November 29, 2016

Jesse Tree and The Jesus Storybook Bible

A Jesse tree is a visual celebration which connects the Old Testament to the arrival of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. A Jesse tree can also be used as an Advent calendar.

The name comes from Isaiah 11:1.
"A shoot will come  up from the stump of Jesse; 
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."

October 7, 2016

Celebrating Birthdays

Welcome to October! October is always busy for us with the three children's birthdays. Add to that football for Big Sister and Brother, community activities, school activities, and everything else, and we're busy.

So how do we celebrate three birthdays that take place in the span of one week?

Dinner and Dessert

Birthday Kid chooses the dinner and dessert menu for their birthday. This is their chance to really have what they want for dinner. Here are this year's choices.

  • Big Sister, age 10: Velveeta Shells and Cheese with apple pie. (A side note: It has probably been two or three years since we had Shells and Cheese. She hasn't forgotten it!)
  • Brother, age 8: Andre's Pizza with peanut butter swirl brownies.
  • Little Sister, age 5: Cheeseburgers and a giant cookie cake. This is incredibly easy and delicious!

A Party

The kids don't have parties every year. In fact, Big Sister turns ten this month and she's having her second friend party. (Her first party was a Little House party.) When the Birthday Kid has a party, they get to help choose a theme and activities. Last year, Brother had a LEGO party. (And no, I didn't blog about it.) Big Sister chose a Star Wars theme for this year. 

All of our family lives hours away, so we don't have a family party. However, my mother-in-law visits every year for a birthday. (Often my father-in-law joins us, too.)

We try to keep it simple while celebrating the children's uniqueness! 

What's your favorite way to celebrate a birthday? 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I earn a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you!
~ Annette
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September 7, 2016

Chicken Roll-Up Recipe

Knowing how much our family likes our bacon cheeseburger roll-up, I decided to create a chicken and broccoli roll-up recipe. I've made this chicken roll-up a few times now and thought it was time to share it with you. You can use canned pizza crust or a 20-minute (total) bread dough recipe for the roll-up, depending on your time constraints and preferences.

Chicken and Broccoli Roll-Up Recipe

August 30, 2016

Homemade Owl Pellet Dissection Kit

Children love to know how things work including nature. They can explore owls and the food chain with a hands-on owl pellet dissection kit. You can purchase these or create one. I actually made this homemade owl pellet kit as a birthday gift for a girl who loves owls.

Below are some simple instructions to help a child dissect an owl pellet by him or herself.

August 16, 2016

Little Women Marmee Quote

As a girl, I read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I thought it was a good book.

A good book must be read more than once.

As a young adult, I identified with Jo March more than I remembered.

As a newly married woman, I understood Meg's romance and homemaking struggles.

As a mother, I appreciate Marmee's wisdom and honesty in parenting.

Marmee was the picture of patience and wisdom. She confessed, "I am angry nearly every day of my life, Jo, but I've learned not to show it. And I still hope not to feel it."
Marmee's confession provided Jo the hope she needed. She needed to know she wasn't alone. Understanding her mother's struggles helped her to manage her own.

August 2, 2016

Nonfiction Author School Visit

Teaching excites some of us. Since I am no longer a classroom teacher by profession, I look for opportunities to teach. One way I teach is through writing and volunteering. But I also get to teach through school visits. On my blog Little House Companion, I shared about Laura Ingalls Wilder beyond her Little House years. As you might be able to tell from the photographs, Sharing about Laura Ingalls Wilder's adult life was lots of fun. Then I had the chance to get a group of first graders excited about writing nonfiction. It was a fun nonfiction author school visit!
These first graders were nonfiction authors themselves, so I began by talking about authors and nonfiction writing.
We talked about how to go from an idea to a published book. Though first graders don't edit to the extent a fifth or eleventh grader does, it's still important for them to understand the proofreading process. This particular school uses the acronym of PUFF in kindergarten and first grade. It works!
I also went on to talk about the publishing process. It excited them to understand the similarities between their published books and mine. The first graders even had a sneak-peak of my book (affiliate link) about to be released!

The first graders' teachers really had these kids prepared for nonfiction. Based on their comments, I think my school visit excited them to write more of their own nonfiction, too!

I'm now booking presentations for the 2016-2017 school year. This school year I am limited to parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Learn more about my pioneer workshops and nonfiction author visits at my website.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I earn a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you!
~ Annette
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July 25, 2016

Coming Soon...

Readers, thank you for sticking with me these past months when I updated infrequently. I do appreciate it!

I wanted to let you know I plan to update This Simple Home more frequently. Coming soon: More home and family posts are coming your way!

If you aren't interested in clicking over to the blog or relying on the rather unreliable Facebook to tell you about new posts, be sure to sign up to get blog posts directly in your inbox. You can also sign up for my newsletter. I appreciate your support!

(If you like This Simple Home on Facebook, just keep in mind Facebook only shows posts to a few people who like the page. For me it's usually 5-10%. But I still appreciate when you like it!)

~ Annette
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June 30, 2016

How to Talk about Addiction with Tweens

Kate Messner's new children's book, The Seventh Wish, is about Irish dancing, ice fishing, and a magical fish who grants wishes. But it's also about heroin addiction.

By some standards, our family is quite conservative. Sometimes we shelter our children from life's yuck. Sometimes we talk about it and live it. Other times we cannot protect our children, even when we want to. So it may surprise you how much I appreciate The Seventh Wish as a children's book.

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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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I earn a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you!
~ Annette
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