Thursday, June 18, 2015

Let's Eat...Taco Casserole!!

So, I've been on a kick to make something new. It's summer, it's hot, and I want something easy. I get so tired of making the same things, and I'm sure my people get tired of eating the same things! We eat a lot fajitas, tacos, chili, and Tex-Mex in general. I try to make healthy choices most of the time, but sometimes you just need a good cheesy casserole! I hopped on Pinterest and looked through a few and found this one. I have made many taco casseroles before, but this is one of the best, most flavorful dishes I've made. The icing on the cake, or in this case the cheese on the casserole, is that it is super quick and easy too. I just tweaked it a little bit to fit our family, but it's really another one of those recipes you can make your own. Also, the recipe calls for taco seasoning, I make my own. You should too, it's so much better, and once you do, you will never go back! Here's the recipe I like here. 

Taco Casserole

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wordless Wednesday...Founders Oak

This is the Founders Oak Tree located in Landa Park in New Braunfels, TX. It's over 300 years old!

Click the button below to see other Wordless Wednesday posts and to link up your own. :)

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday's Musings #1 What's been going on at Anchor Academy?

Well I've been wanting to do a post on the things we've been doing here at Anchor Academy, but it's just been crazy this past couple of weeks. We've been going and going, and then I started having back pain. Who has time for that?? Not this mom! Anyway, I needed a few days to just relax and not worry about anything but relaxing. Let's just say I gave it the old college try. It's very hard for me to do considering I hate to be still! Even though my back was hurting, the learning must go on! Here's the highlights of our week last week.

Last Tuesday, June 9th was Leeper Day! Leeper Day is the day Texas celebrates homeschoolers in honor of the Leeper vs. Arlington ISD court ruling back in 1994. This decision gave the parents the right to teach their children at home. I am extremely thankful of this because Texas is one of the most favorable states to homeschool in. We learn year round and I love the fact that we have the freedom and flexibility to do this in our great state!
Here are some of my people on Leeper Day!

We seemed to have a lot of projects and experiments this last week. These are my kids favorite things to do. If it includes glue, coloring, food color, or anything messy in general, they are IN.
In Science, which we are taking Physics and Chemistry this year, we have been learning about molecules. The kids got to do what I call a kitchen table experiment using Cheerios, water, milk, and oil....and food coloring. 

So, they started with a bowl full of Cheerios to see how the molecules reacted, when we poured in milk. Of course they scattered, and moved around.

 Next, we had to add water colored with food coloring to observe what happened to the molecules, and determine if they changed. 

Finally, (their favorite) was adding oil to see the difference. This was definitely the most obvious of the 2 because oil and water do not mix. The water molecules attract water molecules, and the oil molecules attract oil molecules. They really enjoyed seeing the oil "float" on top of the water.

In history, we have been talking about the Pilgrims, and their voyage across the sea on the Mayflower. They are really enjoying this. Last year in history when we were studying ancient history, they were bored out of their minds. They hated it...I loved it. Oh the struggle!! The fact that they are actually enjoying this Early American history has me ecstatic!! I say bring on the Pilgrims!! I wish we were studying this closer to Thanksgiving, but since we school year round, it didn't work out. I think we will definitely do some kind of fun unit study closer to that time. We have been reading a very old book called Pilgrim Stories. I do it as a read aloud, and they love listening to it. They also made forts this week of Jamestown.

 There is nothing sweeter than little hands!

Don't ask where he got his black facial hair looking thing, if I had to guess I would say marker, but he's a boy, and well you know how that is.

So, that's a little bit about what we've been doing this last week. We've also been checking on our baby swallows nest on our porch! It's so hard to get pictures of them because of the way they build their nest. We can't even tell how many babies are in there. We do love observing how mama bird and daddy bird protect and take care of them. Hopefully I can make a post about them and give you an update...if they will let me get some pics. 

Here's one of mom and dad in the nest at night. 

Have a blessed week everyone!!

What Joy Is Mine

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Monday, June 8, 2015

Review of Handwriting Without Tears - Cursive

I decided to do a quick review of Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Handwriting Curriculum. I needed to add some reviews to my blog, and although I was not compensated in any way for this review, it's a curriculum that my son and I really enjoy. When I started homeschooling my son, his handwriting was barely legible. We started with the print version of HWT. I loved it. By the end of the book, his handwriting had increased substantially. He really had a strong desire to learn to write in cursive. I could have easily printed pages from the internet and tried to teach him myself, but honestly my cursive isn't that great. I write half print and half cursive normally. They don't even teach cursive in public schools anymore and it's becoming a lost art. My son had a desire to learn this, and I wanted him to learn it, because if you don't learn it, it's very hard to read it. HWT cursive is not your traditional flowy script, but an easier form of cursive that to me is a lot more modern and useful. 

 One thing I really like about it is that the letters are not slanted as in traditional cursive. They are written straight up and down as in print. Another plus to HWT is that similar letters are taught together. For example they teach lowercase c, and then a and d because they are all similar styles. There are also warm-ups at the beginning of the book for the first few lessons, in order for them to learn the connections and loops of certain letters. There is quite a bit of practice in the book. My son does anywhere from one to two pages per day. There is a teacher's manual that you can purchase with the workbook. I have to say that honestly I have never used it, both with the printing workbook and the cursive. I find that the workbook is self explanatory. That is just my personal opinion. 

The price of this set is also extremely affordable. You can get the workbook and teacher's manual for around $20 plus shipping. It's definitely worth it! I ordered straight from the site. Here's the link to their official site. Handwriting Without Tears - Cursive

I hope you enjoy this curriculum as much as we do!


Friday, June 5, 2015

My happy place...New Braunfels,Texas

Do you have a place that just makes you happy no matter how you feel or what mood you're in? That place for me is a little place, settled by the German's, called New Braunfels, Texas. It is an easy drive, located about 30 miles northeast of San Antonio. Many know it as the home to Schlitterbahn Waterpark, but to me it's just my happy place. This place is so much more than a place to go to a water park, or tube the Comal River. New Braunfels is quaint and full of history at every corner.

Edyn and I both love historic sites and gazing at old buildings, no matter where we are. When we were invited to go on a walking tour of the beautiful hand painted murals along some of the old buildings in New Braunfels, I knew we had to grab our camera and go! It was just a mile, but our tour guide was so knowledgeable and really made us fall in love with this beautiful city even more.

This first picture didn't  have much to do with the actual walking tour, but it was right where we started and we had a good laugh about it. Only in Texas will you find unopened beer hidden in a cactus! I guess they were saving it for later and didn't want anyone to find it!

We met our tour guide on the corner of S. Castell and W San Antonio in front of the Phoenix Saloon. This place wasn't on the mural tour, but again, there's literally some type of historical place on every corner, so it had our attention!  Edyn was intrigued looking through the windows at the long bar, wooden floors and tables She decided that her dad would love this old place! Since it wasn't on the tour, and we didn't know much about it, we decided to try and find out a little bit about this place.

**I took this information from their Facebook page**
Originally established in 1871, The Phoenix Saloon was the first bar in Texas to serve women. It had a beer garden with a bell in a tree for service (as it would besmirch a lady's reputation to enter the bar).

There was an alligator pit and badger fights, live music on Saturday nights, and a parrot on a perch inside the front door taught to say “Have you paid your bill!?” in German. In 1894, proprietor of the back room cafe (William Gebhardt) invented chili powder (devising the first process to crush and dry fresh chilis).

Prohibition closed the Phoenix Saloon in 1918 (though for a couple more years the basement served as an illicit brewery, with tunnels cut to run the drink out under the streets of downtown). In 1922, the building was expanded into its present configuration. Turned into a department store (with a refrigerated water fountain that was always proudly nonracial and unsegregated), it remained little changed into the 1990s.

In March 2010 (after 2 years of bruising renovation), the Phoenix rose again as an historic Texas bar, chili parlor and live music venue.

To date, The Phoenix Saloon has been featured on The Food Network and The Travel Channel's 'Food Paradise'. It has also been voted "Best Bar in New Braunfels" and "Best Live Music Venue" in New Braunfels. The Phoenix Saloon has hosted bands such as Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Hayes Carll, Jesse Dayton, The Derailers, Alejandro Escovedo, Fastball, Billy Joe Shaver, Shinyribs, Tejas Brothers, Two Tons of Steel and Dale Watson.

We were so excited to find out all of this history about this neat little place!

Our tour guide arrived, and across the street from the Phoenix Saloon was our first mural, The City of a Prince, painted by Clinton Baermann. This shows the arrival of  Prince Carl Solms-Braunfels, the founder of New Braunfels, and his German followers. The building and mural were so long we had to take the pictures in pieces.

Literally right around the corner from The City of a Prince, is Spass and Gemutlichkeit, which I believe translates to food and fun. It was painted by local artist, Brent McCarthy. It pays tribute to Krause's Cafe, and the tradition of sausage, bread, wine and beer. It was a bit hard to take pictures of this mural because it's in an alleyway with cars coming in and out, and also parked there.

They even painted their dumster to look like an old oven. (It still smelled like a dumster though lol)

This was across the alley and Edyn thought it was really neat that they painted the electrical boxes.

We walked another few blocks and came to a tiled mural, also by Brent McCarthy. It is called Herman Seele - The Soul of New Braunfels. Herman Seele was known for being the colony's first teacher in 1845.

On our way to the next mural, which was a bit of a walk, we went right by Naegelin's Bakery. They claim to be "the oldest bakery in Texas since 1868." I could have gone in here and just ended the tour right then and there! You could see the yummy goodies through the windows, and they were calling my name!! 

Right next to Naegelin's was this little German style house. I don't remember what it was exactly, but it was such a cozy and quaint little place. My dream house!

Last but not least we came to the mural, Lindheimer - Father of Texas Botany, painted by Alex Brochon. Lindheimer was a botonist with over 50 plants named after him. He also started the first newspaper in the community that still runs today, the Herald-Zeitung. It also was not easy to get pictures of this mural. We had to dodge cars and trees. 


On the way back to our car, we got to pass the Comal County Courthouse. This is a BEAUTIFUL building with it's arches and stone exterior. I really want to go back when we have time, because our tour guide said it's even more beautiful on the inside!

All in all we had a wonderful day, with plenty of sunshine and plenty of hands on history. We didn't even come close to seeing all of the wonderful historical sites in this little place, but we did learn how New Braunfels got it's start and who some of it's early settlers were.  I can't wait to go back to my happy place, and learn even more next time!!

If you are headed to New Braunfels this summer for vacation check them out. No, I'm not being paid to say this, I just really enjoyed it that much!! You can also find them on Facebook!