Monday, September 15, 2014

Meal Plan #10

Monday- White Beans & Cornbread- There are so many ways to make this meal. I like to soak dry beans overnight then slow cook them on the stove with ham pieces, ketchup, salt, pepper, and lots of water. Just cook and cook them until they are the consistency you prefer. For cornbread I use my grandma's recipe which is corn meal, egg, and buttermilk cooked in an iron skillet with melted butter. I'd give you measurements but it's an eyeball recipe.

Tuesday-Honey Soy Chicken- We loved this the first time and are excited to have it again.

Wednesday- Baked Chimis

Thursday- Roasted Chicken

Friday- Meatball Subs

Saturday- Pork chops- Anyway you like them. Our favorite is grilled!

Sunday- Taco Soup

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Give Your Brain a Workout

I received a free book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

My brain gets a pretty stellar workout every day that we do home school. As we age though we typically are learning less and we usually run a lot of days on autopilot. It's important that we keep our minds sharp and there are some exercises we can do for just that. Crosswords, Sudoku, trivia- they all work our minds and keep us sharp.

In recent years apps and video games have become popular ways to get that workout. I utilize some of those and enjoy them but Bend Your Brain is a workout for your mind in paperback form. Within these pages are more than 150 puzzles, tips, and tricks for working your noggin. The book is divided into sections and each section goes from easy to hard. Bend Your Brain is a product of Marbles: The Brain Store.

I am most impressed with the wide variety of activities in this book. I normally keep a crossword or sudoku book around but over time those can become boring. This book is full of logos, pictures, stories, number games, word games, and more. You are sure not to be bored but you are also guaranteed to get stumped at least a few times.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Brownie Bites #muffinpans

I received this product free from in exchange for a review.

Tonight I decided to try my new Grazia Silicone 24 Cup Mini Muffin Pan. It's red. Ain't it purty? I started to make make mini cupcakes or ya know muffins but that was too ordinary. So I made brownie bites. Yum yum!

I washed my new pan with hot soapy water and then gave it a light spritz with cooking spray. 

I gathered all the necessary ingredients to use a boxed brownie mix. I decided to go with the extra egg for the cake-like brownies.  

Gave it all a quick mix with my nifty wisk. 

Rather unceremoniously poured a 1/4 cupful into each little hole. BTW this used almost exactly the whole batter. Pretty nifty.

And ta-da! My kids were thrilled that they looked like double chocolate cookies on top. Obviously my husband was so excited he didn't even let me get my picture complete before he started grabbing them. 

A little ice cream and 2 hot brownie bites. Heaven.

All 24 popped right out of the pan with no fuss or mess. I washed it in warm, soapy water again and it was ready for next time. Metal muffin pans are always such a mess to clean up. Not these. They clean easily and made perfect brownie bites. I'm so excited to have such a nifty little cooking tool! I can't wait to use it for muffins, cupcakes, granola bites, oh and more of these yummy little brownie bites. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Clean With Oil #InstaNatural

I received a free product from in exchange for an honest review. 

I've been cruising through my 30s with minimal issues and then BAM! my skin goes haywire. Fine lines, random hair, blackheads, BLACKHEADS people. My former facial cleanser just wasn't cutting it. Our budget is tight so I can't spend a lot on my beauty regimen.

When I first saw InstaNatural Deep Cleansing Facial Oil I was intrigued. Clean my face with oil? How does that work? Well it works very easily as a matter of fact.

I squeeze a little onto a cotton ball. Really it only takes 2-3 pumps meaning this bottle will last me a very long time (great for the budget!). Wipe the cotton ball all over your face removing oil, makeup, and cleaning pores. All the icky, nasty just wipes right off. After that you can wash off your face with warm water or use a warm, wet washcloth. In the mornings, I just jump in the shower and wash off my face. My face feels so good when I finish. My skin is clean and soft. 

Need one more reason to love it? It is made with natural ingredients like Hemp Oil, Jojoba Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, and Pink Grapefruit Essential Oil. Currently the price is only $19.95 on Amazon and this bottle will last you a very long time. (Prices are subject to change.)

I was also able to try InstaNatural's Youth Express Eye Gel. It really only takes a tiny dab to pat on the area around the eyes. I can really feel the difference and tightening in the skin. It also is improving my undereye circles. I can't believe how quick;y this product begins to make improvements and you can't beat the price- so much less than department store eye gels. You can also use this product in your forehead and cheek areas and get the same results! This bottle will last a long time too because such a small amount goes such a long way. I use it in the morning and at night and wear makeup over it regularly. So glad I've found the InstaNatural facial products!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Our Top 10 Favorite Children's Book Series

I wanted to share with you our favorite book series. My Apple loves to read and she prefers series so that the story goes on and on. Speedy is also becoming a great reader but he is still a bit more reluctant. I often see parents asking for good series suggestions for kids so I wanted to compile my suggestions here.


10. Wishbone- These are short chapter books that are mysteries. The books were inspired by the Wishbone television series. They have fun names like Ivanhound.  According to Apple they are all very funny. There are Wishbone Mysteries, Wishbone Classics, and Super Adventures of Wishbone.


9. Fly Guy- The Fly Guy books are fairly new but oh so much fun. These short books by Tedd Arnold are sure to delight. Speedy loves Fly Guy and will read them over and over. If you have new readers I highly recommend this series.


8. Percy Jackson- Apple has just gotten started on Rick Riordan's Percy books. We haven't spent much time on mythology so she just finds the ideas of these "gods" very fascinating. This is definitely a series for older kids and ones that can make it through longer books. Apple also enjoys the movies that have been made based on this series.


7. The Adventures of Lily Lapp- Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Kinsinger bring Amish fiction to girls. These fun books are great for older girls. It gives them an insight into a different way of life. Apple has enjoyed these books since the first one was published and soon book 4 will be released.


6. Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys- These are both great series that could stand alone but I've chosen to group them together. Apple loves both series. Speedy is just beginning to get interested in the Hardy Boys but he has no desire to read Nancy Drew. Apple has even watched some of the movies (at least one is available on Netflix) about Nancy Drew and she has a couple of Nintendo DS games as well. We recently listed to the first Hardy Boys book on audio book as a family. If your children are interested in mild mysteries these books are a great place to get started. There is even a new reader series called Nancy Drew & the Clue Crew.


5. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket- This mystery series is a bit dark and for more mature children. While many characters come to an unfortunate end in the series the books also contain a good amount of humor and a vast amount of vocabulary. The 13 books about Sunny, Klaus, and Violet are entertaining and sure to keep your children thinking. We listened to these on audio book as a family. One movie was made based on this series but it only covers about half the stories and feels incomplete.

4. The Imagination Station- These Adventures in Odyssey books are so much fun and cover a historical time or event. Cousins Beth & Patrick use the Imagination Station at Whit's End to go on
adventures. These books are fun for girls and boys and have a Christian theme. The books are short chapter books and there are new ones being added on a regular basis.

3. Magic Tree House- I wasn't familiar with this series from Mary Pope Osborne until Apple began reading them. This is a huge series of books and it is perfect as a first series for new readers. My kids are both very interested in adventure books and the Magic Tree House books each contain a fun adventure. These books appeal to girls and boys.

2. Little House on the Prairie- Laura Ingalls Wilder has captured the attention of many children over the years. Books in the Little House series are on many reading lists for different grade levels. Apple read the entire series while in second grade. Speedy is in second grade this year and will read Little House in the Big Woods for school. I hope he will enjoy it enough to continue the other books in the series on his own time. While reading the series or after completing it, the Little House television series will help your children visualize what life was like for Wilder.

1. Chronicles of Narnia- This got the #1 spot for a couple of reasons. This beloved series from C.S. Lewis is enjoyed by boys and girls and it is a classic allegory for the story of Jesus. Both of my children have been fans of Narnia for sometime and like some of the other series I've mentioned there are movies adapted from some of the books. I remember reading the Chronicles of Narnia when I was a kid and I've really enjoyed sharing them with my children.

What are your favorite children's book series? We are always on the lookout for new reading material!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

I did not receive any promotion or compensation for this post. All opinions are my own. 

If you have kids that are fans of the Avengers then you may be interested in my review of Guardians of the Galaxy. It is rate PG-13 just like the Avengers movie. We own Avengers and both of our kids have watched it several times. We were impressed with it when it came out because there isn't a romantic story line in it and no big language issues. Our son has already asked to watch Guardians of the Galaxy but Hubby & I decided to go and watch it ourselves before letting either of the kids see it. I'm glad we did.

We really enjoyed the movie. It has a lot of funny parts in it. However it is not a family friendly/ young kid friendly movie. There were several language issues in the movie and a scene with a character giving someone the middle finger. There is also a romantic story line in the movie and while it is kept fairly light along with the other issues this is definitely a movie for the 13 and up crowd.

However I think most adults would enjoy it as much as we did. There's lots of action and lots of laughs. The characters are well developed and aren't your typical superheroes (I mean how many movies have a talking tree as a hero?!?!). We don't see movies in the theater very often due to the outrageous cost but I'd say this one was worthy of a theater trip.

Meal Plan

I won't list a meal plan this week. This is my week to go back and cook the things I missed over the last 8 weeks. With over 50 meals posted in those 8 weeks this is also the time when I will start redoing some meals in the rotation.

You all knew my plan last week was to whip up some meals for the freezer while we took a week off school. Well I did not. Not a single one. I had allergy/sinus/ cold mess all week long and so I didn't get anything done. At least not anything extra. When I do get a day to make some freezer meals I will be sure to take pics and write up a post for you!

Have a great week!