What’s for Supper :: A Few Ideas to Share with Your College Kids


Easy recipes  college kids will use

So all the boys are in college right now or out of college and need a little encouragement for what to cook tonight.  Wait, don’t we all?

I think that is one of the main reasons I like watching cooking shows.  They talk in soft voices telling me how wonderful this tastes and how amazing that dish in the bowl is, and I believe them.  I also get great ideas for what to cook.  Sometimes even what to cook for dinner that night.

Over Christmas I wrote down some easy recipes for the boys and some meal plans for how to use them.  Easy.  I thought you might like to see what it was I shared with them.  Nothing fancy.  Just some easy go-to recipes that you might want to share with the college kids in your life.  Or maybe you might want to use for yourself tonight!

One thing I try to teach the boys is how to roast a chicken breast.

Line a baking pan with foil.  Drizzle the chicken breast with olive oil. Salt and Pepper it.  Bake in a 375 degree oven till no pink in the middle. Done.

Now you have the fixings for so many meals.  I gave them a list on a recipe card showing all the ways they could use the chicken breast meat.  Or they could buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and use for the following:

Chicken Quesadillas

Caesar Salad with Chicken

Slice and use for a sandwich

Serve the chicken breast with a green salad and veggies

Roll up into a fajita.

Sometimes you need a little jump start when you are standing there and don’t know what to fix for supper.

I know I need a jump start sometimes.  This little card gives them that.

I also wrote down how to make a smoothie.

How to scramble an egg.

How to make a breakfast taco.

I also write down a list of easy meals to make with not very many ingredients.  It will hopefully be a little kick start for them when they are standing at the frig, looking in, wondering what to eat.

When the kids are home for breaks during the summer or over Christmas, I have them cook with me and practice some of these recipes.  Or I tell them they to pick out recipes from a cookbook, and we cook it together.  Hopefully they will remember some of this when they head back off on their own and feel more confident to cook.

I also send them recipes that I have tried and liked.  Like a new crockpot recipe.  Or this amazing Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  These lettuce wraps are easy to make and super yummy and make me feel like I am at Pei Wei.

The Pioneer Woman is a great resource, too, as her recipes have those great step by step photos that document how to chop something or what something looks like when it is finished browning.  She is one of my favorite cooking shows to watch.  She can be a good friend to your college student.  I know she is to me!

If all else fails- teach ’em how to make Pigs in a Blanket!  An easy go-to that is a crowd pleaser.

It is not fancy, but it is yummy. I think you know the recipe.  Just wanted to remind you that easy is not always bad. And that comfort food is always good.

Easy Recipe for college kids

What are your easy, go-to recipes that you have shared with your college kids or that you make yourself? Do share the Sursee with us. xoxo






Homeschooling Ideas That Work :: What We Listened to in the Car and at Home

Learning while you drive around

Whether you homeschool or not, I think you will be encouraged by this post.  I am going to share some of the stories/series/ tapes/CDs etc that we listened to over the years.  Whether or not you homeschool, I know you spend a bunch of time driving and sometimes it is nice to have stuff to listen to in the car.  It is a great time for learning.  I also used these during the day when the boys needed a break or I needed a break.

It is also been shown in research that reading comprehension goes up when a child learns to listen to a story and hears the structure of a story as they are told or read aloud.

Even when it is just Craig and I, we will listen to books on tape or podcasts.  So, read on for some Sursees and don’t forget, if you know a mom with children who might be encouraged by this information, would you please pass it on to them?  They will appreciate the Sursee.

 Jim Weiss is a wonderful storyteller.

What we listened to in the car with our kids

These audio cds are wonderful.  Weiss is a story teller and listening to him will transport you to another time and place.   We listened to these a bunch and the kids really enjoyed his style.  Using just his voice to tell the story, the adventure sprang to life.  He tells all kinds of historical stories, stories from the classics and mythology, and biblical stories believing,

“a story well told would ignite a love of learning in a listener.”

Love that!  I also loved his goal:

“Our goal then, as now, was to instill in children the lifelong love of great literature by telling the stories on a child’s level without altering the authors’ intent.”

Listening together as a family also gives your family a common vocabulary and fun shared experience, as well as, a literacy in the great books and classics.  You will also give your kids a desire and curiosity to read the whole book someday.

I used these as Sursees in the kids’ Easter baskets or in their stockings or for a birthday gift.  I would also  wrap one up before we went on a long car trip.  Here is the link to Greathall Productions.

Use the Library as a resource.

Before we went on a long car trip, I would make  a trip to the public library and check out some books on tape or CDs.  When the boys were little, the book came along with the cassette tape,  so they could read along and turn the page when the reader did.  I also made a few of these for the boys that they could listen to during their rest time.  These recordings would be a neat thing to ask grandparents or older siblings to do for younger children.

The library would also have unabridged versions of the classics  to listen to on a looong road trip for when the kids got older. We have fond memories of listening to The Lord Of the Rings or a Lemony Snicket book on our trips.  Now there is Audible where you can download a book through the service and listen.  Awesome!

The church library is also a valuable resource.  Ours was always well-stocked with tapes and later CDs.  Make friends with the librarian and ask them to order things that you have found online.  They like to hear about new ideas for the library.

We also found the Focus on the Family radio dramas were very well done.

One of osur favorite was The Chronicles of Narnia series.   Craig and I also liked the Father Gilbert series and the CS Lewis at War series found at the same place.

Sing and Learn is a great resource for all kinds of fun.

I love this website- Sing and Learn.  They were a resource that I found when I was homeschooling, but all of you are going to want to go over and peruse this site.  I especially love this series about the life of great composers .

.What I listened to in the car with the kids

They come as CDs to listen to and also DVDs to watch.  Great stuff.
One of our favorite sections of the website was the science section;  we would listen to these from Lyrical Life and Earth Science for fun, but learning was happening.  They also come with a coloring book.  We played these when the boys were a little older elementary age.What I listened to in the car

Diana Waring sang historical songs and had a series that let you listen to history.

What I listened to in the car

I had one or two of these with historical songs when we were studying different time periods.

These would be nice if you were studying this time period in history or your child was interested in this time period.  I am all for letting kids explore something they think is cool or interesting.

We also listened to GT and the Halo Express for scripture memory.

what we listened to in the car with the kids 2
I am so happy to say these cds  are still out there.  When the boys were little they were just in cassette tape form.  They are delightful stories with scripture tied to catchy tunes; these songs  are still floating around in my head.  So happy that they are still available for my someday grandkids.  I still have scripture memorized from these.

Just William is another hands down favorite of ours.

1 What I listened to in the car with the kids
These CDS are maybe for a little older…2nd grade and up.   You will so love these and their British humor.  William will become a favorite of your family.
Ok, that was long. I hope this encourages you to use that driving around time or that long vacation by car time to learn and listen.  Remember you can share your resources with other families which is what I did.  You can buy one and have a friend buy another and then trade
 Why don’t you share in the comments a book or series or audio that you love listening to with your family.  You will give everyone a little Sursee when you share.

Mentoring Matters :: What Does It Look Like to Celebrate Advent with Older Kids ?

advent pocket

I think sometimes online there is a dearth of information about what life looks like in a house full of tweens and teens.  So many write about the days when the kids are little, but not so much about when the ages of their kids end in “teen”.

I can understand why.  Parenting teens is tricky and twisty and not always so spelled out.  I knew what to do when they were little and were nursing or toddling.  What about later when they are driving and kissing and grumping and then suddenly sweet and needing a hug? Sheesh.  Not so easy.  Not so much conversation online.

So when my friend, Jacki , from The Jesse Tree Project, asked me to write about what it looked like to celebrate Advent when I had older kids, I said yes.  Here are a few words from someone further down the road.  Or maybe we are on the same road and you need a little encouragement that you did a good job.  Clap, Clap. Gold Star for you, Mom! Go over and read the rest of this article on The Jesse Tree

Kids’ Artwork for Thanksgiving- A Must Have Decoration

Thanksgiving art by kids 2


I am dashing this off to you in hopes that you will take a moment to engage your kids and their artistic talents for a little Thanksgiving Art.  The point here is it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.  Or supplies.  It doesn’t have to be Pinterest worthy.

Make some time this week or next to pick one, yes, I said ONE project to make with your kids for Thanksgiving.  And then be done.  Be satisfied.  Slow down and do the one thing.  Then save and enjoy the beauty of the piece when your kids are grown and gone.  These art projects are an awesome decoration for today and a stone of remembrance for you and your family tomorrow.

Here are some of our boys’ work.

Draw a picture of the first Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving art by kids

Write a paragraph about what you love about Thanksgiving and then decorate or illustrate.  They can dictate it to you when they are little or later they can write it out.

Check out a Fall craft book from the library and pick ONE craft to do.  I liked going to the Teacher Supply store in town and picking out a book to glean ideas.  You can get on Pinterest, but please don’t be overwhelmed or start the dreaded comparing game.  Just pick one idea this year.Thanksgiving art by kids 4

My only caution is that you make sure and DATE the artwork.  I didn’t sometimes, and that makes me sad!  Also make sure that you write down WHO did the artwork.  Forgot to do that sometimes, too!

So the Sursee for today.  Pick one art project.

Sit with your kids and enjoy the process.

Sign and date it.

Then Be thankful! No comparing with the Pinterest World.  Just be content and remember there are years to do all the projects you can dream up or find online.  Mozart died with symphonies in his head.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with and the art that will grace your house today and in the future.  Do tell.



Saturday Sursee :: The Jesse Tree Project


Telling the Story of Jesus

Hey friends,

Today is November 1st!  Woo-hoo.  So excited about my Sursee Saturday today as I want to share a good friend of mine with you today, Jacki Rucksdashel.  Jacki has a passion for sharing God’s truth with her family and today we will learn about one way she does this through The Jesse Tree Project.  She will share how this special celebration will add up to a Sursee a Day for the Christmas Season. It will be something you will want to start this year and then share with another gal.  Take it away, Jacki-

The Christmas season brings great anticipation.

We can’t wait to take a bite out of our favorite Christmas treat.  We look forward to decorating the tree while listening to Christmas carols.  We eagerly welcome family and friends home to gather together.   And who doesn’t like presents?!!

Our family is anticipating all of those things but something even more.  We are celebrating the keeping of a promise, the birth of Jesus.

advent countdown for Jesse Tree Project

Beginning December 1st our children pull down a paper sack from our advent calendar.  They open it with great excitement as they pull out an ornament that tells a story.  The greatest love story lived for each one of us, the redeeming story of the love of God our Father through His son.

It’s called the Jesse Tree.

Jesse is David’s father, and in the book of Isaiah a promise is given that from Jesse’s family will come a Savior.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.  Isaiah 11:1-3,10

The Jesse Tree is our family’s way to daily stop and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  Each day we open our Bible and our devotional, and then read a story from Christ’s lineage to remember the faithfulness and mercy of our God in rescuing us from sin.  We begin at Creation and finish on Christmas Day with the birth of Jesus, each day hanging an ornament on our tree reminding us of God’s love.  idea for ornament display for the Jesse Tree Project

A few years ago, my husband and I wrote a devotional to use as a family.  We invited 24 of our friends to do an ornament exchange.  We each picked a story from the Jesse Tree, then decorated 24 of the same ornaments, and met together to “swap.”  Each one of us went home with a complete, unique set of homemade ornaments to begin the Jesse Tree December 1st with our families.

This Christmas will be our fourth year to do the Jesse Tree as a family.  Our children look forward to it every single year and we love finding “sursees” to include in their advent bags!  A sticker, a piece of candy, a small gift.

But what each one of us looks forward to the most is the ornament and Bible story that shares a piece of God’s amazing love story for each one of us.

We invite you to join us.  Please head over to The Jesse Tree Project to find our ebook devotional, steps to lead your own ornament exchange, and lots of ideas to surprise and build anticipation this Christmas season with your family to receive the GREATEST gift.

Jacki Rucksdashel

Jacki Rucksdashel

Find Jacki at TheJesseTreeProject.com

On Facebook:  The Jesse Tree Project

and on Pinterest: Jesse Tree Project where there are oodles of ideas and SURSEES for you!




Books That I Am Reading :: A Fall Reading List

I love reading, and I usually have about twenty-thousand books that I am reading.  At the same time. You, too?  I have a huge stack on my night stand, by the phone, on my Kindle, and in my Creative Room.  I guess I feel like buying and stacking books equals- Reading.  I think this is why I never have anything in the menu drop-down about what I am reading- because I never finish any one book!   I just keep starting a new one.

I think that is why I love the idea of a Kindle.  You can have all different kinds of books on the Kindle and be ready for what ever you are into at the time when you have a minute to read.  Kid literature? Check.

Mystery.  There.

How-to or Christian living?  On the Kindle.

With my Kindle it is easy to flit back and forth between genres and not be worried.  Especially when I travel.  No more wagging a thousand books in my carry-on for all the whims of my reading.  Now it is all on the Kindle.

But, now back to  what am I reading right now.   I am reading this book by Linda Dillow with my Mom Hearts.

Satisfy My Thirsty Soul

Satisfy My Thirsty Soul is great book on getting to know God and worshipping Him.  One of her thoughts is this:

A good definition of worship is: an active response to God that declares His worth.  Linda Dillow.

Excited about what we are going to learn about worship together.  Will share along the way.

I am reading this next book because I love kid literature, want to review it here on Sursee Gal, and felt like I needed to refresh myself on the story; it is so magical and good.  More on Gone Away Lake later.

Gone Away Lake

(Finished it, by the way, so I get a gold star!)

Speaking of enjoying kid lit made me think of this author and book which I am also savoring.

Happier at Home

She is the first person who admitted to loving kid lit as an adult.  I am so there, but was embarrassed about that.  Wanted to like the big grown up stuff, which I do, but I also enjoy a good children’s book.  CS Lewis says it well when he writes:

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

Gretchen Rubin started a book club for Children’s Literature.  What a wonderful idea.  There are so many great children’s books that I would love to read again as an adult.

Oops, I got off subject which happens when I start talking about reading.

This book, Happier at Home,  is all about her journey of dedicating a year to make her home an energizing and calming place.  I like reading through her ideas of how to do that and am inspired with the little Sursees she shares.  Go check it out and start your own Happiness Project.

So this What Books I am Reading  post is all about variety and the spice of life.  It is all about starting one book and picking up another.  It is all about finishing what you start.  Haivng a goal.  Enjoying the ride.  It is the this and that approach to reading that I love and why it is so hard sometimes to tell you what I am reading.  Stay tuned for more Books I am Reading posts where I smush them all together for an awesome Sursee.

What are you reading right now?  Do tell.



Mentoring Matters :: A Reminder to Moms Taking Kids Off to College

mentoring,school starting

Hey Moms out there,

I know that it is back to school time which means some of you are sending your babies off to Kindergarten.  Middle school.  High school.  It always a little bittersweet isn’t it?

Some of you are even taking your kids off to college.  Yikes!  Time flies.  The days are long but the years are short.

I wanted to encourage you with a post I wrote awhile back about taking my kids off to college.  This is a hard thing, Moms.  Give yourself some grace.  Be your own best friend.  Know that you will get through it and that you are not alone.    Read more here for some encouragement when you send your baby off to school.

The Sursee for today is to send this on to another mom who needs to hear and be encouraged.



Summer Homeschooling :: Time to Get Ready for Fall

I realized that I have a tab on my blog home page about Homeschooling, but I never write about it!  So I am going to start adding in a few blurbs here and there.   I was thinking a good place to start would be the Summer planning I did.  Maybe if you know someone who home schools,  you could pass this onto them? 

August HomeschoolWhen the calendar flipped to August, I started thinking through what I was going to do with my homeschool year starting in September.  First thing I did was buy a teacher’s planning calendar like this.

I liked it because it had a week at a glance and then a page with the whole month where you could map out a month visually.  Planning calendars are helpful because you can pace yourself and add in field trips or doctor’s visits or vacations. They keep all your lesson plans in one place and are a good way to check your progress.

I usually wrote out all the goals I had for our homeschool on a large sheet of paper first and then started popping specifics into dates on the planner.  I wrote everything down first.  Broadbrush ideas of what I wanted that year in our school day.  This way I could see if I had bitten off more than I could handle.

Next I would start plugging in specifics for each day.  In pencil.  Again I could see visually that first week if I had been overly ambitious.  I had room to write the schedule for each boy and that helped, too.

Another thing I did was to schedule days off.  Sometimes I did two weeks on– one week off.  Sometimes it was every Friday off. Definitely took time off in December. You decide, but you can always change your mind.

I also eased into school.   I started with the  Readers, Read Alouds and Math the first week.  The next week I would add in two more things, then more until we had our full schedule.  This worked beautifully for the kids and me!  I wanted to ease into the schedule, too.

Writing down the big picture and then filling in the details helped me to stay focused and true to what we wanted to accomplish.  A little planning led to a more restful start.  It also helped me to see what I still needed to purchase or find around my house instead of waiting till the night before.  Oh wait, I did a little of that, too.  Ugh.

Hope this helps some of you readers who are homeschoolers.  We can always chat more about this over coffee if you need to.  Or chat in the comments. Ha!




Happiest of Mother’s Days

Thistles in Israel

Dear all,

Here is to you.  Happy Mother’s Day.   I am thankful that you take time out of your busy days to read what I write. To listen to what I say.  To look for the SURSEES in life with me.  Thanks, friends.

I pray that your Mother’s Day will find you thankful and hopeful and remembering that no Momma is perfect.

No Mommy gets it all right.

No Mama is doing everything, all the time.

No Mom has it all together.

But we are ALL held together in Him.  We can all trust Him to fill in the cracks of our mothering.  We can trust Him to love perfectly through us. We can know that He loves us and is cheering us on and picking us up when we fall down.

That is good news.  The Good News.  Thank you, Lord.  All of us Moms need to hear that today.

So today I encourage you to Do the Next Thing and trust Him with the rest.

Love well, those He has given to you.  Can you encourage another mom today to rest and remember these things?  What a great SURSEE to share this Mother’s Day.




Lord, Help My Unbelief :: Mentoring Moment

help my unbelief

14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.

I love how honest the scripture is.  Stories of men and women who were not perfect.  Men and women like me and you who need a Saviour!

I have always loved this story of the dad who is desperate to believe and yet can’t quite get there and then just blurts out what we are all thinking.

 “Lord, Help my unbelief!”

Here is the story in Mark 9:17-25

17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Thank you, Lord for including this story in the scripture for the rest of us who can’t quite get there.  I am thankful for the example to just say it.

Help me, Lord.  I want to believe, but I need help.  And then I need to stand back and watch Him work.  I need to trust and believe and wait.

Lord, help my unbelief!

How many times I have said this?  When things weren’t going so well.

When things hurt. When I was scared about my children or my life or my world.  I wanted to trust and believe, but I needed to say, Help!  Help me get there.  I can’t do it on my own.

So, today, what do you need to ask for help in believing?  That you can make it the end of the Mommy Marathon in one piece? That your kids are going to turn out ok?  Your marriage is going to make it?  You are going to make it?

Just ask Him to supply the belief.  Thank you, Lord, for this SURSEE.