Tag Archives: Summer

Fun Summertime Foods… Hummus

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about HUMMUS… My sister is amazing and for the last 3 years has been trying to get me to even try hummus. It is UGLY and (I think) smells FUNNY. But, then I gave in and now, for the last 6 months we ALWAYS have homemade hummus and pita chips for a snack. Yes, I admit, I was wrong!! It is SO GOOD! Thanks Jen for finally just shoving a chip with hummus down my throat. I am sorry that I acted like a 2 year old and wouldn’t try it.

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Hummus and chips is a good snack for kids in the summer-time. We make the chips from scratch along with the hummus… when have I not made anything from scratch!?!?

Since Pita chips and hummus are now a staple in our home, I wanted to share with you how to make BOTH! It would even make a good snack to take on a picnic this summer!!

Hummus is VERY easy!!!

 

Cilantro Lime Chicken in solar oven
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Ingredients
  1. 4 boneless chicken breasts
  2. 2 green onions, chopped
  3. 1 bundle of cilantro, chopped
  4. 3 limes zested and juiced
  5. 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted or 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1/4 cup vinegar
  7. 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Instructions
  1. Wash and add chicken breasts into your solar oven pans.
  2. In a blender, blend together cilantro, lime zest and juice, oil, vinegar and garlic.
  3. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
  4. Top with chopped green onions.
  5. Bake in solar oven for 6-8 hours.
KrisandLarry.com - Homeschool and homestead http://krisandlarry.com/
Our "chunky" hummus
Our “chunky” hummus

Summertime Fun – Backyard Camp Out

Who said that you need to leave your driveway and go into nature to go camping? Surprise the kids with a backyard BBQ and camp out.

The only thing that you need is a tent and a flashlight…  I have a 4 person one that the boys in our family use for these mini-camps. My nephews normally come over too and they sit outside with their flashlights and lanterns and giggle and tell jokes.

So, even if you can not venture out into nature… This is the perfect alternative!! And MOM still gets to sleep in her soft bed!

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Summertime Fun – Find a Local Library Program

libraryprogramsMost children’s libraries put on programs during the summertime. Yes… I am telling you, if you have children, CALL YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!

Our local children’s library website is: http://www.chinoaz.net/library/childrens.shtml

The library in Chino Valley, Arizona (where the kiddlings and Larry and I live) has an FANTASTIC summer program. We attend the Special Needs one for Berlyn and Trystan. (Autusm and ADHD are interesting things to try and get children to sit still… but the program for the special needs in not terribly busy and allows the kids to move around. The best part is that there are a lot of “get up and dance” . )

Today, the Prescott Heritage Park Zoo visited the kids! They let the kids touch the  snake, hissing cockroach and the tortoises. They also brought a pink-footed tarantula and 2 prairie dogs that were in a rolly exercise ball.

The Chino Valley Library has an AMAZING Children’s Librarian by the name of Darlene Westcott (better known as Ms. Darlene to the kids.) I have known Darlene for 20 years. Her daughters went to school with me. In 2010, she won the 2010 Arizona Youth Services Librarian of the Year because of all of her  phenomenal work with children.

Here is a link to the Chino Valley Summer Reading Program – http://www.chinoaz.net/library/pdf/2013_SummerReadingProgram_Tri-Fold.pdf

Here is a link to the Chino Valley SELF Club (SPecial Needs) Summer Reading Program: http://www.chinoaz.net/library/pdf/2013_SelfClub_Tri-Fold2.pdf

 

So if you have kids at home this summer… call your local library!

You never know what they have in store for you!

 

 

Summertime Foods – Saving your herbs

Summertime is such a great time to not only grow your own gardens with vegetables but also herbs to use in your kitchen! I have a pretty large herb selection in my garden as well. I store all of my bulk herb that I dehydrated in quart sized mason jars. I have them each labeled with chalkboard labels so that I can change them out… Then this year, I found the new BALL Herb Jars… (I found mine at my local ALCO store – But they are also online at AMAZON – link to the left)

I FELL I LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN! 😉

I still have all of my bulk herb jars in my pantry, but now, I have my little jars filled and labeled by my stove in a drawer. This makes it so much easier than searching for the big jars!

 

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Herbs are REALLY easy to dehydrate (And you DO NOT need a dehydrator to do it) If you live where there is low humidity, you can lay your herbs out on trays and they should be dried out within about 24 hours. You can also use your oven set to the LOWEST temperature. You will need to flip the herbs over at least once while they are in the oven. 

So, You want to have fresh and/or dried herbs from your garden for your cooking? What herbs do I have in my garden?

  • Dill – I use in my potato salad, on fish and when I can my pickles
  • Cilantro – Think Mexican food – Cilantro is a staple here – in my guacamole, hummus, mixed with re-fried beans, taco meat and I even have a cilantro lime dressing that I make every week.
  • Parsley – I use mostly fresh to bring out the flavors and meld together other herbs. Tastes great with fish, chicken and veggies.
  • Lemon Balm – Use in my tea, to season my green salads, poultry and fish . The herb has a lemon taste with a hint of mint.
  • Chives – I use chives in my salads and on veggies. They have a slight onion taste.
  • Basil – this is another herb that I CAN NOT live without – Brescetta with tomato/basil, pesto and I love when I mix it with butter for toast with dinner!
  • Oregano – My basic Italian seasoning – oregano is best in italian dishes, in chili, with vegetables, soups.
  • Mint – in yogurt, with fresh fruit and dried for teas.
  • Rosemary – in potatoes, with roast

I do mix all of my herbs in my bread doughs for an added artisan flavor.

Summertime Activities for Kids… S'mores at home

You do not need to go camping in order to have S’mores!!

blog-smores1We have a fire pit that I picked up at Wally-World for my hubby for father’s day a few year ago. It is portable and we can move it throughout the yard to where ever we need or want to sit for the evening.

Every once in a while, I will surprise the kids with a “ranch-camp fire” and get out everything for s’mores. 

FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW WHAT S’MORES ARE….

2-Graham Cracker Squares

1 3-piece section of hershey’s chocolate

and 1 large marshmallow toasted

Those 3 ingredients are made into a sandwich!!

AND YUMMMMMM GOOD!

I have a fun alternative to roasted s’mores!!

During our adoption party, we premade marshmallows on a stick.  Then, we dunked them in melted almond bark and then in crushed graham crackers. … THEY WERE A HIT!

Fun Summertime Foods – Mojito for Kids

blog-kidmojitos-drinkMy kids don’t get to drink soda often.. but occasionally, like Sunday dinner with the grandparents or a special occasion like a party or holiday we make this fun and refreshing drink. This drink is a kid-friendly and can be made into an adult only.

We have been tweaking our recipe for years, but now that we have an abundance of mint growing throughout our yard, we are making so many recipes with mint. For drinks,  I make a lot of mint infused water to drink during the day and we dry mint leave to make mint sun tea to drink.

We picked up a container that has a sport on the side so that this crew can serve themselves. My container is one gallon and during the summer, I fill it with water, mint or lime/lemon slices and ice and have a selfserving water center for the kids. It keeps them out of my fridge!

Another summer-time tip it to purchase a set of “solo party cups”. I write each child’s name on their cup and they use it over and over again. This makes doing dishes so much easier and kids are not reaching for a new cup out of my cabinet every time that they need a drink. Instead, they use their cup over and over… and their name is on it!

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To conquer the kid piles – organizing the items that get thrown in mom's room.

I don’t know about the rest of you but mom’s office and mom and dad’s bedroom seem to be the place that most items are thrown when a kid is “cleaning” up. I have been getting really tired of picking up scout clothes and the kids not being able to find their dance shoes when they need to… or even my photo props not being in the right place when I need them.  Having 7 little “helpers” (and I do use that lightly) sometimes makes for 7 little tornadoes in my house.

blog-organizingkidclutterI found some locking 15liter containers on sale and began filling them for the top of my closet.I used my cricut machine and cut permanent vinyl for the sides. Now, the labels are sure NOT to come off either. Vinyl is a wonderful and magical thing. I picked up some permanent outdoor vinyl (and some wall vinyl on a different day) from Pick You Plum. LOVE THAT DAILY DEAL SITE.

In my goal to conquer the kid clutter, I have in fact, found a solution in my house to make getting ready for activities faster because I am not wasting time to find that neckerchief for one of the many scouts that I do have! And as you can see, bathing suits got a box as well… SO MUCH EASIER to get the 4 littles into their suits and everyone can find them, because mom stashed them!!

 

 

Summertime Activities for Kids… Geocaching

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Geocaching is such a fun and rewarding “techie game” that kids can totally get into. Our family has been geocaching for 3 years now. When we travel, we always try and look up a cache or two on the way as well, just for the fun of it.

Here’s the breakdown of what geocaching is and how to start it.

  1. You have a GPS.
  2. Log into www.geocaching.com and get the coordinates of a location near you – make sure that you read the description too, there may be clues in it.
  3. Enter the coordinates into your GPS.
  4. Take you and your kids out to the coordinates
  5. Find the hidden treasure (and when I say treasure, I mean a container)
  6. Sign the log in the contain with your geocache name, exchange goodies (AKA swag – we carry a bag of army men in the car with us.)
  7. Return the “cache” to the same place that you found it for the next person.

My kids have such a BLAST going geocaching. We invested in a $100 GPS that is specifically for caching and during the summer, we go once a week out to find a cache or two. If we are going to be gone for more than 3, we pack a picnic lunch. blog-geocaching-griffenGeocaching allows us to work together as a family, using clues to find a “treasure:. We get outside, away from TVs, computers and cell phones to hike and exercise our minds and our bodies.

We use it as part of our homeschooling.

There are also treasures that are in the container that range from something the size of the end of your fingernail (MICRO) to ammo cans and 5 gallon buckets. There could also be geocoins and trackers. If you are lucky enough to find one of those, AWESOME! Write down the number, log it in and pass it on. Then, you can track it on it’s journey.

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Summertime Activities for Kids… Gardening

I have several friends who are always asking me, “Kris, what do you do with your kids in the summer time. You have so many, how do you keep them entertained?? ”

garden-blogpeasFirst off, if the Sun is out… then the TV is OFF!This is something that I implemented years ago. I don’ t want my children to turn into couch potatoes. I have 4 that I homeschool and 3 that are in public school. We homeschool to the school year and take time off in the summer of formal school. That doesn’t mean that we are not schooling.  There are so many different things that you can do with your kiddlings that I am going to touch on different around the house activities and projects throughout the summer.

START A GARDEN!

Gardening  what we can eat is a major thing in our house. We have 3 acres where we live and I know that many people don’t have land like that that, but, why not try a container garden if you don’t have room for a larger one in your yard. Gardens do NOT have to be big, and they are REALLY REWARDING. Kids LOVE to eat the food that you grow.  

Nothing tastes better than fresh produce that you grew and harvested. With my kids, they know that their hard work will lead to a FANTASTIC meal. Last night we had swiss chard harvested less than an hour before to eat with dinner!!

garden-blog-TOMATILLOSI don’t have room for a garden! I hear that alot from friends – Guess what? You don’t need a ton of room if you want to have a garden. You can try a container garden right outside your front door! 

Tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos (green tomatoes) grow GREAT in larger pots on your patio. Remember that you do need 2 tomatillos for them to produce fruit. Your entire herb selection is great to grow in pots around your yard. Every year, we plant basil, chives, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, cilantro, parsley and dill in pots around the yard. Many of those pots I found at yard sales. Mint is also a really good grower – just make sure that you plant it in a pot if you don’t want it to spread!!! We use mint in our summertime-drinks (I have a kid mojito recipe that will be a hit – will post that soon)

If you have a wire fence, try planting seeding sunflowers (so that you can tie them up), green beans or sweet peas. Throughout the summer, I NEVER see peas come into the house. The kids will pick them right off of the vine and eat in the garden. Sunflowers are fun because after you harvest, you can feed all of those little birds in your yard with the seeds.

garden-blog-rowanandheronionsAre you worried about weeds???you are reading this post because you have kids right? They each have two little weed-picking hands. At our home, we make it into a GAME!!! Any weeds in our garden feeds our chickens. Even my 5 year-olds can both pick weeds!! We have a 15 minute timer that we use. 15 minutes a day gets all of those garden weeds down. If you are having a container garden, your weeds will be limited.We use the weed pulling time as family time and we ALL go out an pull!!!

So you have never planted a thing in your life? Guess what neither had I, until my parents moved to Arizona and started me on gardening. Now that this gift was introduced to me, I haven’t stopped. We have a LARGE garden that produces enough to feed my family of 9 in the summer and to can many items to use throughout the year like relish and salsas. But, remember to start SMALL! You have to have enough time to weed, water and tend your garden.

garden-blog-tomatoesFor a patio garden, you will need several larger pots…. no I am not talk 1Gallon… I am talking 5 gallon or larger! Potting soil and either plants or seeds. We start all of our plants by seeds but you can pick up plants at any hardware or discount store in your area.You will also need to fertilize your plants. I use GOATALYZER. (yep, goat poo is awesome and natural!) We try not to use any chemicals on our garden… Do I really want to eat things that kill bugs? I don’t want that in my body! Here is the website for goatalyzer – www.GOATALYZER.com

This year, I even invested in a greenhouse so that they seedlings weren’t taking over my kitchen and dining area. The greenhouse ran about $1000. It is 8’x6′ and has a sunshade, shelves and a ton of extras that we picked up. It took 2 days for Larry and I to put together. You can build your own or even just use your windowsill to start your seeds early in the season!

We started tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, brussel sprouts, tomatillos, butternut squash, cucumbers, zucchini all in the greenhouse this year.

garden-blog-sunflowersWe start our peas, onions, carrots, sunflowers, turnips, lettuce, radishes, chard, and spinach directly in the ground. We have them in a 4×4′ and 4×8′ plots in our garden. We have plots built from both railroad ties and from blocks.

Each garden can be built in order to fit your families needs.

The main bulk of seed that we are using, my dad’s shop is carrying. I am SO THRILLED with how many came up and are nearly ready to harvest.  I only buy non-GMO and and non-hybred so that I can use the seeds from year to year right out of my plants. Our watermelons and sunflowers from this year are off of watermelons that we grew last year and we saved their seeds!!

Here is the link to the seeds on MAZY’S

– http://mazys.com/emergency-preparedness/garden-seeds/40-000-garden-seeds

So, I want to end this with HAPPY GARDENING!!! I hope that you can have a successful summer with your kids outside together.

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