And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Worthwhile Craze #teatreeoil

I received a free product for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Are oils a big hit in your area right now? With larger distribution companies popping up it seems like essential oil distributors are all over the place right now. I got interested in using essential oils a while ago and a faithful, frugal friend introduced me to some of the most useful oils and also the world of buying oils online. This method can save big bucks because the distributor commission is cut out. We've purchased several bottles of oil online now and are so pleased with the results.

Most uses only require a few drops so this big bottle will last a long time!

Now I totally consider myself a novice and most of our oil purchases have been pre-made blends but I have started to branch into essential oils like peppermint and tea tree oil because they have so many uses! When I was given the opportunity to try a HUGE bottle of Australian Tea Tree Oil, I jumped at the chance. Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca) is so versatile and can be used for a variety of things like hair care, first aid, and sore muscles. Now don't get overwhelmed if you've never used oils!

Convenient dropper lid.

Apothecary Extracts Australian Tea Tree Oil comes with an e-book with detailed instructions for using it in a variety of treatments. Lip scrub, cradle cap, and even air freshener recipes are included. Keep in mind essential oils should always be diluted before applying to skin and thorough testing has not been done on ingesting oils. The e-book includes information on various testing that has been done with tea tree oil.

The label contains lots of useful information about the product including a company email address for questions.

I feel certain that you will find one of the 53 uses mentioned in the book will be useful for your family. We often use a water diffuser for our oils. Tea Tree Oil is anti-fungal, anit-viral, and anit-bacterial so perfect for diffusing when there are illnesses in your home.

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.

Baker's Measuring Cups #measuringcups

I received free products for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

I have never seen measuring cups like these but I am so glad I found them. If you bake very often you know how difficult it can be to use the same cups over and over for different ingredients and also the frustration of dipping out 3 1/4 cups of sugar or flour. KitchenMade is solving those problems for you with this stainless steel set of 6 measuring cups.

Notice the convenient pouring lip on each cup.

These cups are solid and the set of 6 includes 1/3, 1/4, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, and 1 cup. The cups nest for easy storage but also have a flat bottom for sitting on the counter. They are clearly marked on the handle and the cup so you aren't guessing or fumbling for the correct size. They are heavy but easy to use and for precise baking they are perfect for leveling at the top. I've tried them straight from a bag of flour, down in my canister, and from a narrow bag. The cups easily fit into each one with no trouble. I have other metal cups that are frustrating because the handles easily bend. That won't happen with this set.

As if all of that isn't enough the KitchenMade 6 Measuring Cup set also comes with a Lifetime Guarantee and a free e-book. The 36 page e-book has many baking recipes although some of them are more semi-homemade. The set is manufactured in China. I do wish it was a 100% USA product. However I don't think I will need to replace these measuring cups anytime soon. I love items in my kitchen that are built to last! This set is currently available for free shipping for Amazon Prime members.

Each cup also shows lower measurements as well.

They are marked on the inside too for easy measuring.

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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Homeschool Posts

Here are some of my past homeschool blog posts that you may find helpful as you consider homeschool, begin a new school year, or start looking ahead to next fall.

Homeschooling- What You Need to Know

How Do You Do It?

My Child is Not My Best Friend

How Do I Start Homeschooling?

Break the Planning Intimidation

I hope you enjoy these and find some useful information within them. I know there is always an increased interest in homeschool information this time of year so I thought it would be helpful to gather some of my popular posts.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sharing a Piece of the Past

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

I always enjoy sharing things with my kids that I enjoyed in my own childhood. As some friends and I discussed over the weekend, many of the movies we watched as children in the '80s are totally inappropriate! It makes me sad that so many I remember as favorites are full of curse words and other less than child- friendly content. A lot of the favorite toys from our decade have come back around and it's fun to watch Speedy play with TMNT. I also enjoy sharing books with them that I enjoyed. Apple loves a good Nancy Drew mystery and both kids have enjoyed The Berenstain Bears over the years.

Leveled I Can Read books are fun and Speedy still enjoys them. While he can read high above Level 1, he really liked this 3-in-1 book set God Shows the Way by Stan & Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain. In these 3 stories the Bears face the unknown, fear, and a lesson in money management. They learn that to have faith in God, that God never leaves us, and that saving money as the Bible teaches us can lead to a huge blessing.

The cute Berenstain Bears haven't changed much over the years. The illustrations look the same and the lessons are still wholesome. I don't remember too many Bible verses in the ones I read as a kid but I sure love that they are in these new ones! These are the kind of books we love to see on our kids' nightstands at bedtime because we know they will fill their minds with thoughts of the Lord.

This book will release August 5, 2014.

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

Meal Plan #4

Gasp! Totally meant to post my meal plan over the weekend and I forgot. I even thought about it briefly last night but we were beginning school today so I just got busy preparing for this morning. I do apologize if you came looking for it and it wasn't here.

I must admit we've had a few nights that I didn't make the meal from the plan. We either ate leftovers or ate with family. We are also beginning our Wednesday nights at church soon and there is always a meal before service so you may see that I begin to mark Wednesday nights as non-cooking nights. I will also have a week soon when I will be filling in the meals that we didn't make along the way. Anyhow I hope you are enjoying these meal plans and that they will help you as you prepare dinners for your own family. My grocery bill Friday was much higher than normal but I needed to replace several staples that we had run out of (sugar, flour, etc.). Over time I hope this will prove to be a very cost effective meal plan system but for now I still feel like it is in testing mode.

Monday- Slow cooker Chicken, Bacon, Ranch   (update- We tried this and my family didn't love it. It won't be on our meal plan rotation anymore.)

Tuesday- Crab Pasta Salad- cold salad you can throw almost anything into. We love to use penne pasta cooked and drained and rinsed with cold water along with imitation crab chunks, mayo, ranch dressing, salt, pepper, celery, olives, pimentos, and shredded cheddar. You could also add peas, onion, bell pepper, almost anything. I like to make it early in the morning and refrigerate all day then serve with crackers. 

Wednesday- Meatball Subs- Very easy meal that we often eat for lunch on Sundays- frozen bag of meatballs in the slow cooker with your favorite sauce. We had a discussion about meatballs on the Carter Chaos Facebook page and chili sauce came up often. I plan to try some chili sauce and a can of cranberry sauce as recommended by Ashley. Yum yum! Serve on sub rolls alone or with your favorite toppings and spreads.

Thursday- Salmon Patties- Forever I made these the traditional way. Then I found a baked salmon patty recipe in an old cookbook and it changed my method. You can search "baked salmon patties" and find many recipes but really I make mine the same as the fried version only baked on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 until they are brown on the outside. Time depends on how thick you make the patties. I use canned salmon, green onion, crumbled crackers, an egg, salt, pepper, and a dash of hot sauce.

Friday- Stuffed Shells- A friend shared this recipe with me. Read the comments on this one. She said it usually makes 2 meals for their family (one to eat and one to freeze). The recipe doesn't call for any meat but I will be using ground beef in ours. 

Saturday- Sloppy Joes- I do this the easy way- brown ground beef, drain, mix with a can of sloppy joe mix and serve on buns. For a more homemade flavor here is the Pioneer Woman's recipe recommended by a friend.

Sunday- Baked Potato Bar- baked potatoes with all the toppings including some chili. Done.


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.

All About King David

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

David is one of the most fascinating people in history. His climb from a mere shepherd boy to a giant slayer to King is an amazing piece of history. Nancy I. Sanders series of biographies continues with Get to Know King David. Like Get to Know Jesus and Get to Know Apostle Paul this small, colorful book contains scripture, maps, fun facts, vocabulary, beautiful photos and works of art. That makes this a great book for your kids to read and to study! We love books that go the extra mile to teach our kids facts.

Chapter 1 tells us of David's youth as a shepherd boy.
Chapter 2 delves into David's time as a harp player in the king's court.
Chapter 3 retells David's defeat of Goliath. 
Chapter 4 explored his friendship with Jonathan and the jealousy of King Saul. 

As with the other books there are 12 chapters in all and an extensive resource section in the back of the book. The pieces of art, charts, and pictures of artifacts makes this so much more than a biography, this is a detailed history of King David including Biblical accounts and eyewitness accounts. I love that we are lining our homeschool shelves with these resources! I look forward to reviewing Get to Know Mary for you very soon. 

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Using What You've Got

I received this book for free fromBlogging for Books for this review.

Back when we had cable Food Network was one of my favorite channels. Alton Brown is for sure my favorite although I enjoy several of the other cooks and shows. It's been a few years since I've spent any time watching Food Network but I still enjoy perusing their website for recipes and checking out their cookbooks. I've never seen the show Chopped but the tagline on The Chopped Cookbook says "Use what you've got to cook something great." Hey that sounds like a plan! 

Now the one drawback I've always seen in Food Network recipes is that they use ingredients that I normally can't find or can't afford. The suggested list of items to keep in the pantry does include some items that fall into those categories. However it also includes mostly items I do always have in the kitchen. 

I will try several recipes from this book including the Meat and Potatoes Quiche, Pretzel-Mustard-Crusted Pork Tenderloin Sliders, and the Spicy Taco Salad. These all sound very tasty and not too hard. There are just as many recipes (if not more) that I probably won't ever try. If you have extra room on your cookbook shelf and love new ideas then checkout The Chopped Cookbook. If you are looking for a cookbook full of family friendly recipes and want to use every recipe then I'd probably skip this one. It is also available in digital format which may be a better version to save space.

All in all the Food Network shows and cookbooks always have something to offer. The new meal ideas and fabulous food photos make this a welcome add to my cookbook shelf....even if it was already overflowing.....

I received this book for free fromBlogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.

Getting It All Together

Well we are on the count down. Our school year begins in less than 2 weeks! EEK! This summer in ways feels as though it has flown right by but I think we are ready for our routine and structure. In fact there have been a couple of days already when I was tempted to dive on into school. The kids get bored when it gets too hot to play outside and I get tired of the bickering when they are bored. I don't allow them to stay on screens all day and even my reader gets tired of reading. So I'm trying to get all the finishing touches on our schoolroom.

If you are a homeschooler a schoolroom is certainly not required and isn't even the best options for some families but for us it is a necessity. The living area of our current home just isn't large enough to do school in the living room or at the kitchen table. Plus my kids love structure. They thrive on it. So for us a schoolroom is a huge plus. We sacrifice a room for our school area and I have my desk in there for blog work and working part time from home. Now it is still in progress but I wanted to give you a sneak peek!

I'm trying this out. Pulling the desks away from the wall seems like a logical choice in this room. I'm not sure how long they will be able to sit so closely together but we're going to try it. Since we are doing science, history, and some Bible together this year I needed them to face me. I always start them out facing me but at some point usually end up turning them back to back. Apple's desk is bigger than Speedy's. He is getting long legged so I will be looking for something similar for him starting now. 

One reason we need a schoolroom is our love for books. We have many and I pare them down all the time. We also have a lot of crafts supplies, flash cards, manipulatives, etc. Those are housed in a 3 drawer wide plastic cart that I moved to a closet. I forgot to get a picture of the inside of the closet but it isn't that exciting.

So far my desk is still a bit messy but I'm working on it! I love having my desk in the schoolroom. In our old house it was not in the same room. This is so much more efficient.

I was finally able to sit Apple's keyboard back up and I moved their work drawers to one side of the room. Each drawer represents a day and we've found this is the best way to organize our days. The baskets on top hold arts and crafts and project materials. We do have a lot!

So this is how we will begin. I have a short list of supplies to pick up: pencil sharpener (we've now broken 2- 1 electric, 1 hand crank) (oh and the mechanical pencils were okay but didn't last much longer than a sharpened pencil), index cards (for vocabulary & MOH memory cards), and something else is on my list but currently escapes me. 

Are you getting your school area ready? Have you started or do you start soon? 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Meal Plan #2

So far, so good! We've eaten almost every meal at home this week and I made all the meals on my Meal Plan from last week plus yesterday I made BLTs and fried green tomatoes for lunch. It was SO good. Anyhow here is this week's plan:

I made a big grocery trip to Kroger on Friday and then picked up a few extras at the Farmer's Market yesterday. 

Monday- Slow cooker "nachos"- There are lots of names for this but it is super easy to make. Basically chicken, rotel, cream cheese, ranch powder, black beans, and corn. See a pin of the recipe here

Tuesday- BBQ Pork Sandwiches- another slow cooker favorite. Just a pork tenderloin covered in BBQ sauce and cooked on low until it falls apart. You can jazz it up with some cola poured in, ranch powder, or onions. Yum yum. Serve on rolls.

Wednesday- Honey Soy Chicken- I'm trying this recipe I found on Pinterest.

Thursday- French Dip Sandwiches- Another recipe I found online. Apple has camp every day this week so I really wanted all slow cooker meals for the week. 

Friday- Apple has a concert so we will be eating out. 

Saturday- Chicken Alfredo- so easy and so loved in this house. Usually we just grill some chicken and dice it. Boil fettuccine noodles, drain, and toss with alfredo sauce. I've tried the packets and the jars of pre-made sauce. We like the jars. Serve with the chicken and dinner is done. 

Sunday- Quesadillas- great for using up leftover chicken from the chicken alfredo. Take tortillas and cover with a Mexican blend of cheese and meat (can also use taco flavored cooked ground beef) and top with a tortilla. Heat in a skillet or just pop in the microwave. Serve with salsa and chips. Ole!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

All About Paul

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

Yesterday I told you all about Get to Know Jesus- a little book packed with big information. Now I want to tell you about a second book from Nancy I. Sanders called Get to Know Apostle Paul

I still can't get over all the information she has in these books- vocabulary, maps, illustrations, photos of real art and archaeological evidence, and so much more. Let me give you a short synopsis of the first few chapters.

Chapter 1- introduction to Paul (well actually Saul)
Chapter 2- His Jewish education
Chapter 3- Saul during the time Jesus
Chapter 4- Saul's conversion

There are 12 chapters in all and a full resource section at the back with a timeline of Paul's life and a glossary. There are lots of facts, eyewitness accounts, and information on Bible Heroes. This is a great little resource for homeschool or family study time. These full color biographies of people of the Bible are so useful for Christian families. What a great way to dig deeper into the Word and find a better understanding of early Christianity.

This series is much bigger than these 2 books. I will be reviewing Get to Know King David soon!

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Curriculum For Sale

I don't generally post items for sale on here but I have a couple of really nice homeschool items that I've been unable to sale locally. If anyone is interested in either of these items send an email to carterchaosblog AT gmail DOT com. First come, first served.

First is a box set of both levels 1 and 2 of Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read 2nd grade. Each level includes a DVD, workbooks, and readers. I will sell it for $40 and that will include shipping charges.

Next is Shurley English Homeschooling Grammer Level 1 teacher's manual and CD. I will sell this one for $20 and include shipping. 

I will accept Paypal as payment for these items but please email me first to ensure it is still available. :)

All About Jesus

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

If you want your child to know all about Jesus then allow me to recommend Nancy I. Sanders new book Get to Know Jesus.


This book has so much information: scripture, maps, fun facts, vocabulary, beautiful photos and works of art.

Chapter 1 condenses the Old Testament.
Chapter 2 contains a summary of the events leading up to and the birth of Jesus and it ends with a family tree.
Chapter 3 is all about the childhood and early years of Jesus. It also contains a great description of the Seven Feasts. (Can you tell yet that I like this book for me as much as for my kids?)
Chapter 4 is aptly named "The Teacher" and includes descriptions of the Twelve Disciples.

I won't go through all 12 chapters, I just wanted you to get a good idea of all this book contains. There is also a very nice timeline in the resources in the back of the book. This is really a study source. I'm so excited to have it on our homeschool book shelf. And this isn't the only book in this series! I will be reviewing Get to Know Apostle Paul for you very soon!

In conclusion, if you are looking for a great resource of a lot of information about Jesus then Get to Know Jesus. It is full of condensed information from the Bible as well as art pieces and eyewitness accounts that have been found from the time of Jesus and since. This book contains many useful tools including a glossary and lots of visual images. I give it 5 stars!

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

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Here We Go Meal Plan #1

Contains affiliate links. 

If you are a part of the action on my Facebook page then you know we've been discussing recipes and meal plans. Yesterday I spent a good portion of my morning working on meal plans for the next few weeks and making ahead the grocery lists I'd need with each week. Well actually every 2 weeks to fall in line with paydays. So here ya go...this is actually a between payday week for us but I really want to get started so I scoured my pantry for items I had on hand to make dinners each night this week. We've munched on leftovers the last two days trying to get all of those eaten up.

I am using my Well Planned Day homeschool planner to keep up with my meal plan. It has a nifty little box on the side of each week just for a dinner menu.

Monday- Chicken Wings- we bought a pack of wings and thighs on sale. We plan to split them into 2 slow cookers tomorrow and pour on store bought sauce. Nothing fancy. One will be teriyaki and the other will be a spicy BBQ. Super easy and great for a busy night when we might not all be eating at the same time.

Tuesday- Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin- I have not made this before but I already had all the ingredients, it is a slow cooker meal, and it looks and sounds AMAZING!

Wednesday- Steak Fajitas- No real recipe necessary. I have some thin steaks I will cut into strips and throw into a pan with a cut tomato, bell pepper, and onion. I usually pick up a packet of fajita seasoning too. Cook it up and serve on tortillas. Ta-da!

Thursday- Pancakes and sausage- surely this will be the kids favorite meal. This is actually an evening when we have plans and probably won't eat at home but in case we do we can fry sausage patties and make pancakes or waffles (from a mix although I plan to find a good homemade version soon, if you have one please share in the comments!).

Friday- Rotel Velveeta Chicken- there are some really amazing rotel chicken spaghetti recipes out there and I have one for a future meal plan. Much to the chagrin of my Velveeta hating friends, my husband likes this recipe where I cook chicken breasts in the oven with rotel on top of them and when they are almost fully cooked I put cubed Velveeta right on top of them in the pan. You end up with a cheesy, slightly spicy chicken breast that is great with almost any side. Healthy? No. Tasty? Sho 'nuff!

Saturday- You'll see it says softball party. We have a team party to attend and will be eating pizza that evening. I put it on the menu so I wouldn't forget and try to serve pizza another day/ night.

Sunday- Poppy Seed turkey- We have some leftover chunks of turkey in the freezer from the last turkey we roasted. I make this exactly like Poppy Seed chicken. It is a very rich dish but so very tasty!

If you'd like to see new recipes as I find them be sure to follow the Catering to the Carters Pinterest board. I'm always adding pins!

Just a disclaimer: This is a journey. I want to get organized before we begin school again. I am the least stressed when I have a plan. My hope is that I will get organized at meal planning, then I will be able to make some of my regular meals as freezer meals to save time and prep, and then I will be able to return to couponing and price matching in order to save as much as possible on our groceries. Right now I'm still in planning mode. I will give you my list of meals for the week and include as many recipes as possible. Stick with me and let's do this together. If you don't like one of my meals that's okay! They won't all be super healthy or super cheap. If you have a recipe to share that is always welcome!

Make sure you make a grocery list! One trip to the store always costs less than multiple trips back for one or two items.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Faith, Sports, and Reading

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

I am constantly on the lookout for books for Speedy. Although he is really still into shorter chapter books with some pictures, if I see something a little more advanced that I think he will enjoy later then I like to grab it. Because he is so passionate about baseball (and sports in general) that is definitely a theme I look for when finding reading material for him. Snap Decision by Nathan Whitaker seemed like it might be a good fit for him for later. I've read it and I'm not disappointed at all.

Chase is in the 8th grade and the JV football quarterback. His dad isn't around but his best friend Tripp lives next door and Tripp's family treats him as one of their own. He and his sister have a positive, close knit group of friends and life is looking pretty good for Chase. In fact it is getting even better as it begins to look like he may have a chance to join his buddy Tripp on the varsity football team. This is just what he's been wanting. Things really are terrific and he's making friends on the varsity team and hearing he may be called up soon. He's beginning to fall behind in his studies but he'll catch up later......all of this culminates in a turning point and Chase is forced to make a split second decision about his best friend Tripp. Did Chase do the right thing? Can he live with the outcome?

This is a great story line. Not only a great story for my son when he feels more confident but I'm going to have my daughter read it as well. It includes some great instances of faith, some really meaningful reminders about honesty and obedience, as well as some great life lessons for athletes. I didn't want to put this little story down and I know they won't either once they get started. This isn't a difficult read at all and I think boys and girls will enjoy Chase's story as well as some of the other character's like Megan the 8th grade kicker for the varsity team (a GIRL!). 

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Get Your Children in the Word

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

Back in 2011, I told you all about the BIG Bible storybook called The Beginning Reader's Bible. It has graced our shelves since and has been a favorite with the children. During our homeschool time, we occasionally take a little time and study specific Bible stories or themes. This is in addition to any Bible curriculum we are using. We have often referred to this big beautiful Bible storybook and the kids have both spent time reading the stories to themselves.

So when God's Word for Me Bible Storybook arrived in the mail Apple instantly recognized that it was the same book! I was impressed that she knew right away that the beautiful illustrations from Marijke ten Cate were the same. I pulled out the older version and did some comparing for you.

You can see that the size has decreased a bit. While the BIG Bible was fun I actually like this smaller version better. It fits on the bookshelf easier! And it isn't too heavy for the kids. 

Here I just wanted you to see that the beautiful, vibrant illustrations are exactly the same. I'm so glad they weren't changed at all!

The table of contents is also the same. HOWEVER the one thing I complained about with the older version is that the pages weren't actually numbered. Now they are! That makes it so much easier for the kids to find the story they want to read. 

After carefully going through both books the only thing I can see that has been removed from the new version is the Prayer of Salvation that was in the back of the old one. I have to say I'm glad it is removed. I understand why it is in the back of many children's books and Bibles but we've always taught our children that beginning a relationship with Jesus is a huge step that needs to be talked about as a family. I don't think having a prayer of salvation would deter anyone but I just want our kids to know that it is a big step and not just something we read or say over and over if that makes sense.

So in conclusion, beautiful storybook that your kids can read with words straight from the ICB. Includes the favorite Bible stories as well as some less known ones. Has Bible verses to remember with each story and gives suggestions for activities to go along with them as well. Perfect for homeschool or just to keep on your child's bookshelf as a reader. Don't forget there is an attached ribbon bookmark! Love those. 

Want to peek inside? Look here for a preview

Do you want one yet??? I have one to giveaway! Woohoo! Enter via the easy Giveaway Tools widget. *As a side note, do you like the widget? Does it load easily for you? I've had a complaint or two about loading and my last couple of giveaways haven't been as popular. I want to make this easy for you to enter so let me know what you think!


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