Monthly Archives: January 2016


Vegetables ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt is hard to believe this week has already come to an end and that January is coming to a close as well. I wish I had been a bit more productive in it. I guess there is always next month. ;)

I’ve been preoccupied with vegetable dishes lately. Although yesterday we enjoyed Sticky Garlic Noodles. Very simple ingredients but too much brown sugar, which made it a little bit  too sweet but still delicious! Of course the sugar was not Daniel’s Fast compliant but it was only a little bit. ;)

We had roasted root vegetables this week which were very good. Red potatoes, carrots, turnip, rutabaga, onion, garlic, and a couple of mushrooms. Mike declared these a keeper. Tiff and I both really enjoyed them too.

Another day we had roasted broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, onion and garlic. This too was very good although the broccoli and cauliflower doesn’t sit well with Mike – he gets heartburn soon after eating them.

We have decided that wild brown rice is delicious, another item we will continue to incorporate in our menus. We had it for dinner twice this last week and Tiffany and I had some of the leftovers with lunch a couple of days too. :D

Last week Tiff and I picked up some spinach wraps and some sun-dried tomato wraps. We have had these for lunch filled with spinach, alfalfa sprouts, and various other veggies. Delicious! I put so many veggies in Mike’s that I had a hard time rolling it up. I’m sure it was a bit messy for him to eat.

I had some recipes I wanted to try this week but didn’t get around to it. I was going to make a red pepper pasta that looks very creamy and yummy, but it takes over an hour to make. Yesterday when I was getting ready to make it, Tiffany and I both decided we were too hungry to wait over an hour to eat, so we settled on the sticky garlic noodles instead.

Some other things I had seen and wanted to fix  were corn fritters, spaghetti squash with marinara, and some kind of veggie burger. The good thing is that these now go onto next week’s menu. :) I’ve already baked the spaghetti squash so that it will be ready for dinner tonight. I also have some portabella mushrooms I will slice and cook up and serve with the spaghetti squash.

Oh! Another recipe I want to try is Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese. It too looks very creamy but I have my doubts as to its claim of being macaroni and cheese though. I do intend to try it this coming week though. ;) One reason I didn’t have it yet is because we’ve had pasta several times this week. Actually, we had whole wheat angel hair pasta once and brown rice pasta two or three times.

We did have mushrooms nearly every day over the last week though and I think it caused Tiffany and I to have some stuffiness. So yesterday we did a test and chose not eat any mushrooms all day. By bedtime Tiffany announced that she had no nasal pressure nor stuffiness. So I guess that we need to limit our consumption of them from here on out.

I’ll share some of these recipes on Tuesdays before long.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Pizza and Little Nino’s Pizzeria

Pizza ~ Lifeofjoy.meThe Super Bowl is coming up soon. In the past, Mom has made her homemade pizza for all of us to eat during the game. It is a labor of love because she makes around nine pizzas or so. It sure is a good thing she has a double oven. I don’t know how many more years she will do it but she has said she will do it again this year. Yay!!! :)

I told Tracie that she should plan to “row” Little Nino’s Pizzeria (pronounce neeno) so that her girls can watch how the pizza is made. Mom has let them make their own tiny pizzas before, as in, she gave them the already made dough and let them press it into the greased tiny pan and then add their toppings but I suggested that the girls watch her make the dough this year. Unfortunately Mom usually makes the sauce ahead of time, so they may not get to see how she makes that unless Tracie puts in a special request. ;)

Anyway, I thought I’d do a little digging around for Tracie so that she wouldn’t have to do it herself, and find some extra activities not necessarily listed in the Five in a Row (FIAR) manual. The first place I went was Homeschool Share. Tracie informed me that they no longer have all the FIAR “units” listed on their own tab, so I did a little digging. They put up this page with each FIAR book listed and then links to units they still have on their site. Thankfully they still have a lapbook for this book. :)

If you don’t have the benefit of a mother or grandmother who makes homemade pizza from scratch, you could still do it at home. Here are some ideas, depending on your comfort level:

  • Get a pre-made crust, like Boboli
  • Use flatbread or tortilla shells for the crust
  • Use a loaf of French bread, cut in half horizontally
  • Get a refrigerated pizza crust, like biscuits
  • Use a plain bread dough made with yeast
  • Use a recipe like this, healthy pizza, or some other found online

Purchase a ready made sauce that you know you like, whatever toppings you desire, and some cheese. Easy peasy! :)

One exercise I think would be fun is to try different kinds of pizza from around your city. We have a wide variety, and I bet you do too. We have the uber thick pizza with tons of cheese like we get here at Savastono’s, then there is the large thin style like Mario’s, Umberto’s or Brother’s, there is the brick oven cooked pizzas, grilled pizzas, and then pizzas from the big chains, which have several varieties themselves.

Then don’t forget breakfast pizza and dessert pizza! :) Mmmm mmmm! I love pizza! Of course, no talk of pizza would be complete if you didn’t include “odd” pizzas like BBQ Chicken Pizza, spinach alfredo, or the Pampered Chef veggie pizza appetizer. I guess the point that I’m trying to make is to just get out and find the different pizzerias in your town and decide which one is the best.

Now, back to the book, you can check out what this one group did with the book, ideas this lady had, including a link to a pizza unit study for primaries, this Pinterest board, and this pin search on Pinterest where you can find lots of great ideas (on the pin search, once you get down to the Owl lapbook and free family printables you have pretty much seen all the relevant pins). If that isn’t enough for you, then you can click on the boards button on that last link, the pin search on Pinterest, and you will then have 28 more boards to peruse but I’m guessing they will mostly have the same pins.

Well, I hope that will help with some of the legwork.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Tangle Within a Tangle

iamthedivacztThis week’s Diva Challenge is to draw one tangle extra big and use it as a string and then tangle away.

I chose Henna Drum as my string tangle. Then I proceeded to use knightsbridge, n’zepple, tipple, nipa with black pearls, and amaze. These are tangles that come naturally to me. I had to wrestle with a couple of them when I was first learning them, specifically n’zepple and the black pearls in nipa, but once I learned them, they became favorites. Amaze was difficult to learn because of its looseness but once I learned to loosen up and just let it flow out of my pen, it was easy.

DC#252 ~

I also added just a bit of hanging shadow under the ‘stem’ for a little added interest.

Click on the Diva Challenge graphic to go and see The Diva’s post and then to visit others’ submissions to the challenge.

Thanks in advance for you comments; they are such an encouragement.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Granny’s Chicken Soup

My Granny with my parents ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy dad’s mom was Slovak. When I was little we lived in Ohio and she and Grandpa lived in Virginia. We would take turns spending Thanksgiving at their house and my mom’s parents’ house in Ohio; then we would spend Christmas at with the other grandparents.

I don’t remember many of the meals Granny fixed but I remember her chicken soup. She served it in courses. First she would bring out the cooked vegetables: potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. Of these veggies each person selected the ones they wanted and the quantities they wanted and mashed them in their soup bowl. She would then take your bowl to the kitchen, add very fine cooked egg noodles, and the broth and return it to you. (I only ever remember anyone taking the potatoes and carrots. ;) )

After everyone finished their soup, Granny would bring out the next course. All I remember is the chicken and applesauce. There may have been bread and butter too but I don’t remember it.

On cold winter days and when breaking a longer fast, I like to make this soup. Because of the way Granny served this meal, I don’t eat chicken in my soup, I eat it on the side as I near the end of my bowl. Mike and Tiffany, on the other hand, like to add the chicken to their soup.

One might think that I would also serve the applesauce with it but Granny’s applesauce was homemade and chunky, very different from what I purchase so it still wouldn’t be the same. I remember loving her applesauce. It was chunky and sweet and cinnamony. I suspect that I will try my hand at it in the future because we are planting apple trees this year.

Well, I digress . . . today I share Granny’s wonderful chicken soup recipe. Well, recipe may be overstating it. This is another of those some of this and some of that recipes. ;) But the ingredients are very simple.

Granny's Chicken Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meThese are not the right noodles but I no longer have access to the right noodles. This is angel hair pasta broken up, which is no where as good as fine egg noodles since this pasta is eggless but we make do.

Without further adieu, here are the directions to make a really yummy chicken soup.

Scrub carrots, wash celery, and peel potatoes and onion.

Cut the carrots into chunks. I cut them into chunks that will cook in about the same time, so the tips of the carrot are larger chunks than the end near the top.

Carrots ~ Granny's Chicken Soup ~

Chop the potatoes into chunks a bit larger than the carrots. I have found that they cook faster than the carrots.

Potatoes ~ Granny's Chicken Soup ~

Cut an onion in half and the celery into about thirds.

Onion and Celery ~ Granny's Chicken Soup ~ Place all of these veggies in a large pot with a whole chicken. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low boil/simmer, depending on how much water you used, and cook until the chicken is cooked through. This takes about an hour to an hour and a half.

I used way too much water the last time I made this and had to cook it longer in order to get the broth rich enough. Also, Mike turned the heat down and so it took longer for my chicken to get done.

When the chicken is nearly done, you want to cook your noodles in a separate pot. I like to use some broth or boil the neck and innards, remove them and use that broth for the noodles.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot, I put it on a rimmed cookie sheet, and remove the meat from the bones. I then remove the onion and celery and toss those because I only include them for flavor.

Fish out the potatoes and carrots and place in a serving bowl, so each person can get what they want.

Mash the veggies in your bowl to your desired consistency.

Mashing Veggies ~ Granny's Chicken Soup ~

Then carefully add some noodles and ladle in some broth and CAREFULLY carry it back to the table and enjoy. OH! You’ll need salt! This is one dish I don’t salt as I cook it. I add salt on top of my veggie before I add the noodles and broth.

Granny's Chicken Soup ~

Mike and the kids add the chicken to their soup.

Chicken added ~ Granny's Chicken Soup ~

Granny’s Chicken Soup


  • Whole Chicken
  • About 4 pounds of potatoes
  • About 1 pound of carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 yellow onion
  • Extra fine egg noodles or angle hair pasta


  1. Ensure the chicken is thawed. Remove the innards and rinse it out. Place in the pot.
  2. Scrub carrots and cut in chunks. Add to the pot.
  3. Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Add to the pot.
  4. Wash celery stalks and cut into thirds. Add to the pot.
  5. Peel a med-large yellow onion. Cut in half and add to the pot.
  6. Cover with water, a couple of inches above the chicken.
  7. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low boil or high simmer.
  8. Cook until chicken is cooked through, 1-2 hours.
  9. Cook innards in water, then remove innards and cook noodles in the broth or just use water.
  10. Remove chicken from pot and remove the meat from the skin and bones.
  11. Discard onions and celery, if you don't care to eat them.
  12. To serve:
  13. Put the desired number of cooked potato and carrot chunks in your bowl. Mash with a fork. Add some noodles and then the broth. Add salt and pepper as desired and enjoy.

I hope you’ll enjoy this easy and economical soup!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Thinking About Valentine’s Day Plans

V-day PlanningI’m starting to think about Valentine’s Day and how I want to make it special for Mike and I. It is on a Sunday this year, which makes it a bit of a complication but not an insurmountable one. ;)

I have always liked to make Valentine’s Day stand out for my kids too, letting them know it is about making the ones you love feel special and not just about romance. Thus I cannot remember the last time Valentine’s Day has been just about Mike and I.

On top of all of that, Brian’s love-of-his-life was born that day as well. So Lauren adds extra celebration to our Valentine’s Day week. :) It is a bit complicated for them, ensuring that they make her birthday special but also celebrate their love.

A few years ago Tiffany informed me that I had given her a letter each year on this special day, something I had forgotten that year. So I try to remember to continue this tradition as she remarked that it was something she treasures.

I generally cook spaghetti or lasagna for dinner; I know, not very creative but it’s a meal we all enjoy and it’s red. I have a heart shaped muffin tin and have made blueberry muffins in them for breakfast too.

This brings us back to this year. Since it is on a Sunday, I don’t know what I will do. Will we eat out after church? Will we come home for a light lunch (veggie platter or such) and then have our traditional dinner later? Whatever I do, it is important to me to do something extra special for Mike.

Last year or the year before, I saw this cute idea on Pinterest of balloons above the bed with things you love about him written on notes and attached to the bottom of the ribbon. I may follow through on this idea this year. But I recently saw this article on The Dating Divas that has one hundred . . . yes! 100 . . . ideas for a romantic date night. I could get lost sifting through them. The bottom line is to make sure that I show Mike that I love and respect him and make the day a bit special. :) But also to remind my kids that I love them too. It won’t be much longer before we have an empty nest and they day will be all about Mike and me but until then, I’ll continue to make it special for all, with Mike getting extra attention behind closed doors. ;)

I hope you are considering your plans for Valentine’s Day . . . it’s coming quickly.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Library, Web Surfing, and Vegetables

Birds Flew In ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s been a pretty quiet week here this week. While on the phone one day, I saw six Blue Jays and one Cardinal fly into a cedar tree out back. I was quite surprised. I usually see Cardinals aplenty and rarely a Blue Jay. It was quite a sight; I wonder what the attraction was.

Last week Tiffany and I decided a library day was in order. As a writer, she needs to read good literature to giver herself fuel for writing and she was not inspired by any of the books we had at home, so it was time to get some new material.

When we arrived Tiffany went upstairs to look around. I decided to look around at the large print books on first floor. I have not been reading much lately, so I was not enticed to bring any home. I then joined Tiffany upstairs and proceeded to sit down at one of the tables near the stacks Tiffany was perusing. There was a man in a study room behind me with the door closed who seemed to be conducting business on the phone. He was a bit loud and then took another phone call and was very loud . . . I decided to find a quieter place to read the papers I picked up in the lobby.

I found a nice spot near the windows where people were actually quietly working. And then I realized I should look for some vegetarian cookbooks. I grabbed about eight or so to skim through and decide if any were worth bringing home. Tiffany helped me skim through most of them and decided that most would not be useful. I did bring one or two home but they weren’t all that great.

I was astonished by one of the articles I read this week where a homeschooling family is being sued by their neighbor for their children disturbing the peace during daytime hours. It was crazy!

In another article I read, it was suggested that bananas can help toddlers sleep because of its magnesium, potassium, melatonin, and seratonin aspects. The author said that she gave her child a banana before bedtime and that child slept great. Very interesting! I will have to try to remember this one for when I finally become a grandma, since my own children are all grown. :)

Then she also told of this book that supposedly promotes sleepiness in children when read to them? I don’t know what I think about this yet. Click the link to check out the book for yourself.

Today I am starting a couple of weeks of a Daniel’s Fast, which is basically a vegan diet. I’m not sure exactly how long I will do this but am looking forward to trying out some new recipes. My vegetable recipes are severely lacking, thus I hope that I will find some that I will want to add to our regular menus.

I’ve been pinning lots of recipes over on Pinterest. I’m interested to try some of the nutritional yeast as it is supposed to lend a creamy, ‘cheesy’ quality to foods. I really only wanted a small container but there really wasn’t but one size.

Tiffany and I did have fun picking so many fruits and vegetables on our errand day. We got the typical suspects like spinach, zucchini, onion, potatoes, alfalfa sprouts, and mung bean sprouts, the latter of which I did not know Tiffany liked. We also got broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots, green onions, grape tomatoes, turnips, rutabagas, and cabbage. We came away with some pineapple, apples, bananas, oranges, lemons, watermelon, and a mango as well. I look forward to enjoying these this coming week.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

High School for Your Teen

Different Learning Paths ~ Lifeofjoy.meAs children become teens, things get easier but also more complicated. Things get easier because your children should be responsible for much of their education now. They no longer need your full attention; they can be included in unit studies with younger siblings and go into further depth on their own. Your job turns from being actively involved in all their studies to that of a facilitator, guiding them and helping them when they need help.

Help your child determine what he/she wants to do with his/her future. Then help them formulate a plan to accomplish their goals. This may include dual credit courses, enrolling in the local vo-tech, or simply continuing on as you have been for high school credit.

With my boys, we continued on as we had been doing. They graduated and worked with their dad for a year or so and then attended the local vo-tech as adult students and then promptly got jobs in their chosen fields. So as you can see, there is no ONE way for everyone. What is right for one may be detrimental to another.

I recently read a very good article by another homeschooling mom about dual credit during high school. I hope you’ll click on over and read it. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


iamthedivacztThis week’s Diva Challenge is to bring awareness to Moebius Syndrome, which is a disorder that her youngest son has. I don’t know much about it at all but that it affects the nerves, immune system, and immune system, among other things. Today’s string is the Moebius Syndrome Foundation’s logo. (To find out more or see others’ tiles, click the graphic to the left.)

I struggle with this because it is a little complex to draw with all its overlapping lines. I would have liked to have drawn the logo wider so that I could actually tangle on it but I had to draw it three times the way it was. I gave up and decided to tangle behind the logo. At first I thought I would put different tangles in all the “holes” of the logo and the background but the sections were not really large enough. So I decided to just do one tangle behind it all.

Then came the job of choosing the tangle. I decided to use the Tangle Library App on my phone to choose one. I liked Marquee but decided it would be too difficult to use, especially since I have never draw this one before. Then I saw Nipa. I like Nipa and it is easy to draw, so it was a good choice. I decided to make the orbs into holes, rather than pearls or black pearls.

DC#251 ~

Thanks in advance for your comments; I appreciate them.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Chicken Spinach Soup (Extreme Diet Soup)

Extreme Diet Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meI got this recipe from a friend who got it from a magazine that titled it, Extreme Diet Soup, but the nutritional information declared it to have more than 300 calories per serving, so I don’t think of it as Extreme Diet Soup. ;) But that aside, I was surprised that I actually liked this soup, in spite of the spinach shreds in it. I had never really liked cooked spinach and yet it was okay in this recipe.

I hesitate to share this recipe because I don’t have any good pictures of it but it still tastes good, no matter how it looks. So here goes:

Heat the oil and add the onion. After about 10 minutes add chicken.

Extreme Diet Soup ~

After chicken is cooked through and onions are lightly browned, add carrot, garlic, jalapeno, and oregano. I also add the tomato at this time because I want my tomato cooked more thoroughly.

Extreme Diet Soup ~

Stir in the broth and bring to a boil.

Extreme Diet Soup ~

When it comes to a boil, add the beans and spinach.

Extreme Diet Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meExtreme Diet Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meBring it back to a boil, then turn off heat. Serve with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese on each serving.

Extreme Diet Soup ~

Chicken Spinach Soup


  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large white onions, thinly sliced (I dice mine)
  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely shredded
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or oregano (I use 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 8 cups chicken broth, fat free
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 packed cups fresh baby spinach leaves (I thinly slice mine)
  • 1 large tomato, finely diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 7 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
  2. Add chicken, stirring occasionally for 5 more minute, until chicken is cooked through and onion lightly browned.
  3. Add carrot, garlic, jalapeno, and oregano; cook 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the broth and increase high heat and bring to a boil.
  5. Add beans, spinach, and tomato and bring back to a boil.
  6. Turn heat off. Add salt and pepper.
  7. Serve each serving with 1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese.

I hope  you’ll give this one a try. It really is very good and full of healthy ingredients.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Resolution Check-Up

Resolution Check-Up ~ Lifeofjoy.meAlthough it isn’t very far into the new year, I am pleased that I have managed to keep that irritating tone out of my voice so far this year. This is not an easy task. I am glad that when I found myself in situations where I might be tempted to raise my voice and speak in that tone that annoys Mike, I managed to keep it toned down. Calm. Cool. And collected. :)

Unfortunately, I did not remember to write the love note on the fourteenth but at least I’ve remembered now, so I can still get it written before the end of the month.

When the children were young, it was challenging to give Mike the attention he deserved, if I had even realized it at the time. It is now my goal to help others avoid the mistakes I made. So in that effort, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you stop what you are doing to greet your husband when he returns after the work day?
  • Do you allow him some space before telling him all about your day or any stresses you’ve had that day? In other words, don’t throw problems at him as soon as he comes home.
  • Do you make time to be alone with him to communicate (not about problems or decisions) and be intimate? Generally speaking, men need it more than women think.
  • Do you talk respectfully about your man, to your children, family, and friends? {I get frustrated with how men are portrayed on television. They like to portray women as smarter than men and that is just disrespectful.}

I encourage you to check yourself periodically. Remember why you married your man and nurture that love. As I’ve said before, you only have your children for a while but your husband you will have long after.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº