March 30, 2013

Fish Tacos

Last August I posted our recipe for walking tacos.  One reader posted a reply with her fish taco recipe, which sounds fabulous, by the way.  This has inspired me to perfect our fish taco recipe and share it with you as well.  It's light and refreshing, and just screams spring.  But don't think you'll need a side dish because it's also very filling.  I hope you enjoy it.

Breading the fish:
Using any white fish (we usually use tilapia or flounder), pat the fish dry to remove any excess water.  Squirt lemon and lime juice onto fish, then sprinkle with lemon pepper, basil, smoked paprika, cumin.  Press panko bread crumbs into the fish.  Flip fish and repeat process on other side.  Pan fry the fish in about 1/2 inch of peanut oil.  After frying, place the fish on paper towels to drain and cool.
  Making the slaw:
Combine 1/2 C. mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. white vinegar, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper, 1/2 tsp. onion powder, and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder to make a creamy sauce.  Pour over 2 C. shredded cabbage, 1/2 C. shredded carrots, and 1/2 C. finely chopped red onion.  Toss to coat.  Refrigerate 2-4 hours before serving.

Making the rice:
Prepare 1 C. white rice according to package instructions with the following additions: add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 1 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper, and 1/4 tsp. cumin to the water before adding the rice.  Stir in 1/2 C. sauteed green peppers and onions while rice is steaming.

Assembling the taco:
Layer the rice, fish, and slaw in a soft tortilla shell.  Add your favorite toppings.  I only add diced tomatoes & shredded sharp cheddar cheese to mine, but my guys add salsa, banana peppers, and jalapenos to their tacos as well.

I hope this inspires you to get creative and find your perfect taco.  If you have a great recipe, please share it with the rest of us.  Now it's time for me to go, though.  We're heading out on the boat for the day.  Maybe we'll catch enough to have fish tacos again tonight!


March 27, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: Reading Resources for All Year Long

Although Reading Month is coming to an end, that doesn't mean it's time to stop reading.  Quite the opposite, actually.  This week's Mid-week Morsel features three websites to keep your youngsters excited about reading all year long.  Starfall has online games and activities for children learning their abc's all the way up to reading short stories.  Reading Rockets is more of a website for you, to give you information about ways to help your child become a better reader.  They have book lists, FAQ about reading, articles, and many other reading resources.  If you would like to do more research on your own, the Florida Reading Association has a long list of reading websites for you to check out.  As usual, the sites I've recommended above are free resources.  However, there are several good subscription based websites and paid programs out there for helping your child read, ReadingA-Z, All About Reading, Reading Eggs, and Click-N-Read to name a few.

March 23, 2013

Homemade Health & Beauty Products

If you're anything like me, you felt a little creeped out after this week's Mid-week Morsel; especially if you went to Skin Deep and looked up the beauty products you currently use.  I've done a little looking, and found several simple recipes for homemade health and beauty products.  Just like cooking, making your products from scratch gives you such a sense of accomplishment and comfort.  It's feels great to create effective, natural products for your family.  One recipe that I use already is for our dog, Zeus.  As is common in English Bulldog's, he has skin issues, but washing him every 7-10 days with my own recipe helps keep his skin soft and his fur thick & silky smooth.  (On a side note, he is also on a special diet that contributes to his skin and fur health.)  Here is how I do it...

After I lure him into the bathtub (usually with a piece of meat), I rinse him thoroughly with lukewarm water to  get any loose dirt and oil off of him.  I mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 1/2 cup water and pour it over his back, rubbing it into his fur as I go.  I keep an empty shampoo bottle that I fill with apple cider vinegar.  I squirt this over his back, little bits at a time.  The vinegar will make the baking soda foam up (think volcano science project).  Massage the foam into his fur and skin.  I let this sit for a couple of minutes, then rinse him with warm water.  Finally, I pour a cinnamon rinse over him.  This is made by simply steeping cinnamon in hot water.  You can use either cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon.  If you use ground cinnamon, put a tablespoon or so of cinnamon in a coffee filter, fold it up like a tea bag, and staple it shut.  Make sure to let the water cool before you pour it over your pet.  I don't want anyone getting burned.  The cinnamon will help your dog smell better, but more importantly, cinnamon is also an antibacterial and antifungal.  Also, I don't know if there is any science behind it, but I've read that cinnamon can help ward off fleas.  If you want to read more about using cinnamon for health, has an informative article.  

There are so many recipes for homemade health and beauty products out there that it's easy to get lost in the search.  Here is a quick list of some of the recipes I've found...

Confessions of a Homeschooler's Lip Balm

Spell Out Loud's Baby Lotion

Good Housekeeping's Hand Lotion, Facial Mask, and Toner

Spark People's Shampoo & Conditioner Recipes

My Homemade Beauty (They have a whole list of various recipes.)

If you have any recipes for great homemade products, post them below in the comments or on my Facebook or Google+ page.


March 20, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: What's in your health & beauty products?

Today is the first day of spring and, for many, the start of spring cleaning. Through the years I've become more and more conscious of what chemicals I bring into my home.  But, what about the chemicals I put on my skin?  Advertisers are very good at making products appear to be natural and good for you.  When I first discovered Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database I was amazed at some of the chemicals that are in products I used every day, and even more amazed at the chemicals being used that had no research behind them.  For example, did you know that Aveeno Active Naturals Continuous Protection Sunblock Body Lotion SPF 85contains butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)?  BHT is a toluene-based ingredient used as a preservative in food and personal care products.  It is a known human immune toxicant or allergen, and has limited evidence of carcinogenicity.  One or more in vitro tests on mammalian cells has shown positive mutation results, and one or more animal studies has shown tumor formation at high doses.  So, the product you use to prevent skin cancer contains a chemical that may cause cancer.  That 's not the way it should be.  The good life should be natural and well...good, not full of questionable chemicals that may do harm over time.  Knowledge is our best tool.  It enables us to make better decisions for the well-being of our family.

By the way, thank you all for reading my blog.  You've made my day.  When I logged in to publish this post today, I saw I'd hit 1,500 page views.  I just started this blog in August, so that many page views is very exciting for me.  You guys are awesome!


March 16, 2013

Letters and Letter Sounds Free eBook

As I've mentioned already, March is reading month.  The first step in reading is learning to recognize each letter and the sounds it makes.  When my daughter was learning to read, I had trouble finding materials that were both useful and affordable.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on materials.  After all, as soon as my daughter mastered one concept, she lost interest in the material teaching it as she was already working hard on learning the next concept.  I sat down at my computer and, using Microsoft Word & Microsoft Picture It, I began writing my own books and creating my own manipulatives for her.  Here is the first book on the way to reading, Letter Sounds and Letter Signs.  I made up a song (sung to the tune of Where is Thumbkin?) using the primary sound each letter makes (which means all vowels are short), and included the American Sign Language sign for each letter to make the book more fun and interactive. Each page also includes a picture of both the upper and lower case letter, and a picture of something that begins with that letter sound.  Please note that when your child sings the song, the red and blue letters represent letter sounds, not letter names.  Finally, I have to say a special thanks to my dad for helping me get this converted from Word to PDF.  Thanks, Daddio!  You're the best!  I hope you all enjoy it.  Let me know what you think.


March 13, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: The Pi Life

The good life should always include pie, but today we are talking in , or 3.14159...  This mathematical ratio is celebrated around the world on March 14 (3/14).  The day also happens to be Albert Einstein's birthday, which makes it a great reason to take a break from Reading Month for a little math.  

Mid-week Morsels general focus on one resource, however there are so many activities for Pi Day that this week's morsel is a little meaty.  First, I'll start with younger children.  Unless your children are in at least 4th or 5th grade, chances are they don't know about ∏.  Layers of Learning tells how to simply explain pi to children.  If you're feeling crafty, Helping Little Hands has a Pi Day t-shirt how-to (pictured to the right), and a circle collage activity your little ones are sure to love.  For younger children, celebrating Pi Day is more about exposure and making math fun.  They can still celebrate even if they don't understand ∏ or if you don't think it's appropriate to try to explain it.

For upper elementary and older children, there are a wealth of activities.  In my opinion, Education World and The Home School Mom have the best sites for activities and lessons.  More importantly, they both tell you what range of grade levels each activity or lesson is appropriate for.,, and San Francisco's Exploratorium are all stock piled with information including videos, t-shirts, music, lessons, activities, events, and more.  Finally, Pam Burke is a high school math teacher who has posted activities she has done with her students on Mrs. Burke's Math Page.

Other resources I found were a video cartoon explaining Pi for older children, sodoku puzzles, a free unit study on ∏, and a Pi Day web quest.  

There are so many more resources out there for Pi Day.  If you want to do more searching on your own, here are three great Pinterest boards full of places to start:

Edutopia's Math Rules! Pinterest board

Shari Bithell's Pi Day Activities Pinterest board

Amy Gentile-Cantone's Pi Day Pinterest board


March 9, 2013

All About Time

What time is it?  It's time to spring forward for Daylight Saving Time, which makes it the perfect time for some lessons all about time.  For many children, telling time is a milestone on their way to becoming more independent.  There are steps you can take to help even children too young to really tell time get a little closer to that milestone.  One step is to use a clock that chimes on the hour.  Chances are your child will notice a pattern on his own.  This will give you the opportunity to talk about time and introduce the concept that time can be measured.  Another step, which I used regularly with my sons when they were little, is to post a practice clock beside our wall clock.  Set the time on the practice clock to whatever time something important would happen (such as bedtime, time for a friend to come over, etc.).  Instead of asking if it's time yet, they can simply compare the two clocks to see if they match.  Even though they can't actually tell time yet, it gives them a sense of independence (and minimizes their asking, "Is it time yet?"  If you don't have a practice clock, here is a free one I posted last fall.

For children old enough to start learning to tell time, I have found a nice collection of lesson plans.  The general idea is to start with telling time to the hour.  Then practice telling time to the half-hour, quarter-hour, five minutes, and finally to the minute.  Here are links to some ready-made lesson plans from, Teach-nology, and Lesson Corner.

Children are inquisitive creatures, so you are bound to get questions about time.  I can't tell you how many times over the years my children have come up with questions that I just didn't know how to answer.  Keeping that in mind, I tried to anticipate some of the questions you might hear when talking about time.  I found a concise summary of the history of telling time on  Time for Time offers a more in-depth look at the history of time.  For visual learners, has a video covering the history of telling time.

Once children have learned to tell time, they can move on to other lessons involving time, such as understanding time zones and Daylight Saving Time.  World Time Zone has pages for time zone maps, Daylight Saving Time, a sun clock, and more.  Both Time & Date, and About's Geography site tell the history of how time zones came to be.  If you are looking for information about Daylight Saving Time, visit either or  

I know this is a lot of information.  It may take some time to get through it all.  ;-)  And by the way, don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed tonight.


March 5, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: Dyslexia Resources

As I mentioned in my previous post, A Seusserful Day!, March is National Reading Month.  Dyslexia is a learning disability often overlooked when young children are struggling to learn to read and write.  Diagnosing dyslexia early can help prevent children from getting behind in their learning, and more importantly, from loosing their self-esteem and desire to learn. Lexercise offers online testing and services to help children with reading, writing, and spelling disorders such as dyslexia and dysgraphia.  Maureen at Spell Out Loud uses Lexercise with her daughter and has written a comprehensive review of Lexercise.  If your child or a child you know is struggling to read, write, and spell, use Lexercise's free online dyslexia test to see if dyslexia could be the cause.  

March 2, 2013

A Seusserful Day!

"It's [the] Day of all Days!  It's the Best of the Best!  So don't waste a minute!  Hop to it!  Get dressed!"  Today is the day that fills me with mirth.  Today is the day of Dr. Suess' birth!  Theodor Geisel was born in 1904.  In 1991, he was no more.  He saw and fulfilled a fantastical need.  He made it fun for children to read.  He gave us The Lorax, Thing One, and Thing Two.  He brought to life poor Mayzie McGrew.  So spring to your feet and grab a good book.  Then gather some friends and give it a look.  For March is the month to celebrate reading.  Put kids on their path to the land of succeeding.  Put a love for good books deep in their hearts. Here are some links to give you a start.

A brief biography of Theodor Geisel from the Dr. Seuss National Memorial

Random House Children's Books' Suessville

Seussville's Read Across America Information

PBSkids' The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That

Mary Crystal Williams' Partying with Dr. Seuss Pinterest Board

Dr. Seuss themed games and puzzles by Wonder Forge

Offers for Dr. Seuss related items from

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”  “You're off to Great Places!  Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting,  So... get on your way!”