Friday, April 4, 2014

2014 Ultimate Blog Party

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

Hello everyone! I'm taking part in the 2014 Ultimate Blog Party. I joined up a couple of years ago and had a blast! If you have your own blog, I highly recommend that you join

If you are new to my blog, welcome to The Journey!

I am a Christian stay-at-home-mom in Nevada and homeschool our 13 year old son whom has Asperger's Syndrome. This is a high-functioning part of the Autism Spectrum.

I was officially diagnosed with Early-Onset Parkinson's about three years ago after having major symptoms for more than three years. It took awhile to diagnose...mainly due to the fact that I was only 39 when this all started. 

I blog about our adventures as we homeschool, travel, and explore our way through life... which has been made more interesting by the additions of Asperger's, Parkinson's, and gluten intolerance.

I also have a series of posts called Music Adventures. These are short, user-friendly music lessons to use with your children. These lessons do not require the parent/teacher to have ANY musical experience to be successful and they are FREE!

Here are a few of my popular posts that may interest you:

Great Quotes for Asperger's and Autism
Breaded Pork Chops w/ Homemade Marinara and Cauliflower Rice ~Gluten Free
Introduction to the String Family Part 1 - Violin, Viola, and String Basics
Do Not Assume
Friday Finds for Homeschool
Chunky Chili ~ Slow Cooker and Gluten Free
Quotes for Dealing with Parkinson's and Other Chronic Illnesses

Be sure to connect with me on other social venues, too! 

You can find me on PinterestTwitter, Google+, and Facebook

I am so glad that you stopped by. I will attempt to check out as many of the blogs as possible at the Party. But as you know, the list is extremely long. SO, if you leave me a comment below, I will definitely make sure that I check out your blog. 

Party on!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Country-Style Potato Casserole ~ Gluten Free or Traditional

{This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.} 

I have been making this delicious casserole for around fourteen years. I am often requested to bring this dish to potlucks and it always disappears quickly!

I got this recipe from my sister-in-love shortly after I married her brother.

I have only been making this gluten free since late 2012. It tastes super yummy either way! It is extremely easy to make this gluten free by using the correct (gluten free) brands.

We have also discovered, quite by accident, that this tastes even better when it is a bit over-cooked, so my sis-in-love and I usually do it on purpose now.  ;)

Country-Style Potato Casserole ~ Gluten Free or Traditional


2 lbs shredded hashbrowns, thawed ~ GF if needed ~ I use Ore-Ida
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded ~ GF if needed ~ I use Kraft
1 can cream of chicken soup ~ GF if needed ~ I use Health Valley Organic
1 pint sour cream
1 medium red onion, chopped fine
1 stick butter
Salt, pepper, granulated garlic (or powder)


Sauté onions in butter in a large skillet on low heat until soft. Add chicken soup; stir. Add sour cream and cheese. Cook until cheese is melted. Add salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Mix in the hashbrowns. Spray cooking spray in 9x13 casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. (Like I mentioned above... I usually cook it longer and/or reheat in the oven to make it more golden and crispy around the edges.)


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Battle Born Birthday Cake Celebration ~ Nevada 150th Birthday

On March 21, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation enabling the people of the Territory of Nevada to organize a state government. We celebrated this event 150 years later with a 13 by 21 foot birthday cake!

Hubby, "Buddy", and I participated in the Birthday Cake Celebration in Carson City on Friday. Buddy loved listening to the performances by McAvoy Layne (portraying Mark Twain) and Dianna Borges (portraying Sarah Winnemucca). He was extremely attentive throughout the performances and even got perturbed at others for chatting and not paying enough attention.

He absolutely HAD to meet and get his picture taken with all of the "celebrities". He actually said that this was like the meet and greets at Disneyland, but for Nevada. SO cute! Gotta love his way of looking at things.

The celebrating has really just begun. Our official birthday is October 31, 2014, and there are SO many exciting events planned! You can check out the Events Calendar here. We are planning on participating in as many events as we can as well as continuing to explore and learn more about new-to-us-areas of our state. This is definitely going to be an exciting year!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mushroom Burger Salad ~ Gluten Free and Dairy Free

{This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.} 

This yummy meal was inspired by the bunless burger I get at my local Fat Burger. Theirs isn't quite as elaborate, but it was the spark.

I recently found out that I can easily eat there gluten free by checking out Urban Tastebuds' Gluten Free Menu Guide for Fat Burger. I had never even been to Fat Burger until I saw that there is quite a bit on their menu that is safe. 

Even though I am thoroughly thrilled to have another delicious and safe option locally, I can't afford to eat there as much as I would like... monetarily or health-wise.

I was craving a "Fat Burger" tonight and this was my solution. Hubby and "Buddy" got to experience their first "bunless" versions tonight, too.

My creations were similar to the way the young man that works during the weekdays at our local Fat Burger arranges them (the cook in the evening did it in a completely different manner). 

Mine is the one pictured (that was also Dairy Free). It has a bed of lettuce, red onions, sliced tomato, bread and butter pickle slices, sliced avocado, a swirl of ketchup, sauteéd mushrooms, and the burger.

Hubby's was basically the same, but also had a slice of Swiss cheese and a swirl of mustard.

Buddy's was minus the onions and avocado. His cheese was provolone and his mushrooms were over to the side. 

My tips for sautéing the mushrooms actually come from what I learned recently by watching The Chew. I have sautéed mushrooms for years apparently the wrong way. Clinton Kelly was explaining how that if you have your pan too crowded when you are sautéing your mushrooms, you are basically just "sweating" them. 

I have always just piled the mushrooms in the pan; the more the merrier. I tried it his way tonight and it definitely made a difference. 

So, this is what I did: 

I used a combination of butter and avocado oil to sauté the mushrooms and made sure that every individual mushroom had plenty of room without touching or overlapping another. I generously seasoned them with black pepper as they began to cook on a somewhat high heat, turning over halfway through cooking. Just about a minute before removing from the skillet, I added a generous amount of minced garlic. It only cooked a bit less than a minute with the garlic before removing from the skillet. Be sure to stir the garlic down into the butter/oil and it will cook quickly and evenly. You definitely don't want to burn the garlic.

My burgers tonight were just simply seasoned with black pepper, granulated garlic, and a Worcestershire sauce that is gluten free (some are not, be sure to check yours if this is an issue for you). 

I have plans for making several of our favorite burgers and serving them this way. We will be able to enjoy our favorite burgers in a healthier manner. Oh the possibilities...!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Finds For Homeschool

{This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.} 

Free Minecraft Multiplication Flash Cards

Do you have someone who is crazy for Minecraft in your house like I do? If so, be sure to check out these multiplication flash cards. There are 142 cards for all of the facts 0-12. They are designed to print 2 to a page and then you can write the answer on the back. I think that a great activity would be to have your student do that as an extra learning experience. They can use a multiplication chart to get the answers. Get your free download for your Minecraft fan here

Free Minecraft Addition Worksheets

Heather at Frugal Homeschool Family (who created the Multiplication Flash Cards above and the Minecraft Story Starters I told you about here), also created some addition worksheets for single, double, and triple addition. You can get those here.

German For Kids ~ Free Worksheets, Flashcards, and More

Liesl Den at the Homeschool Den has a ton of wonderful resources for teaching your children German for free. In my opinion, the best page to start checking out all that she has to offer (as well as some of her free worksheets) is this main page. You can then read further on her site or quickly get the flashcards and more worksheets here and find some of her lesson plans here

Free Interactive Human Anatomy Explorer by InnerBody

You can explore the human body's 13 major systems like never before. It has amazing detail for all of the systems and you can even choose if you want to explore the systems viewing the female body or the male body. Please note that there is also detailed sections for the reproductive system. I honestly have not seen anything as detailed as this online or in a book and this is FREE! You can get started here.

BrainPOP ~ Free Stuff

"Buddy" LOVES BrainPOP! We used to have a subscription, but we can no longer afford it. The good news is... they have a free section! In BrainPOP... you watch the entertaining cartoon-like movie, then do the related activities, quizzes, and more. Buddy loves the jokes, too. They also have BrainPOP Jr., BrainPOP ESL, and other versions. Check out their free stuff here.

Free Apologetics Bible Curriculum

This free Apologetics Bible Curriculum is for ages 2 years to 6th grade. You will have to create an account to use this, but it is free. Check it out here.


Looking for more? Check out my Homeschool Freebies page!


If you are new to Friday Finds for Homeschool, please read the notes below for more details.

I love it when I find great resources for homeschooling online and get to share them with my friends. I often find wonderful free or inexpensive resources that can help homeschooling families spend less money and quite easily have a strong homeschool learning experience. Please note that these finds are not created by me personally unless stated otherwise. My desire for this series of posts is to share, support, and publicize some wonderful free and/or inexpensive resources that I feel more people should know about. The opinions I give are completely my own. I am not to be held responsible for any problems with the resources, broken links, etc. However, if you do let me know of any problems, I can fix the link or remove the recommendation, when necessary. Also, please note that some of these offers may only be for a limited time regardless if it is stated by me or the related site, so act quickly. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mini Maestro Reminiscent of Leonard Bernstein

Ever since I first saw this mini maestro from Kyrgyzstan conducting behind the church choir as they were practicing, I cannot get over how much she reminds me of Leonard Bernstein.

Leonard Bernstein, in my opinion, was easily one of the BEST conductors of all time along with being an amazing composer, musician, and teacher. I would have absolutely LOVED to be in an orchestra that was conducted by him! Talk about the experience of a lifetime.

This little girl already displays (at her extremely young age) some of the passion for music that he had. You can see what I mean by watching both of the short videos below.

Mini Maestro ~ Little Girl Conducting at a Church Choir Practice in Kyrgyzstan

Video source: 4Russians

Leonard Bernstein Conducting Mahler's 2nd Symphony

Video source: JulianLosada123

Don't you agree? Isn't she a little Bernstein in the making?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Guide to Produce Ripening ~ Infographic

This infographic was created by people associated with Lunds and Byerly and also shared by Health Blog where I found this wealth of information.