Saturday, July 26, 2014

Capture Summer in a New Refreshing Way

Sadly y'all summer is fleeting. We start school on Monday. While I know the kids are ready and it's time I still just want to grab summer and hold on for dear life. It suddenly feels like I didn't have nearly enough time at the pool. I didn't get in all the activities I wanted to do. I didn't even eat enough fresh tomatoes yet! Sniff Sniff.

I received a free product for review from Dial.

At least Dial has brought me a new way to hold on to a little bit of summer. To embrace the smells of the season. To enjoy healthy, hydrated skin even if it's lacking in the area of chlorine saturation. This month Dial introduced a new Coconut Water body wash. Now I know from reviewing the Dial Coconut Water body wash last year, y'all love it! Don't worry, that one is still around! However now you can get the new amped up version- Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango hydrating body wash! Woop woop!

I wanted you to see how much it lathers up! I love a fresh body wash with a wonderful scent and a great lather. When I am finished washing with this moisturizing body wash I feel invigorated by the coconut and mango scent and I feel like I'm carrying a little piece of summer with me. What mama doesn't want to escape to the shower and have a peaceful moment? Now you can do that and enjoy healthy skin afterwards. 

This clear body wash is safe for the whole family to use. My 7 and 9 year olds love body wash. It's so much easier for them to handle than a bar of soap. They keep some in their shower at all times but I must admit I haven't shared this bottle! 

So even though summer is coming to a close, you can hold on to it all through the summer months with Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash. Want to try it yourself? Enter via the easy Giveaway Tools Widget for your chance to be one of 3 winners of a coupon for a bottle of Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash!

The Dial brand provided me with a free sample of Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash in exchange for an honest product review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Meal Plan #3

So far so good! We've done a really good job of staying on track weeks 1 and 2. This week will be a real test because I did all my shopping with the shopping for last week. I should be able to stay away from the store until Friday. Without further ado, here is my list for this week.

Monday- Slow Cooker Manicotti- recipe pinned here:

Wednesday- Stir Fry Chicken- Chicken tenderloin strips cut into chunks. Throw into a wok or deep pan with a drizzle of oil. Cook moving around until cooked through. Add in a bag or two of frozen stir fry veggies. You can season with teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, a stir fry seasoning packet, or combination of all of that. You can also find pre-bottled sauces in other flavors (orange, General Tso, etc) in the Asian cooking aisle of your local market.

Thursday- Apple Pork Chops- Boneless pork chops baked in a pan with fresh apples, apple sauce, or apple jam or a combination. You can throw in some worchester or other sauce to add more liquid. Very versatile!

Friday- Hamburgers and Hot Dogs- we are having a cookout here with some friends. I think y'all can all figure out how to grill hamburgers and hot dogs. :)

Saturday- Parmesan Chicken- 3-4 chicken breasts, bread with panko or bread crumbs or Shake & Bake Italian (that's what I use), cook in the oven on 400 for 20 minutes. Pull out and cover with spaghetti or marinara sauce (I make my own or sometimes use a jarred sauce like Ragu). I usually pop in and cook another 10-15 minutes and then sprinkle on LOTS of parmesan cheese and bake until melted and chicken is cooked through. Serve with pasta and/ or green beans and garlic bread. Mmmmm.

Sunday- Steak Salad- We will just get a couple of medium size steaks (whatever is on sale) and throw on the grill then slice on top of a garden salad with all of our favorite toppings. I will probably do some baked potatoes in the slow cooker for this too. 

I hope you are enjoying my easy meal plans. It's certainly making our lives easier so far. Enter to win a copy of the Well Planned Day Wall Calendar so you have a place to plan your own weekly meals! Ends 7.26.14. 

Grind It Up

I received this product free from Ozeri for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

I just love kitchen gadgets and small appliances. When we moved a friend lovingly called me a small appliance hoarder. She also encouraged me to get rid of a few things because the kitchen we have now is much smaller than our previous kitchen and also has less storage space. In fact we had to add 3 shelves to the kitchen even after I purged a bit. All of that to say I can't buy/ get any more kitchen items unless I get rid of something else or it's an item small enough to tuck into one of the few remaining open spots.

The Ozeri Fresko Duo Salt & Pepper Grinder fits my requirements! It is a dual purpose (holds 2 spices) item and slender and tall for easy storage. Any serious foodie knows a spice mill/ grinder is a must have in the kitchen and you won't find one easier to use than this one. Each ends easily pops off for easy filling. Then you can adjust the settings for a finer or coarser grain. It is perfect for salt, peppercorns, or other spices. We tried a sea salt and a peppercorn blend and were so happy with the results! I used it while making the bbq pork that I had on last week's meal plan.

I took a large boneless pork loin and placed it in the slow cooker. I generously ground salt and peppercorns over it. I was so pleased with the feel and balance of the grinder. It was easy to use and mess free.

I then diced a sweet Vidalia onion and spread it over the top. I think poured in some soda (Dr. Pepper to be exact) and some hickory smoked bbq sauce. 

I covered it up and cooked it on low about 8 hours (it was a big cut of meat). My husband was so excited that I made a homemade version of a popular fast food rib sandwich. In fact he said it was even better than that seasonal offering. :) 

The kids enjoyed this meal as well with some watermelon and pickle. All of this was made easier by our pretty, new stainless steel Ozeri Fresko Duo Salt and Pepper Grinder

I know you want to know more so here it is:

*BPA free containers
*Clear containers for easy viewing of spice levels
*Adjustable ceramic grinding gears
*Made of high quality stainless steel
*Designed in Germany
*Easy to use
*Available to purchase on Amazon with free shipping for Prime members

I'm pretty sure that's all you need to know about this nifty salt and pepper mill! 

Want to know about other Ozeri products? Check out my review of one of their Greblon pans.

I received this product free for the purpose of review from Ozeri. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Finally a Great Wall Calendar

I received a free Wall Calendar for review from HEDUA. This post contains affiliate links. 

Finally I have found the wall calendar that has room for it all! Until now I've kept birthdays/ anniversaries on one calendar and just about everything else on a big dry erase board in my kitchen. Then I've kept a plain calendar in our schoolroom to keep up with dates, holidays, etc. Now I've found the solution to all of that. Introducing the Well Planned Day Wall Calendar.

First look at the sheer size difference between this calendar and a standard one. Bigger calendar= larger boxes for each day= more information

I've wanted a place to display our school days and days off for the kids and this is more than efficient for that. I hung it right on the door of our schoolroom. This calendar is so big it has holes for 3 tacks! But I only used 2. I'm a rebel like that.

So you can see I got all excited and made a key for filling in information with a certain marker color for each family member. I was rocking that calendar too. I had birthdays/ anniversaries, meal plans, family plans, individual work schedules, practices, etc, everything! It was a work of art really. You can also see here that there is a section for notes as well as small monthly calendars along the bottom. 

Then I flipped over the page to August and the marker bled through the pages. I am bummed. It isn't a total loss though. Now I know I need to use colored pens rather than colored markers. I really should have tested a place and checked it but I was just SO excited about the calendar. It's an awesome calendar. 

So you should know that it runs July- June just like the Well Planned Day planners. This goes right along with many homeschool semesters but is also perfect for families utilizing public or private school or for jobs that follow a mid year financial calendar. There are quotes on the months for motivation and the colors are beautiful.

So these gorgeous, HUGE calendars are $9.95 from HEDUA. Personally I think that's a great price for a calendar that packs such a punch but I have an even better deal to share with you. From now until 7.31.14 you can purchase one of these calendars for only .99 when you also purchase a Well Planned Day homeschool planner or a My Blog Plan planner. 99 cents people! Amazing! Click the banner below to head straight to HEDUA to choose your planner and don't forget the calendar. 

Fine Print: Discount applies automatically when both items are added to your cart. Offer does not apply to bundles. Expires 7/31/14.

Oh I almost forgot....I have one to giveaway! Who wants to win their own Well Planned Day Wall Calendar? Enter via the Giveaway Tools widget for your chance to win!

I received a free Well Planned Day Wall Calendar for the purpose of review from HEDUA. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

All About Mary

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook for the purpose of review

Mary- mother of Jesus. Wouldn't you love to have a conversation with her? I'd love to sit down with her and a hot cup of coffee and just chat. I'd want to ask her how she dealt with being pregnant before marriage. I'd want to know how Jesus behaved as a baby. And of course I'd want to hold her hand and ask her how her faith was during his persecution. And of course how she felt after the resurrection. Wouldn't that be an interesting chat!

Of course I can't sit down with Mary. I can learn more about her life though and let my children learn more about her as well. Nancy I. Sanders continues her full color biographies for kids with Get to Know Mary. This is the latest in the series that I've been reviewing for you. You can see more about David, Paul, and Jesus in my previous reviews. Like those books, this one contains scripture, maps, fun facts, vocabulary, beautiful photos and works of art. All of those elements make these little books so visually appealing!

As with the others there are 12 chapters in the book and an extended resource section in the back. The table of contents makes it easy to navigate through the sections of detail about Mary's life from being born in Nazareth to the day of Pentecost. Sanders combines information she has gathered from Biblical accounts and historical artifacts and documents.

All of these little biographies are wonderful resources for learning more about key people from Christian history. These will be big helps during our homeschool time and I've learned several things from reading each one myself! I love that so much information is packed into each one and as I said before that it is presented in such a visually appealing manner. I hope this series continues and that I will be able to bring you more reviews on these in the future.

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why Do We Have a Homeschool Room?

A couple of days ago I gave you a peek at our schoolroom. I conceded there that a schoolroom for homeschool isn't ideal for everyone. Now I want to give you more details about why we sacrifice a bedroom for our homeschool area.

*When we go into our school area the kids know it's time for business. We keep toys out of the room and area. There are as few distractions as possible to help them focus on the work we are doing.

*All of our supplies are at our fingertips and as a result we very rarely lose any important pieces. Each child has their own desk and own bins. We keep everything in the room most of the time (hey all homeschoolers do car school sometimes!) so things don't wander away. A bonus to this is we aren't wasting time searching for a pencil....or a book.....or a worksheet.

*Keeping all of those items in one place means I don't have it strewn out all over my house. I don't deal well with mess (that doesn't belong) in the living room, kitchen, etc.

*My kids have messy handwriting. Really. I can't imagine how much worse it would be if they were attempting to write while sitting on the couch or lounging in a bean bag chair. Sitting straight at their desks gives them the best posture for writing....and I might even be able to read it!

*Our job as parents is to raise our kids to become productive adults. In the real world jobs have offices or specific work areas. Even if my kids grow up and choose jobs that don't have a desk, they will be expected to show up somewhere every day. I work from home and I still have to show up to my computer on a regular basis! So I feel like this is a natural part of teaching them about real life.

*I want them to learn to be organized. See my last point. In life we need to balance our checkbook, return library books, keep our house tidy to our own standards, etc. I want them to learn some of those life skills now and by giving them a desk and bins I am slowly (oh so painfully slowly) teaching them about keeping things in proper places.

*And last but not least...many homeschoolers embrace life learning. So do we! We do a specific amount of school on specific days and we do it in a schoolroom but I can promise you my kids are learning all day all the time. They are constantly questioning, researching (mostly in books), and exploring. Just because I love the idea of "life learning" doesn't mean I have to throw "traditional learning" (sitting at a desk reading a book and answering questions) out the window. We can totally do both and we do.

If lounging on the sofa does it for your family that's great!  However don't be afraid to embrace a desk and a schoolroom or school area. It has its benefits as well.

Crafty Crafts #Spellbinders

I received free samples from Spellbinders and Purex Insiders for the purpose of review.

I am not a really crafty person. I have done a few scrapbooks over the years and I can do a project with careful instruction but to be honest I don't have much patience with crafts. Or mess. Really no patience at all with mess. So of course God blessed me with a daughter who LOVES CRAFTS. Like really, really loves them. She's older now and can paint and draw and do many papercrafts on her own but sometimes she wants me to get involved. Usually it has to be a make and take kit or something very simple that I can easily put together with her so my frustration level doesn't go through the roof.

I recently received these 2 very fun craft projects and some embossed stickers (UPDATE: I am banned from ever crafting again because these were stamps, not stickers. Apparently you apply them to your own wooden blocks and make stamps. Who knew they came in that format?!?!)  from Spellbinders Celebra'tions. I was able to try an easy card making kit and a quick gift bag with diecuts. Everything I needed came in these paperart kits and it was all so cute! Now I should disclose that these were special kits for bloggers but all the pieces can be individually ordered from Spellbinders. I really think you will be impressed with their diecut pieces and great textured papers.

These were so easy and took minimal cutting and a little pasting. There was almost no mess at the end which made me so happy! Each kit had specific instructions and included everything I needed except glue and scissors. I was even able to move things around between the kits and customize them to my own liking. As I told you yesterday, we are quite stocked up on crafty supplies for now but I would love to add some of the Spellbinder Celebra'tion papers and stamps to our closet. The prices are a bit steep for our budget but I think the serious crafter/ scrapbooker would find them reasonable for quality items.

Let me share a little more about Spellbinders Celebra'tions:

Spellbinders® Celebra’tions™ Line by Richard Garay creates a heartfelt greeting or event that has never been easier until now. Inspired by Richard’s passion for paper crafts, event hosting and handmade greetings, he designed this line to help others achieve those beautiful results every time. Every element is coordinated so this cheerful, bright and yummy collection makes creating a Celebration not only easy, but also inspiring!

Be sure to check out the Spellbinders website and find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

The Spellbinders brand provied me with a sample of Spellbinders Celebra'tions Collection in exchange for a product review. However all the opinions expressed here are my own.