I was spending some time this morning catching up on my blog reading. When I  came on Judy's "Ten Tiny Tips".  They were all very good tips. Judy asked that we post our own tips so,  here are mine. I can not wait to read your ten tips.

1. Bread- if your bread goes stale don't toss it. You can use it in several ways. You can use it for french toast, breakfast casserole, or you can put a slice into your brown sugar container/bag, and it will prevent your sugar from getting hard.

2.Making foods ahead and freezing them can be a wonderful money/time saver. It also helps with those "I don't feel like cooking let's eat out nights".  One of the biggest complaints about freeze ahead meals is that mashed potatoes do not come out very well. Here is the trick, peel, boil, and mash the potatoes but do not  add salt,pepper,butter, milk, or cream cheese till you are ready to serve them.  One of the reasons that they taste icky when you freeze them with the milk and butter is that when they defrost the solids separate from the water in these two products making for a very yucky product.

3.Looking to cut down on your energy bill some?? Aren't we all?? Does the power go out now and again?? Out here in the boonies it happens often. Here is a very simple solution. When you are done using your oj or milk containers wash them thourally (sp??). Fill them with drinkable water. (We filter our water here)  Now just put a few of these in your freezer. I have a large upright freezer and a deep chest freezer so I have about 10 of these frozen jugs. Now, whenever the power goes out I put one in the fridge to keep that colder longer and to provide drinking water. The others stay in the freezer to help keep it colder longer.

4. This one is one of those things people do not like talking about. Whelp, that means it's talk-able to me. LOL Head lice...dun. dun. dun... You know most people either get them or know someone who has. Every year about a bajillion kids get sent home from school or camp or vacation bible school or many other places with a little note saying that they have or have been exposed to head lice. No big deal right?? Right, putting all those harsh terrible chemicals into any ones hair is a big deal however. I have a sure fire way that involves no harsh chemicals and costs less than one application of the harsh stuff. I am sure that there is someone out there that this will not work for but, I have yet to meet them. Here what you do and it could not be simpler. You will need to purchase 1 bottle of mouth wash even the cheepo one works great 1 bottle of plain white vinegar 1 package of perm caps they cost less than 5 dollars for a pack of 100, that is it!! Less than 15 dollars and you have tons to keep using for other things or for multiple children. First step get the hair very wet soaking actually wring out but do not rinse put one of the caps on the persons head and let them “chill” for 1 ½ hours. Rinse the mouthwash out of hair, this part is a little gross cus if they did have any bugs you will see them dead in the sink and in the cap. Once you rinse the hair soak the hair in vinegar. Wring it out once again and put on a cap for an 1 ½. This may seem like an inconvenience but, if they have lice you are not going anywhere anyway.
After the 1 ½ remove the cap and wash the hair with shampoo and conditioner. Please make sure you use conditioner since it will help the eggs slide off the hair shaft easier. After the hair is washed use a lice comb to comb out the hair. If you put a fresh cap on the wet hair it will be easier to work with since it will stay wet longer. Don't forget to wash all bedding and stuffed toys with detergent mixed with 1 cups each of vinegar and mouth wash. Then spray house with tee-tree oil diluted in water.

5.If your needle sticks while sewing just rub it with wax or soap. Ta-da!! Slides in perfect.

6.Are you stocking up on rice and bean?? We sure are. If you want to prolong the amount of time you can store them for, try this super simple trick. Pour ½ a cup of salt into your containers then seal the lid with tape. They will last for months. Places that close for the summers or winter all do this.

7.Speaking of salt did you know that if you put a small pinch on top of your coffee grounds before you brew them, this will prevent the coffee from having that bitter taste. This also helps if your grounds are a little old.

8.In summer time we get fleas here. When the flea season strikes here I do this very easy and inexpensive trick. In a bowl mix borax and salt. Sprinkle this mixture all over the carpets. Let sit for a few hours then vacuum. Don't forget to dump your bag or canister out a little ways from the house. If you have a lot of fleas then repeat this process every 2 or 3 days for 2 to 3 weeks. If you have just a couple of fleas then do this once or twice week for two weeks. After you have the problem under control or if you want to prevent it all together do this once per month.

9.Speaking of carpets, here is a super fantastical carpet stain remover. The supplies needed are borax, vinegar, liquid dish soap, a scrub brush, and a towel to dry the spot. I have used this on spots that were in the carpet for several years. I just really can not explain how neat this is. Trust me you will know what I mean after you try it. I would like to remind y'all that nothing gets out kool-aide. Here is the super secret way to get the stains up. First, dust the stain with borax, put some dish liquid on top of the borax, pour some vinegar on top of this mixture. It will foam and bubble. Let sit for 2-5mins. Next, scrub the stain with the scrub brush. The first 2 or 3 swipes of the scrub brush will be nothing special then like something off of a Vegas magic show you will pass the scrub brush over the stain and it will just be gone!! Blot dry with a towel. Bonus if it blood on the carpet or clothes or furniture just use hydrogen peroxide.

10.Last one whew!! This one is again very simple and easy. I don't know about you but, I love real french fries. Fresh home made french fries just melt my butter. I have lots of people say that they love real french fries too BUT, they can not get them all crispy and crunchy. Well, it is such a simple trick that when people learn it they always say “why didn't I think of that”. Once you have your potatoes cut into what ever shape you want, heat your oil. If you want to know for sure that your oil is the perfect temp you can do a few things. You can put a small amount of water into the oil while it is still cold and when the oil stops crackling you know it is hot enough. Or you can fry a bread cube or a tester fry when the oil begins to smoke. Then there is the use a kitchen thermometer for those who have one. ;) Once your oil is hot enough put your fries into it and cook 3-5 mins. Drain and cool. If you have time go ahead and put them in the freezer for about 30mins or if you are making ahead freeze them in portion sizes now. After the potatoes have gotten cold put them back into the hot oil till golden and crispy. This blanching then frying method makes for the BEST fries.

These are my ten not so tiny tips. LOL thank you so much for the great idea Judy. If any of you want to share your awesome tips please let us know to look for them on your blog. Have a great day!!
Honk!! Honk!! Came the sound from the mailman's car. Wooohoooo I thought. Oh Yeah the first wave of curriculum must be here. I do get so excited when stuff is coming in the mail. ;) My hubby (who works from home) went out to get the box since we thought it was books and there for heavy. How sweet right??
He came back into the house and put the box down so we could look at it.I must admit that I was pretty giddy with excitement. My husband looked up at me and said “stop you can't look” Errrrrrr?? What!! He said it was not curriculum it was a birthday present from Julie. (oh you sneaky, cheeky monkey you)
The heavy box was from Spice3 or spice cubed. www.spicecubed.com. Spice cubed was on my birthday wish list. Just a little interjection here. I hated having a birthday in August when I was a kid. None of my friends from school could come. I always got school clothes or supplies for presents and it was always to hot to do anything. But, as an adult I am a lot more inventive. ;)
It turns out that Julie had sent off a quick e-mail to my husband to make sure that they did not get the same gift for me. (purdy smrt huh??)
So, now we get to the fun part of the story cus you know I did not bring you on this journey without some sorta suspense. Enter the dilemma. (giggle)
When the package, now established as a birthday gift arrived it was 2 in the afternoon my time. That means it was 4 am the next day in Japan for Julie. She was asleep. Dun... dun...dun.... We were due to have our book club at 8pm my time. Gentle readers do see the excruciating set of circumstances that were happening here?? I would have to wait 6 that right 6 whole hours before I could even ask to if it was ok to open my box!!
By 3pm I had shaken the box gently. I had brought up the website and was pouring over it trying to figure out what was in the box.
4pm- I was very figgity by now. I had placed the box in several prominent places. So we could look at it. I had been offered by each of my family members to take the blame of opening it. After all they reasoned if they opened it and I had not then I could see it without getting into trouble. LOL Not much for patience are they??
5- 7am Julie's time. Now I was sitting with gmail pulled up. I was talking to my computer at this point. “Come on Julie wake up” “I know you are awake Julie since you go jogging in the mornings” “Wake Up!!” (will the hilarity ever stop??)
5:30- 7:30 am Julie's time. Her status on gmail said active. I could hear the angles choir. I sent her an IM and told her that her package had gotten here and please, please, please could I open it. She sent me back a message saying that I could if I wanted to but, she would like to see me open it on the webcam. I totally agree that it would be sooooooooooooooo much more fun to open it over the webcam. So, I had resigned to wait till 8pm. 2.5 hours to go. Julie and I talked for a little bit longer. When she finally got my vulcan mind meld thru the chat. “would you like to sign onto the webcam now??” She asked!! Does a bear poop in the woods?? I replied. Heck yes!!!! “Give me a sec she says” Let me tell you right now that Julie and I talk on the webcam at LEAST 3 times a week. So, this should have taken all of 10 seconds right?? About a minute later I sent her an IM “ummmmm what's up??” Julie- “You will not believe this, gmail will not acknowledge my webcam!!” Me- “Are you kidding me??” Julie - “I am gonna have to reboot”
5:45- Julie's green dot goes gray indicating she is offline. I on the mean time began shouting at her computer from 3,000 miles away. “BOOT YOU INFERNAL MACHINE BOOT!!”
While I waited we opened the outer box to reveal this:

I sat staring at the box. I have to say right here and now I am a sucker for an awesome box. After what seemed like an hour. Julie's gray dot turned green, and the dot changed to a little picture of a camera. Then the sound of the computer initiating a video chat. It rings sorta like a house phone. I answered and we said Hello. I showed her the super cool box. I even took the time to show her how nice the ribbon was. Really company wants people to be happy with their products.
You know when ever I buy something online I always have this feeling like it is a gamble. You know it looks so great on the website but, when you or your loved one gets it, it is well, less then what they hyped it up to be. Not so with this company. I dare say it is cooler than the site advertises.
I really enjoyed being able to show Julie exactly what everything looked like. I would say that if you are someone you know is a foodie or they enjoy good quality ingredients this would make a great gift.
I have tortured you long enough here are the pictures of what was in the box.

Here is me doing my price is right showcase pose. That's right Bob, all the foodies in the audience are swooning. giggle

Here we have one of the spices after I put the magnet on it. These magnets are good and strong.

Here we have a close up of the spices. You can see how full they are. You can also see how brightly colored they are.

Here they all are on my fridge. I just think they look so darn cool.

How cool do these look?? I love the fact that you can put the magnets on the back and hang them on your fridge,freezer, any magnetic surface or even a strip of magnets on your cabinet door.
All these spices made me think that I should leave you with a recipe so here it is...

Super easy lasagna
1pkg oven ready lasagna noodles
6-8 cups of tomato sauce (canned, jar,or home made all work just fine with this recipe)
1 pound of Italian sausage
1 16oz container of Ricotta cheese
1 egg beaten
4 cups of cheese for thrifty version and 6 cups for any other time
1 TBS each of parsley, oregano, basil, garlic,onion powder
1 tsp each of paprika and red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup of parm cheese
1 large casserole dish long enough to fit the noodles in
1 sheet of plastic wrap large enough to cover the top of the dish
1 sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the top of the dish

Step one:
Remove the sausage from the casing and fry in the pan till no more pink is showing. Add a ½ cup of water. Now add your pre-made sauce. Stir till all the sausage and the sauce are well combined. Turn the burner down low. Remember the sauce will splatter if you let it boil.

Step two:
Put your egg in a bowl and whisk it. Now add all of the ricotta cheese. Put in one cup of the mozzarella cheese. All of the spices parsley, oregano,basil, garlic, onion powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes go in now. Mix all these ingredients together and set aside.

Step three:
Assembly, my kids love this part the best. ;) In your large casserole dish place a layer of sauce. Now layer your noodles no over lapping. Make sure you gently push your noodles into the sauce. On top of the noodles put ½ of the ricotta mixture and spread it around evenly. You can put a light layer or cheese on top of the ricotta, if not then a layer of sauce goes on now. Your first layer is done easy peasy lemon squeezy. Giggle.
The next layer is noodles (remember to press them down) the rest of the ricotta, cheese if you using, and sauce. For the last layer it is noodles, then sauce, then mozzarella cheese.
Now is the part that most people do not do. Tightly cover your pan with the plastic wrap. Yes plastic wrap. Lastly cover the top again this time with the aluminum foil. This will ensure that you will not get that nasty metal taste in your lasagna.
Bake in the oven at 350 for 1 hour. Then remove the plastic wrap and foil and let the cheese on top get all golden and melty.
One of the reasons people get soupy lasagna is they do not let it rest for a few mins. 20 mins should do just fine. I usually make my salad and garlic bread while I wait.

I thought y'all might like a photo. At least that is what Julie has requested. She says that she would like to see pics of the dishes when I write up the recipe.

I love all the layers. Some times I make veggie lasagna and that makes some very cool layers.
I hope you all enjoy. We are making peach cobbler tonight.
What an outstanding week I have just had!! I was able to attend the Heart of the Matter homeschool online conference. It was great. The best part is that I won the tickets to go. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has a fanpage on facebook and, a week or so ago they had a contest where you explained why you would give a ticket to the conference to a friend. So, I told them about my friend Julie, who has not figured out the super secrete hand shake that the homeschoolers on her base are currently using. So she is feeling pretty alone an isolated. I mean she does get to talk to me all the time. Hmmm what more could she need. LOL I am hoping that she meets a nice family or three so she can have some companionship. I love getting to be her friend but, I am sure that having someone right there to be able to trade childcare with or maybe trade curriculum or just let the kids or them hang out would be so fantastic. Ok, back to the conference. The conference started each morning at 8:15 am. I am not a morning person so, this part was a little hard for me. ;)

Monday: morning session was one of my faves I have followed her blog for quite some time now, Sheila Wray Gregoire. Let me tell you, she really is a dynamic speaker. She left me rejuvenated and inspired. I can't wait to be able to download the mp3's of all of the speakers. The seminar hostesses also said that they would be making all the public chats available as well. I am very glad about that because I saw lots of links in the chat but it moved so fast I was not able to write them all down.
Mid morning was:Dana Hanley and she talked about Developing an Educational Philosophy. I enjoyed her session as well. I am now hard at work in fine tuning my educational philosophy.
There were two afternoon sessions but, I choose to download them at a later date.

Tuesday: the morning session was Trusted With Trouble, Belinda Bullard. I was still pretty tired and groggy but, it was great. I am glad that I woke up to listen to it. Next on tuesday came, The Natural Approach to Teaching Thinking Debbie Strayer. Mrs. Strayer had a really great message but she spoke so fast that we were all left dazed and confused. I will happy that when I download the mp3 I will be able to slow it down. I am orginaly from new England so I know how to talk fast and to listen to people talk fast but, this was just speed reading. I will probably be able to give you a much more favorable view after I listen to her seminar on mp3. There were again more but, I chose to listen to them at a later date.

Wednesday: WOW, WOW, WOW. What a jam packed day wednesday was. I enjoyed all 4 speakers. I took a little nap at lunch time. Here was the awesometastic quartet.
How To Teach Kids About Money (When You’re Not Doing So Great Yourself) Carol Topp – very strait forward and super informative.
The Dateless Lesson Planner (A Workshop on Preventing Anarchy) Linda Hobar I really enjoyed this. I love the concept of planning your school days / life but, instead of scheduling the plans with out actual dates. So no stress. As long as you get to it you are good to go. ;)
Workbox System: An Easy Approach to Optimize and Organize your Homeschool from Preschool to High School Sue Patrick – I can not say enough about this wonderful lady. I am going to glean every thing I can from her. I highly recommend you learn more about her fantastic system.
Seeing and Being – Your role in shaping the lens through which your child sees the world Graham Scharf – my hubby had to use the computer. I do look forward to listening to the mp3 of this one too. I did not get to hear much but, what I did here was terrific.

Thursday: I listened to the morning sessions and they were wonderful!! first was, Read Hebrew Today by Evonne Mandella – I was simply amazed by the how easy and accomplish-able she made Hebrew seem. I definitely recommend you look into her method if you are considering Hebrew, Greek, or Russian. I also love that she is very punny. ;)

The Best Online Tools Karin Katherine – Karin had a lot of resources for any one. Even seasoned internet junkies could find some new tools.

Katherine's online tools session has inspired me to organize my online links and tools. I'll let you know how that goes. It will take a few weeks it is definitely not an afternoon or even a weekend thing.

That brings us to Friday. Friday's speakers were all just wonderful. Here was the line up:
Nurturing Excellent Writers and Speakers – The Power of Linguistic Patterns Andrew Pudewa – I totally overslept and missed this one. Gotta love those mp3's.
Nature Study: Connecting Children With Creation Lisa Lewis-- This one was near and dear to my heart. I really enjoyed this one. I just know I will be listening to it again and again.
Science: It Can Be the “Fun” Subject Leah Nieman-- How interesting it was to hear the story of how Currclick had formed. Leah really has an affinity for science. Her ideas on how to organize your science area were wonderful. I hope you utilize currclick's weekly newsletter which has at least one free resource each week. Oh and did you know that currclick is now offering live online classes. Great prices too.
Developing Leadership in Your Teens Cara Putnam-- I think this was more geared towards preping your children for missions but, the message that came across for me was to be open to what ever God has planned for your children and for your children to be open.

After the last session the organizers gave out a list of all the winners of the door prizes. The list will be posted on the Heart of The Matter website on Monday. I won a year subscription to Home Education Magazine!! I am really excited.

In preparation of our new school year, I have made a new chore spreadsheet (Julie taught me the fun of spread sheets). I am really liking it. If a chore does not get done I just look on the fridge and know exactly who was responsible. Just a quick funny, on Tuesday my husband (who likes to sound all mean and gruff but, is really not) was griping about how the filtered water container in the fridge had not been filled and oh man no tea either. He was working up to giving a lecture when some one said well, whose day was it?? About 5 mins latter after we heard no more from Dad, we asked who it is that was “in trouble”. No one my hubby said. We all got up and went to check the chart I mean who had escaped the lecture?? It was DAD!! He had not done his chores. So now every one really likes checking the chart. Now that the chore spreadsheet is up and running a proving to be a success I do believe that one for the classroom and school work is in order.

This week I also purchased a large portion of our school books. Just a little bit more to go. I am leaning very heavily towards the Charlotte Mason. Ok leaning is an understatement. I am there I love the concept I love the ideals. I am just having a little bit of trouble jumping in on my own. So this year I am buying all my supplies with the Charlotte Mason method in mind. I will be posting my curriculum choices and schedule here this week.
How about you, how is your new school year going to be organized?? Will you do every subject every day?? What subjects will you cover?? How much time do you allocate for each subject?? (I am particularly curious about this one) I hope that you will make a post about this this week or in the coming weeks and link to it here in the comments.

Just a quick update on what we have been up to.
We school year round so, we have been keeping on our schedule. So, no change there.
My brother in-law and my niece and nephew are living with us for a while. So, now there are three adults, one teen (with green hair), one preteen, and three rambunctious wild little ones. It is an adjustment but, it is very nice to spend the time with them. They are very sweet and loving.

My peach trees were so heavy with peaches we had to use a crutch to hold the branch up. I froze at least 20 pounds of peaches. My fig tree has started producing figs. So far I have prepped and frozen about 5 or so pounds of figs. I have also been eating figs topped with caramelized onions and goat cheese wrapped in ham and then baked in the oven for a few mins. SOOOOOOOOOO yummy!! I am going to try to make my own fig newtons. I love fig newtons but I find them dry and the seeds in them kinda yucky. ;) (yes yucky is the technical term)
We finished our Sherlock Holmes and are now reading Mossflower by Brian Jacques, for bookclub. So far I am really enjoying it. Since the reading comprehension on this book is at about 5th grade level my oldest Daughter has joined this session of bookclub.
I have been on an organization binge. I just can not get enough of organizing. I even got a super cool Label Maker. The Dymo Letratag. I love it!! I really want the Managers of Their Homes, Chores, Homeschools book series. If you have any organization tips or tricks feel free in fact pretty please leave me a comment or a link to a post about them. ;)
All the pets are doing just fine. September starts the first round of kitties getting fixed. Sir Didamis and Bubba-hotep are first. Star has made sure all the pets as well as us all know that she rules the roost.

I am having a cookie making party here at the end of the month. I am really excited this will be my fist time meeting with the members of the homeschool group I have chosen to join. We are making the cookies to bring to the fire station on our field trip in September. If all works out I would like to open my house up for a cooking co-op this school year.
I have been offered by the Tyler gourmet store to teach cooking classes!! I am pretty excited. The only problem is it is like 40 miles away. Uggg long drive to teach a class. We shall see what happens with that. At least I know were to get awesome stuff like truffle oil and premium olive oil and chocolate truffles.
That is all that I can remember for now.
Till next time,
Haley and the chain gang!! ;)