest has already claimed the solar cell to use on the robot we built last week :o)


Monday, September 29, 2008

Moving - Blogging Break

We're down to the wire on the move and I have not been online much for the last week. I know that I will not be online much for the next week either. I'll try to post once we're settled.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Our Indoor Cat - update

Well, Kisa has still not come home. This is the fifth day she's missing and we've not even seen her since Thursday afternoon. While we're pretty sure this means she's not coming home, the fact that we're moving in less than two weeks concerns us, too. What if she does come back after we've left :o( Honestly, though, that's not very likely. She is a pure bred (we adopted her as a rescue) who has spent all of her life indoors. I don't think she is going to be able to survive long outside. We keep putting food out for her every night and hoping.

Recipe: Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Easy, easy, easy!

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Boil about a pound of russet potatoes, rough cubed, until tender. Drain. Saute about 1/2 onion and butter in dutch oven over medium heat until onions are tender. Add a few tablespoons of flour (it will bubble) and blend. Then add milk or cream (about 1 cup) and stir to blend. Continue stirring until mixture thickens. Add chicken stock (about a quart), potatoes, creamed corn (one can - or 2 cups if homemade) and about a pound of shrimp (season shrimp with salt and pepper before you start cooking). Cook, stirring occasionally until shrimp are cooked through and soup is the consistency you want. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pumpkin Pancake Recipe

I make a double batch of pancakes when ever I make any - they are so easy to freeze and make a quick breakfast when all you have to do is heat and eat.

Pumpkin Pancakes:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick oats or oat flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.5 cups buttermilk
1 cup cooked pumpkin

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine eggs and butter and mix. Once thoroughly mixed, add vanilla, buttermilk and pumkin and stir. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Allow mixture to rest for about 5 minutes, then cook pancakes on a lightly oiled surface.

We love this with butter and maple syrup - yummy!

MONDAY: Menu Plan Monday, Sept 22, 2008

I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, that we will be moving (again) in the next few weeks. This weeks menu will be a two week, use-it-up menu. We have a lot to do (pack, clean, garage sale) and a rather large stockpile of food items, so we're going to try to only hit the stores for milk and fresh produce. Here's our menu, including a few family favorites (denoted by ***):

***Pumpkin Pancakes
***Sausage, egg and cheese biscuits
Bacon and eggs
***Baked Oatmeal (this will be our "quick meal" as one pan usually lasts for 4 breakfasts-I usually freeze leftovers after the first meal)
***homemade cinnamon rolls

Ham, cheese and fruit chunk kabobs
PB sandwhich
Grilled Cheese
Turkey roll-up (turkey wrap - my oldest, who does not like "real" sushi, cuts these into "rolls" and calls it his sushi)
***Broccoli cheese soup

Carrot Sticks
hummus and pita
corn bread with honey butter
coconut macadamia nut cookies
smoothies (strawberry, peach and/or blueberry)
banana nut bread
pumpkin bread

Teriyaki Salmon (marinate salmon in terikayi sauce for 30 minutes then bake) with Soba noodles and Mixed veggie stir fry

Grass Fed Beef burgers on dressed bun, California blend veggies (salt, pepper and butter)

Sushi, edamame

***Shrimp/ corn chowder, homemade bread, green salad

Italian Sausage spaghetti, garlic bread, corn

Chicken and cheese stuffed shells, alfredo sauce, cucumber salad

Chicken Florentine over pasta, Asian broccoli slaw, Parmesan bread sticks

Chili with cornbread and green salad

Baked Chicken, mac n cheese, broccoli

Meatloaf (locally raised, grass fed beef), new potatoes, glazed carrots

See what everyone else is cooking at Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Our Indoor Cat

Somehow, last night, as we opened and closed the back door, our indoor cat "escaped". She spent the night outside before we discovered her absence. We've seen her a few times today, but she is very frightened of all of the noises and dogs in the neighborhood and only runs away, so she is still at large. This is the first time she's spent more than a few minutes outside (and we're closing in on 24 hours). I pray she comes home soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oak Trees, Squirrels and Hurricane Ike

We had an interesting Saturday, when Hurricane Ike roared through our area. While the rain and wind were pretty strong, thankfully, we were only mildly inconvenienced (we lost power for about 18 hours), unlike our friends and neighbors to the South in TX & LA.

For the families of squirrels in our oak trees, though, Ike was life changing. We when awoke yesterday, we found squirrels nests among the other leaves and branches littering our yard. We spent many hours yesterday restoring order to the yard. At one point, as dusk approached, we heard lots of noise and commotion coming from an area of landscaping containing many small trees and bushes. Closer inspection revealed an adorable baby squirrel who was probably thrown from the trees in the strong winds. While our cat was very interested in the baby, she did not try to harm it (although we did lock the cat up in the workshop for the night, just to be sure). Amazingly, though the baby was very young (eyes were barely open), it was very good at climbing and made its way up one of the bushes into a dense area of leaves and branches where it would be more safe. Since its parents were nearby (making lots of noise), we decided not to bring it to animal rescue.

I'm hoping the boys will want to draw pictures of it and maybe write a short work of fiction about the baby squirrel's adventures as part of our school work. Maybe we'll write it outside, to enjoy the beautiful weather we're experiencing since Ike.

MONDAY: Menu Plan Monday - Sept 15, 2008

Busy, busy, busy. In addition to home schooling, home keeping and our activities for the boys, we are starting to box up our things and prep the house for the move. Here's the menu plan for our busy week.

Breakfasts (to be served with milk and fruit):

Cold cereal
Baked Oatmeal
Banana Nut Pancakes
French Toast

Lunch (served with a fruit and a veggie):

PB & honey
Grilled Cheese
Homemade "Lunchables" (cheese, crackers and turkey)
Broccoli cheese soup


Hummus and pita
homemade brownies (with spinach and blueberry puree)
Chocolate Chip cookies
biscuits with butter and honey
carrots and cucumber with ranch dip
homemade salsa with chips


Tex-Mex Bowls (black beans with brown rices layered under seasoned meat (ground turkey) with cheese, lettuce, tomato and sour cream) with cubed melon

Chicken Alfredo Florentine Pizza (homemade crust with homemade Alfredo sauce chicken, cooked spinach, garlic and sliced whole milk Mozzarella) with Asian Broccoli Slaw (Broccoli Slaw mix - found in the produce dept of most grocery stores and mega marts - with Asian Style Salad Dressing, chow mien noodles and cashew halves and pieces). Be Sure to visit the link in the title to see how my friend Melanie grills her pizzas - great idea! We love this!

Yakisoba Chicken

Pan Fried (in olive oil) Chicken Strips (with wheat germ, flour and ground almonds to coat - tasty and healthy, and the kids love it), pan smothered sweet potatoes (brown in butter with a little salt), broccoli, cornbread

Tuna Burgers, dressed bun, oven roasted veggies (squash, zucchini, red peppers, asparagus, broccoli), Tater Tots (special treat for our oldest who loves these).

Check out hundreds of menus at Menu Plan Monday on Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Good News and Bad News

First, the bad news. My Grandmother has been in and out of hospitals for the last 4 weeks and there is still no indication of what is causing her illness. Please pray for her that she can get well soon - I'm not sure how much more she can take.

The good news? Dh got a job closer to home so we're moving (okay, I'm not so excited about the moving part, but definitely excited about being closer to family).

I'm hoping to get back to a more regular blogging routine, but between my good news and bad news, it may take some time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

WEDNESDAY: Leftover Magic

Once again, I'm late with my Wednesday post :o( The kiddos have started getting up with the sun and going to bed at the same time as dh & I so posting will be much slower until that changes, since I have a hard time writing while listening to enthusiastic children chatter about their passion du jour. :o)

My friend Melanie has several great blogs and she also blogs for Prevention. Her recent post at Prevention inspired this leftover post. She blogged about how they cook their homemade pizza (brilliant!), and pizza is a great use for leftovers. Almost anything can make a great pizza topping. For example, when we have leftover chicken, it will often find itself on top of a pizza. One of our two favorites is BBQ Chicken Pizza, which combines shredded chicken, BBQ sauce and purple onions (which we often have in the fridge) plus cheddar cheese. The other is Chicken Alfredo Pizza which includes shredded chicken, a white sauce with garlic and parmigiana, any cooked veggie (we love spinach or mixed grilled veggies) and topped with whole milk mozzarella. Yummy! Add a salad and you have a complete meal, quick, easy and frugal, not to mention delicious.

Melanie's article on Pizza shared how their family will grill their pizza outdoors to avoid heating up the house. I love this idea! Not only will the house stay cooler, but the grill will give the pizza a gourmet flavor and texture. Yummy! We're having pizza for supper and it is definitely going on the grill! Thanks Melanie :o)

Do you have any leftover combinations that you like on Pizza?

Homeschooling Idea

Something that has been fun for the boys and for me is learning about money for our Math lessons. Today, they are doing a math lesson and don't even realize it. I gave them each a handful of coins and told them that if they could count it, they could keep it. After separating each denomination, they are skip counting to determine its worth and then writing the amounts down. They will end up with a 4 row equation to add (the 5 year old will get help from big brother). I've never seen them so eager to work :o) (This is in stark contrast to the usual whining, negotiating and outright refusal to work that we sometimes get around here :o) I could really get used to this :o)

Update: They just finished and are asking to do it again :o)

Monday, August 25, 2008

MONDAY: Making Money From Home

Have you heard of MyPoints? A friend of mine referred me to MyPoints about 6 weeks ago because she had earned free movie tickets for her children just by reading emails and such. I decided to give it a try and have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly you accumulate enough points to redeem for nice gifts. I signed up about 6 weeks ago and have already earned a Starbucks gift card for my DH and am half way to movie tickets for the kids.

All I do is read the bonus emails they send, plus I also go to the website and click on "easy Points" and also I loaded the MyPoints toolbar and I use their search feature sometimes (you get points for searching :o) . You can earn points even faster by buying things from their partner sites, but I don't do that - I'm trying to earn these gifts for free :o)

I am able to refer 5 people each month. If you are interested, I'd love to refer you. All you need to do is email me at motheringwithgrace at yahoo dot com and tell me you are interested and I'll get you all set up :o)

MONDAY: Menu Plan Monday, Aug. 25th

The weekend was busy and this week looks to be crazy busy, too. While I know a menu plan helps make these kinds of weeks easier, I'm having trouble finding the time to even make a plan. Here, though, is the start of a plan.

I have pizza dough in the freezer that I can take out and defrost to make chicken alfredo pizza. I think we might even add spinach to it (yummy!). We make it with a white sauce to which we add lots of garlic and parmigiana. After rolling out the crust, we'll add the white sauce, cooked and drained spinach, cooked chicken and some yummy whole milk mozzarella and bake at 425 until golden and bubbly. We'll pair this with tomato, basil and mozzarella slices drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

We're also going to have Tuna Burgers this week, and baked chicken. The details on these meals have yet to be worked out. I'll try to update this post as soon as I can inventory the pantry and freezer to plan the rest of the week.

Be sure to check out more menus at Menu plan Monday on I'm and Organizing Junkie. Also, be sure to visit our Wednesday feature Leftover Magic for ideas to use up your mid week leftovers.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

WEDNESDAY: Leftover Magic

I've been sick since Sunday and yesterday, I just could not pull it together enough to post :o( I'm feeling much better today, so I figure, better late than never on the Leftover Magic post, right :o)

We're Cajun, born and raised. While we don't live in Cajun Country right now, we do still sometimes eat like a Cajun and that means rice and gravy. Here is a good use for leftover rice.

Did you know that you can make Quiche with a rice crust? Not only is this a great use for leftovers, but the rice crust has sooooo much less fat than a traditional crust. This recipe is for Spinach Quiche with a Rice Crust, but the great thing about quiche is that is is so versatile. You can take the above recipe and substitute to use what you have. For example, lets say you check your fridge and find that you have leftover rice, cheddar (or any) cheese that needs using, leftover chicken, leftover roasted veggies, some milk or cream and eggs. Right here, you have the makings of a really yummy quiche.

Start with about 1.5 cups rice, one egg and about an oz. of grated cheese. Mix it together and pat it into a pie plate. Bake at 425 for about 5 minutes or until firm. For the filling combine 2 eggs with 1 cup milk or cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place leftover meats (rinsed of any sauce) and veggies (not rinsed) on the bottom of your crust. Add a couple of ounces of cheese, then pour the egg mixture over everything in the pie pan. Bake at 350 deg for about 45 minutes or until center is firm.

If you have lots of leftover rice, you can double the recipe and bake one, and freeze the other for a quick meal on a busy night. To cook the frozen quiche, simply defrost in the fridge then pop into the oven at 350 deg for 45 minutes or so.

How do you use leftover rice?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TUESDAY: Book Review

Whether you are looking for a fun unit study or a great gift idea, Science with Magnets is a great find. And through Monday, August 25th, this great kit is only $6.73! That's half price!

This kit has everything young scientists need to perform the simple experiments from the 24-page book. Complete with 3 magnets, a compass, 5 feet of coated wire, corks, clay and paper clips, the kit will provide hours of experimentation and fun. Children can easily explore the mysteries of magnets with these safe projects.

Click the picture to learn more.

TUESDAY: Homeschooling Link

Many homeschoolers are single income families. Therefore, we need to watch our pennies. Currclick: Curriculum in a Click helps us keep our homeschooling costs down. When you order something from them, you download it and then only print what you need. I love that! And, if you subscribe to their newsletter, each week you will get a link in your inbox to a free download! Every week! Check them out :o)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

MONDAY: Menu Plan Monday, Aug. 18th

Be sure to visit every Wednesday for our new weekly feature Leftover Magic.

This week will again be pretty simple. I'm coming down with a cold, so I know I won't feel like cooking much on Monday. Our menu will reflect that. In addition, my birthday is Friday, and dh & I will be going out to dinner without the kiddos. Remember that the items in bold are locally grown or raised.

Breakfast (with milk and fruit):
Baked Oatmeal
Eggs and ham
Whole grain pancakes with homemade fruit preserves
Apple muffins

Broccoli Cheese Soup (Leftover Magic)
Turkey Roll-Ups
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Baked Potatoes topped with "your choice"

Homemade Cookies
Fruit plate
Blueberry Popsicles
Strawberry Smoothie
Fig cobbler

Tabasco Chili (from the freezer) over Frito's with cheese and sour cream and a veggie plate.

Beef Fajitas with red peppers and onions, sour cream, tomatoes and fruit.

Meatloaf (turkey) sandwich with tomato, basil and mozzarella salad

Pan fried chicken strips, purple hull peas and fruit.

Check out more menus and Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

THURSDAY; Gardening

Last Friday, we got the first real rain in about 6 weeks. Couple the lack of rain with the 100+ deg temps we'd had over the previous two weeks and you can imagine my garden looks rough (I'll get pics up as soon as I can). The rain on Friday and the repeat on Monday have helped start the recovery. We're still getting cukes, a few tomatoes, peppers and my current favorite, purple hull peas. The corn we planted in mid June is silking now as well, so in about 2 months, if it doesn't freeze first, we will have corn from our garden :o)

Gardening has been an interest of mine for a long time, but this is the first home we've lived in where conditions were right for a garden. We've been enjoying both the process of gardening and of course the product of our garden.

Currently, the garden contains mostly hybrid plants but we do have seeds for 2 and 3 plants that are open pollinated or heirloom plants. We have seeds (for next year) from a beautiful purple tomato and seeds for a purple bell pepper (it tastes like a cross between a sweet bell and a purple onion). We also have a watermelon plant, 28 or so purple hull peas and 32 onions that are non-hybrids.

What is the difference between a hybrid and an heirloom plant? Well, basically if you save the seeds from an heirloom, you will get another plant that looks and acts just like the parent. If you save hybrid seeds, you will get a plant that doesn't look much like the parent and that either produces little fruit or none at all. In other words, for hybrids, you must buy your seeds from a seed company every year.

Up until a few years ago, I didn't really care or understand why I would want heirloom plants. I believed that all plants were the same. But then I learned that before the industrialization of farming, we had tens of thousands of varieties of plants that were farmed and now we are down to only a handful of varieties per plant family. When you think of things in terms of eating having only a few varieties doesn't sound that bad, but when you consider the possible impact of a disaster on the existence of our species, the picture changes a little.

Relying on only a few varieties of plants is like putting all of our eggs in one basket, so to speak. Should we be taking that chance with something as important as our food supply? Biodiversity is important. And many heirloom varieties of plants are close to extinction. But if we plant them and incorporate them into our diet, we help ensure that they will be around for many years to come.

If you are interested in gardening with heirloom seeds, here are a few links where you can buy them.

Heirloom Seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom

You can find lots more by typing heirloom seeds into a google search. You can also get seeds by trading with someone who grows them. Mention your interest in heirlooms to other gardeners who may be able to help you. You can also buy heirloom veggies at some farmers markets and save those seeds.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WEDNESDAY: Leftover Magic

I'm a reformed food waster. I used to be really bad about throwing out food. We wasted at least as much as we ate. Terrible, I know. Things are different now, but its not always easy. We often live with (and maybe even gave birth to) people who don't like leftovers. This makes it difficult to save money and not be wasteful. Thus the need for leftover magic - transforming once served foods into something completely different.

My very favorite form of leftover magic is to create vegetable soup out of leftover veggies. Today I'll share our use for leftover broccoli. You will notice that broccoli cheese soup is on our menu very often. We're really blessed - our kids LOVE broccoli and so do we. Broccoli is served with dinner at least a few times per week and sometimes we don't finish up all that was prepared. A half cup of leftover cooked broccoli is really all it takes to make a nice broccoli cheese soup. Here's my recipe:

Heat about a tablespoon of oil (I use butter) in a sauce pan until it shimmers (for oil) or bubbles (for butter). Then sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of flour over the fat and stir to combine (if you've never made a white sauce before, this will look like a thick paste). Next, slowly add about 1-1.5 cups of milk, stirring to combine. Continue stirring over heat until this mixture thickens, adding more liquid if it gets too thick. Next, slowly add cheese, a little at a time, stirring each addition until completely melted before adding more. If you add more before the previous addition is incorporated, you might end up with stringy or clumpy cheese. Finally, once you have the cheese to your liking, add about 1/2 cup broccoli and stir. Once heated through, serve.

You can use just about any kind of cheese in this recipe. Because my littles really like American cheese, we often use it, but sometimes, we also use cheddar. This week, I'm going to try it with Havarti because we have some of it in the fridge that I need to use up before it goes bad :o)

You can also use less milk when making the "soup" and you get a nice cheese sauce to pour over leftover veggies to transform them somewhat :o)

Do you have a favorite Leftover Magic recipe? I'd love to know about it. You can post about it on your blog then link to it in the comments or if you don't have a blog, post your recipe in the comments. :o)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Bloggy Organization :o)

My Mozilla Toolbar crashed two weeks ago and I lost all of my RSS feeds - . Slowly I'm finding things again. Since I'm working on organizing my blog, I thought I'd update my "favorites" on the blog, too. I'll try to remember to continue updating my favorites as I locate other lost blogs, that way, when (not if) my toolbar crashes again, I can still find my favorites. Check out some of my favorite places in the blog sphere in the list on the left.


TUESDAY: Homeschooling Link

We are big fans of Art in our home. We look at it, read about it and create a lot of it. Today's featured link (Masterpiece Art Instruction - Teach Art at Home) offers many curricula but what I love most about it is the newsletter. It contains a free project that so far (we've been subscribers for over a year) has always been wonderful, easy, creative and unique. I also love that her projects are art and not crafts. She offers directions for your child to follow, but your child still has lots of room for creativity. You can subscribe by clicking on the hyperlink above and visiting the site.


Bloggy Organization?

I try. Really I do. But its just not in me to be really organized. I have all of these big ideas for the blog, but most don't come to fruition because I lack organization, so I forget what I wanted to post about or forget to post all together. So, I'm going to try putting myself on a schedule.

Most "How To Blog" articles recommend that you pick a topic for your blog and stick to it. I tried doing that - my blog was supposed to be about my book business - if you read my blog for more than 5 minutes, you'll notice that its not really about my book business, at least not often. I've also thought about making this a gardening blog, cooking blog, eat local/ sustainable living blog, homeschooling blog, blog about my kids, frugal blog etc. I like to write about all of those things but to pick just one - I don't think I could do it. I'm one of those Jack of All Trades, Master of None kind of people. I don't want to write on only one topic. Here's where my schedule will hopefully help. My plan is to blog as follows:

Monday: Menu Plan Monday plus Making Money From Home tips, ideas and links
Tuesday: Homeschooling Links and Ideas plus a Book Review (for my book business)
Wednesday: Leftover Magic (recipes to use leftovers to make new meals)
Thursday: Garden Update
Friday: Independence Days Update plus Sustainable Living links

Do I think I'll do them all every week? Ha! Not likely. I'm betting that Menu Plan Monday and Leftover Magic on Wednesdays get done almost weekly and the rest, occasionally. I'm okay with that :o)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - August 11

It has taken me all day to figure out what we're going to do for our menu this week. All day I've been contemplating the 25 lbs of chicken beef in the freezer and after 8 hours, I was still drawing a blank. When it was nearing supper time, I had to do something , so I opened the freezer and found several freezer meals (yay!) that I'd forgotten about. So this week for supper we're having:

Fiesta Chicken (again)
Turkey Meatloaf
Cheese & Chicken stuffed shells with alfredo sauce

We'll toss in some steamed veggies and call it dinner :o)

Breakfast will be:

Eggs and ham
Baked Oatmeal
French Toast
Bagels and honey butter


Grilled Cheese
PB and honey or jam
Broccoli Cheese Soup

Snacks? Still drawing a blank. I'll update when I figure it out.

Want to see more menus? Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

GREEN BEAN DREAMS: Sustainable Superheroes

Can we consider ourselves to be living sustainable lives even if we are not yet "there". Are our efforts towards sustainability enough? A post on this subject had been floating around in my head for weeks, especially since I've been rapidly approaching burnout (I'll post about that later). Green Bean Dreams covered the subject better than I could ever hope to. Don't miss this great post.

GREEN BEAN DREAMS: Sustainable Superheroes

Independence Days Challenge - Update

Its been several weeks since I updated our Independence Days Challenge. Here are our efforts towards food independence over the last few weeks.

1. Plant Something: Its been above 100 deg. most days for the last few weeks, so until today, the weather was much too hot to plant. The weather prediction indicates a little easing of heat, so this morning, I planted 24 sweet pea seeds. A few weeks ago, we planted 18 and these are growing, although slowly because of the heat. Here's hoping to a great harvest in a few weeks.

2. Harvest something: Again, because of the heat (I think), our harvest is slowing a little. We're getting a cuke about 3 times a week, one or two tomatoes daily, purple hull peas and now red bell peppers. In addition, our tabasco peppers are turning color - such a beautiful plant.

3. Preserve something: Made 6 pints of fig preserves and froze 3 gallon size zip top bags of figs. Today, we are trying our hand a blueberry fruit leather. I'll post pictures if it turns out okay.

4. Prep something: Albertson's had bottled water on sale for the last two weeks, so we have 72 bottles of water now.

5. Cook something: we're trying our hand at making fruit leather. If it turns out well, we're making strawberry, raspberry and peach next.

6. Managed Reserves: We're doing fine rotating our stored foods.

7. Work on local food system: Still doing most of our shopping at the farmer's market and making many nice acquaintances of the farmers. Making arrangements with many of them for when the market closes in a few months.

8. Compost Something: We're still composting all of our garden scraps, organic veggie scraps and yard clippings (grass and such).

Are you working towards independence for your family? I'd love to hear about it. Please leave a comment and a link if you have a blog that talks about your journey.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Recipe: Fiesta Chicken

This is a really simple and quick recipe - I like to have the ingredients on hand for those days when we're too busy to cook.

4 Cups diced or shredded chicken
Fajita Marinade
1 Jar Salsa
2 cups (one can) black beans
! cup frozen corn

You can either use the marinade on uncooked chicken as a marinade or you can add it to the pot when you combine cooked chicken with the other ingredients. All you have to do to prepare this recipe is marinate the chicken, cook it, shred or dice it, then add the other ingredients to the pot until heated through. We like to eat it in tortillas with cheese, sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes, but it also makes nice quesadillas.

Menu Plan Monday-August 4,2008

After a few weeks off from blogging, I'm back today with Menu Plan Monday. This week, I'm going for simple, as we'll be doing a lot of canning of garden produce and my poor brain can't handle both thinking about cooking and thinking about canning, lol. So, this week is officially SANDWICH WEEK! On Sunday, I made up a few sandwich fillings to keep in the fridge and about mid week, I'll make up a few more. We have a variety of breads veggies and cheeses, plus dressings and other condiments.

So far, in the fridge, we have fiesta chicken which can be eaten on tortillas or if we're feeling more like cooking at the time, it makes a nice filling for a quesidilla (which I do not know how to spell). We usually eat this with lettuce and diced tomato plus sour cream. We also currently have BBQ roast in the fridge awaiting a toasted bun with veggie sticks on the side. In addition, we have a creamy imitation crab salad that we'll put in wraps with romaine lettuce and Cesar dressing.

About mid week, we'll make a few more fillings, including chicken salad to be eaten on French bread with lettuce, tomato and pickles, Teriyaki beef stir fry to be eaten in wraps with lettuce or on french bread. This is really yummy with stir fry veggies, so we make it with both beef and veggies and tighten up the sauce a little so that it clings to the beef and veggies and doesn't make the bread soggy. It can be eaten either warmed up or cold (I like it cold in wraps). Now, I just need one more sandwich filling. What is your favorite sandwich? Please post a comment with your favorite and a recipe or directions to make it. Thanks!

This week for breakfast, we're going easy as well. We're going to eat from the freezer. We have baked oatmeal, pancakes and french toast in the freezer so we will rotate those during the week and supplement with yogurt and fruit.

Snacks will include hummus and pita, trail mix, any muffins we might have in the freezer, bagels and probably more packaged snacks than I'd like.

Head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plan Monday.

Items from our menu that are in bold are locally grown or raised.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garden Update

The peas are taking over, it seems. Well worth it, I think :o)

Cukes growing on the "trellis".

Gone Fishin'

My parents came to visit over the weekend and they bought the boys fishing gear and took them fishing. It was a lot of fun even though the fish weren't biting.

Nature Study - Cicada

Just beginning to emerge from its shell.

Drying its wings - its standing on top of the shell it just crawled out.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Independence Days Challenge

Last week I stumbled upon the website and found that she is hosting Independence Days Challenge this summer. So, although its started in April, I decided to jump in and at least try it starting now. You are supposed to try to work in 8 areas at least once each week. Here are the areas and what we did last week:

1. Plant something: Its really too hot here to plant, but I decided to try anyway. We planted something five days last week including 2 squares of sweet peas, 2 squares of purple peppers and an indoor greens garden.

2. Harvest something: We harvested at least one thing every day last week. We harvested one pound of roma tomatoes, 14 purple hull pea pods, 1 carrot, 6 cucumbers and a bunch of basil.

3. Preserve something: Made one pint of fig preserves

4. Prep something (emergency preps): bought and stored 2 pounds of white beans.

5. Cook something/ learn to cook something new: Made yogurt.

6. Manage reserves (basically rotate your stockpile): Opened one jar of peanut butter and replaced it.

7. Work on local food system: Put out the word on Freecycle that we were looking for figs. Connected with two people there. Also mentioned to a friend that we wanted figs and she arranged for us to get figs in exchange for teaching the tree owner and my friend how to make yogurt. Made connections with farmers at the market.

8. Compost something: composted grass clippings, leaves, carrot top, cuke peel, tomato cores, potato peelings, coffee grounds and egg shells from hard boiled eggs.

I was really surprised how easy it was to do a little something in each category. Some categories were worked on daily and others only once a week. Its been fun and I'm excited about working on more this week and the weeks to come.

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

3 eggs
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups cooked pumpkin (or 1 16 oz can)
5 cups flour (I use 3 cups white flour, 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup of mixture of oat flour, wheat germ and flax meal)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (celtic sea salt)
1 1/2 Tblsp Cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp cloves
1 cup applesauce
Optional: Nuts and raisins or dates

Cream eggs and sugar. Add butter and pumpkin. Combine dry ingredients then add to the moist ingredients. Mix in the applesauce, and optional ingredients if using them.

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans. Divide batter between two pans. Bake at 350 deg for approximately 1 hour.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Approx 1 lb tomatoes (Roma work really well in this recipe)
1 Red Pepper
1 Med Onion
1 head garlic
olive oil
fresh basil (to taste)
approximately 2 cups (or one can) chicken (or veggie) broth or stock

Cut tomatoes in half and lay face up on a baking sheet (choose a pan with a rim, otherwise the juices drip all over the floor of your oven). Quarter and seed the red pepper and put on baking sheet with tomato. Slice onion thick and put on baking sheet. Peel garlic and put whole cloves on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Put this in a 400 deg oven, turning everything after about 20 minutes. Continue to roast until you start to get some color on the tomatoes and peppers and your kitchen smells heavenly.

Once the veggies are done, remove to a blender. Pour the pan juices into the blender, too. Add stock and basil and cover with a folded towel (be very sure you do not run the blender with hot items in it and the lid sealed - that will cause the items in your blender to build up a lot of pressure and possibly explode - not kidding! Place a large folded towel over the blender opening instead) and blend until smooth. Taste and add any additional seasoning. Place in bowls and garnish with sour cream and a sprig of basil.

Tuna Burger Recipe

1/2 small onion
1-2 cloves garlic diced
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups white beans (or one can)
6 oz Tuna (or one can)
1 cup bread crumbs divided
1/4 cup mayo
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sweat the onion (like saute but the onion doesn't brown - low heat) in the butter for about 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic for the last minute or so - watch closely as this burns easily.

In a separate bowl, smash the white beans. Add the sauted veggies to the beans, then stir in the tuna, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, the mayo, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of mixture into your hand and flatten into a patty. Coat both sides in the remaining bread crumbs (I put the bread crumbs in a plate to coat the patties) then pan fry in a little olive oil until brown on both sides and cooked through. This recipe usually makes 6-8 patties depending upon how big I make them.

Menu Plan Monday - July 14, 2008

We found these amazing tomatoes at the farmer's market this weekend. They are heirloom (so of course the boys and I saved the seeds). Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of them before we ate them all (did I mention they were amazing?) so I found a picture that looked like them online and I'm borrowing it until we can get more that I can photograph. Here's what they look like:
I sure hope he has more this week! He also had 3 other varieties of heirloom tomatoes including one that looked like a Roma, but was bright yellow. I'm hoping to try that one this week as well.

Our menu for this week (remember, the bold items are locally grown/ raised):

Breakfast :
Blueberry muffins and yogurt
Ham and cheese biscuit and blackberries
Scrambled Eggs and grits
Baked Oatmeal with peaches
Whole grain pancakes with blueberry syrup

The usual:
PB & honey
BLT (with lettuce sprouts)
Grilled Cheese

Watermelon slices
Cucumbers and carrots dipped in ranch dressing
Berry Smoothie (with homemade yogurt)
Pumpkin bread
Blueberry Scones
Yummy Eggs (my 5 year old calls deviled eggs yummy eggs)
Biscuits with honey butter
Blueberry popsicles

Tuna Burgers on dressed rolls (tomatoes, red and purple peppers, onion), new potato "salad" (dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar, salt and pepper) and asparagus (from freezer)

Hamburger Steak (its a burger browned then braised in beef stock) over garlic mashed new potatoes with zuke/ squash medley and we're going to have some sort of fruit desert, maybe fig cobbler (if we have any fig preserves left by then)

Baked Chicken, tomato and cucumber salad, black beans and brown rice.

Make-your-own Pizza (dh has a meeting one night this week so the kids and I will have pizza that night) with veggie tray and watermelon

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup (also features local garlic and onion), Chicken quesadillas with sour cream and guacamole and cantaloupe

Pan Fried Tilapia with pesto, homemade bread, spaghetti squash (the farmer suggested we cut it in half, sprinkle with salt and olive oil then roast in the oven until fork tender - we've never had spaghetti squash before, so this will hopefully be a fun experiment, even if it turns out to be inedible),

Leftover buffet

Check out I'm An Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plan Monday

Friday, July 11, 2008

Indoor Greens Experiment

Well, they are already starting to get spindly as they make a desperate reach for the sunlight. I'm going to try a different window, but I'm starting to understand why people get an Aerogarden. I may invest in a grow light this weekend, while my Dad is here to help.

Garden Math

Based on average harvests per plant for tomato and strawberries, just to keep our family self sufficient in both we would need at least 35 tomato plants (we have 9) and 300 strawberry plants (what can I say, my kids love strawberries and we eat lots of strawberry preserves). Thats 22 4X4 square foot garden boxes just for those two plants. Yikes! Thankfully, we don't need to be totally self sufficient yet, but as we move towards that end we may have to look into a greenhouse, lol.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Beef Stock

At the farmer's market earlier this week, the grass-fed beef farmer had soup bones for sale in addition to the regular cuts of meat and ground beef. We pick up some and they are in the crockpot right now being turned into stock. Tonight we're having local french onion soup (well, the beef stock is local and so are the onions) to go with our local panini. I'm so pleased to have a source for healthy beef stock - yay!

Independence Days

If you surf long enough, you will find a community of people with the same interests as yourself, no matter how unusual you might think those interests are, right :o) I'm discovering that there is an entire local foods movement with local eating challenges all over the web. A few days ago, I discovered a website , a website that is hosting an Independence Days Challenge - that is a challenge to move towards food independence for your family, community building and emergency preparedness. Since they started this back in April, I'm getting in on it late, but I think I will try to participate as much as I can and will update my blog weekly.

Indoor Salad Greens Experiment

A few days ago, I asked for advice on container gardening to grow salad greens indoors. Our summers here are just too hot and lettuce bolts in May if grown outside, but I've never tried growing it indoors. Maybe its the homeschooler in me, but I couldn't just sit around and wait for a reply, I had to do something. So, I decided to experiment. All I have is one "window box" so for now that all I planted, but as soon as I find one at a garage sale or clearanced, I plan on having two - one south facing and one north facing, to see which grows better.

On Monday, I put 8 lettuce seeds from Mesclun mix and 8 spinach seeds into the filled box. This morning, I awoke to 4 sprouts :o) This box will now sit in the south facing window to observe what happens. I sure hope we're eating baby greens in a few weeks :o)

Here is our baby "Sprout". Sorry for the blurry picture, but this is lettuce,
so we're talking a really tiny plant. :o)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

First Cucumber!

Tackle it Tuesday - Cleaning out the Refrigerator

5 Minutes for Mom is hosting Tackle It Tuesday and helping Moms everywhere to get their housework under control one tackle at a time. Check out what others are tackling!

If i had to choose one most hated housework chore, it would , for me, be cleaning out the refrigerator. I'd actually prefer scrubbing toilets to decluttering and wiping down shelves in the fridge. So obviously, it gets put off until I cannot fit another thing in there. See . . .

Since I know that I might get started only to get frustrated and give up, I'm posting this so that I have some accountability. I am also giving myself permission to do it a little time. The plan is to remove something that needs throwing each time I reach in to the fridge for something else until all old stuff is removed. Then I'll wipe down the shelves and organize. So it will probably take more than today to finish my tackle. I'll post pics later in the week of my finished project. Wish me luck :o)

P.S. For those regular readers of my blog (if there are any, lol) we don't drink colas, but most of our family does, so we keep one in the fridge for when we have guests. :o)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Growing Salad Greens Indoors? Advice Needed

I am interested in growing salad greens indoors. After growing them this spring, I miss having fresh greens and would like to try growing them indoors. We live in the deep south so our greens bolted about 6 weeks ago. If I could figure out the indoor thing, we could have greens in the summer and winter from indoors and spring and fall from outdoors. I'd like to plant mesclun and spinach to use as baby greens.

I have a south facing window with a nice big ledge, so I was thinking of using a window box style planter and setting it in that window. My only concern is that it might get too warm there for them to grow properly. I also have a north facing window with a nice ledge. Which one would be best? Anyone with experience, I'd love your advice. Thanks in advance :o)

Menu Plan Monday - July 7, 2008

If you are a gardener, I am looking for advice on growing greens indoors. :o)

This week, our Menu theme will be "simple" as I am so exhausted from our travels this weekend. Why is it called vacation when its so much work? Oh well, here's the menu plan (remember, bold type signifies locally grown food):


Eggs and biscuits (with homemade jam)
Baked Oatmeal (in freezer)
Oat and nut Pancakes (in the freezer)
Yogurt with fruit
(these will be repeated as needed)

Lunch (all accompanied by a fruit and vegetable):

Peanut Butter and honey (or jam) sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Broccoli Cheese Soup
any available leftovers from supper

Homemade bread with honey butter
Homemade biscuits with butter and jam or honey
pecans or walnuts (my kiddos love to munch on a handful of pecans or walnuts)
chips and homemade salsa
Hummus and pita
Carrots and cucumbers with dip

Chicken teriyaki stir fry (veggies) over rice (this is my "I'm too tired to cook and want to get take out" meal - so easy and only one pot to clean!)
Chicken and salsa quesadillas with sour cream, refried beans and rice and fruit for desert
BBQ chicken Pizza (with onions) for the grown ups and plain cheese for the kiddos
Burgers on a dressed(onions, tomatoes, etc) bun with roasted new potatoes and pan roasted squash (yum! This will be for later on in the week when I'm not quite so tired)
Grilled Veggie Panini with black beans and brown rice and fresh fruit

I am hoping that by the end of the week, I will feel "caught up" and can try to get my hands on some locally grown figs to make fig preserves. We love figs here and they are so readily grown in our area that they are usually very easy to come by. Most of our preserves will be used to make fig cobbler which is very similar to fig newtons, except that fig cobbler is more of a "bar" cookie and it tastes sooooooo much better.

Check out Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas :o)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Canning Local Fruit and Berries

Here's what I did this afternoon. The blueberries were picked just this morning when the boys and I went to a U-Pick blueberry farm. The peaches were grown by a local farmer :o) All in all a really fun day :o)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fair Trade Coffee at Walmart for $2.75

I made a (rare) trip to Walmart today for a few staples that I cannot find at Kroger (my favorite grocery store) and I found a display of coffee like the one pictured, except that instead of saying Rainforest Alliance, it says Fair Trade and it has a certified fair trade seal. I decided to try it (I also bought our regular coffee - Community Coffee). There was no price listed, but it rang up $2.75 and the receipt said the regular price was $5.88. We're going to try it in the morning, and if its good, I'll head back tomorrow to stock up.

Check out Comical Coupon Sense for more Thrifty Thursday :o)

Making Yogurt

My friend Erin called this morning while we were making yogurt. She asked me to post a picture tutorial on my blog. I figure, since there are already many really good one's out there, I would just link to one of those. Here is my favorite. I pretty much make it the same way she does. :o) Please post a comment if you make your own - I'd love to know what you use (kind of milk and starter - we use Horizon's organic whole milk and Stoneyfield plain for starter), how you do it and how you use the yogurt (ours goes in smoothies, mostly).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Farmer's Market Find

I put this box of granola bars in the picture to give a little perspective. This is one huge cantaloupe. Its actually the size of a small watermelon. Before I cut it up, I weighed it! 10 lbs, 8 oz.

The farmer who grows these is at the market each week with both cantaloupe and watermelons and his are the best we've ever had! As soon as they are in season in your area, I highly recommend locally grown, organic watermelon and cantaloupe - you will not believe the difference.

They're Back!

Look what we got to play with yesterday :o) It flew off before we really got to hold it, but the boys did get to touch it. Yay for cicadas! Can you believe that big green thing came out of that little brown shell? Amazing!