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I'm a stay-at-home Dad suffering from Fibromyalgia. I homeschool my daughter and lead worship at my church. I'm also a gamer and a geek and proud of it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fox Knights for Royal Rangers

OK, I just got finished making these for my bulliten board in my Ranger Kids classroom, and they are beyond cool. We are starting the Fox quarter, where the boys will earn their Fox Advancement, and the theme of the quarter is Bravery. Well, I let the creative juices flow, and what could be more brave than knights, well how about fox knights?


Feel free to share and comment.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Planning Thanksgiving Dinner - Part 2

So, last time I talked about my table setting and decor for our festive holiday meal. This time I want to focus on the food. As I mentioned before I want the food to be simple yet special, seriously turkey is a must for Thanksgiving and I don't care if the Pilgrims didn't serve it at their meal.(They didn't have running water or proper sanitation facilities either, and I don't see anyone insisting we not shower and dig a latrine for the holiday.) All joking aside lets talk about what makes a simple meal special.

The Turkey

We usually stuff our turkey (the stuffing tends to flavor the bird from the inside out.) You do run the risk of the turkey drying out if you stuff it as it has to cook longer, we solve this problem in two ways. First I make some herb butter by mixing room temp unsalted butter with a combination of fresh and dried herbs and spices (remember what I said about something special ;).) This is then rubbed into the bird UNDER the skin. this will help with seasoning the meat, crisping the skin, and adding extra moisture to the meat. We also rub the skin with olive oil and season liberally with salt. Do not under season your bird folks! We then cover the turkey with foil until the last 30 - 60 minutes of cooking.

The Stuffing

As I said we stuff our bird, and always make extra on the side. Our stuffing is actually my wife's grandmother's recipe and consists of stuffing bread, chicken stock, herbs, onions, green and red pepper, hamburger, and Chourico (Portuguese hot sausage pronounce Sher-eese). This hot and spicy stuffing is a family favorite and is very special.

The Potatoes

Basic mashed potatoes are comfort food for me, so I tend not to mess with them. I'm not adverse to adding cheese, but beyond that LEAVE THEM ALONE!!!! What makes ours special is that we use my wife's stand mixer to whip the potatoes with butter and milk. Yum!!!!!

Corn

Okay, here is where I like to get a little fancy. Over the years I have tried various ways to make corn more exciting and this year I will be making creamy corn and spinach with Parmesan cheese. I've made this a few times and everyone seems to love it so, hey why not?

Sweet Potatoes

Candy them with butter, brown sugar, and mini-marshmallows. Do I need to say anything else about them? I didn't think so.

Green Bean Casserole

We don't make this ourselves, but my sister-in-law brings it every year, and it is delicious. Thanksgiving just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it.

Broccoli and Cheese

My mother-in-law loves broccoli and cheese and well, why should I be the only one to get their favorite comfort food. This is one is for you Mom.

Gravy

I can't believe I almost forgot this one. I'm in charge of making the turkey gravy every year, and yes, I make it from scratch and it is to die for.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my dinner menu. Hey let me know what your traditions are, I would love to hear them. Next time I'll be talking about appetizers.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thank You and Well Done.

Once again Thanksgiving is just around the corner and like most people my mind turns to thoughts of turkey, family, and the things in life that I am thankful for. This past week though I was taken aback by something very simple. Someone told me they liked the worship on Sunday. I know it's not earth shattering as far as events go, and it wasn't the first time someone commented on the music. I usually say thank you and mention how blessed i am to be used by God, and this time was no different, but something in my spirit stirred a little.

I thought that the well done speach at the end of the race was all the recognition we should require


I've learned over the years not to ignore the nudging of the Spirit, so that night during my prayer time I let God speak to my heart, and what I heard surprised me, "Thank You." Did I hear that right? God was thanking me? He was, and I realized He was thanking me everytime someone was touched by the worship on Sunday morning, everytime I was obedient to his leading, and everytime I helped our congregation to fix their eyes on Jesus.

I let God speak to my heart, and what I heard surprised me


I guess that deep down, I thought that the well done speach at the end of the race was all the recognition we should require, but in reality it isn't. I'm not diminishing the reward we will get in heaven, on the contrary I think as humans we need constant encouragement to continue to strive towards that goal, and God is well aware of this need as well.

God is telling His servants, 

"Thank you and keep up the good work."


I realized that God is using those that come up and tell me how much they loved the music, or what a great voice I have, to let me know He appreciates my willingness to serve, to put myself out there (way outside my comfort zone I might add), and to be obedient to His call. I'm not saying these things to brag or to puff myself up, but rather to remind myself and others that God is telling His servants, "Thank you and keep up the good work."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Crazy Days Ahead

The next few days are going to be crazy busy. I'm going to training Wednesday morning for a new job. (I'm going to be doing some bookkeeping from home.) Then coming home to do some school with my daughter (she is mostly self directed but still have to go over her math and science lessons, plus she has a test in Bible.) After that I'm off to the church office to get some treasurer things done. Finally to round off the day I'll be teaching the K-2 boys at church. And that's just Wednesday.

The rest of the week is looking just as busy. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I know with my fibro I'm going to crash hard come Saturday afternoon, but I thrive on this kind of pace. My body may be screaming no, but my mind says bring it on. Oh, by the way, Christmas is just around the corner. LOL.

Happy NaNoWriMo

Yes, it is National Novel Writing Month. The premise is to start on November 1st and finish by Midnight on November 30th. The total word count should be no less than 50,000 words, but the Young Writers Program (YWP) allows you to set more reasonable goals for students. The idea of writing an entire novel in a month is intriguing and well, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I will be blogging about my experience as the month progresses, I'm getting into this late but hey, I'm a bit of an overachiever so lets see what happens. Also going to be using the YWP program with my daughter (pray for her as she does not like to write :P)

Want to write a novel yourself you can check out the program and sign up at:
http://nanowrimo.org/

Want to get free curriculum to use with your students goto:
http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/

Happy Writing!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembering My Dad on Veteran's Day

Went to get my free meal at Applebee's today, seeing as I'm a veteran. It was nice being honored for serving, but it was also bitter sweet. I watched many families bringing in their fathers and grandfathers to get their free meals and I couldn't help but think about my own father. He was a veteran as well and though we didn't have a great relationship growing up, it was getting better before his stroke and eventual passing. I thought about how I would never have the chance to bring him out for a meal, to share one of our few common bonds.

I say all this because it's important to honor our parents while they are still with us. Even if they haven't done anything deserving of honor, God says to honor them because He gave them to us for parents. So today I want to honor my father, not because he was a great dad, or even because he was a veteran, but simply because he was my dad. I hope he found peace with God at the end, so we can sit down at the great table in heaven and talk about all the things we did have in common.

Dad, thank you for your service, I miss you and love you.

Planning Thanksgiving Dinner - Part 1

Thanksgiving has always been a time for our family to get together and reconnect, and I have always felt that it should be more than just a meal. It should be an event. I want not just the food to be exceptional but also the decor to invoke feelings of warmth, nostalgia, and comfort. As a guy I want a comfortable table that I will actually want to sit around. I want food that is simple yet special. As an artist I want my decor and table setting to be visually balanced and emotionally serene. I want it to be both functional and pleasing to the eye.

Living in an apartment, we gather around our kitchen table for dinner. It can expand to seat eight, though in a pinch we can seat ten ( we've managed to get 13 of us around it one year but that is just too crowded). This year we are looking at at least ten if not more. Any overflow will be set up at a smaller table in our parlor. The table I set for the photo shoot  is set for eight.
Left: Our table set for eight
Top Right: I like to have a balanced look to the center of the table, candles at both ends and in the middle
Bottom Right: I tied cinamon sticks to a large pillar candle with twine. My wife bought the pumpkin on clearance at a pharmacy, it looks extra special sitting on top of a cake plate we never use. 
Left: This simple luminary is made from a pint mason jar that was stipple painted and then baked in the oven to set the paint. We then added a silk leaf tied with twine and placed a votive inside.
Top Right: I originally purchased this five votive candle holder to go in the unused fireplace in our bedroom but it didn't sit correctly so I've been using it on our kitchen table instead. We filled it with gingered pumpkin scented potpouri and popcorn kernals. We then topped them with a tea light.
Bottom Right: I like the idea of something special placed on the plate (last year I tied the silverware with twineand attached a silk leaf and a card with a scripture verse.) this year I made crackers. They will be filled with treats and a scripture verse. I made them using dicarded towel rolls cut down to size and covered with gold foil and ribbons of varying length.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Obsessed with Table Settings

As some of you may have noticed, I'm not your typical guy.My interests are varied and do not always fall within the realm of what the world has declared to be manly things. Over the years this bothered me until I realized that I'm uniquely made. I joking tell people that I don't just follow the beat of my own drummer, I have an entire mariachi band. I know who I am in Christ and I really don't care what anyone else thinks, well most of the time anyway.

I have an entire mariachi band.


I'm saying this because, as a stay at home dad, I have to perform some functions that are usually placed under the woman category by society, and even by most christians.One of those things over the past few years is planning our Thanksgiving dinner. I have really gotten into planning the menu and even creating a festive tablescape for our guests.

Last Years Table

This year hasn't been any different, with the exception that I will be sharing my creation on my blog. I had just finished photographing the table, complete with place settings and burning candles, when my wife comment that I was just not like other guys. Even my own wife of 20 plus years is taken aback by my creative side at times. she got me thinking though.

I'm obsessed with table settings. Did I follow the correct etiquet rules, does the coffee spoon go to the right or on top, which side does the napkin go on??? Why am I like this? Then it hits me, my mom. One of my fondest memories from my childhood was setting the table everynight for dinner. And when I says setting the table, I'm talking the whole nine yards. Frist you hand to remove the table runner and all the knickknacks. Then you had to pick out a tablecloth. Followed by the dinnerplates, glasses, and silverware, which my mom would gently correct me if something was out of place. My mom taught me how to set a formal table, and and informal one, and indirectly taught me the importance of sitting down for a family meal everynight. The meal would almost always end with coffee and dessert, and then everything was whisked away into the kitchen to be washed and the table would get its runner and knickknacks replaced once more.

I'm obsessed with table settings.


Familty dinners around the table. Something that our busy modern families hardly ever have time for anymore. maybe that is why I obsess over the holiday meals, I'm trying to recapture the warmth and nostalgia of simpler times. By setting an elaborate table I'm not only providing a festive stage for our meal but also for the family to reconnect.

Hey dads (and moms to), how do you help your families reconnect

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Teaching Tuesdays: Election Day

So Today is Election Day, and as in past years we have been discussing the importance of voting and in making an informed decision. Part of our homeschool philosophy has always been to use the events of our everyday lives as a jumping off point for learning. After all we are trying to raise our daughter to be a responsible adult. I know that this year isn't a major national election but that doesn't mean it isn't important.

If you are considering a study on the electoral process (whether you're a homeschooler or not) the following resources may prove helpful: