Fall ~ Homeschool & Outdoor Beauty

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Last week was our first week of the 2019-2020 school year!!!!!!  I tried to wait until September so that maybe, just maybe, the crazy-intense nausea would relent, but it just. kept. on.  Still!  We had a wonderful week, I’m so excited about this year’s curriculum.

Last year was our first year doing this, so not being very confident, I picked a curriculum to use that had everything already planned and built into it for us.  It was nice and well-planned, but this year I wanted to go deeper into the different studies.  I’ll post the books I’ve put together from good recommendations from other homeschoolers at the end.

First… every morning we’ve been doing an outside exploration time from about 8am-9:15.  It gets their energy out so that by 9:30am, they’re ready to sit down and do some school work.

The first day of school, my husband was able to go because it was his off day, and we saw an entire herd of deer and little elderly woman feeding them from her hand!!!  It must have been a whole family, because there were several bucks altogether, and even the bucks were coming up to her.  She let our kids feed them, too, and it was just SUCH a cool experience!  Too bad I didn’t have my camera (LOL this is why I’m practically paranoid to leave the house without it)!

Here’s some where I did remember to take the camera –

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My mom always wanted us to love and seek out beauty in nature or art, etc. it’s something I know I owe to her for giving me during my childhood, the gift of experiencing beauty – learning how to seek out beauty.  I’m excited that one day every week, she’s able to come with us on these adventure-outings where we specifically go to someplace beautiful and kind of take the morning off from school activities (it’s just one morning where we spend that long outside, and it’s like a mini field trip)!

They end up doing so much active learning anyway, I expected it to all be play, but some of their, “play,” actually reminded me of science experiments! :O  They floated giant leaves down a stream over and over again just to see which way they’d go.  Then our oldest decided to alter the path by setting rocks in the way… seeing if it sped up the leaves or slowed them down in certain areas.  Just so nice to be able to do things like this, whereas if they were in school, we’d have to wait until weekends where it’d be super crowded (and to be honest, we probably just wouldn’t then).

My oldest found this mockingbird watching us from the arch of butterfly vines and took this beautiful picture!  I’m so proud of his photography interest and practice!

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I loved seeing all the kids play on this hill!  They rolled down it countless times and had so much wild fun!

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The grass was soft, no rocks, and perfect for rolling.  They call it, “Tumble Hill,” 😀

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The sky was like a painting that morning!  The clouds just looked so beautiful!

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Then we all played in the water (me and the Grandma, too!!!)… it’s still hot here, so the cool water was refreshing to play in.

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There’s nothing like morning light.  It even helps trigger the hormone serotonin to be released in your brain – the hormone that keeps depression and anxiety away!  Just so good for them to be out in the mornings soaking up that happiness sunlight ❤

It definitely makes me happier!

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They found a little waterfall in the rocks.

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After a few hours, we changed and relaxed before lunch.

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The picture below is of one of my favorite places that is still the same as when I was little.  It’s a man-made pond with dozens of waterlilies and a cute population of frogs in all their stages of development.  I used to catch tad-poles there in a cup!

I was always mesmerized with it’s beauty.  This picture reminded me of that, as all our children seemed captivated for a moment.

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Now on to the coursework….  For our 4 year old, it’s pretty straight forward learning letters, numbers, the basics of writing and reading, and simple math addition and subtraction.  I already had tons of books for that from when the oldest was his age, so I didn’t need to buy anything new!

But for our fourth grader, putting together a curriculum by myself was intense!  I pulled from sources we know, and some from online, and was happy in the end with what he’s doing.  We had the option to do a Christian co-op where I could have paid for other teachers to teach him the different subjects once a week a, “day academy,” and then do the rest on my own with him the rest of the week.  We decided it was overall too expensive ($1,500 for the year :O ), but I was able to pull from their curriculum as well, as to what was being used book-wise.  We may actually do the day academy next year, the teachers there, and families that go are that great.

For now though, I was able to find our entire curriculum for about $150 total!  Such a better price and to be honest, I find it fun to teach the different subjects to them!  Sure there are hard days when their attitudes are off, but 98% of the time, it’s really really fun and interesting.

For Language Arts

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I found these books MUCH better than the standard curriculum language books I was looking at.  They were recommended from this fascinating blogger, SaucysandPiper, from Days of Sunshine blog, here.  Her blog (and photography) is definitely worth checking out, please!!!

The Building Language is just introducing the concepts of Latin stems, and the way much of our language (and different languages) are built from those.  These books are just beautifully written, and incorporate the unique architecture, roads and aqueducts the Romans built!  Caesar’s English 1 is a more advanced (all of these books are done by the Royal Fireworks Press for Gifted and Talented children – they really are very good!) form of learning writing, essays, and more on using Latin stems.  The Music of the Hemispheres introduces children to poetry, both reading and composing their own works!  It’s been so much fun, and nothing like last year’s language curriculum!

Not pictured is the All About Spelling packet we’re using.  Recommended from several places, and just an all-around very helpful way to study the words broken down into steps.

For History –

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I decided to use this series called, The Story of the World.  It comes in four hefty volumes, each one designed for lessons for an entire year.  The day academy we were looking into was using it, and several other people I found online.  The author, Susan Wise Bauer, does a wonderful job of explaining history in such a fascinating, simple way – like the telling of a story, which for children, I think how it should be.  Hence, “the story of the world.”  He’s been loving the first chapter, learning about how historians believe life began in the fertile crescent, where the Bible plainly states between the Tigris and Euphrates.  We found a documentary online that followed the chapter almost topic by topic, which was fun.

Also pictured is the activity book, complete with pictures, maps to color, reviews for studying, review cards, and then the Test/Answer booklet for administering tests for each lesson (week).  I like that he’s going to be taking tests and will probably come up with some for his science curriculum, too.  Developing test-taking skills are always helpful.

Bible –

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We do Bible classes usually right before Language, and only do it intensely one day a week.  These books are both good, and have some overlap, but overall I can tell our son loves, “Cold-Case Christianity for Kids,” more than the study book.  I found this recommendation from The Wintery Knight’s website, and it has not disappointed!  Written by a former detective who discovered Jesus’ authenticity by treating him as a cold-case, he teaches kids how to do the same!  Just So. Cool.

Science –

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I’m using an online course and textbook for his science this year, but this is the paperback that goes with the text, full of worksheets, diagrams to fill-in, etc.  We like paper so much here that I’m finding myself wanting to print his textbook off just so he can have it to go back to in order to study easier.  So next year I’ll probably just find something already ready to go.  My degree was in Biology, and I loved science, so it’s one of the classes I feel most comfortable teaching.  Even last year we ventured off the curriculum a lot to do experiments, read books, and watch documentaries on the topics.  Science can either be extremely dry and boring, or edge of your seat exciting!

I also having our son do a Computer Class (basic typing, then moving on to actually writing a book or short story), and Spanish, which he’s loving!  Both of these courses are online and therefore I don’t have to do too much, as it pretty much teaches him for me.

For literature and books for writing essays, I came up with a collection that was more tailored to his likes than the other curriculum I saw out there.  The one we went with last year, that I was planning on possibly doing again (total would have been $500) had a lot of girlish books for some reason for this year that just didn’t sound interesting for him.

Instead we got Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Huckleberry Finn, The Three Musketeers (not pictured because he was literally reading it at the time lol!), The Trumpet of the Swan (a classic 4th grade book), Stuart Little, and the only girlish book, Rachel’s Journal which is the diary of a pioneer girl (we did a study on the American pioneers last year, and he really liked it).

And James Herriot’s Treasury of Stories for Children – just a beautiful book about his sweet and sometimes hilarious experiences as a vet in Yorkshire.  I read his books growing up and so it’s wonderful to get to read them to our kids.

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The illustrations in his book are inspiring, and perfectly capture the culture of Yorkshire when retelling his stories.  Here are some examples –

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Our son also wanted to do a Viking study this year, so to honor that I found these books, plus a book not pictured that is the fictional story to the Fact Tracker (Magic Tree House) book.  The Norse Myths by D’Aulaire, suggested again by SaucysandPiper, has been his favorite overall so far, his dad is reading it with him, but from what I’ve seen, the illustrations are detailed and, “Awesome!” he says.

“I also like to read it on my own when Dad is asleep,” he says 😀 .  The Eyewitness Book on the Vikings is a factual one to balance out the myths.  And he loves the Magic Tree House books, so the fictional and fact tracker were perfect for this!

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For Math –

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I went with the Singapore Math this year, because the day academy co-op we thought about does all their math with this curriculum, and if we join them next year, I thought it’d be better to be on the same page already.  It’s supposed to be good and is a method used in Southeast Asia for developing the nation’s children’s mathematical abilities.  According to Wiki, the method became more popular when test scores were released and showed their method to be at the top pretty consistently.  We may switch to Saxon if it doesn’t prove as great, though, have lots of friends who use that one.

Some pictures of the Norse Myths book (much better in person though) –

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I’m super excited about this year!  Just so many fun things to learn and do!  Hope you readers have a good, “year,” too!

May you always be a learner, and discover adventure every day!

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Marriage is an Opportunity for Comfort & Peace

The Brooklyn Duo is an awesome married couple who create heartfelt music with their piano and cello.  They apparently arrange and perform all of their duets in this fashion, in order to allow viewers to see them “live.”  I can’t seem to get enough of them!

This song above is actually from a children’s movie where the male love interest is trying to comfort the usually bubbly and happy-go-lucky female character, who finally became depressed after the hardships they went through.  He hates singing, and has his own issues with loss and depression (causing him to hate being around others and lose his “light”), but when he sees her finally affected, it moves him to sing.  Totally out of character for him, he sings to her to make her feel happiness again – just so sweet!

Here are the lyrics –

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
Its hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small
But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
Show me a smile then
Don’t be unhappy, can’t remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there
And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there
And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
True colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
Songwriters: Billy Steinberg / Tom Kelly
True Colors lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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We’ve had moments like this in our marriage where the trials we were going through started to really bring me down.  I’m usually optimistic and don’t have a hard time feeling happy from day to day, but in times of great loss or sadness or even depression, it’s been so nice and romantic to be able to lean on my man for comfort, and have him react in this way.

In those times where he’s comforted me after heartache, I think to myself that this is why God created marriage.  So that men and women could find someone who could love and comfort them, and build something beautiful together – despite how hard life can be.

Marriage should be a place of peace and comfort, granted it can’t always feel that way.  But when two people work together, and genuinely care about how the other is feeling, the beauty of it helps me understand why God said,

“It is not good for man to be alone.”

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My husband has a tattoo of the three strand cord mentioned in Ecclesiastes 4:12, representing our marriage composed of God, him, and me.  The context of that verse is talking about how beneficial it is to have a partner in life –

Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor;  for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.

But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up.  

Again, if two lie down together, then they keep warm; but how can one be warm alone And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Amplified Bible

Anyway, just wanted to share this couple’s work.

And here is a sweet one they did with for their newborn last year!!  Oh my gosh!!!!!!

Hope you enjoy their music!

Has anyone had any times where they felt like their partner comforted them or encouraged them?  It could be the husband OR the wife – I’d love to hear other people’s stories.

Stephanie

Merry Christmas!

One of the things I love about this time of year is the going to parties and seeing friends and family.  We just had our annual Police Dance event, which is very similar in ways to a Military Ball event.

It’s a dance and it’s supposed to be for fun and entertainment, but it’s also very much a work event.  We had actually never gone before, so it was fun to read up on all the military ball etiquette advice.  It was a lot more relaxed, but the etiquette was proved to be useful just as well.

We had so much fun! 😀 ❤

Everyone there was dressed so nice, the food was amazing, and we were able to have a nice night, kid-free, to actually get out and dance.

My husband announced to me that we “have” to do this every year from now on 😀  It’s not mandatory like a lot of the Military Balls are, but still, it was very much a networking event, and a perfect “date night” to boot complete with live bands playing for music!

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***

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My husband is not really a picture-taking person, but man he took a ton of pics and videos that night, a lot of them selfies of us together ❤  Really romantic 🙂

My only jewelry were two pearl and diamond pins in my hair, and of course, his badge necklace.

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When my husband smiles like this, I KNOW something is going right 😀 ❤ ❤ ❤

He was so happy that night.  He doesn’t drink either, and the drinks were all free!  So this was a real, natural high on the joy of the moment ❤

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A better picture of the dress I wore. It’s actually a dress from when I was 16 or 17, but it still fit and I thought it would be gown-appropriate, floor-length attire.

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Everyone’s dresses were so beautiful – I LOVED seeing all the girlfriends and wives dressed up 😀  What a nice way to celebrate together… someone remarked, “We all clean up pretty nice!”  LOL

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Merry Christmas readers!  Hope you all find joy and meaning in the spirit of Christmas this year!

Stephanie

 

Little Headbanger

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this hilarious and adorable collection of baby rock music, Little Headbangers, by Jammy Jams.  Having these famous rock tunes set to baby music is just crazy, and yet… the baby likes it!

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We finished the last of our homeschooling classes a couple of weeks ago, having class outside in the morning was so beautiful.

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Orange Summer flats… ❤

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The Art of Relaxation

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The other day I bought some dark chocolate, an iced vanilla coffee, and a Sweet Sangria candle.  I was excited to again have a candle to light in the mornings when I wake up.  Simple things like that mean so much to me, especially during this busy life phase of raising small children.  Someone always needs something, it’s a never-ending job until they’re asleep around 8pm ❤ but it’s beautiful.

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Whenever I’m stressed or tempted to let the busyness get the best of me, I find myself going to God with my complaints and issues, and come away with the peace and fullness of a heart of Gratitude.  I’m reminded of my blessings in this beautiful life.  I’m so grateful for them, grateful for a house to clean and keep up with, grateful that we have so many dishes… grateful for a husband who adores me!  But with the loudness and craziness of a busy and full life, comes the necessity of knowing when to light that candle in the evening, have a dessert or a glass of wine, and just slow down a bit.

I found a treasure of a book a couple of weekends ago that was in a bulk of books being given away for free.  Free books!  Love ❤ !  Here is another excerpt from the Art of Living, this is The Art of Relaxation… welcome to my living room, sit down, stay awhile, put on some beautiful music, and relax.

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Modern man must learn to break the tensions of daily living or the tensions will break him.

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He must learn to bend with the stresses and strains like a tree in the wind.  He must develop the resiliency of spirit to spring erect again after the storm has passed.

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He first relaxes his mind by thinking thoughts of peace, quietness and tranquility.  He mentally pictures the placid pool amidst whispering pines and puts himself in tune with nature’s calming mood.

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He strives to carry an inner serenity with him so that even amidst a whirl of activity he will not lose his poise.  He learns “to cooperate with the inevitable” and he accepts life with faith in the ultimate triumph of right and good.

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He relaxes his body by imitating a lazy person – a boy on the beach in the sun – a man in a boat fishing.  He takes a tip from the circus clown who says that the way he avoids being injured in his tumbles is by making his body become “like an old rag doll.”

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He exercises – walks, stretches, works in the garden, plays golf – knowing that physical tiredness invites relaxation and sleep.

He knows that confusion is one of the chief causes of tension so he

organizes his work,

puts first things first,

does one thing at a time,

avoids hurry

and develops a spaciousness of mind.

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He uses the soothing beauty of great music to calm his nerves.

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He observes that the face with a frown marks the tense person, and that the face with a smile is a symbol of relaxation, so he strives to meet life with a sense of humor.  He learns not to take himself too seriously and to laugh at himself now and then.

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He takes time for meditation.  He accepts the wise counsel of Emerson, who wrote: “Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right and a perfect contentment.”

With our firstborn, almost 5 years ago!

With our firstborn, almost 5 years ago!

He recognizes that relaxed living is a way of life and strives to manage body, mind, heart, and spirit as efficiently as he manages his business.

Mexican Chili Rellenos – Poblano Peppers Stuffed with Beef & Cheese

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Last week was our city’s Fiesta week, a time where hundreds of thousands flock to our city from all over, to enjoy the parties, the music, the Mexican food, parades, and carnivals.  It’s a little not unlike California’s Coachella, except with a very Mexican twist and with the focus not being solely on music, but instead being a celebration of Texas’ unique history commemorating the Battles of San Jacinto & the Alamo.  Last year, my husband and I got to experience the night parade, but ended up instead escaping the drunken crowds and going under the streets to be near the romantic, quiet river.

Even though we tried to get out to experience it again this year, the rain kept us from staying for longer than a quick drive around before we headed back.  But there’s always next year to try.

Last night I decided to make a traditional Mexican dish called Chili Rellenos, poblano peppers that are stuffed and fried in a creamy batter.  We don’t usually eat fried stuff, and the last time I made fried chicken we had to eat it outside because the oil (never use Extra Virgin Olive Oil to fry) smoked so badly it filled the whole house!

I was surprised to find that most Chili Relleno recipes only call for cheese to be the ingredient in the stuffing, every plate of Chili Relleno I’ve eaten in our area of Texas has always had hearty ground beef inside, so I’ve moderated the recipe to include beef and cheese.  It’s fairly healthy for “fried food,” with the beef adding an element of protein.  Ground turkey would also work great as a healthy substitute.

First, start the meat cooking, I used about 2 lbs lean ground beef.  Season it with a tablespoon of each: Cumin, Garlic powder, and Chili powder.  You can also add chopped onions for more flavor if you wish!

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Broil and really watch the peppers, they burn very easily.  You want them to have just enough char on them so that they are easy to peel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe beef should be done around the time the peppers are done if not before, set it aside and wait to stuff the peppers with it.

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Watch the video below if you aren’t sure on how to peel the peppers, once they’re charred well, you’ll find the skin comes off quite easily.  You also want to make a slit or cut inside the pepper in order to cut out the seed pulp and remove any left over seeds.  You don’t need to get all of them, but in general, you don’t want many left over inside.

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Next is to fill or stuff the peppers.  The skins rips easily, as you can tell, don’t worry if they split all the way down, they’re still salvageable if you “glue” them together with the batter when frying them.  Stuff with cheese and beef – Mexican Oaxaca cheese is the traditional cheese, but any cheese you have on hand is ok and adds to create a wonderful flavor with each bite.

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Use 4 eggs to create the creamy batter from scratch.  Separate the whites from the yolks, keeping the whites in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with a mixer (or if you really want to… by hand) until it gets to “soft peak” formation.

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I should have gotten a pic of when the egg whites are really done… it looks much different from the above photo as it turns into a thicker, creamier batter.  Watch the video to get the full effect of what you’re aiming for with this.

Once it’s at soft peak, mix in the egg yolks gently until they’re incorporated.

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Use a bit of flour (not necessary if you’re trying to keep this gluten free) just if you want to make the batter stick a little easier.  It will stick anyway so don’t feel like you’re missing much if you skip this step for your health.

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Then pat the batter over each side, closing any slits that may have opened while you were stuffing the peppers.  Fry until each side is nice and golden.

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Flip!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd done!  I underestimated how much I would be able to make, this recipe was enough to make 8 stuffed peppers!  So delicious and so hearty.

!Viva Fiesta!