Monday, August 31, 2015

The Family Supper: Chicken Soup for the Sickies

Anybody else here grow up eating super at the table nearly every single night?

This girl did.

In fact, it was considered a great treat to eat our meals in front of the television during Family Movie Night.

You can be sure that I incorporated the same practice when I had my own family. Sadly, I haven't been as diligent.

It became even harder when several years ago (we are talking over 8), The Muffin started working a strange shift. We had been in the full-time pastorate for years and years. All of the sudden, The Muffin was working for "The Man" and the "Man" wanted him at work from 3:30pm - 1:30am.

Because we have also continued our work in the ministry (The Muffin is the Assistant Pastor at church) our lives have been a whirlwind of time that is not our own.

Add to that swim team practice...

I'm surprised  we've seen much of each other.

This summer The Muffin's schedule changed. He is now home just a little after 4:30. Of course, there is still swim team practice, cycling with the buddies...but I can now plan a real Family Supper every week.

I like to cook. I like to make things fancy and obviously with a busy schedule and a tight budget it's been hard to manage both.

For most of the week I fix simple things. These are meals that be prepared ahead of time or slow cook all day.

On those nights when I have more time I can bless my family with a meal that takes a bit more time and effort.

I want to start featuring some of those meals on my blog in the hopes that I might provide inspiration for those who are like-minded.

A couple of weeks ago I was already to go. I had the chicken. I had the butternut squash. I had the apples.

And The Muffin was sick.


You would think he would have been a bit more considerate of my plans.

So I changed them just a little bit. I made sure he had plenty of juice, Vitamin C and Kleenex at his disposal.

Then I went into the fridge and grabbed the carcass of a much-enjoyed rotisserie chicken  (I had found several in the deli at Wal-mart marked down to $2.49).

I chopped up a few carrots, an onion and some celery and threw it all in a pot.

I covered it with water and added a few bay leaves, thyme and salt and pepper and let it simmer on the stove while I puttered around.

What am I talking about!

I read. There you have it. One can't really consider "reading" as puttering. I just thought "puttering" sounded more industrious.

Anyhoo. I probably cooked the stock for about 4 hours. This is a good basic stock recipe using chicken bones from Epicurious. Their recipe only simmers for 2 hours. I also like the Barefoot Contessa's chicken stock recipe...except that she uses whole chickens.

I like using the bones. She also uses parsnips. I happen to love parsnips and used some in the chicken soup itself, but not in the stock. I had just a few and they were precious. Parsnips are wonderfully healthy and provide all sorts of extra benefits.

I don't really have a recipe for the chicken soup. I saute my veggies first (I used carrots, celery, parsnips and a little garlic). I also turmeric in my chicken soup.  It not only has excellent medicinal properties, but it adds a beautiful golden color. The Pioneer Woman has a lovely Chicken and Noodle recipe . She uses turmeric and I was inspired several years ago to add it to my chicken soup. Thyme is also another herb I like using in chicken soup. I added both this time around.

The finished product was heavenly.  The Muffin can take or leave cooked carrots. I could have used more parsnips, but it didn't matter. The soup was soo comforting and tasty. The Muffin inhaled buckets of it.

Not literally. That would be a bit much.

I also made some Cheddar Sage Biscuits. I generally don't provide bread with every meal. This time around I thought this would be a nice addition. I used our tried and true family biscuit recipe,  added some chunks of sharp cheddar and some chopped fresh sage I had in the crisper. It was either that or cilantro. I think I made the right choice. We usually cut our biscuits out (with an assortment of fun cutters), but I just turned these into drop biscuits. 

I finished off the meal with a buttermilk pie. My crust looks a bit wonky. I also needed to let it brown up just a bit more.  Buttermilk pie is a really easy pie to make. You don't have to prebake the crust and the ingredients are minimal. If you don't keep a supply of buttermilk in your house like we do (my husband is a buttermilk addict), you can sour regular milk by adding just a little bit of vinegar to it and letting it sit for about 30 minutes. 

Here is a great video from Southern Living that shows you all the steps. Their pie looks decidedly better than mine. Another note about buttermilk pie. Some recipes call for lemon juice. Mine does. The Muffin grew up eating Sugar Cream Pie (he's an Indiana boy born and raised). The Sugar Cream Pie is richer and sweeter. The Buttermilk Pie has more of a tartness to it. I really find that it is the perfect pie to make when you are short on special ingredients and inspiration. 

Of course we didn't eat at the table that night. I did spoon up supper into pretty dishes. That was about all we could do. This last week I made a yummy Braised Chicken dinner with smashed potatoes and an apple cake.

Sadly, I don't have any pictures to share. I can't find my camera battery charger.

I put it know how that goes.

This week my plans are to fix another chicken dish for our Family Supper night. Hopefully, I will locate my battery charger. Otherwise I might have to resort to drawing stick figures. I want to share how it all turns out.

 I do need to note that generally my meal planning doesn't include  simple carbs or "white" products (flour, rice, potatoes). I have decided that life is too short to keep potatoes out of my life completely and that once in a while a bit or two isn't going to ruin my life.

One of these days I'll share more of how I do it all.

Do you set aside time for a Family Supper?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Breakfast Ramblings (and Okra Pickles)

At some point I am fairly certain I am going to receive an award for being the best wife, EVAH!

Yesterday morning I was up early with The Muffin (try 5:00am) helping him search for a variety of objects he needed to pack in his work bucket.

While he was stuffing his bucket with apples and MiO he told me that he had been forced to eat okra pickles every morning this week for breakfast.


Who does that?

Apparently men who can't find anything to eat for breakfast. Except for maybe okra pickles.

Don't judge me, please.

I was fairly certain that he'd at least reach for the bread and peanut butter. That's exactly what happens when our 13-year-old son can't find anything to eat.

Last week, I made The Muffin beautiful breakfast sandwiches and lovely wrapped each one up in red cling wrap left over from Christmas. I rocked it.

Last night I made up for the disgraceful way I have treated breakfast in this house.

I made pancakes.

I even made homemade syrup (mostly because we were almost out of syrup).

This morning he was up bright and early for a bike ride. He and his buddy plan on going 80 miles today. The Muffin has been sniffling with miserable seasonal allergies so I worry about him.

Can you blow your nose and ride a bike at the same time?

I'm pretty sure he did not take a box of Kleenex with him.

In any event, I was up again making sure he had what he needed.

And (drum roll, please) I made him a blueberry smoothie.

See? Wife of the year.

It's about time for Josiah to get up. Boys of 13 are always hungry.

I wonder if we have any okra pickles left?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Few Lovely Thrift Store Finds

Yesterday was a exceptionally productive day.

I ran an errand to the bank and then to the grocery store.

I did 7 loads of laundry with Josiah's help (he's my heavy lifter). How in the world did we get so much laundry? It seems to procreate. Then all the little socks leave home.

I also cleaned my kitchen, organized my little book basket, made chicken soup for The Muffin (he's sick), some cheddar sage biscuits and a buttermilk pie.

I watched an episode of Cook's Country and watched every version of  Pride and Prejudice I have in possession.

In the middle of rocking my day, I took a few pictures of some treasures I picked up at The Thrift Store recently.

You know The Thrift Store is almost The Happiest Place on Earth (it's a close second behind Hobby Lobby).

Isn't this the cutest cake pan? It's bright and shiny and pink.

My Mother-in-Law actually got this for me at a Flea Market in Indiana. It was $8.50 with 10% off. I think I'm going to bake a cake and bring it to church for Bible Study.

My next goody came from a Goodwill in Indiana. I am doing top secret loom knitting projects for Christmas right now. There was a bunch of this soft pink yarn for .99 a skein! I should have gotten more. 

I bought this glass pitcher  at one of my favorite Thrift Stores. It is run by volunteers and supports a local boy's home. I have bought the best stuff here for almost nothing. 

I love pitchers. The picture doesn't do it justice. It is very heavy and is decorated with a lovely etched flower. 

I spent a little more on this beauty than I usually do for a pitcher. This one, however, is brand new and was originally $50.00.

I am going to use it for our family suppers and fill it with water and fresh lemon slices. Pretty fancy.

You might have remembered that I mentioned The French Chef series (Julia Child) streaming on youtube. I found the cookbook last week in Indiana at a Goodwill for .50!

It is in excellent condition. I love that it identifies the show that each recipe comes from. I think Josiah and I are going to pick out a few of our favorite episodes and try the recipe from the book. I have my eye on this Cassoulet.

There were a few more cookbooks at that particular Goodwill that I would have loved to have. I restrained myself and stuck with this one.

Which is more than I can say for myself concerning that box of Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds my sister-in-law sent home with me from Indiana.

Happy Thrifting, my friends!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Planning 8th Grade! (Homeschool)

I've been getting my Homeschool Ducks in a row.


I'm also cleaning out my bedroom closet. If I wind up missing you'll know where to find me.

There is enough fabric stuffed in my bedroom closet to keep me occupied for a while.

Otherwise, I've been spending some time making sure I know what I want our semester to look like.

My plan looks a little ragged right now. Josiah is starting 8th grade.

What? When did this happen?

Anyhoo. I have a bit of this and that and trying to make do with some stuff I need more of. I decided to publish and declare my plans this time around. I can be a little bit like that dog on the movie "Up" when it comes to homeschool planning.  "Oh look. I have a nice study on sharks. Squirrel!"

You know how that goes! I am blessed to be able to review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine so I've always got a few things to choose from.

This is what my plan looks like at this point. We follow more or less a loose version of Charlotte Mason. I also let Josiah decide what he wanted to study for Science and History. Cause that's the way we roll.

I first want to show you a resource that we dabbled with just a few days over the summer. It is the Do-It-Yourself Homeschool Journal from Dyslexia Games. One thing Josiah has struggled with has been staying on task and his copywork. I had copies of the journal made for both of us and we worked on it together for a few weeks. Now that we are heading back into our school day hard and heavy we are going to continue to use it.


This is where our plans are looking a little schizophrenic. Josiah wants to do a study on the Civil War. I purchased a Civil War Project Pack from Hands of a Child and have already got a list of books ready from the library. I got it when it was on sale and had a copy for both of us printed off at our ".5 a copy print store."

I have quite a few resources on hand for this study. Plus, we have a Civil War battlefield just a few miles away.

After that, I think we will continue the Westward Ho I and Westward Ho II study we reviewed a few months ago. It was really well done and I think it will be a good place to continue after the Civil War.

I do have Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music that we were also blessed to review. I think that the CD's and books will fit in nicely.


We are currently "touring" the 50 states. I think it's time we up speed up our trip a little. I found this post from Marcy at Ben and Me to be invaluable in our study. I'm also adding a page to our study notebook. Josiah is a sports trivia buff. He can name professional teams (regardless of the sport) from every state. I am going to help him learn to use his freaky skills for good. Namely...he is going to learn to find these organizations (and their cities and states)  on the map.


It's always really hard for me to narrow down what we read during the year. We read good literature with almost every subject. These are my choices for far.

Across Five Aprils (Irene Hunt)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexander Dumas)
The Story of the Treasure Seekers (E. Nesbitt)


This is always a trickier subject for Josiah. We are going to use Rod and Staff Math and Life of Fred. We also play lots of games. I found a Addition and Subtraction Bingo game at a Thrift Store that is a big hit. It has been good to keep those math skills fresh.

Science and Nature Study

Josiah wants to start with a study on Astronomy. I am using a resource I found at some time back. It is for grades 3-5, but I'm not paying too much attention to that. I already have it printed out and ready to go.

After the Astronomy unit we are going to start Apologia's Anatomy and Physiology. My sister passed on the book when I saw her this summer. I WUV Apologia's products. I'm also hoping that this Anatomy and Physiology experience will be much better than my A&P class in college.

For our Nature Studies we will continue with a walk or exploration once a week. I use the Handbook of Nature Study for our studies as well as out of print nature books I find online. We are pretty fancy and free when it comes to our Nature Studies. We will explore, doodle and draw whatever strikes our fancy in the great outdoors.

Language Arts

We are going to continue with our written and oral narrations. We try and journal every day and use copywork quite a bit. I am going to be reviewing Phonetic Spelling Zoo by IEW in a few weeks. I'm anxious to see what's that about.

Because Josiah is dyslexic I find that he still needs practice reading. There is another review I'm hoping to get soon (I'll talk about it later).

I love Andrew Pudewa's IEW writing, but I think we are going to take a breather for a little bit and focus more on our narrations and then go back to it as soon as I feel we can.

I am also on the look out for Rod and Staff English.

Foreign Language

We are currently reviewing Spanish with Middlebury Interactive. I'll let you know how that works out. I do have a Latin program I would love to throw into our regular rotation. I'm just not sure if that would be too much.

Art and Music

We will continue with our Composer and Artist Studies.

For this semester I have chosen these artist to study.

John Whistler
Edgar Degas
Paul Cezanne
I also want to throw a few Winslow Homer works in there. We've studied Winslow Homer before but I think he is a great artist for boys to study. His works are so action packed!

For Composers I've got these guys lined up.

Felix Mendelssohn
Frederic Chopin
Robert Schumann
Giuseppe Verdi

Josiah wants to improve his drawing skills this year. We have been doing some basic projects, but I'm hoping my Momma might give him some assistance as well. I am looking for an easy to follow book that would be good for kids with dysgraphia.


We've dabbled a little into all of the following poets' work. This year we are going to dig a little deeper.

Robert Browning
Emily Dickinson (LOVE HER!)
Robert Frost
Christina Rossetti

I might have a volume or two of one of the above poets works already on hand. I'm not saying who. I was tempted to add Poe to our rotation this year. I might wait until next year.


I can't believe that I am actually going to admit this, but reading Shakespeare bored me to tears in High School. Of course, we read bits and pieces of his plays. I firmly believe that plays written for the stage should be seen on the stage. This is why we begin by watching a film or stage (on DVD) version of any Shakespeare plays we study. I like this method for studying Shakespeare. Though we will start by watching the play first.

My choice this year is Midsummer's Night Dream.

Bible and Character

I have a list of scriptures to learn each week. Josiah has also chosen 2 autobiographies by two famous football players who are Christians to read through (we are taking turns). We are also reading a book about missionary Amy Charmichael. I also am reading aloud from Beyond Boyhood: Practical Wisdom for Becoming a Man every morning.

Josiah is also going to continue to work on his keyboarding skills. He will be attending a PE class at a local university and still keep up with Swim Team 3 times a week.


It's a good thing I'm getting my closet cleaned out. I might have to go hide from our schedule.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Books to Read (or Just write a letter)


Hello, my friends! 

We just got back from a short trip to Indiana for a visit with The Muffin's folks. 

Which means I ate entirely too much. Nobody keeps a pantry stocked like my Mom-in-Law. 

I did get quite of bit of knitting done. And I read...which is always my favorite past time. 

I wanted to share a few I've read recently and one that I've loved forever. All of them follow a unique storytelling pattern. I also have included the links for you on Amazon. I am NOT an affiliate. I just wanted to provide you all the pertinent information.  

Have you ever heard of Daddy-Long-Legs

Fred Astair and Leslie Caron star in the movie version released in 1955. However, long before I ever saw the movie I read the book by Jean Webster. And no. I am not that old. 

I just read old books! 

In the story, a young orphan is given an opportunity to leave the orphanage to go away to school. In exchange, she must write regularly to her benefactor (whom she has never met). 

The story is told through these letters that Judy writes to her "Daddy-Long-Legs." It is charming and the ending doesn't disappoint. I think it is perfectly appropriate for young and old romantics alike. 

A book I just recently read was actually inspired by Daddy-Long-Legs. In Dear Mr. Knightly, a young woman with a troubled past is given a grant for a prestigious journalism program. In exchange, she is asked (you guessed it) to write to her unknown benefactor. I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It is Christian fiction and contains those themes of grace and forgiveness that are the cornerstones of our faith. It is also really well-written. I look forward to reading more from Katherine Reay. 

Another favorite this summer was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.It is set after WW II so I immediately was drawn in by the history. This story also uses the same letter-writing method in telling the story. The story centers around an author, Juliet Ashton, who is looking for the subject for her next book. She begins correspondence with a cast of colorful characters. It was such a delightful read. It was one of those books that ended just right. 

The book was written by an aunt and her niece. The aunt has since passed away. Sadly, this was her first and only book. The niece (Annie Barrows) also writes children's books. 

Happy Reading! I am off to tuck my lovies into bed (as much as my "lovies" will let me) and run myself a hot bath. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

What Your Momma Never Told You: My Favorite Tips for the Worn Out, Burn Out and Just Plain Fruity Momma (Back to School Blog Hop)

This is it! The last day of the Back to School Blog Hop! I hope you've enjoyed yourself and found an idea or resource that you can take back to your life. Today I have more advice (ready or not!)

We all get worn out. Frankly, some of us wear it like a badge of honor." I am worn out and frazzled and scattered, but my kids need so much…"

I am not going to get into what our kids need (or don’t need). This life if not an easy one. There are many challenges. I frequently have to remind myself that it won’t do any good to write a post entitled “You people don’t know what I go through. So don’t judge me.” Or “My pet peeves about the human race.”

Whining doesn’t get us anywhere.

Neither does the competing we seem to do with each other. After hearing about your friend’s bad day, do you find yourself trying to “one-up” her? “You think that’s bad…”

Just stop it.

Please. (I'm using my nice tone)

I don’t have all of the answers. But I do have a few little things I do that help me along the way. My ideas won’t solve world hunger or encourage honesty among politicians.

There just might be something among my ramblings that you can think about adding to your life.
Some of them might seem kind of silly. Just remember those silly little things are what make up the moments of our lives. Let’s be kind to them.

Some of my advice is fairly blunt. I apologize if I offend. It is only my intention to encourage. Sometimes encouragement can only happen by recognizing the things in our lives that needs attention. At least, that is how I see things. I am not speaking about anything I haven’t personally experienced.

So maybe your Momma gave you similar advice.

Good for her.

First off. You are doing a wonderful job with the whole momma business. Give yourself grace. There will be seasons of your life that are just hard. I wore the same thing 4 days in a row last month. Josiah has eaten a peanut butter sandwich (which he has made himself) almost every day this summer for lunch. You are God's beautiful creation; made in his image.

I put just a pinch of cinnamon in my hot tea or coffee every day. The cinnamon has wonderful therapeutic properties; not to mention it is an excellent natural help for blood sugar issues. Plus, it smells yummy.

I have a friend who loves to put hot chocolate mix in her coffee. Yum. I don’t drink coffee every day, but when I do I like it to be special.

I don’t have a dishwasher. The water has made my hands feel horrible….all cracked and dry. I started using gloves to help with that, but also found an extra benefit by slathering lotion liberally all over my hands before putting the gloves on. I know am giving my hands some extra TLC. I don’t even use fancy lotion or fancy gloves. No use it overthinking it.

Momma’s need a Time Out. If you are feeling ragged and rundown, chances are you are ragged and rundown. It’s time to declare a truce with your schedule. It’s hard for me to feel like I have let anybody down. But I’ve learned that now and again I have to say, “I’m sorry, but I really can’t.” Give yourself a day or a week. You’ll thank me. I do accept chocolate.

Are you aware of this scripture found in I Thessalonians?

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NIV)

…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

I don’t do drama. It wears me out. Some of us need to learn a quiet life. If you are causing drama…Stop it. Take a nap and a time out. Let God speak to your heart. He’s got this.

I journal several times a week. Even if its to just write a scripture out in my best handwriting. I like using sparkly gel pens. Sparkly makes me happy.

We live in a culture of the “gimmes.” Some of us (especially in the homeschool world) are existing on one income.  I personally have had to force myself not to complete an “eye roll” whenever somebody talks about not having something new and shiny. New and shiny won’t make you happy. However, times do get hard. Whenever our pockets are empty and there is a need, I simply make myself write out all of my blessings. They are without number.

After a long and tiring day, we like to watch old movies.  I like something with singing. Lots of singing. I will pop some popcorn and hot chocolate. What is it with me and chocolate?

Do you have a hobby? My friends. You need some sort of hobby. Even if is simply reading or putting puzzles together. I like have something that can my occupy my hands during quiet moments or while watching television. I like to doodle or loom knit. I have read that those folks with busy lives need hobbies even more. Hobbies help de-stress and stimulate the brain.

Once a week I try and set up a little spa in my bathroom. I generally use a little bit of baking soda in my tub. It helps detox my body from all of the impurities that I expose it to. Baking soda also relieves discomfort from yeast infections and soothes irritated skins. You can also use Epsom salts and an essential oil. I have a corner of my tub that I keep a scrub, pumice stone, an orange stick, nail clippers and nail polish remover. I scrub my feet and take care of my toes. I will also put a deep conditioner on my hair during my tub time. Often I will light a few candles and bring in a recording of soft classical music. I want to encourage mommas with tiny kids to hang in there. Eventually you will be able to bath in private. Eventually. If you aren’t a fan of classical music put on something that soothes you. However, I recommend Debussey’s Prelude to an Afternoon With a Faun.

A benefit of growing older is becoming comfortable with yourself. I think it’s because you can look back and see God’s faithfulness at every turn. You know yourself. You know your quirks and faults. If you are wise you recognize that you don’t have to be everything to everybody. You just need to be what God has called you to be.

That leaves me to my next little thought. There is great comfort in giving control of your life to God. Perhaps there is a situation that seems impossible. When you have done all you can do…Stand. Let God hold it for you.

If you are married treat your husband like you adore him. Let your smile be one of the first thing he sees when he comes home. When you constantly belittle his choices and air your grievances (especially those about him) the Bible says you are like a leaky faucet. I realize there might be issues with him as well. Let God take care of your husband. You are responsible for you.

Do your best to make your home a place of peace. It should be a shelter for your family. This doesn’t mean that we won’t have bad spots or times. Pray. 

Sometimes we just have to Regroup. If something isn’t working take a long and hard look at it. Are you using a particular curriculum because your friends are telling you it is the best thing on the planet (including me)? If it's not working for your family don't use it. You might need to slow down. You might need to get your act together.  Just change direction. 

Move. Not to another house. Move. Your Body.

Stay hydrated. I have a big mason jar that I fill with ice water every day. I might refill it a couple of times. Some days I add lemon. Other days I put a few strawberries in my water. Most of the time I don’t make it complicated. I don’t have time.

Do you get distracted? Are you spending too much time on the computer? Or with a task? Time yourself. I have several little projects going on at once. I am doing some freelance work and trying to get a little business going with my Mom.  It is in my nature to do something to completion. However, I have had to learn to time myself. Say for example, I need to work on our little business for a while. I will give myself an hour. For projects that I am dreading (like finishing the dishes), I will time myself. I will put 15 minutes on the timer and do all I can in the kitchen for 15 minutes. You will be surprised what you can get done in 15 minutes.

Rituals aren’t just about human sacrifice. (too many Indiana Jones viewings?) There is something lovely about doing one special thing every day. My special thing usually involves a cup of tea and my sparkly pens. What is the one thing you can do every day that will help you focus? It might be journaling.  Or reading a portion of Psalms. 

Be gracious. There is no need to be hateful to the people that you come in contact with. We experienced a little road rage incident this past week. The young man involved used every dirty word he could think of….nothing like being screamed at while driving. My husband handled it beautifully. He apologized and we promptly went another direction. Just be nice. We have all been guilty of feeling like we “just need to be ourselves.” Sometimes we need to do less of being ourselves and more of showing Jesus.

Smile more. Even if you don’t have much to smile about.

I could write some more, but then I would just start meddling. 

I hope you have a lovely weekend, my friends! 

 This post is part of the Back To School Blog Hop from my friends at  the Schoolhouse Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection. Be sure to check my landing page out for their links...I know you will blessed! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Seeling is Believing! Links and Tips for Some Pretty Awesome Lapbooks, Notebooks and Printables

It’s Day 4 of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!

Are you a fan of notebooking and lapbooks?

I hear ya!

I wuv them both.

Lapbooks provided a much needed hands-on experience for Josiah when he was struggling to read and write.

Notebooking (along with the practices of Charlotte Mason) have provided to be an invaluable tool as he grows in his abilities, interests and maturity.

Today I want to share with you my favorite sites and resources for lapbooking and notebooks (plus a few other fun sites). This is not an exhaustive list. It would just be too “exhausting’ to list them all. ;<)

I also want to give you a tips on how I’ve managed both successfully in our home with a child who is dyslexic and dysgraphic.

Fortunately for a lot of us, there are plenty of creative people out there who love creating these types of products. I do like creating my own products (I’m really picky), but I have also discovered there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

I can save time when I find one already lovingly created that fits my needs.

Makes more time for other things. Like laundry. And Doctor Who marathons.

For a Humongous list of FREE lapbooks check out this post from Free Homeschool Deals. It will undoubtedly include some from a few of the sites I've listed below. They have separated them into handy subjects for you. 

Hands of a Child ($) – Excellent quality here! They always have a $5 lapbook and a free one available on the website.

A Journey Through Learning ($) also provides excellent lapbooks. Their backstory is so inspiring. I also have a few freebies I’ve gotten through the years.

Every product that comes from Home School in the Woods  ($) is excellent. The graphics are professional and the activities are just plain inspired. I have used several of their products.

Homeschool Share has to be my most used site through the years. For one…it’s FREE! I can’t even imagine the kind of time and attention put into all of their products. I really love using their literature studies. 

Lapbook Lessons was the very first place I went to find Lapbooking inspiration years ago. There is are lots of beautiful (and FREE) lapbooks available.

Homeschool Helper Online- They have a good selection of FREE lapbooks.

The Notebooking Fairy – She is the guru of notebooking. I always find inspiration there.

Notebooking Pages ($)  – She has an enormous collection of pages available. They are very reasonable. Plus, there are a bunch that are FREE.

Notebooking Nook – I believe she has started a membership service. There are FREE pages as well.

Teachers Pay Teachers ($) – I use this site all the time. Almost every seller as some sort of free sample product to try. I have even purchased (or found free) clipart, borders… It’s just a treasure trove of goodies.

Teaching Notebook  ($)  - This is another site like Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Currclick ($) – The Big Momma of homeschool resources. I have used this resource for years. There is always something free. A few times a year they have “hide and seek’ sales. They will hide a product within their pages. I have gotten excellent lapbooks, etc. this way. I also like that my ‘library’ with currclick is always available to me.

Dynamic2Moms – They have some beautiful lapbooks and studies available! I believe Tina has started another page. I am not sure if she has created more products since, but the link is available.

Carl’s Corner – This is basically a language arts and reading site. She is a retired school teacher who has graciously shared all of her wisdom with all of us. I used many of her readers and nursery rhyme studies when Josiah was little.

So there are the sites I’ve used the most. Now I want to give you just a few ideas.

~ Instead of using up my printer ink, I will often get my bigger products printed at a local copy shop in town. They have .5 copies! I don’t bother with the colored ink.

~ I will purchase scrapbook paper and stickers when they are on sale at Hobby Lobby to decorate our projects. Josiah is not much of a decorator or doodler. Stickers suit him just fine.

~ I will always make my own copy of whatever we are doing. I have found that Josiah needs “modeling.” He has to see what is expected of him.

~ I primarily stuck mostly with lapbooks when Josiah was younger. He has dysgraphia and all the writing was hard for him. Lapbooks are straight to the point. They weren’t as laborious.

~ We keep all of our completed pieces in ziplock baggies before assembling lapbooks.

~ I take turns reading with Josiah. I used to read most of his material for him (except for reading instruction). He now has graduated up to sharing the task. 

~ It took several years for him to be able to "do" copywork. He had the hardest time transferring something he saw to the paper. I would create (or find) scripture or quotes or words that he could trace as part of his copywork. He now can copy something from the whiteboard or from my paper. 

~ Be patient. Some of our kiddos need more time to cook.

Don’t forget to check out my own collection of free printables.

Do you have any favorite resources or tips?

This post is part of the Back To School Blog Hop from my friends at  the Schoolhouse Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection. Be sure to check my landing page out for their links...I know you will blessed! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Popcorn and a Movie? Worthwhile Documentaries, Vidoes and Movies for the Homeschooling Family (Back to Homeschool Blog Hop)

Hiyah! Welcome back to the Back to School Blog Hop. I hope you are having a fantabulous week.

For this (my 3rd) post, I want to share some of our favorite Documentaries, Videos and a few favorite Movies...because I can. 

I love using movies and documentaries in our homeschool. Often, I will introduce a subject with a documentary. If we are reading a book that has been turned into a movie we will end our study with a viewing of the movie (complete with hot, buttered popcorn). 

Please keep in mind that none of the links I am going to provide you with are affiliate links. I am just providing them for you so you will be able check out all the pertinent information for yourself. I also didn't include any of the PBS Children's programming that has filled Josiah's childhood (or for that matter...mine). Old school Electric Company, anyone? Reading Rainbow?

Some of them are quite reasonably priced. Some of them are not. I would check the library for any that tickles your fancy . 

I apologize in advance for posting so many. Once I got going I could hardly stop. I couldn't help myself!

An American Homestead - This site is really interesting. This is a family who is homesteading in my neck of the woods. The Ozarks! If you are tempted to live off the grid you might go take a look. The laundry practices were enough to make me thankful for my basement laundry. However, I grew up a country girl with parents who have always tried to be self-sustaining. Been there done some of that. 

Julia Child: The French Chef - Julia Child does it best. I have provided you a link for a playlist of the series on youtube. Julia Child was not as flashy as her modern day counterparts. But she certainly was a character...and she knew her stuff. 

Mark Twain’s Pudd‘N Head Wilson  - This production based on Mark Twain's novel, published 1894, is not as well known as say the novels about Tom and Huck. However, this story is fascinating. It's a mystery! It's a commentary on social issues! It's pretty great. The link I provided is for Amazon. I believe both Target and Walmart have it in stock. 

All Creatures Great and Small - Anybody else remember watching this series with fondness? It is based on James Herriot's novels. They follow the career of a country veterinarian in the England of the 1930's through the 50's. They are just lovely.  

Monumental - I didn't link this one anywhere. I apologize for that. It can found on Netflix right now. In this film, Kirk Cameron visits historical sites in the US and Europe. You will be inspired! 

The Miracle Worker - This is the story of Helen Keller. She was robbed of her sight and hearing when she was very young. Her teacher,Anne Sullivan, opens a whole new world for her! This is a youtube link. 

The Hiding Place - I mentioned this one in my audio book favorites.  I linked to the first part on youtube. You can follow it from there.

God’s Not Dead - My son requested this great movie on DVD last year for his birthday.It has become one of our favorites.

One Night With the King - A beautiful retelling of the story of Esther. 

Liberty Kids -  While it's based on fictional characters, this cartoon series based on early American history has been another favorite. 

Ken Burns: The War - This is an excellent documentary on World War II. Be aware that there are certain portions that are graphic. That is the nature of war. Ken Burns does a great documentary. Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl was terrific. It is currently on Netflix. 

Ballerina - If you have any aspiring ballerinas in your house this will be a hit. It features five Russian Ballerina's from the Mariinksy Theatre and Vaganova Ballet Academy. It is currently on Netflix. 

Beyond the Gates of Splendor - This documentary tells the story of the American missionaries were killed in Ecaudor in the 1950's.  It is simply beautiful and inspiring.

Wild China - A gorgeous documentary steaming on Netflix right now. 

Life of Mammals: David Attenborough (Netflix) - For all those nature lovers. 

David Attenborough: Wildlife Specials - More animals by David Attenborough. I believe there are six or so. This one is also on Netflix. 

Living With Wolves - I was brought to this amazing documentary by reading a list of recommended documentaries a couple of years ago. 

Brain Games - Have you seen this series? It's on Netflix. It is fascinating!

Anne of Green Gables - The gold standard in family heartwarming dramas. All kindred spirits should watch. 

Pride and Prejudice - I've linked to the original. This is a beautifully done version of Jane Austen's classic. The newer version is lovely, but this version is long enough to keep all great parts of the novel. 

When Calls the Heart - This series on Netflix is based on the Janette Oke book of the same name. It's clean, heartwarming and did I mention it's clean? 

 Tim Hawkins: Full Range of Motion - When you just need to laugh this is the guy you need to listen to. Some of our favorite family nights have been spent with Tim.

Jeeves and Wooster - When Josiah was a very little guy we lived down the street from one of my favorite people in the world. She also happened to direct the Children's Theatre I was involved in. She had homeschooled her daughter through High School and survived breast cancer. One day she invited me down for tea. She also wanted to introduce me to just a few favorite of her favorite characters. This series (based on the books) features a young Hugh Laurie. It. Is. A. Hoot. We laughed until we cried. Laughter does do good like a medicine! 

Fiddler on the Roof - I can't list my favorites without at least posting a musical. I chose this one to share with you because not only does it feature some fabulous and inspired music, but tells a beautiful story. I could probably recite the whole script for you (especially the music).

There you have it! I hope I have given you one or two suggestions that you can implement into your school day or family fun nights.

Tomorrow (Day 4) I want to give you my favorite tips and resource links for lapbooking, notebooking and other printables!

This post is part of the Back To School Blog Hop from my friends at  the Schoolhouse Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection. Be sure to check my landing page out for their links...I know you will blessed! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Have You Heard This One? My very favorite Audio Books & Dramatizations (Back to Homeschool Blog Hop)

Welcome back to Day 2 of our Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!

Today I want to talk to you about one of my great loves.

No. This past has nothing to do with chocolate, sushi or brown-eyed-boys.

We are talking Audio Books. I am a voracious reader. I am always reading something. However, I am almost as fond of a good audio book. They have occupied many a happy road trips and afternoons spent cleaning house.

When we discovered Josiah was dyslexic Read Alouds became that much more important to us. I didn’t want him to miss out on all the books I loved just because reading print was difficult for him.
I have continued to read aloud, but through the years have gathered a variety of treasured audio resources. The ones I am sharing with you today are by no means all of our favorites…mostly our very favorites.

I am kind of picky about my audio books. There are plenty of free readings of books (such as those at librivox). However, the ones I am sharing with you have passed my high bar of read aloud gold.
I have also linked to either Amazon or another site that will allow you to purchase the audiobook (there are a few free ones). I am not an affiliate of any of these sites, but I wanted you to see the exact version and narrator for yourself. Some of them are very inexpensive. I have also purchased some of mine at library sales or asked for them as Christmas gifts. Mostly, we have started simply by reserving them at our local library.

With Lee In Virginia – This dramatization of G.A. Henty's book is a new addition to our favorites list. We reviewed it this summer and Josiah loved it so much it inspired a study of the Civil War. In fact, when I asked him what he would include in this list…this was the first one out of his mouth. The company that produced With Lee in Virginia has 2 other excellent adventures as well. 

The Hobbit – This is one of my favorite books of all time. Though I started with the unabridged version read by Rob Inglis, the BBC dramatized version of the book is excellent. We have listened to it many times. The Lord of the Rings dramatized books are terrific, as well.

Charlotte’s Web – There haven’t been many children of a certain pass through my life without a read aloud of this wonderful book. I usually read it myself, but there happens to be a special audio version recorded by the author, E.B.White, himself.

Hank the Cowdog – Some of our favorite audiobooks happen to involve Hank the Cowdog.  They are hysterical!

Little House on the Prairie – These books are near and dear to my heart. Our favorite audio version is read by Cherry Jones. We like all of them, but Josiah has asked to listen to Little House on the Prairie time and time again.

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy – This is a relatively new find in our house. It was recommended by a fellow Schoolhouse Crew Reviewer. I immediately went and found a used copy on Amazon. I loved it so much that I reserved an audio copy at the library.

The Princess and the Goblin by George McDonald – Have you read this charming tale of courage? This is certainly one to add to your collection.

Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare – This Edith Nesbitt book is a treasure. There are free versions available, but I prefer the oldie and goodie. In fact, one of the narrators can also heard on a wonderful My Man Jeeves (P.G. Woodhouse) audio recording.

The Adventures in Odyssey – Oh, how we have enjoyed this! I have given you link to Whit’s End. They have a daily podcast you can follow for free. We actually have found many of our treasured CD’s at Thrift Stores. Our library also has many available for check out.  If you check out the Radio Theatre on the Focus on the Family site you can listen to a broadcast daily of a classic. They are generally divided into parts so you have to be aware of what is playing and when.

The Horse and His Boy – Okay. I know this is the least likely in the whole Narnian saga that you would expect I would talk about. They ALL are terrific. However, this happens to be Josiah’s favorite. We also like love the dramatized version from Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre.  These are some I could listen to over and over. Last year, Josiah got a copy of Prince Caspian (through our library program) read by Lynn Redgrave. It is wonderful. 

The Hiding Place – This memoir by Corrie Ten Boom made such an impact me as a girl.  I challenge you to read any other memoir by a survivor of the Holocaust and then read Corrie’s. Her light shines through.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – So I recognize that there are some that aren’t as comfortable with the fictional wizard and his adventures. That’s okay. For those of you who do enjoy the books you will love the audio books. Jim Dale should be one of Britain’s national treasures.

James Herriot's Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Animal Tales – You might recognize James Herriot from his lovely book, All Creatures Great and Small. It just so happens that Jim Dale (the treasure of Great Britain) is also the narrator of Herriot’s Treasury for Children. It. Is. Precious.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The version I have linked for you was actually recorded by the author himself, Roald Dahl.  All of books have made the rounds of favorite “read aloud” at our house. This is one of the books I think is fun to read aloud if you don’t want to spend time or money on finding an audio version.

Oliver Twist – This is also a dramatized version from Focus on the Family.  Charles Dickens has always been one of my favorites. Oliver Twist (along with David Copperfield) were some of my earlier Dickens reads. Story Nory has a FREE dramatized audio of The Christmas Carol. And speaking of Story Nory…

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Story Nory has this classic, as well! Along with The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland and more! This site has been one of my favorite resources. Not only can the books be downloaded to your computer, but they have the story right there on the page to read along. And they have British accents! You can tell I have a thing. For those of you who have younger kids there is a sweet section of nursery rhymes and fairy tales. 

So that’s about it (for now)

Get Listening!

Come back tomorrow (Day 3) and I will share some of my favorite Documentaries, Videos and a few movies. You find Day 1 (Cheat Sheets for Good Eats) here.

This post is part of the Back To School Blog Hop from my friends at  the Schoolhouse Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection. Be sure to check my landing page out for their links...I know you will blessed! 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cheat Sheets for Good Eats: Tips for Homeschooling Mommas and Their Hungry Families(Back to School Blog Hop!)

Welcome to my little spot in our Back to School Blog Hop!

Let’s be honest. These people in my house want to eat. Can you imagine? The nerve!

The laundry might go by the wayside (until we run out of underwear). Math can wait for another day, but at some point during the day somebody is going to get hungry.

Some of us struggle with knowing how to manage all this menu planning stuff that has to go on. 

Some of us have had trouble learning to dial it down a notch. Don’t our families deserve an exquisitely prepared gourmet meal every night? 

Some of us just have trouble putting anything on the table before 9 o’clock at night.  There always seems to be something going on!

This might be a little naughty (I always seem to go there), but I get just a bit irritated when well-meaning (but clueless) folks think that stay-at-home, homeschooling momma’s have nothing but time on their hands.

Crickets. Crickets.

It can be challenging making sure everyone is fed and watered; not to mention we are trying to provide them a stellar and meaningful education. 

No pressure! 

I am giving you a rundown of just a few tips and hints (ala Cheat Sheet) concerning my nefarious meal practices.

~Embrace the plan. Write down your families favorite meals and start from there. I tend to keep breakfast and lunch simple. I plan my meals weekly.  I also plan around what meat I have found on sale or marked down at the grocery store. If you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants Momma (which is me, pretty much) make it a goal to at least know what you are going to fix for supper in the morning. That way you can get out whatever you need. Nothing like waiting for a roast to unthaw at 4:00pm. 

~I worked for a time as a cook for a preschool. I loved my job!  I took pride in making sure those all those precious peanuts had a yummy and nutritious meal every day. If you follow the USDA guidelines for healthy eating you might find this sample menu helpful. If you need to do less of “Drive Thru Dining” and want to present your family with more balanced nutrition this might be the way to go. 

For my part, there is a lot about the USDA guidelines for healthy eating that don’t meet my particular healthy needs or (for that matter) standards for good nutrition. The point is that you have to make the best choices for you and your family. Making compromises is a part of leaving a full and beautiful life. Sometimes the best choices involve a reasonable compromise. Organic veggies might not be in your budget, but don't neglect the vegetables altogether because you can't afford what you want. 

A good rule of thumb is to treat your families plate like a work of art. The more color...the better. If everything on the plate is the same color you are missing something. 

~Release the momma guilt. This is for those of you who deal with perfectionism. I feel your pain. I like all of my meals to be visual masterpieces.  I’ve had to let go some of my artistic tendencies.

Are you the kind of momma who stresses over the nutritional value of your meals, but often don’t have time or energy to make sure the every meal meets your standards?

Here is a tip. My friend taught me. I spend about 30 minutes every week chopping veggies. I also try and make a mason jar full of ranch dip.  This way I never have a meal that I can’t offer a vegetable.  I keep them in plastic containers and just pull them. They are also available for in-between meal snacks. I also try and keep a bag of frozen veggies in the freezer at all times. My favorite to keep is broccoli. I can add a little bit of butter and lemon juice and it tastes like a million bucks.

I also will sneak fruits and veggies in my muffins, pancakes and even chili. My Dad grows pumpkins, apples and winter squash. I always have a jar of something good to put in a dish. 

~Do you struggle with making every meal memorable and fabulous? I feel your pain. Here is the thing. The family probably won’t remember what you had for dinner this week, let alone last week. I generally plan mostly easier meals for our busy nights and days.  I  designated a meal or two a week as a very special one. I can spend extra time making it special.

~Your family have favorites? Don’t throw out your families favorites just because they don’t meet your culinary expectations. My husband loves Tuna Casserole. He feels extra special when I make it for him. I try and stay away from the canned “cream-of” soups so I figured out a way to make it with whole ingredients. He still feels like I am smothering him with extra special attention (and tuna fish) and I am proud to serve it to my family. 

~I love my crockpot. I tend to use it mostly for soups and stews. I have found that they just do better in the crockpot. This recipe of Green Beans & Potatoes is a staple at our house. I generally serve it with sliced to tomatoes and corn on the cob. 

~Double cook. When I make spaghetti sauce or taco meat I double my recipe and stick it in the freezer. A few weeks ago, I let a batch simmer in the crockpot all day. One batch we ate that night. I stuck the other in the freezer and later made an easy meal of baked ziti.  You can find the crockpot taco meat recipe Iuse here. When I make a pot a soup I will do the same thing.This Lentil recipe is delish. 

~We all have those days when the only thing that is going to come out of our kitchens is a sandwich. Consider purchasing a sandwich press or an electric grill (like a George Foreman) to make them extra special. I see them all the time at Thrift Stores. Put out all your sandwich fixings and let everyone create their own masterpieces. Using the press only takes minutes and your family will feel like they are eating at a fancy deli. It is amazing what a PB&J tastes like in one of these things.

~Always have the fixings of an easy meal on hand.  One of the favorite meals I can remember growing up was my Mom’s Potato Soup Sherry. Now I know that this was one of Mom’s “don’t have nothing in the pantry” meals. I can’t have the potatoes as often anymore, but I found a cauliflower chowder that does a pretty good job filling that comfort food spot. I will fix a pan of cornbread when making potato soup for my guys. A little apple butter and honey can go a long way with making the whole thing memorable.

~Consider Breakfast for supper. This is the only time I am giving you permission to become a short order cook! Or better yet, teach the kiddos to operate the waffle iron. My waffle iron has a place of honor. In fact, I was commissioned to take it over to my husband’s work one evening for a Waffle Supper. My family loves a good Waffle (or pancake) supper.  My mom was famous for her “after church omelet suppers.” Piles of people would gather at the house for one of her fluffy omelets.

~How about a Quesadilla? I have found this little dish to be a favorite in my house. I can do fix them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. All you really need is cheese and tortillas. I always have a little bit of protein left over (chicken, a cup of beans, a meatball). I can sauté a few vegetables if I am feeling ambitious. For a large crowd you can simply bake your quesadillas in the oven. I like using my big stove top griddle. I will serve them with a salad, maybe some rice and yogurt or sour cream for dipping.

~A terrific idea for lunch would be an antipasto platter. Basically, you take all the odds and ends of lunch meat, cheese, pickles, etc. and put it on a platter. Everyone digs in. My mom used to get unusual treats to put on our platters (try cactus pickles!).

~Do what your great-great-grandma used to do and only bake one day of the week. My little sister does this and I have followed suit. She works part-time and homeschools. Her day off is on Mondays so she will make up banana bread and some sort of cake to carry the family through the week. Once it’s gone it’s gone. It provides her family with an extra treat and helps ease her baking burden. Last week, I made a chocolate zucchini cake and let Josiah make some chocolate chip cookies on our baking day.

~ Both of my parents worked when I was growing up (and Pastored a church). Now Mom didn't start back to work until I was 6, but I had a little brother and sister (4 & 2, respectively). We never ate out. We always ate at the table and I always remember eating GOOD. She is a Respiratory Therapist so she had spent hours (sometimes a double shift) on her feet. One thing I do remember is that she ALWAYS involved us kids in the meal preparation. I am sure initially it was trying. Little kids in the kitchen can be an adventure and time consuming, but she was building a foundation. It wasn't too long before we could be in charge of tossing a salad or fixing the vegetable, setting the table or filling the glasses. Don't neglect this part of your kids, it eventually pay off. You will have wonderful help in the kitchen!

A simple, simple recipe for kids to help cook is a Hobo Dinner.  It will be a hit all the way around. 

That's it for today. You CAN do this, Momma! 

Don't forget to come back tomorrow. I will be sharing my favorite Audio books and Dramatizations! 

This post is part of the Back To School Blog Hop from my friends at  the Schoolhouse Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection. Be sure to check my landing page out for their links...I know you will blessed! 

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