Menu Plan

I only have two things left to buy for Christmas….and they are gift cards!! Yay! I enjoy being done at the beginning of December, so we can enjoy the rest of the month without too much stress.😉

This month I will be keeping our menu plans pretty simple. I may mix in a new recipe or two, but I want to have this month be relaxing. Grocery shopping in December is a huge annoyance to me because of all the holiday shoppers, so being able to zip in and out of the store for easy meal ingredients is a MUST!




Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal





Bean and Cheese tostadas

Lunch Drawers (I realize I haven’t fully explained this, but I promise it is coming!!)


Crockpot Ziti (a new favorite of ours)


Ham and Bean Soup

Creamy Chicken Bake

Mexican Chicken Skillet

BBQ Chicken Tostadas 

Our Small Group Christmas party

I am also working on making Christmas cookies and treats for teachers and friends. That’s another reason to keep the menu simple…so we have more time to make the fun stuff!🙂

Recipe: Homemade Tomato Soup


I posted a few years ago the recipe for a Cream of Tomato Soup. This week I made a slightly different version of Tomato Soup, and we really enjoyed it.

Grilled Cheese is one of our favorite things to eat, especially when it is on homemade bread with a variety of cheeses. We LOVE cheese.😉 So, this week, rather than just grab cans of tomato soup at the store, I decided to change it up a little with the homemade version. It was simple and delicious, ready in less than 45 minutes.

I hope you all enjoy it as well!

Tomato Soup

3 TBSP butter

1 onion, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

3 cans – 14 oz diced tomatoes, with juice

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 cups milk

1 tsp dried basil

black pepper, to taste

salt, optional (I didn’t use it, but if your broth is low sodium you may opt to use it)

  1. Melt butter in stockpot. Add in onions and carrots, cooking til soft…5-10 minutes.
  2. Add in tomatoes, broth, milk and basil. Bring to boil and then simmer with lid on, for about 35 minutes.
  3. Use immersion blender to blend soup to smooth consistency. Add pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with grilled cheese or with cheese sprinkled on top. Yum!

You could add other things like celery or garlic or anything else for more flavor. I was just in a bit of a time crunch and didn’t have time to chop those.🙂


Menu Plan: November 15-22

I am keeping the menu full of regulars this week, with nothing new to try out. Thanksgiving is only a week away!!🙂 And I tend to feel overwhelmed with school work getting done before then, so I don’t want to worry about messing up a new recipe on top of that.


Pizza (our regular shopping day dinner…Aldi’s Take and Bake pizzas!)

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Crockpot Ziti

Mac and Cheese Casserole

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ham, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans (our yearly pre-thanksgiving feast for just us 7)

Taco Casserole

Grilled Cheese, Homemade Tomato Soup

Bacon Brown Rice Risotto




Lunch Drawers

BBQ Chili and Cornbread (this IS a new recipe, but I plan to just cook it all morning for lunch…plus, my husband doesn’t really like chili, so it will just be for the kids and I to enjoy!)


Donuts (fun surprise for the kids)

Baked Oatmeal

Eggs and Sausage hash


Bagels, fruit


Regular Homemade Items to Keep Up With:



Trail Mix

Recipe: Switchel

We have been making an apple cider vinegar drink for over a year now. It all started when I was a child and had the stomach flu. Yuck!

Sounds silly, but seriously, that’s where it started. My mom would mix up a concoction of apple cider vinegar (acv) and water and force us to take it by the teaspoonful every so many minutes to help settle our stomachs. Of course, the stench and taste of vinegar while you’re puking is enough to make you barf again. And I did. BUT, it did help the belly stop heaving.

Fast forward 20+ years, and my entire family has the stomach flu over a period of a week or so. I was 8 months pregnant with our youngest, and we all missed Thanksgiving with the extended family. I called Mom to cry about missing the holiday, and she reminded me of the acv trick. I was on board! Anything to stop my very pregnant body from throwing up every 10 minutes. My husband wasn’t quite on board. I promised him it would work, and I started taking it myself. It took a few vomits, but my stomach finally settled down. I was the last one to have the flu, so I tucked that trick in the back of my mind.

The following year, a few of us acquired the stomach flu again. I used the acv mix and it worked great! A year later, what do you know, we got the stomach flu again. (It has become a yearly thing, it seems.) We were out of Gatorade and had no Pedialyte to help replenish electrolytes. I searched online for something we could make here at home and came across an emergency electrolyte replacement drink. It included apple cider vinegar; I was sold!

I mixed it up and it tasted great! Six of us enjoyed it; only Iris did not like the flavor. We continued making it almost every day as a drink option during the day. Ethan loves it for breakfast. The other kids love it when they come in from playing. I like to drink it with a meal because of its effect on my stomach (less bloating and helps with digestion).

I found out this past week it has a name – Switchel. It apparently was made a long time ago as an alternative to water for those that worked the fields. It was made with ginger, molasses and vinegar. It had/has lots of nutrients (potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium; plus, it’s anti-viral, anti-nausea, and antibacterial) and was easier on the stomach in the summer heat than water was.

Our recipe is just water, acv, sugar and a little salt. The original Switchel had molasses; I tried it with molasses last week, and no one really preferred that flavor. I will be trying with honey today. It can be refrigerated or simply left on the counter. Since it contains vinegar, it really will take a while before it “goes bad”.

So, here is our version of Switchel:

8 cups water

7-8 tsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar

7 tbsp sweetener (raw sugar or honey or molasses)

7 pinches of salt (this can be eliminated if you want, but if you are making this during the summer, i highly recommend the sugar if you are sweating outside all day!)

A few slices of fresh ginger, peeled

Combine the ingredients in a pitcher or jar. Stir well until thoroughly mixed. Enjoy at room temperature or chill. Some people add in lemon or lime slices for some vitamin C. I haven’t tried this but lemon does sound yummy in it.

This is a great substitute for juice boxes or sports drink. No artificial things and definitely a thirst quencher! PLUS, if you are passing around the stomach flu…it is a wonderful hydration drink!

Back to the Grind

We enjoyed a full week off of school last week. It was lazy and boring and absolutely the best idea we’ve had in a while!😉

On the Friday before, we finished up a full 12 weeks of school – Term 1. It was a lot of work. With a week of vacation in there to the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter (both AMAZING places, by the way!), the kids worked really hard to accomplish all we I had planned.

Monday is the beginning of Term 2, and I feel like we have really found our “people” as far as curriculum goes. We use Ambleside Online; I may have already mentioned that a time or two. I just adore the richness of this curriculum. It is based on books – old, rich, heavy, books. The language in them is a challenge at times; no one today speaks like the authors, narrators and characters in these books. Sometimes we have to reread a paragraph an extra time to fully understand the message. BUT, it is worth it. My girls are picking up on the words and the language and have even begun using more mature words, which I definitely appreciate. (“Oh mom, you startled me!” Not every 9-year-old uses the word startled.) I am hoping they move completely away from the less-than-awesome books series they have become accustomed to from the library. No more Dork this or Dumb that. Those books, to me, have absolutely nothing for their young brains. I get that they are easy to read, and the girls can quickly finish them (they check out 3 or 4 of the books for a two-week period. I mean, come on! That right there shows how simple they are.). I just hope they realize (soon!) that the books don’t do anything for their imaginations and turn to some classics.

We still haven’t finished Old Yeller together. But, we are all enjoying it. The language in it is funny at times, but it really makes them think and use those brains God gave them! Not every little detail is spelled out – there’s room to imagine!

Ok, off my soapbox about books. I feel like I’m becoming a book snob….for the kids. HA!

For Term 2, I am excited for the content we will cover – everything from Greek mythology to Benjamin Franklin. We are working through the Answers in Genesis book, Answers for Kids, for our Bible curriculum. The kids are remembering quite a lot of the content. I even overheard one of my girls telling a neighbor girl about the “7 C’s of History”.🙂 That girl does not believe in God, so I am not sure she understood what was being shared. BUT, it warmed my heart to know my girl was retaining the information!

Math is going great! Addy had me worried for a little while with her lack of interest in anything, but she surprised me the past couple weeks with how well she catches on to new concepts and is able to apply them. I feel like she matured a whole year in just a few weeks. I am considering skipping ahead in her math to get to some more challenging (for her) lessons, since she is in the first grade book but actually in second grade (according to her age). We’ll see, though; I don’t want to push it and lose her momentum.

We are adding in Plutarch this next Term, for Iris and Lily. I am a little nervous about that….mostly because I’ve never read ANYTHING of Plutarch’s. In fact, I hadn’t heard of him until a few months ago. So, we’ll see how that goes; I hear it can be a challenge because of the “ancient” language, but I’m willing to read and reread until we understand. Plus, how cool is it to say your 9 and 10 year olds are reading Plutarch?!🙂

Also, for Term 2, we are adding in a full schedule/routine for Spanish and Piano. We found free online piano lessons through Hoffman Academy , which I am ecstatic about. I watched the first lesson, and it was great. I can definitely see that the girls will pick up on it and move along quickly. AND, it’s free and at home. You can’t beat that! For Spanish, we already have the computer cd’s; I just haven’t really pushed them to be habitual with the lessons. But, most of the kids have learned numbers 1-10, so it is time to do something more formal for them.

I am feeling good about starting Monday. The week off helped immensely with planning the next 12 week term and with giving us all a break from the routine; although, the break from the routine was slightly stressful when it came to chores. The kids took a break from everything!

Now, I am off to pick up some honey from a family we know. The girls are at a sleepover, so the boys and I are hanging out for a little bit just the 3 of us. Should be interesting!🙂

Recipe: Homemade “Nesquik”


I stumbled across a really yummy recipe for a homemade “nesquik” a few days ago. I was looking another chocolatey item and saw this recipe. My kids LOVE chocolate milk, but I rarely make it for them. This recipe seemed simple enough to make quickly and keep on hand for breakfast!

So, this recipe popped up during my search, and we absolutely LOVE it. I read through some of the comments (thankfully) and found some tips for getting it to mix well with cold milk. A recipe we had prior, very similar to this one, didn’t really dissolve. The kids thought the chocolate chunks left were awesome, but I did not prefer the texture.

The recipe was found HERE. I am copying it here for those that don’t want to click the link. I forget the pinch of salt when I made it the second time, and we haven’t noticed a difference. Enjoy!!

Homemade Nesquik

1/3 cup cocoa (the better quality, the tastier the chocolate milk!)

2/3 cup powdered sugar (regular sugar seemed to take more work to dissolve)

pinch of salt


To use: add 1-2 TBSP per glass of milk. To help it dissolve well, add the dry mix to a cup first. Add just enough hot water to create a paste, which helps the dry mix dissolve. Add milk to the chocolate paste and stir til mixed in. 


Menu Plan: October 31 – November 6

Holy cow! I cannot believe it is November. And we have been jacket-less for several afternoons. It feels amazing! From what I keep hearing, though, it means we’ll have an extra snowy winter. No complaints from me about that!! We haven’t had a decent snowy winter in a couple of years, so I think we are due.🙂

This week, the kids are on a homeschool break; we finished up Term 1 (12 weeks) last Friday and have taken this week off. It feels amazing.😉 My husband is also off from work this week, so we have been able to get some things done around the house and just relax…which is something we rarely do. It has been really nice during the days this week to not really have plans.

For our menu this week, I did a mix of different things. Not a lot of slow cooker meals, since we aren’t running around with school and plans. I was able to take my time and make dinner….something I actually enjoy a lot. I also planned several homemade items for snacks and “staples” we like to have, since I had the time to hang out in the kitchen during the day!


Ham, garlic mashed potatoes w/gravy, carrots


Egg and Sausage Casserole, applesauce

Crockpot Ziti, carrots, green beans

Shredded BBQ Pork sandwiches, salad, pineapple

Chicken tacos, homemade refried beans, rice, veggies and ranch

Broccoli Cheese Soup, homemade rolls, salad

Split Pea Soup, homemade biscuits, salad




Lunch drawers (I know, I haven’t posted on this yet, but it is coming.)



Baked Oatmeal

Cereal (homemade granola cereal)


Granola bars, energy balls

Homemade Items


Granola Bars

Honey Granola

Switchel (an apple cider vinegar drink we make…that I just learned has an actual name!)

Elderberry Syrup

Bread (I am in love with a new-to-me Amish sandwich bread recipe…mmmmm!)

I will share some of the recipes in future posts. The homemade nesquik was a huge hit! Super easy to make and store. And I am moving the kids away from so much juice in the mornings, so I am enticing them with chocolate milk using the homemade nesquik.😉 Still sugary, but less harsh on the teeth than the acidic juice.

Happy Friday!