Easy Soup Recipes

imagesThere are just times when it is hectic and dinner is an afterthought. Unfortunately for me, that happens more than I would like. 😦 I have found soups to be a quick, nourishing meal that can be made in large batches. They can either be eaten for several days, shared with someone in need, or frozen. That’s what I call a win-win situation! Here’s what I cooked up over the past week using my InstaPot.

Instant Pot Potato Soup  This soup takes about 20 minutes to get up to pressure and just two minutes to cook. It took me more time to chop up the vegetable than it did for it to be done! You can add extra vegetables to make it even healthier.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup This was introduced to me by my daughter-in-law at one of our family dinners. My husband l-o-v-e-s this soup and laps it up within two days with no help from me. I am not a fan of curry, so I keep a bowl of it out for me before adding it to the recipe at the end of its cook time. I had an unfortunate accident while peeling the butternut squash soup and cut off part of my thumbnail. OUCH! So, I have opted to buy frozen cubed butternut squash and save time and body parts from additional harm. The recipe’s instructions are for it to be cooked on the stove, but I put everything in the InstaPot and hit the soup function. Yay! Dinner is ready in 30 minutes from start to finish.

Carrot Ginger Soup This recipe calls for the carrots to be sliced, but I just chop them up since they are going to be put in a blender when they have been cooked. You can cook this on the stove top or choose the soup option on your InstaPot.

Enjoy your week! ~Lisa~




Overcoming Procrastination

I have a stack of tri-fold boards to grade and I am just stuck on getting them graded. It isn’t that I don’t want to do them, I am frozen in knowing that there are over 30 to grade this weekend and it is going to take hours.


So, I just avoid the stack and think of a million more things I can do instead of grading them. Things like answering emails or writing a blog post… 🙂 Have you ever been stuck like I am right now? Here is what I am going to do to stop pushing off this task.

  1. Write down what I have to do. Grade boards, enter grades on the grade book website.
  2. Take the first step. Gather up supplies needed. (timer, grading rubrics, a pencil, a marking pen, computer)
  3. Set the timer for 60 minutes and begin grading the first board. This is the only way for me to stay focused on a task like this one that I know is going to take a long time. Other projects require different ways of tacking things. For instance, house cleaning. I clean all of the bathrooms and then I dust and vacuum, and then I sweep and wash the kitchen floor.
  4. Do the next thing. I will grade the next board and the next… Think of your task broken into smaller pieces. I am estimating that I can grade ____ number of boards in an hour. I have no idea how many that will be as some are easier to grade than others, but I do like to make sure I am aware of time so I don’t dawdle over one particular board since I have previously looked at them.


This is my helper, Oreo, checking to see if I graded correctly.

5. After the timer goes off I will get up and move! Shake the legs, get a drink of water, put in a load of laundry, etc.

6. Get back to the task at hand! Set the timer for another hour and grade more boards. Enter the grades into the grade book. If you cannot devote hours at a time to a task, then break it into 10-15 minute segments of time. You will feel sooo much better once you have started on your task rather than avoiding it.

Things to consider:

  • Putting on some music to help you focus. ( I sometimes listen to instrumental music if a lot of brain power is not required.)
  • Rewarding yourself once the task is completed.
  • Sit back and look at what you have accomplished. If it was a monumental task, take a picture of what you did. No one needs to see the picture but yourself. 🙂 I sometimes do that as a reminder that I DID accomplish more than what I thought I could do to help me conquer the next task.


After just an hour I only have 12 more boards to grade! Huzzah!

Guess what? I have more than 30 more boards from my other class to grade this week too! Looks like I will be applying this strategy all over again. 🙂

Have a great week of teaching! ~Lisa ~


5 Steps to Organizing Homeschool Paperwork

At this point of the year, you probably have completed several weeks of school and if you are not filing papers, there may be a pile of your scholar’s graded work growing taller each week in a corner of the schoolroom. Believe me, I struggle with this myself! This is currently what I have on my desk. It’s a manageable pile right now, but if I don’t clean it up you know what’s going to be happening. It’s going to look like a mountain in a short time.


Here are the steps I am going to take so that I can organize those papers and get them off my desk (hopefully).

1. Determine a place for each paper. Use binders and triple hole punch the papers. You can add tabs if you wish that would be according to month quarter, or semester. I find it easier to organize by subject, but you can do it however you wish.

2. Determine the number of papers you are going to keep. Do you have too many papers? After you have checked your daughter’s or son’s work, decide which papers highlight the week. If you are doing a portfolio review/assessment, save the papers that show your student is: learning a concept, or is developing knowledge of the content, and/or papers that show mastery. As I stated previously, keeping the papers in one large binder or separate binders with the subjects labeled will help keep things organized. You do not need to keep every single piece of paper. Now, if your student is working in a workbook, use a bin to hold your workbooks or a shelf on which to keep them.


As you can see from the picture, my bookshelf has some shelves that are taller than others, so I have a mixture of binders and books. The other thing that I am not showing you is that it is located in a clothes closet so that I can hide my binders. My husband and I share a small office space and he is much neater than I am. I try to keep my things from spilling into his space. 🙂

3.  File papers often. Do not wait until you have a pile that is so high that you just pick it all up and throw it in the recycling bin. Although, that is extremely tempting to do, isn’t it?

4. Make filing and organizing a part of your daily routine. If you do this every day then there won’t be a pile! If you do not have time to do it, then have your daughter or son file those papers. You can show her/ him where you would like the papers to be kept and, “Wa!La!” it is finished. Not only is there not a pile of papers, but you are teaching important household and organization tips that will serve them well for a lifetime.

5. Take pictures! If you have lots of artwork or projects, display them for a time and then let your child know that you are going to take a picture so that you always have a record of what they have done. You can create a photo collage at the end of the year that will be memorable.

Taking a Break from Homeschooling

Stopping to enjoy the summer, relaxing and becoming rejuvenated will do worlds of good for you and your homeschool. I know the temptation is to dive right into looking at catalogs and begin to think about the next year. But, what about taking a mental vacation for a while?  How about doing something you enjoy or doing something that will encourage you? If you like to read, this book comes highly recommended and I just ordered it for myself!

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie is a great encouragement to us. This short book has words of wisdom to help in the homeschool journey.


Do you like to cook or bake? What about trying out a new recipe or baking a batch of your favorite cookies? I got an Instant Pot and have been trying out some recipes this summer. Since I am not teaching and have a little more free time right now, I have been looking at recipes to make. I am not so harried in trying to get something on the table between school and trying to spend quality time with my hubby in the evenings. Can you relate? 🙂

If you are not sure where to look for ideas,  All Recipes has a bazillion recipes to try. You can also do a google search if you have particular foods or diets to consider and you will find more food blogs that you can possibly go through in one day. How about treating yourself to an hour a day of reading food blogs? You are bound to find at least one or two that are just the kind of cook you are for you to follow. I like to check out Smitten Kitchen for vegetarian dishes.

Maybe you would like to concentrate on getting in shape. There are free apps to help you with that. Here are the ones I have on my phone currently:

  • My Fitness Pal- This can be used to be a daily food and water journal, record your workouts and the calories burned. It can also set up a plan to help you lose weight and measure your progress.
  • Cylemeter or Map My Ride- these measures how far you bike, the elevation, how many calories you burned (yay!), etc.
  • Daily Workout Apps- This free app has routines for abs, arms, butt, cardio, legs, and full workout.

What about your personal relationships with friends and hubby? Just getting to talk to another adult is a vacation in itself when you have been with your children every day. I know you love them beyond measure, but I always appreciate my children more when I have a break from them.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get together. Does your city have free summer concerts? What about grabbing a frozen yogurt or a cup of coffee? How about reading a book and then discussing the parts you enjoyed? You can always rent a movie and pop some popcorn. If you are looking for movie reviews for you or your family, Plugged In is produced by Focus on the Family and I appreciate their help in making informed decisions with movies and other media.

Have a great, relaxing week! ~Lisa ~

10 Steps to Decluttering


I have to admit that this blog is written as a reminder for ME as I sit here at my desk suffocating under three large piles of papers that I have let accumulate since school began. I would have to admit that is about 7 months of papers, so it sounds better to say it the other way around! I have been at this for several hours and thought this would be a great time to give myself a pep talk and write this post. Perhaps you might be in the same situation as me and I can give us both ideas to power through and get things done.

  1. Do not beat yourself up! You may have a cluttered mess, but life happens and many days it is a victory to have made it through school and getting dinner on the table. Have today (or this week) be the time you get things decluttered so you can have a clean slate. No condemnation or guilt; it does not help!
  2. Break the task into smaller tasks. I am just going to tackle putting all of the papers in one pile away before I tackle the other two piles. I think by filing papers where they belong I will see some progress and it will encourage me to continue. If you are not working on papers, but clutter throughout your house, start with one area of your home.
  3. Set a goal. This morning I want to get the largest stack of papers put away and I plan on coming back this afternoon and filing the other two piles. What is your goal? To see the kitchen sink again? That is a great goal! Put the dishes in the washer or wash them while having some of your favorite music playing.
  4. Set the timer. I am setting the timer for one hour and see how much I can finish in 60 minutes. I am going to reward myself by taking a 10-minute break before I go back to tackle the clutter.
  5. Find a place to put things. “A place for everything and everything in its place.” is a great adage. Since I am working on papers I am putting things in binders- particularly two subjects that I teach. I told Dale that I have probably been responsible for the harvesting of a small forest with all of the papers I have for my classes. Think of a system that will work for you and stick with it.
  6. Throw away, give away. If you are decluttering, ask yourself, “When is the last time I used this?” If you really haven’t used it within the last few months consider giving it away or throwing it away. I have one trash bag next to my desk for the papers that I will put in the recycling bin when I am finished. I feel better knowing that they will be recycled instead of wasting them and throwing them away.
  7. Put away. Discipline yourself to put away whatever it was you got out. Is your family contributing to the clutter? Set the timer for 15 minutes at the end of the school day and have everyone assigned to an area. Play lively music and have everyone clean up for that amount of time. By making it short and lively everyone can pitch in and help make your house clutter-free or less cluttered.
  8. Celebrate your success and admire your work. I admit, I NEED this because I want to feel like I didn’t just work here for several hours (or days) and not take the time to look around and savor the moments of a clutter-free area.
  9. Treat yourself! If that is calling a friend and sharing the good news of your accomplishment or sitting in the area that you just cleaned up- Do It. It will help you…
  10. Choose another area to declutter and start the process all over again!

I must get back to work while I am motivated. 🙂 PS- The above picture is not my desk, but it is close to what it looks like!

Have a great week! Lisa