Cauliflower Buffalo Wings & Engine 2 Menu Planning

Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

Screen shot of Michelle Cehn’s Cauliflower Buffalo Wing recipe on YouTube.

Our Super Bowl Cauliflower Buffalo Wings were a huge success! So tasty too! We did not expect to like them. You wouldn’t believe the nose wrinkles we suffered as they were being made, but they were so delicious! We used Michelle Cehn’s Cauliflower Buffalo Wing Recipe for the “wings” along with Fat Free Vegan’s Hidden Cashew Ranch Dressing. Yum!

It has been 12 long years of trying to eat a strictly a whole foods, plant based diet. (We follow the guidelines recommended by Dr. McDougall.) I willingly gave up many foods, but there were certain foods I was hanging on to as if my life depended on it. Things like coffee creamer, chicken (once in a while), sweet breads, and cheese! Who doesn’t love cheese?

In an effort to make sure we are eating as “clean” as possible we have decided to accept Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Challenge. The reason being was his guidelines for eating are very similar to Dr. McDougall’s. Plus, his book, The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds, simplified so much for us that we finally feel we have had our training wheels removed!

Here is our Engine 2 Challenge Menu for the week. I have made one substitution and may make some more. We have tried a few of the meals on this menu and they taste wonderful and are quite filling!

Weekly Menu Planner by

Snacks: Popcorn, w/Braggs liquid aminos and nutritional yeast flakes, fruits, vegetables, homemade fat free corn tortilla chips w/salsa, baked potatoes w/fat free toppings.

Menu Plan Monday

Peace & Love...Gina

‘Ello, Poppet!

Twenty years ago this day, I was in Albuquerque, NM getting discharged after a little stint in the hospital. I was seriously ill but I had 6 weeks left to go in my pregnancy. The doctor felt I had stabilized enough to be able to go home with strict bed rest. My body had a different idea. Later that evening I was back at the hospital prepping for a c-section. At 7:27 PM Stephanie Ashley came into the world 6 weeks early…but with a powerful set of lungs!

Newborn Stephanie

Stephanie….not even one hour hold! “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3

Love at First Sight

Love at first sight! “A daughter may outgrow your arms, but she will never outgrow your heart.”

Today Stephanie has left her teen years behind her. She is over 700 miles away from her her family (having never been away before), in Garden Valley, Texas, working as an intern for Teen Mania Ministries. This is the same little girl who cried at the thought of getting married and having to leave her mommy and daddy when she was 6 years old!
Steffie has always had such a tender, sweet spirit about her. She asked Jesus into her heart when she was 3 years old, and then again at 11 years old when she really seemed to “own it”. Now she is learning how to be a strong, confident young woman for the Lord and we are so very proud of her.

Honor Academy First Day

First day of Honor Academy. Meeting people who are in the School of Worship at registration. This is the school she tried out for and made it in…one of the main reasons for going to the Honor Academy.

Stephanie was in the youth group at Cumberland Worship Center for several years. They took her to a teen event called Acquire the Fire (ATF). It is a powerful youth conference challenging teenagers to walk deeper with Jesus Christ. “ATF has created a unique environment that brings lasting life change through compelling dramas, anointed worship, exciting Christian bands, and powerful teaching and preaching.”

Ever since her first visit to ATF she knew she was called to be a part of it. She went again the next year and it was confirmed to her that ATF is what she was supposed to do.

A few years later the time came for her to start making a plan for the future. After getting caught up in dealing with ACT scores, and which college to choose, she started to get overwhelmed. She began to press in through prayer, really seeking the Lord in her decision making, and the Holy Spirit quickly reminded her about ATF.

Teen Mania Ministries is one of the largest Christian youth ministry organizations in the United States and is headquartered in Garden Valley, Texas. It includes: Acquire The Fire, Global Expeditions (Missions), Honor Academy, School of Worship, CCM Studio, and Extreme Camps. Stephanie called them up and found they just happened to be having a Campus Preview Weekend coming up for the Honor Academy. They offered to pay for her plane ticket so she could attend for the weekend.

Campus Preview Weekend

So we dropped her off at the airport, to fly 700 miles away, so she could attend Campus Preview Weekend at the Honor Academy.

She came home from the weekend completely on fire and ready to start her new life in Texas at the Honor Academy. Before we knew it, the whole thing had exploded! We were frantically trying get together everything she needed to begin the fall semester at Honor Academy. After a few short months, and a whirlwind road trip, we found ourselves dropping her off in Texas so she could begin her new adventure….driving away with one less person from our family in the car…

Leaving  her behind felt exactly like this!

…felt exactly like this!

Here we are 34 days later. She has survived Guantlet and now Orange Block. (Deadlines in which she could have been sent home had she not met the requirements set fourth during this time.) She is currently experiencing something called “The Anvil”:

The ANVIL is a new Life Transforming Event (LTE) where interns will compete as teams in different competitions. Each night, the teams will join as an entire campus and have different celebrations. ANVIL stands for Amazing Non-Stop Victorious Invincible Legendary.

She will undergo 4 of these LTE’s throughout the year. One of them will be hiking in the Colorado Rockies! She will also have to go on a missions trip in order to graduate.

Steffie was upset to think about spending her 20th birthday away from her family. What she didn’t realize would happen is she would be forming a “core family” with the young men and women she has been grouped together with. They threw her a birthday party last weekend and today they made her birthday pancakes! After all this I don’t think she gave not being home for her 20th birthday a second thought. She sounded like she was having the time of her life when I talked to her! 🙂

To our dearest, precious Stephanie…we are so proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone and sticking with this even though it has been so hard! Dad says you’ve learned the secret of the Navy Seals: “The only easy day was yesterday!” You already sound like a changed person after only 34 days away. Dad and I can’t wait to see the work God will be doing in you over the year! It’s so exciting to think about! As a wise old cyborg once said, “You have the makings of greatness in ya!” Happy Birthday to you and Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day too! Aarrrrr!

Since you weren’t home this year to go over your birth story and reminisce about your life I thought I’d bring a couple of slide shows to you! 

Slide shows of Stephanie: Hover your mouse over the picture in order to read the info.Click on the pic to see the full version of it, then use the arrows to look at them all.

Stephanie: Baby through Preschool

Stephanie: Kindergarten to age 20

Peace & Love...Gina

Teach Them Diligently Overwhelmed Me!

I’ve homeschooled my daughter from first grade through graduation yet I have never been to a homeschool convention. Teach Them Diligently changed everything! As a result, I now realize not attending a homeschool convention before now was a significant mistake on my part.

Teach Them Diligently Keynote Speaker, Ken Ham...Aja's inspiration!The Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention we went to was held in Nashville, TN. We were delightfully overwhelmed at the valuable insight, information, and encouragement from some amazing, well-seasoned homeschool veterans! You will be blessed if you attend a Teach Them Diligently (TDD) convention!

Inspired by the Keynote Speaker

The first workshop we attended at TDD was with Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis. Our family loves learning about Creation Science from him. After the session, my son, Aja, asked if he could wait in the long line to meet Mr. Ham. Upon meeting him, Aja shared with Ken Ham, “You are the reason I want to be a pastor one day.” I had no idea Ken Ham was his inspiration!

Inspiration of Her Own

My daughter, Stephanie, also attended the convention with us. We signed her up for the servant track, to work with the kids. We immediately wished we had her attend the workshops with us instead because there were several workshops that applied to her even though she had already finished homeschool.

Stephanie discovered the Creating a Masterpiece booth, in the vendor hall, where she created this enchanting pastel piece in just minutes!

Teach Them Diligently Vendor Hall Art Class

She’s always wanted to work with pastels, but it’s something we never got around to doing in our homeschool. Creating a Masterpiece is an amazing art curriculum on DVD that is definitely worth looking into. It’s taught by professional artist, and teacher, Sharon Hofer. The Creating a Masterpiece family asked my daughter and her friend to help them in their booth. They were very generous and ‘paid’ them with a lesson on DVD! What a treasure!

Delighting in the Amenities

We stayed at the Gaylord Hotel, at a discounted price, while we attended the TDD convention. Staying there made attending the convention so much easier. I took many pictures. Most of them were taken at night, and as a result, they did not turn out very well. However, Aja managed to find time during the day to enjoy a cool dip in the swimming pool!

Swimming at "The Gaylord" during the Teach Them Diligently Convention

Considering the Cost

The Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention was well worth the time, price, and cost of the hotel to attend. In addition, there were many homeschool booths in the vendor hall. Our favorites vendors were Blimey Cow, Simply Charlotte Mason, Creating a Masterpiece, Shatterpoint Entertainment (can you say awesome Jericho LEGO movie!), Vision Forum Ministries (Jonathan Park Adventures), Sally Clarkson, The Busy Mom (Heidi St. John…formerly known at The Busy Homeschool Mom), and countless more!

In the Future

One thing I will be praying about for the next TDD convention is to turn it into a mini-retreat for our family because we realized it’s a great opportunity to come together and discuss some of the following things:

  • We need to discuss what worked and what didn’t work for the school year.
  • It is important to determine our vision for our son for next year.
  • Reevaluating our son’s interests and abilities will help guide us in our decisions.
  • Praying for guidance in our homeschool, in deciding which workshops to attend, what new curriculum we should try, etc… will be a blessing in our decision making process.

Igniting a Fire

If your husband has never been actively involved in homeschooling, the TDD convention could be a life changing event for your family. It was for mine! My husband has always supported me in our homeschool adventure, but now he has hands on experience and encouragement from veteran homeschool families who seem to have ignited a fire deep within him. Furthermore, he understands homeschooling is so much more than just schooling at home. Most of all, he appears to be ready to take a more active role in our homeschool day. I’m ecstatic! What a blessing for our family!

Peace & Love...Gina

Real Life Learning

Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling - Real Life Learning!

Johnson, 2010

The salt crystals experiment is officially on hold…possibly until after the weekend. There’s simply too much to do between now and then. We’ll be doing a lot of reading, watching documentaries, playing outside, holiday prep, Sunday school teaching prep, and plenty of pretending Doctor Who. Wait a minute…that’s sounds a lot like what we normally do…real life learning and interacting with people! (Just like the “The Reality” of the above cartoon.)

The Doctor Is In

I bought Aja a pen-stripped suit today. It’s very Doctor Who-ish, specifically the 10th Doctor. He’s dying to wear it. He is quite a character these days. I wish he would stay this age forever…

Peace & Love...Gina

Bow Ties Are Cool! Shopping for Bow Ties? Priceless!

TRHSC 2013.03.26 Fedora & Bowtie

Clothes shopping. That’s what we had to do today so we didn’t do very “school-y” things. My son learned that he loved learning to shop for clothes. I learned my son has quite an interesting stye!

My sister gave us a ton of clothes, which is a huge blessing to us, but…..(yes, there is always a but.) 1. The style of clothes my son likes to wear is not always that of his cousins, and 2. My sister blessed us with an quite an abundance of clothes! I’d say that’s a good problem to have. We have picked out what worked for Aja and now we will pass the blessing of clothes on to others. Win/win.

We started at Burke’s. Aja surprised me by holding up a pair of “skinny jeans”. He then went on to find Doctor Who-like shirts, a fedora and a bow tie. Yes, I said bow tie. Bow ties are cool, you know! My little Whovian proceeded to say, “Now I know why you ladies like to shop!” LOL

After our clothes shopping adventure we conquered Kroger. Supermarket math is always more fun than worksheets, but not today! I was in somewhat of a hurry so Aja ended up sitting in the shopping cart….reading.

Finally, we went home to finish going through the excess clothing he has. The rule of thumb in our house is for every new item that comes in, one like item goes out. Gotta keep the clothes horse down to a dull roar, you know.

Tomorrow we will begin our salt crystals experiments. Can. Not. Wait. 🙂

Peace & Love...Gina

A Qwirkle, Hot Chocolate and Doctor Who Kind of Day!

Snow Day

The day seemed dreary but Spring was at her finest showing off with snow! It was definitely a Qwirkle, hot chocolate and Doctor Who kind of day. Although, we never quite got around to making the hot chocolate. Oops! The public schools had a snow day but not us. I mean, you just don’t plan to not learn for a day, right? Learning is like breathing, it just happens! (In this house it does.)

Aja played with LEGO most of the morning. He then played in the snow and watched a little Doctor Who. LEGO is simply an expected, daily event in our home. The snow was a real treat, but it wasn’t sticking so it wasn’t as much fun as it could have been. As Whovians, watching Doctor Who is always fun for us…reruns or not! Even though it’s silly it opens up a plethora of subjects for us to discuss. Mostly science type questions. As a homeschool mom I like that very much!

Last Christmas we bought our family a game called Qwirkle. It has won the Major fun! Award, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and the National Competition Winner for Mensa Select award. Toys Are Tools state, “Only the most patient and strategic thinkers will prevail.” Very true! Playing Qwirkle requires the use of “visual-spatial skills, cognitive flexibility, and it helps kids to practice inhibiting impulses.” “Working memory, executive functioning, flexibility, and crossword puzzles” are all words used to describe the skills needed to play this game. It sounds super impressive, right? Well, at first Aja didn’t really seem to understand how to play. This surprised me since he is usually able to pick up on most things quickly. I was almost ready to put the game away so I wouldn’t frustrate him any further when we finally worked it all out. Yay! We even found our own word for this game…FUNTASTIC!

TRHSC 2013.03.25 Qwirkle

Today was Nissan 14 on the Hebrew calendar. It’s traditionally known as Pesach or Passover. We read one of our favorite books called The Secret Seder by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. It’s a realistic story set during the time of the Holocaust. It’s about a Jewish family hiding out in a small village in France, pretending to be Catholic. In spite of the risk, young Jacques is determined to attend a Seder supper held secretly in the woods. The author captures the tender emotion of just how meaningful the secret Seder is to those in attendance. The illustrator adds to the story in a beautiful way. This book is a sobering topic that sparked a great conversation about faith in God.

The two pictures below are from Pesach from a previous year.

Community Seder Supper 2010

Normally, we attend a Seder supper, but not this year. I’m sad to have missed it. We may celebrate one of our own later in the week. I know it’s supposed to be held on Nissan 14 but I also know Pesach is too important to skip since it’s so rich in Messianic significance.

Community Seder Supper 2010

After dinner, Andy and Stephanie retired early so Aja and I decided to have a movie night. We couldn’t find anything to watch so we looked up old Sci-Fi movies. That is when we discovered  “The Andromeda Strain” by Michael Crichton. (It stated it was rated “G” but “G” it was NOT! It showed disturbing images of dead bodies. One of those bodies was a topless woman. I was hesitant to continue the movie.) This is not the best movie I have ever seen but it sparked a great talk about crystals and how they grow. Crystal experiments are now lined up for tomorrow’s agenda! (Hey…it’s snowing too…I wish we had a powerful microscope to examine the snowflakes!) Science is my favorite subject to do with my not-so-little guy!

Peace & Love...Gina

Fifty50! Dip·tych [dip-tik] Style (1-5)

Chase the Light” is a photography blog I found and love. They have photography projects that look like a lot of fun to participate in. Check this out:


It’s time to get started with our new project here at Chase The Light 🙂

I’ve wanted to come up with new ways to inspire people to do more with their photographs, and while Diptych photography is not a new concept, I think it will be fun to create and share our own Diptych’s with each other!

For those who aren’t familiar, a diptych photograph is when you essentially have 2 different (or identical) photographs side by side, within 1 frame.

Now that you know what a Diptych is…here are my first five:



1. Shiny Buick, grass and sky.


2. Sunset Silhouette @ Lake Tansi


3. Sky Lanterns at Tansi Beach


4. Playground Perspective


5. Operation LEGO Club

See other Diptych’s at “Chase the Light’s Fifty50!

Unfortunately, the “Chase the Light” website is gone.
I hope to continue on with my Diptych’s no matter what…they are fun to make. 🙂

Peace & Love...Gina