Chicken Fajita Enchiladas

I know, you are scratching your head saying huh?? I thought fajita's & enchiladas are 2 different foods. Yes they are BUT as most of you know, I like to be creative with food so I came up with a way to sort of combine the 2 tasty mexican dishes. This is what my students made in cooking class this week. The following measurements are estimates as you really can do this to taste. I kept them mild but you could easily add some jalapenos & kick the heat up a bit! To make this dish even more cost effective, I made my own enchilada sauce for the class instead of buying the expensive canned version (and it's healthier).

This recipe is totally adaptable to your tastes and ingredients. You can either pull out leftover shredded turkey or chicken you had in the freezer or start from scratch & saute some up with the peppers & onions. How about adding some black beans or even some corn?? This is really a versatile recipe. Also, feel free to use your choice of wraps. I happen to use some spinach variety I had gotten marked down (which is why they are green).

Chicken Fajita Enchiladas

1lb of boneless skinless chicken or turkey (cooked or raw)
1 pepper thinly sliced
1 onion thinly sliced
1 Tbsp oil
6 burrito shells
2-3 Tbsp cream cheese (we used a mix of regular & chipotle)
Salsa to taste
Enchilada Sauce (recipe below or use 1 can)
Shredded cheese of choice (we used a mix of 5 cheese)
salt & pepper to taste

Slice up your peppers & onions and saute in the oil. While that is browning, thinly slice up your raw chicken or if you are using cooked chicken, have it somewhat shredded. Once onions & peppers are brown, add chicken. If raw, cook till no pink is seen. If adding cooked chicken, just warm. Take pan off burner & season with salt & pepper, add cream cheese, salsa & 3 or so Tbsp of enchilada sauce. You can either add the shredded cheese at this point or sprinkle on individual wraps. Mix everything well.

Take 1 shell & spread some of the chicken mix onto the center. Roll it and place it in a greased 8x8 pan, seam side down. Finish the next 5 the same way. Note: if you are baking this right away, you can add some enchilada sauce to the bottom of the pan before laying in the burritos. We weren't baking ours right away so we skipped this step to prevent them from getting soggy. Before baking, add about 1 cup of enchilada sauce & some extra cheese to the top. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or so, until cheese is melted & wraps are heated through (this will take longer if your wraps were cold).

Red Enchilada Sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil 
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
2 Tbsp chili powder 
2 cups water 
3 oz. tomato paste 
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp garlic powder 
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¾ tsp salt 

Add the vegetable oil, flour, and chili powder to a medium pot. Turn the heat on to medium and whisk the ingredients together. Continue to whisk as the mixture begins to bubble. Whisk and cook the mixture for one minute once it begins bubbling.

After one minute, whisk in the water, tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper until smooth. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer it will begin to thicken slightly.
Starting with a ½ teaspoon, add salt to taste. I used about ¾ teaspoon total. Can be used or frozen.

Homeschooling Essentials: Getting It All Done

 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Hey mommas, I just wanted to write a post & be real with you. Let's face it, if you homeschool, you are taking on a HUGE job and simply will NOT get it all done, (contrary to my title).

I know many think we are super mom but I'm here to tell ya, we aren't.

And that is ok!

Many times I have yellow-bus fever, ya know, when you see the school bus pass and sometimes wonder what it would be like if your kiddos were on board. I imagine if my children attended public school, my house might actually be a bit organized & tidy. I might be able to get out of my pj's each day, form coherent thoughts more often, go to the bathroom & take a shower in peace, and on and on!

But then I am reminded of all I would miss out on by not homeschooling. The interaction between older & younger siblings, seeing them "get it" after working with them on a subject, taking an educational vacation whenever we feel like it, building strong relationships,  just doing life & learning together, etc.

Dear momma, be encouraged, what you are doing right now by  homeschooling is investing in your childs life, not just for the moment, but for eternity!

Just think about that.

When we die, we can't take anything with us. Ya know, the whole "lay up in heaven your treasures" thing.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
-Matthew 6:19-21

So far, one of my 7 "treasures" is already waiting for me in Heaven. I guess you could say knowing that Noah is waiting is what really gives me some perspective in regards to my other children.

So while the days are long but the years are short, know that the time you are investing today will pay off for generations to come. Give yourself grace, it's ok if the house isn't clean, ya'll are in pj's all day, some days supper will be thrown together. Take the time to laugh with your kiddos, hug them for no reason, beat  race them in wii games, praise them, make memories for THAT is what counts at the end of the day.

My ultimate homeschool essential is to school my childs heart & character. I want their life to make a difference for eternity. Giving them a love for learning comes in second.

Don't forget to enter the drawing to win an iPad Mini!

Here are just a few posts by some of the other crew members. Check out the link below for the full list!

Homeschooling Essentials: Entertaining the Little Ones

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

I am often asked how in the world do we "do school" with the older children yet keep the little ones entertained at the same time. It wasn't really anything I had to think about until this last year or so when Olivia  (age 2) became more independent and wanted to do things like her older siblings. (can ya see where I'm going with this??)

I realized I had find things for her to do during school time that imitated her siblings.

I came up with an activity basket that only comes out when the older children are doing school. Because Olivia only gets it for a little bit at a time, it keeps her attention and is something she looks forward to. She views her basket as "doing school" like her siblings. I also rotate the activities every once in awhile so there are new things for her to explore. She thinks she is having fun & playing but most of the time she is doing educational things like learning her colors, letters, counting, sorting, etc.

Making your own activity basket is really simple and can cost little to nothing. I started a Pinterest Board of toddler activities you can make yourself so I do some of these from time to time (a great way to repurpose things around the house!) I also put into the basket things I've found at yard sales.

We go to the library a lot and our library has bags of "themed" books so each time I get a themed bag for my little ones. I read the books to them, but I also have Olivia sit down for some quiet time for her to "read" when her older siblings do. I have even seen Olivia "read" to Ava and share her interpretation of the story from the pictures she sees. Even if your library doesn't have a theme bag of books, take your little ones along to the library and let them pick out a few books. It makes them feel like their big siblings!

Another thing Olivia will do is to sit with one of her siblings as they do schoolwork on the computer such as a video or online website. It's amazing what she has picked up from simply cuddling up with the kids as they do their work. Seems so simple but she loves it!

I also on occasion reference some books specifically for toddlers & preschoolers to get some ideas of educational activities to do. The 3 that I have on hand are:

-The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Kids in the Places They Live
-Before Five in a Row: A Treasury of Creative Ideas to Inspire Learning Readiness
-Flowering Baby

And in a pinch, I will hand her the iPad to play some games. One of her favorites is Minecraft though we do have educational apps on there she plays as well! Ahhh the joys of having older siblings!

What are some of the ways you entertain your toddlers or preschoolers while older children do their schoolwork??

Don't forget to enter the drawing to win an iPad Mini!

Here are just a few posts by some of the other crew members. Check out the link below for the full list!

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Special thanks to AnaB Social for hosting this giveaway. Huge thanks to and all the fabulous participating bloggers as well! Giveaway ends March 7th at 11:59 pm, open to residents of U.S., ages 18+. See detailed terms and conditions on entry form. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below (see directions on how to enter here). Thank you!

Disclaimer: AnaB Social and all participating event bloggers are not responsible for sponsor prize shipment.  I was provided no compensation for this post. All opinions are from the author of this post.

Homeschooling Essentials: Curriculum on a Budget

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Whether you are new to homeschooling or are an established homeschooler, deciding what curriculum to use can sometimes be an overwhelming task, especially while trying to keep the costs low. Every year I always reassess what we've used in the past to see if it still meets our needs or if we need to change things up. Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry way of choosing what curriculum would work best for your family. What I've done in the past is to talk to other homeschooling moms who use a certain curriculum I am looking at or I research online for reviews if I don't know anyone who's personally used it.

There are some companies who offer an all-in-one package that will cover all your core subjects (My Father's WorldSonlight just to name a few). I've never used an all-in-one curriculum package because I like to mix and match what we use. If you really have the ambition (& time)  you could even create your own curriculum using the library and oodles of free resources found online. Google what you are looking for and you'd be amazed at what you can find! I do a combination of the above, I buy some curriculum as well as use online resources.

All in One Homeschool & EZ School have the entire school year & subjects broken down completely free.
Virtual Homeschool Group offers free online classes to students (has the Apologia sciences that we love) has free online spellings games & tests. Or for a small fee, you can access even more of their website for both spelling & vocab (my review)

Another one of my favorite online resources is They offer unlimited lesson plans, classes, printables, ebooks, downloads, a planner, etc for toddlers all the way to high school. While there is a fee for this ($12.95 a month or $139 for the year) you can use this for the whole family as your main curriculum if you wanted so it's well worth the nominal fee. They do offer a special of trying out the full site for $3 for your first month to see if you like it (& can cancel after that, that's worth it for the huge planner alone!) (my review)

Some of our favorite curriculum that we've used over the years are any of the Apologia Exploring Creation Science Series along with the notebook journal. I like that I can use this for several of my children at one time so we can do science as a group (and a bonus is the textbook can be shared!) As my kids are getting older, we have shifted to Apologia's Jr/Sr High Science series (which the above virtual homeschool group offers classes for, we are considering this for next year).

For english & grammar, we have used Bob Jones English for a few years. We are now using Essentials in Writing which we really like (it's taught by DVD which makes things easier for this busy momma!) For math, we use Teaching Textbooks & Math-U-See, again both are taught via a CD or DVD. Another bonus using curriculum on CD/DVD is that you can pass it down through all your children and resell it when they are done. In fact, a lot of my textbooks or CD/DVD courses I have bought used either on ebay, amazonHomeschool Classifieds or at local curriculum fairs where other homeschoolers sell their curriculum, all of which are a great way to help save money on curriculum costs.

Our favorite history curriculums so far are America the Beautiful & Mystery of History, both of which can be used for multiple grades at a time. Both curriculums have a wonderful laid out plan making it easy to teach and both have tons of suggested activities to go along with the lessons.

While we have specific things we have to study each year due to our states requirements, learning can also take place outside typical curriculum in the ways of games, projects, field trips & more! You just have to tap into your creative side and think outside the box!

Stop back this week as I tackle more subjects like getting it all done & entertaining the little ones while homeschooling!

Don't forget to enter the drawing to win an iPad Mini!

Here are just a few posts by some of the other crew members. Check out the link below for the full list!

Mock Filet Mignon

This week my co-op cooking class made Mock Filet Mignon (or as my kids call it, "fake steak"). And before you click back thinking this is an expensive recipe, just WAIT!!! It's not I promise! Because if you know me or have followed here long enough, you know I am all about saving money. This is a recipe that's big on taste while little on cost.  I like to assemble a huge batch at once then flash freeze the patties so I can pull out however many I want at a later date to make without them all clumping together.

Mock Filet Mignon

1 1/2lb ground meat (I've even used a combination of beef, sausage or turkey)
3 cups of cooked rice (brown or white, quinoa also works)
2 Tbsp bbq sauce
1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

I have also added cayenne pepper & onion powder or any other seasonings that sounded good to me. ;)

Cook your rice according to the directions. Mix rice, ground meat & seasonings together until well incorporated. Shape into a steak-like patty. Cut your bacon slices in half & place a piece on top of each filet. Place filets into a greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes then remove foil to let bacon crisp up.

Printable recipe for Mock Filet Mignon

I like to make this with a side of oven roasted veggies. I simply chunk up whatever veggies I have on hand, drizzle some olive oil & balsamic vinegar on (though just the olive oil is fine too), sprinkle some garlic salt & pepper and roast at 450 until the veggies brown a bit. The key is making sure the veggies are in a single layer otherwise they steam instead of roast and can get mushy. I also stir the veggies around halfway through baking. Some veggies I use are carrots, peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, cloves of garlic, cherry tomatoes, etc.

Homeschooling Essentials iPad Mini GIVEAWAY!!!

I am excited to be part of a blog hop next week with almost 90 others from the Schoolhouse Review Crew in sharing 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials. It starts Monday the 20th but to kick that off, I am participating with others in an awesome giveaway, an iPad Mini 16GB WiFi!!

Yes, you can homeschool without the latest & greatest BUT let's face it, using technology can really help lighten the load when it comes to homeschooling, which I'll be sharing more about next week.  Make sure you stop by Monday to start reading about homeschooling essentials from myself & many others! Enter to win & share this with others!!!

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Residents of the U.S. only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. See other Terms and Conditions in the Rafflecopter widget.
The giveaway will run from Jan 18 at midnight ET thru Jan 28 at midnight ET. 

And the winner is. . .

First off, thank you to the many of you who took the time to enter the photo canvas giveaway! I wish I could give you each a prize!!! If you want to order your own canvas print, don't forget you can do this and get 60% off your order! If you are a blogger and would be interested in reviewing your own canvas product, email me & I can give you suggestions.

Now for the winner. . .

Sarah Jo!!!!

You are the winner of the Easy Canvas giveaway!!!

Stay tuned for the next big giveaway I am participating in with other bloggers starting tomorrow!!!

Yet another night. . .

It's 3:10 am. Ava cried out for the 2nd time that night to eat. She's a growing girl and despite me waiting a bit to see if she goes back to sleep, she doesn't so I jump into my slippers and make my way down to her room.

I gathered my sweet girl up to sit in the rocking chair to feed her. No sooner did I sit to feed her, I hear Olivia stir and whisper "mom, Ava's hungry". Yes my dear, I already figured that out. (they share a room).

But instead of responding, I sit there quietly, hoping she goes back to sleep and doesn't know I am sitting there.

Too late.

I hear the creak of her mattress as she makes her way out of her bed in the dark. Olivia is very trusting as she feels her way in the dark to find me in the rocking chair. Without a word, she climbs up in my lap. I sit there nursing Ava on one half of my body while Olivia curls into my arms on the half of me.

Ava finally succumbs to sleep after she fills her belly. I quietly tell Olivia I am sitting her on the ground so I can lay Ava down.

After I cover Ava's sleeping body with her blankie, Olivia whispers to me and asks, "can I sleep in your bed?" Ah child, it's after 3, and I am desperate for sleep after being up twice already. But I know how precious this time is (& she doesn't do this every night or I might have re-evaluated my answer). I know the many nights my arms ached to hold a sleeping Noah and I was denied that privilege. So instead, I wordlessly scoop Olivia into my arms and take her up to my bed and quietly lay her down.

She makes herself comfy on my pillow while I try to squeeze myself onto the little piece of bed I am given. I lay on my side while she curls herself against my back and puts her little arm around my neck. It took her a little while until she calmed down and fell asleep.

*sigh* I remain awake while I listen to her rhythmic breathing as she sleeps.

I am reminded of how blessed I am to be a mom of 7 children. Yes, one of my children lives in Heaven but I still parent him everyday, just in different ways than I do my living kids. It's mind-blowing to me know he gets to see Jesus every day! Just makes my tie to Heaven a little bit closer in someways.

As I laid there wide awake, I prayed for all my kids. And I am reminded to not ever take one moment for granted. Yes, long are the days of being a mom, they aren't always easy and in fact, some days are quite frustrating. But in those quiet moments early in the morning,I was reminded of the rewarding times of being a mom. Those sweet times of cuddling any of my children like that make those tough days so worthwhile. I am thankful for glimpses like this to override the memories of the challenging days I have as a mom.

So yes, I laid awake while holding my precious 2 year old and wished my 3 yr old was also snuggled up with us. I don't wish away these times at all but instead embrace those sweet moments that remind me of how much God has entrusted into my care. It truly humbles me and I pray I can guide these precious lives in the right direction. Never will I deny them them the love, attention, affection or hugs that ALL children desire! Things my husband & I both missed out on growing up. Things I want our children to look back on and say yes, they loved me & were there for me no matter what!

I love you all so much, Sarah, Susan, Hannah, Erik, Noah, Olivia & Ava!! Thank you for all you have taught me & how you continue to love me despite the mistakes I make every day!

Easy Canvas Prints w/Giveaway!

I love displaying some of our cherished photos around the house. I try to vary the sizes and coordinate the frames to compliment things that are in the room. Lately it seems I've heard of others talking about photos they've gotten printed on canvas which piqued my interest. I recently had the chance to get a photo canvas done by Easy Canvas Prints. I admit it took me awhile to try & decide which photo to use. I settled on using one I had taken recently from our breastfeeding photo shoot, a picture of the kids & I.

The ordering process took me only a few minutes to complete. The site is easy to navigate, giving clear step-by-step instructions. There are many sizes you can pick from and they also offer a .75" border wrap around the edges.

After selecting the size canvas you want, you then upload your photo where it will then confirm the quality of your picture will make the size canvas you choose. You even have the option to upload pictures from Facebook or Instagram! From there, you select how you want your border from 3 options that are all included in the price. You also have the ability to change the photo canvas to black & white or sepia coloring for an additional price.

The back of the canvas comes with a hanger to hang your canvas and Easy Canvas Prints also offers hardware to hang the canvas for an extra $1.49. From there, you simply check out or can go back and do more shopping.

Shipping the canvas didn't take long at all. I was worried the day it arrived via UPS as they hadn't stuck the box in a plastic bag due to the rain. But the canvas was nicely protected in a heavy plastic wrap and carefully secured in a box.

The quality of the canvas is exceptional! It feels pretty thick and the photo quality printed out true to color. I like the way the photo wraps around the edges and gives the canvas depth while hanging on the wall. Overall, I would gladly get another canvas from this company again!

If you'd like to try out Easy Canvas Prints, they are offering my readers 60% off ALL size canvases plus free shipping!!! (free shipping applies to USA only). This offer is good until February 28, 2014. Plenty of time to get a canvas made from your Christmas photos.

They were also generous to offer a free 8x10 photo canvas to one of my readers!!! Check out the rafflecoptor below to enter!! Also check out their sister sites Build A Sign & Allied Shirts for more custom print options or ideas.

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I was given a free photo canvas in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own.

2013 in review

How in the WORLD is it possible we are already ending the year 2013?!?! When I think of 2014 starting, I am brought back to when we were preparing to change century's from 1999 to 2000 (Y2K anyone!?!) And here we are, 14 years later, wow. And no, our computers never did crash 14 years ago, ha!

It really is true, the older you get, the faster time flies. I am witnessing it first hand peeps!!! This year like most years, brought about more changes to our family. The kids & I continued doing curriculum reviews which we enjoyed for the most part. We came across several things that we fell in love such as what has now become our favorite history curriculum, America the Beautiful.

My girls continued to practice their cooking skills this year and we came across many new recipes we enjoyed trying, many of them I still have yet to get up on the blog! Speaking of recipes, I am shocked to have seen my most pinned recipe this year has been my caramel popcorn! As of this writing, it's been pinned 199 times & liked 19 times, wow!! Now that I brought up Pinterest, if you didn't know, I have a Pinterest Page so feel free to come join the other 787 people who follow me there.

Of course, it can't go without saying that one of our big highlights this year was welcoming our 7th child, Ava Hope!!! I can't believe this week she will be 7 months old already!! She is such a happy & content baby!! Her sweet face is always radiating a smile and she certainly doesn't lack attention around here.

Other milestones this year were the twins turning 14 (ahhh driving in less than 2 years!) Hannah turning 12, Erik turning 10, our sweet Noah spent his 3rd birthday in Heaven the same day Olivia turned 2. My husband and I also hit the 15 years of marriage milestone, wow! Seems like yesterday we just got married. Amazing how much we've gone through, more than most couples ever experience.

We spent time camping with friends this summer (one of those times was just 2 weeks before I was due with Ava). We also traveled to Tennessee and stopped at a few interesting places to sightsee with good friends. This past September, we finally bought our own camper to join our friends in camping instead of renting a cabin. 2 days after buying our home on wheels, we found ourself camping in OCMD with the camping gang. We even squeezed a trip in yet in November. We are looking forward to many camping trips this coming year!

Last month found one of our kiddos admitted to the hospital for reactive airway disease. Thankfully all has been well since!

I continue to get contacted from moms around the world who have shared with me their stories of precious babies gone too soon. I also sadly photographed a sweet baby's viewing & funeral this year. All reminders to me of how God continues to use Noah's journey to be able to help others.

A new year brings up a mix of emotions for me. On one hand, there is the anticipation, excitement and wondering just what God has in store for us this year. On the other, it saddens me to be yet another year away from the year I last held Noah, the divide seems to grow longer with each passing year. Of course, I guess that means I'm a year closer to seeing him again!!

Going forward, I was thinking about a word of the year. Last year, I chose the word Hope. Kind of ironic but it is Ava's middle name, little did I know when I chose that word that I would be having another girl with that name! I guess "hope" really did come to fruition! Actually, 3 of my girls middle names are Faith, Joy & Hope! This year, I am skipping a word and just trying to focus on life one day at a time. Being open to whatever God calls me to, whatever word that may be each day! We often focus on the new year being the beginning of a fresh start when in reality, each day is a new beginning, a clean slate. So very thankful for that!