June 5, 2016

Parenting: Not What I Expected

After all that rain and cool temperatures, it’s finally feeling like summer! School is nearly out!

My three children will be home with me all summer. We’re looking forward to swim lessons, overnight family camp, and a new week of science and engineering camp taught by a friend and me. I'm also going to a writing conference for a week. And lots of relaxing and down time. I don't look forward to every bit of summer though.

Please keep reading for a bit of an announcement, too!
Big Sister enjoyed the water last summer.
Last summer, I realized just how hard down time can be for the children and me. My children like to be entertained. They do play by themselves for a while, but eventually the bickering begins. With three children, this may be inevitable, but I know it’s more frequent in this home than in many others.What's worse is the direct disobedience. This all drives me crazy. I respond. And not with grace and love.

May 5, 2016

Oven-Friend Chicken Strips Recipe

I've oven-fried pork chops and chicken breasts before, but the seasonings and butter come together in this recipe for a dazzling taste that pleases adults and children alike. The first time I made these oven-fried chicken strips my husband asked if I had fried them. I knew what he meant and explained they were fried in butter in the oven. Since then, I have changed the recipe a little. We all love it. My nine-year-old has even requested leftovers in her lunch at school. Get ready to pin this one and share it!

Oven-Fried Chicken Strips

3-4 chicken breasts
1 cup flour
 4 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 cup butter
1 cup milk*
1 tablespoon vinegar

1. Place vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Fill the measuring cup to the one-cup line with milk. Let sit for five minutes to make buttermilk.
2. Cut chicken breasts into 3 or 4 pieces each. Place in a large bowl and cover with the buttermilk. Chill for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 400°.
4. Melt butter in your baking dish in the preheating oven. When melted, cover the entire bottom of the pan with butter.
5. Place seasoned salt, pepper, paprika, and flour in a large zippered bag. Shake to mix it. (Or skip the bag and mix in a bowl.) 
6. Shake extra buttermilk from chicken breast. Place in the bag and shake to cover in the flour mixture (or dip in the bowl). Place in the baking dish after butter has completely melted.
7. Bake for 40 minutes. Flip each breast after baking for 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Please note:
If you want to use 5 or 6 chicken breasts, I would recommend doubling the dry ingredients and dividing 1/2 cup of butter between two 9x13 pans.

*If you have buttermilk handy, use buttermilk and skip the vinegar. I cook from my pantry, so I always make my own buttermilk.

This chicken strip recipe is quite easy, though there are quite a few steps. I promise, it's worth it! This chicken recipe was inspired by this one.

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~ Annette
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March 29, 2016

Easy French Onion Soup Recipe

Until I learned to make them myself, I typically ordered one of two things in a restaurant: french dip or french onion soup. I make my french dip recipe in the slow-cooker. In my opinion, it's at least as good (and often better) than what I've had in restaurants. This easy french onion soup recipe is incredibly easy and simply GOOD. I hope you'll give it a try.

French Onion Soup Recipe

1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced thin
1 box beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices french bread, toasted
4 slices provolone cheese 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large pot, brown onions in oil and butter. Stir frequently. When onions are transparent add broth, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium/medium-high heat. Once boiling, lower temperature and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls. Add cheese and bread, layering. Broil for a few minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned. (If your bowls are not broiler-safe, bake at 400° for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and browned. 

When making this french onion soup recipe, I have forgotten to add the Parmesan cheese. I've substituted American cheese for provolone plenty of times. I have also toasted regular bread in a pinch when I didn't have french bread. It's really an adaptable recipe!

This french onion soup recipe was originally posted on my old blog. When I made it this winter for a friend and me to enjoy over lunch, I knew I needed to share it here. It really is easy to make.

Most of my recipes are easy and family friendly. I hope you'll check them out!
~ Annette
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March 15, 2016

4 Ways to Use Resurrection Eggs

Resurrection eggs use plastic eggs and small objects to tell the Easter story. A dozen eggs are filled with different objects. Each object acts as a reminder of one part of Jesus' story. Below are three ways to use resurrection eggs. 

Make Resurrection Eggs Together

Older children will appreciate the process of making a set of resurrection eggs. Use a marker or stickers to number the eggs. Have the child look up the Bible verses. Maybe they'll find a different object to represent the verse!

Introduce Resurrection Eggs One Egg at a Time

Some people like to take twelve days to teach the Easter story. They would begin twelve days before Easter and open one egg each day with a child. This allows for more focus on each of the twelve parts to Jesus' story. Before introducing the new resurrection egg and object each day, be certain to review the previous parts of the story.

February 21, 2016

Vocabulary Parade Costumes

Each year our school asks the children to enrich their vocabulary by creating a vocabulary parade costume. Then the children walk around the hallways checking out others' costumes. Some costumes are truly clever!

Students in grades K-2 make the vocabulary parade costumes at home with parental guidance. The older students take in supplies and create their costumes at school. I must admit it's a challenge to guide the children without taking over at home.

January 2, 2016

Top 10 Posts of 2015

Happy New Year! 

This past year had fewer posts than ever here at This Simple Home. As my children get older, I seem to be the one who is busier. That combined with other writing commitments and desires, blogging must take a backseat. However, YOU, faithful readers, keep coming back when I share anything new and return for the old posts, too. Thank you for visiting and sharing what you like!

Here are the TEN MOST VIEWED 2015 POSTS in case you missed any!

10. Photo Shoot for Kids at Home
9. Chicken and Waffles Recipe 
8. How to Make an Image Hyperlinked in Blogger
7. How to Make Pie Crust 
6. Ranch Chicken Recipe (Oven-Baked) 
5. Cinnamon Dippers (Semi-Homemade) 
4. Rainbow Yogurt
3. 10 Things to Know About Go Set a Watchman 
2. Small Space Mudroom Alternative 
1.  Clutter-Free Printables

Here are two recipes that nearly made the top ten. I hope you'll give them a try!

The most-visited post of all time at This Simple Home is THIS ONE! I still use it regularly!

If you haven't liked This Simple Home and Little House Companion on Facebook yet, please do so! I also have an occasional newsletter if you are interested. Thanks so much for supporting this blog!

Monday will arrive too soon with alarm clocks and schedules. Bummer! Christmas vacation has been fun!

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December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas!
~ Annette
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December 8, 2015

Handprint Christmas Tree Craft

We are keeping things a little more low-key this year for Christmas, but when our church's children's director gave me this handprint Christmas tree idea, I knew we'd do it.

Really it took just a few minutes. I traced all the hands and Big Sister helped me cut them out.
We have it displayed above our sofa table. The handprint Christmas tree is a nice crafty touch to our home.

If you don't already follow This Simple Home on Facebook, do so today! I've been giving daily recommendations for children's Christmas books as we read through our collection of Christmas books. (These are some of the HIGHLY recommended Christmas books! Lots of fun!

~ Annette
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December 2, 2015

Christmas Books for Children

With December's arrival, it's time to prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas. We may not have our Christmas tree yet, but we're already pausing to consider the joy of Christmas. For the past seven or so years, I've been collecting Christmas books for children. Some are funny. Some are serious. Some are classics. (Used book stores are a great resource for Christmas books! So is your local library.) All contribute to a favorite family tradition.

To enjoy our favorite Christmas books slowly, I would give one (or more) books to the children each day. Some people wrap the books, but I have a decorative box with a bow that I place books in for the children to open. Until now.
Children's Christmas Books in Basket for December
Today I decided to make it a little easier for me this year. I dug out our wicker laundry basket and placed all of our Christmas titles in it.

Our family's focus is on the birth of Christ. We read from the Bible and use our Little People nativity set. We have a homemade Jesse Tree.  Many of our Christmas books discuss the birth of Jesus (some more accurately than others) and some have Santa in them or just cute mice.

Compare this year's basket to the one we used a few years ago when I first shared about reading a Christmas book daily in December.

It seems this could be part of my Less-Stressed Christmas series. :) I'm all about that! See the list of posts below.
Photo Christmas Card AlternativesWhat to do when you cannot get a nice picture of your family.
Preparing Christmas CardsSeveral ideas to prepare now for Christmas cards without actually putting them together yet.
Alternative Gift Giving: Give more time of yourself and experiences instead of more "stuff."
Christmas Gift Planning: Plan now for giving later.
Children's Christmas Letter Printable: Use a simple form letter to find out what the children really want for Christmas this year.
9 Ways to Celebrate Christmas Daily in December: A variety of ways to remember Christmas every day as an adult or with family.
10 Children's Christmas Books: Our favorite Christmas books.
20+ Gifts for Kids, Ages 5-8: Gift ideas we have or want.

Would you join this Christmas journey with me? See all of the Less-Stressed Christmas posts.

This Christmas if you are shopping at Amazon, consider using the link in the sidebar (or any Amazon link from this blog) to support this blog. I earn a tiny percent of the cost of the product you purchase at no additional cost to you. Thanks!
~ Annette
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November 23, 2015

Give Thanks

Friends, I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving.
~ Annette
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