December 31, 2014

The Most Popular Farm Fresh Adventures Posts for 2014

We are one day away from flipping our calendars to the new year. It's exciting to think about everything that might happen in 2015--kinda scary too. But it's always good to reflect back on the year before to keep it all in perspective. I thought it would be fun to share a summary of the posts that you the readers enjoyed the most for each month this past year as we say goodbye to 2014!
most popular posts for Farm Fresh Adventures 2014


The most popular post for this month according to my readers was a Homeschool Mother's Journal post that I wrote on January 5th. Interestingly enough it was just a post of rambling...but I guess those are quite enjoyable to a lot of you! 

The next most popular for the month was a series I did on the 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials. Many of these posts are still very popular--have you read them yet?


My most popular post for this month was my review that I did on On how we loved this program! I look forward to getting it again when Baby Britches is in about 1st grade. It was one of our favorite things we did for the year. I laugh at the fact that the second most popular post for the month was one I did talking about my love-hate relationship with teaching science. Do you know why teaching science is my Waterloo?


Devoting a post to things that I was working on with Baby Britches appealed to many of you, for my Preschool: Checking in with Baby Britches was the most popular for the month of March. 


In April, it was the recipes that got attention! Participating in the 5 Days Of...series with my focus on Favorite Family Recipes was a big hit. So which recipe snagged the largest draw? The recipe for my favorite Beef Tacos!


My review of Logic of English snagged the top spot for May. It's a great program and we are using it as part of our third grade curriculum for spelling.

A Poppins Book Nook post snagged the next most popular spot...Folktales, Tall Tales and Fables {oh My!}. We really enjoyed the books we read that month!


This month's top post was my review of Go Science DVD's! These DVD's were full of great science experiments and we enjoyed replicating a couple of them!

Another hot post was actually another one of my reviews--this time of the Veritas Press Self-Paced History curriculum. We ADORED this program--we still do! The boys love doing it and are begging for me to get the next one for them once they complete this one.


July's hottest post was my Moving Beyond the Page curriculum review. This was such a hard review to write because there was SOOO much to say. I only scratched the surface of what this program offered. Definitely the most complex thing we reviewed this past year.

The second most popular post was also a review...this time a review of the awesome writing program WriteShop Primary Book A. This program was easier than my son needed, but we were able to tweak it to make it work wonderfully for us. And it inspired me to go ahead and invest in another book in the series for use later.


The top posts for August were all part of my Back to Homeschool Blog Hop series--with my post all about Lesson Planning snagging the top spot. In this post, I shared lesson planning ideas from a whole bunch of my homeschooling friends to show a nice spectrum of ideas.


September is a time for going back to school so it wasn't surprising that my post sharing our 2014-2015 Curriculum for Third Grade snagged the top spot. You can read all about our curriculum for Pre-K in another popular post.

The second most popular post was my review on the absolute phenomenal audio drama Under Drake's Flag. Little Britches loved this product and asks to listen to it whenever we are in the car...he's hoping so hard that we are chosen to review the next installment in the collection In Freedom's Cause next year!


Hands down, the top post for October was another Poppins Book Nook post with a collection of books, activities and crafts to help you enjoy exploring space with your children. I had fun putting that one together.


I explored a new type of post this month and got a great response with my post focusing on the Linden Flower with my natural remedy for a tea to help fight coughs. It was fun to see it so well received and I look forward to exploring more in this line for 2015. 


December isn't over yet...okay. So it is today. But it is easy to see that the most popular post this month is easily going to be my recipe for Quesadilla Casserole!  

So there you have it. My biggest posts for each month of 2014. I think there was a nice variety and showcased what my blog is all about. Looking back over what everyone likes to read really helps me decide what direction I'm going to go each year. 

Do you have an idea for something you like me to talk about or share over the upcoming year?? Do you want to see more of something: recipes? Gardening? Natural Remedies? Book Reviews? Ramblings? Homeschooling? 

Let me know in the comments what you enjoy reading about!

Have an awesome final few hours of 2014 and get ready to welcome in 2015! It's guaranteed to be another grand adventure here on the farm!
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December 23, 2014

Fresh from the Kitchen: Quesadilla Casserole

As I have stated several times, our family adores Mexican food. We are always willing to try new recipes for Mexican dishes and many times I find keepers the whole family enjoys. One such recipe was for a Quesadilla Casserole. It was delicious, but only after I made quite a few revisions to it. I am happy to share this spicy and delicious meal with you--did I mention it's also really easy?
quesadilla casserole recipe

Almost everything you need for my Quesadilla Casserole can be found in your pantry and it is ready in under an hour--a big winner in my book! 

Go grab:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 to 1/2 cup Fresh (or frozen) chopped peppers (your preference!)
2 cans (15 oz ea) of tomato sauce
15 oz can of black beans
My Homemade Taco Seasoning 
(OR 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 2 tsp chili powder and 1/2 tsp oregano)
4-6 flour tortillas
3-4 cups of shredded cheese

Are you ready? Let's cook!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, grease a 2.5 quart baking dish or a 13 x 9 dish and you are ready to go!
I love using my oven-to-table baking dish for this recipe! 
As expected you start by browning up your beef, onions and peppers in a skillet on medium high heat. You can drain the meat if you need to. Thankfully I never need to with my beef--but then it is our own 100% Grass Fed Black Angus. Next to NO fat on that stuff!

I love using my cast iron skillet for anything taco related. Just holds heat so well!
Add tomato sauce and beans; mix well. Some people like corn or green chiles in their taco stuff. We don't--okay, I do. But Love-Of-My-Life doesn't, so they don't get added here. But if you do, you can add a can of each at this step.
I was all out of my organic black beans, but these worked fine. 
The original recipe called for half as much tomato sauce, but that's just not enough for this recipe. I tried it and was like--seriously? This is it?  I love how the 2 cans of sauce just makes it a nice filling dish.
Now it's time to stir in all the spices. If you are using my HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING, you can add just it. If you don't have it made (yet!), use the other spices I have listed above (cumin, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, chili powder and oregano) and it works perfectly fine! 

Bring to a boil, Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.
Yum! I also sprinkled a little more red pepper flakes for kick!

Now it's time to layer it all up! 

Let's talk cheese for a second. The original recipe called for only 2 cups of cheese. That seems like a lot, right? Well it's not. At least not for us! We like our casseroles cheesy! So I experimented and found that about 3-4 cups of cheese works best. I have used bagged shredded cheese or I just shred my own.
Tillamook Cheddar...NATURALLY! 
Get all your remaining ingredients out for quick layering and move your baking dish and taco mixture there too.
I love uncooked tortillas for this recipe--I just cook them as I'm making the taco mixture.
But any flour tortillas will work.
I always use a ladle. So much easier.
Spread 1/2 cup of the taco mixture on the bottom of your baking dish (greased!). Layer with 2-3 tortillas, overlapping as needed.

Yes, i am messy. Keeping it real. LOL!
In my 2.5 quart dish, two tortillas works fine for the layer.
 Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese.
Spread it around to cover your tortillas
I use about 2 cups of cheese per layer. We are very cheesy.
Repeat with the remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese (in that order!)
All layered up!
I love the taste of cilantro on my Mexican dishes, so I always sprinkle cilantro on the top of the cheese. It adds just a hint more flavor to tie it all together! At this point I also wiped clean all the sauce smears from my pan. LOL! 

Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 15 minutes or until heated and melted through. It will be bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Cheesy and absolutely delicious!
I typically serve this dish with tortilla chips and sour cream. The chips are great for scooping up all the extra bits your fork misses! I will warn you--if you use my HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING for this will have a bit of a kick. If you use just the spices I have listed it will be more mild. Play around with it and find your own "perfect" heat!

Ready to print off the recipe to try yourself?!

*Print Quesadilla Casserole Recipe Here*

This is a GREAT recipe to take to potlucks, or to serve a group of people! It is very filling. I can get my family of 4 at least 2 meals out of it--so that matches the approximate 8 servings it suggests. If you doubled the recipe it would be EASY to make two of them with little extra work.

And the kids love helping! They enjoy the layering and each has a job--either the tortillas or the cheese!

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December 19, 2014

Random 5 on Friday {Dec. 19}

I am happy to be back on track with this week's Random 5 on Friday. I have more plans for posts this weekend, but the last two days made my plans sort of go out the window. I am so thankful it's Friday, aren't you?! 
The Pebble Pond
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1. I had grand plans this week. We were going to be staying on task with our schooling and get a nice solid week of school done. I had plans to start my new "exercise" program. I was doing to cook quite a few things. In fact, we were doing great! Until Thursday...that's when Little Britches went "off his feed" and turned up feverish. Well so much for my week.
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2. I had plenty of time yesterday to use our new thermometer. I LOVE it. I seriously think it's a must for anyone with small children. It is the same style as the one our pediatrician uses where it measures the temperature through the temporal artery on the forehead/temple.

I love that it gets a temperature in about 3-5 seconds, that it has a lit up screen to read the numbers in the middle of the night, that it can be used while they are sound asleep, and that it remembers the last 7 temps you took so you can look through them to see the fever history. This was a VERY good buy earlier this year and though we haven't had to use it much since we purchased it (Thank the Lord), when I do need it, it works like a dream! I can take the whole family's temp within 1 minute! I only wish I purchased it when I was pregnant with Little Britches so I could have spared us 9+ years of underarm, under tongue and ahem..other areas checking that caused a lot of disturbance and fighting and tears! It does fluctuate about .4 between back to back readings, but that's not a big deal to me. I have checked it against the digital before and it's always within .2 of what it says.

Click on picture for more info
3. I am so thankful for my essential oils and my diffuser. The two places I get most of my essential oils are Mountain Rose Herbs and doTERRA. Lately I've been stocking up on my doTERRA oils just because I've been able to get some great deals and free oils. I love their blends--something I can't get from Mountain Rose Herbs. I truly believe that without these oils, our family would definitely have been plagued by the full blown flu by now.

4. Well, just since I started writing this, Baby Britches just vomited all over the couch. Sigh. Well, so much for hoping that Baby Britches would be spared. I've got him oiled up and I have the diffuser going with a purification oil to help clean the air and nasty smell. As well as kill those germies before they hit me and Love-Of-My-Life! Definitely oiling everyone up tonight and running BOTH of our diffusers to try to purify the air. Some of my favorite solo oils for this are oregano, lemon, and eucalyptus! Cinnamon is a great oil to add too. To purify your air with a blend, pick a purification blend like Purify from doTERRA or Purification from Young Living. Or there are the old faithfuls On Guard (DT) and Thieves (YL)--great for the air and the immune system!

5. I have cinnamon rolls ready for frosting. I love homemade cinnamon rolls with fresh made cream cheese frosting. I do love my own recipe, but truly there is something magical of the rolls from Cinnabon. mom and I used to share one whenever we would go to the mall and eagerly work our way to the middle. Because EVERYONE knows the middles ARE the best. After the days that I've had and getting puked on...I deserve a big cinnamon roll with lots of frosting.

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December 7, 2014

Serving Pancakes

You never know where you will learn a life lesson. Sometimes it comes through the simple act of making pancakes for breakfast.

A Lesson In Serving Pancakes

Love-Of-My-Life and Little Britches were hard at work in the classroom this morning. We purchased a new desk and they were working together (kind of) to take apart the old one. Baby Britches kept getting in the way. So he left the room.

I was in the kitchen making pancakes (everyone's favorite breakfast), and noticed that Baby Britches was missing. We found him up behind the new TV, currently on the coffee table since it doesn't fit in our current entertainment center (we have a new one on order). So we had him get down and then he wandered away again.

Recognizing the lack of his voice in the house, I searched for him and discovered him just sitting all alone on my jacuzzi tub steps in my bathroom. He was rather morose and not his usual perky self. So I knelt down and picked him up. As I carried him into the other room I asked him what was wrong several times. "Nuffin!" he kept insisting. But my mommy heart was pretty sure I knew what he wouldn't say or couldn't describe...he was feeling left out.

So I brought him in the kitchen with me. I usually don't like help while I am cooking because...well, I can get it done faster without it. LOL. But I knew that this little one of mine has an inner NEED to be helpful. So I asked him if he'd like to help me cook the pancakes.

And with that one question, I lit a spark. He instantly perked up and was eager to do anything I asked. Yes I was working with things that were messy. Yes he was going to be working by a hot skillet. But this little boy of mine NEEDED to feel useful.

And so the two of us finished the pancakes and I imparted mommy wisdom about using utensils, stove safety, and how to tell when pancakes are ready to turn.

He did touch the handle of the cast iron skillet with his hand, but he was so into helping me, he insisted it didn't hurt. (later he decided it did a little bit and I put some Lavender Essential Oil on it) Perhaps he was worried he'd have to stop helping me.

Never was a little boy so eager to announce that breakfast was ready than when he placed the big pile of pancakes on the table. How excited he was to announce that he had helped mommy and that we even were going to have strawberries and "whooped cream".

We had a delightful breakfast and Baby Britches left the table full physically and emotionally. I had fed his belly AND his inner need to be wanted and helpful.

This taught me a valuable lesson. Even as little children, we crave the need to be useful. Can you think of times when you really wanted to help but were brushed off with a "we got this, no thanks"? What about you? Have you ever quenched someone's need to help--perhaps not even recognizing it was there?

I am absolutely guilty in this.

Perhaps I am the most guilty when it comes to the boys. I am working on making sure that I include them in things that allows them to spend time with me, even when I know it might get done slower, or done in a way that isn't "quite right". They need to feel useful, and they need the mommy time.

So many people have serving hearts--my littlest has a serving heart the size of Texas. Today taught me how badly I need to recognize it and help it to grow. And how much I need to check the status of my own, for to serve is what I as a Christian am called to do.

"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." 
Galatians 5:13 (NKJV)
The next time I am busy doing something--whether decorating at a gathering, putting food out for a potluck, folding clean clothes, or even making pancakes, I will try to remember to look for and feed the serving heart of someone in need.

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