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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Another Tool for Getting Ready for the Riot

If you read my post here you will learn a little more about my journey to get ready for the riot. It's been a slow and painful transition already but I know the level of health I am gaining is all worth it.

My next tool I have to review for you (the I received for free in exchange for an honest review) is the Ozeri 4x3 Motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer with Tri-Axis Technology. Now that's a big ol' name for a small, multi-function pedometer.

It comes with clear instructions, a strap, and a small screwdriver for changing the battery (battery is included). This digital pedometer:

*tracks steps
*tracks distance
*keeps time/ date records
*and even tracks your speed

It is easy to use. I think the only hard thing was measuring my stride. That wasn't even hard it just took time to figure out the best way to do it. I finally got a tape measure and took 10 steps down my hall then measured then did it several more times. Once you have your stride (divide your distance of 10 steps by 10) then you will enter it, your weight, the date, and time into the pedometer. Once that's all set you are ready to go. Slide it into your pocket and take off. 

I find it is great for ensuring I take plenty of steps each day. I sit to homeschool my kids, I sit to work from home, I sit to blog, I sit to drive, you get the idea. I also love that it does distance. I'm not a big fan of putting everything on my phone and I like to keep the GPS turned off so I can't use an app for measuring the distance of my walks.

The pedometer is very slim and won't get in your way. The strap is convenient. You can use it to wear it around your neck but I find it works just fine in my pocket. It will store your records for 7 days at a time. You can also set it to miles or km. 

All in all this is a great little tool whether you are just starting a daily walk or if you are in intense training for an obstacle course. 

I received a free product from Ozeri in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Taking the Slow Cooker on the Town #crockbagmedium

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

So I use my slow cooker a lot. All the time. Several times a week. And I may or may not have cough, cough, 5, cough slow cookers so I can use several at a time and I always have one to use even if one or two are dirty.

The only drawback to the slow cooker (that I can find) is if you make a meal to take somewhere. If you take all the food out and put it into another bowl or container then the food needs to be reheated when you arrive at your destination. Until recently my solution was to unplug the slow cooker, wrap the cord around the lid, and then use a towel to get it to the car without burning myself. Or dropping it. Cause that would be a tragedy. If Hubby is going with me then I ride with the towel draped slow cooker between my feet in the floor board. If he isn't driving me then I have to be even more creative with a box or basket to try to keep the slow cooker from tipping over while I am driving. Whew it can be exhausting.

Well all that ridiculousness is over. I have now found the Bellemain Thermal Slow Cooker Carrying Bag. This particular bag is designed for the Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget 6 qt model. I actually don't have one of those (surprise, surprise). However this bag is very big and it comes with a lovely, wide strap for keeping the lid in place. That lovely strap is also adjustable on both sides so you can pretty much fit this bag to any similarly sized slow cooker. And I did.

Here's the bag. The thermal layer inside ensures your food stays hot until your reach your destination.

As you can see it is quite roomy on the inside and totally covered in the thermal insulation. It will also keep cold foods cold. Because the zipper opens nearly all the way around it is super easy to pick up your whole slow cooker and fit it into the bag. I was able to do it with no help.

This large strap adjusts so this lid buckle fits right on and holds that lid tight.

BBQ chicken anyone? This is a great thing to take on the go to a party, family meal, picnic, potluck, etc.

Here the slow cooker is down in the bag with the lid keeper on. I did pull it tighter than it was in this picture.

All closed up and secure.

The wide, thick straps ensure a good hold on the bag and comfort while you carry it.

As you can see this Bellemain bag is super useful, works great, and meets a need. The price on Amazon today (8.24.14- stated prices are not guaranteed in any way) is only $7.95 and the purchase qualifies for free shipping for Amazon Prime members! Hop on over and buy yours today!

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.

Meal Plan #8

So all is still going well. I'll admit even with a plan some days I just don't get dinner started on time or started at all. It's almost time for our first homeschool break and I'm really hoping that during that week I can cook ahead some freezer meals. Here's what I have down for this week:

Monday- BBQ Chicken Sandwiches- slow cooker, boneless skinless chicken, and BBQ sauce with a packet of ranch powder. If you cook it on low 4-5 hours the chicken will just shred apart and make great sandwiches.

Tuesday- Potato Soup- Everyone seems to have their own favorite version of this soup. Mine always includes lots of cheese. I like to use a ham bone in it as well (of course I remove it before serving) if I have one in the freezer.

Wednesday- Shrimp Alfredo- Similar to the Chicken Alfredo in my Meal Plan #2 but with breaded popcorn shrimp instead of chicken.

Thursday- Tacos- Ground beef, taco seasoning, and all your favorite toppings. Super easy!

Friday- Lasagna- I've made homemade lasagna many times but my go-to lasagna is the big Stouffer's family sized meat sauce lasagna. Easy. Serve with garlic bread and salad to feel like a real chef. :)

Saturday- Tater Tot Casserole- Again there are many versions of this available. This was one of my husband's favorites growing up and he introduced me to it. Basically cook ground beef and drain well. Mix with a can of cream of mushroom (or your favorite "cream of" soup) and salt & pepper and put into the bottom of a casserole dish. I use a large round dish for this. Top with frozen tater tots and shredded cheddar. Bake on 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Sunday- Baked Sandwiches

What's your favorite freezer meal? I'd like to make chili and spaghetti sauce in bulk while we are on break. Those are always big hits in the fall and winter.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Who Likes to Win Free School Stuff?

Post contains affiliate links.

Me, me! That's why I entered the Educents 31 Days of Giveaways!


Maybe your favorite will be the $250 Seat Sack gift certificate or perhaps you will want to win a 2 night escape from ResortQuest. I would love to win any of the prizes but of course the grand prize of an Apple iPad Mini (32 gb) is the one that my kids want the most. There are even prizes from Rosetta Stone and Rainbow Loom!

You can enter all 31 of the giveaways right now at Educents and all of them are via easy Rafflecopter forms. The giveaways end on August 31 so get your entries in today!

Put Your Name On It

I received a free promotional credit from All opinions are my own.

Have you ever visited a website and wanted everything on it? That doesn't happen to me very often. I'm not really a minimalist but I am not one to want an abundance of items either. However offers such a wide variety of USEFUL decals that I was instantly hooked. As you can tell from their name their biggest selection of decals are for kids so let's start there.

First of all their website is very neatly organized. You can search their products in a variety of ways- gender, popularity, types, styles, etc. Their labels for kids come in such a huge selection- sports, monograms, chevron, popular graphics, and more. There are also a selection of shapes like round, rectangle, etc. You are certain to find a style of decal that fits your child. Speaking of decal let me tell you a little more about them. They are:

*dishwasher safe
*washer and dryer safe

That means you can use them on sports equipment, school supplies, dishes, your car window (my hubby's idea), and even on clothing! If you have kids you know you can spend an exorbitant amount of time just labeling everything. Because our family spends so much time at the sports fields I went with a sports theme decal for them. They actually both use the #9 most of the time so I had our last name with the #9 put on little baseballs. Apple actually plays softball but she knows it can be hard to find softballs. So I got the mega set which comes with 24 decals. You can custom design your decal with name, number, address, allergies, and more (depending on the type of decal).

Speaking of kids, my sweet friend has a baby and recently had a couple of times when his nap was disturbed by the doorbell. I shared with her that I had a "Please Knock" sign taped over our doorbell for years. I was going to make her a sign but then I discovered Kidecal sells doorbell decals! They also come in a variety. I really wanted to get her one that said "Wake my baby and I will cut you" which reminded me of another dear friend (ahem...Betty) but I selected a kinder one instead.

So while it won't make me laugh when I go to visit maybe it will ensure sweet baby boy (and his brother) will nap. 

On top of these lovely selections I really want (but have not yet gotten) a set of the Chalkboard Labels. We do potluck at our church several times a year and I would love these labels for that purpose. I could write the name of a dish (sometimes very important) and my own name on my dishes! At $10 for 12 labels I could put one on each of my favorite dishes and then all I need is a piece of chalk to label them before I head to potluck. How awesome is that? 

Wall decals, canning decals, Christmas decals, keyboard the list of fun things at just goes on and on. To recap a bit I like the labels I ordered because they are thick, waterproof, and so very versatile. The kids love them because they have our last name and their # on them. My friend now loves them because I gave her a cool doorbell sticker. I already see some great Christmas gift ideas on their site and if anyone is looking for an idea for me.....just saying! 

We're going to put one on Speedy's loft bed, on all the bats, on the soccer balls, on the cleats, one the slides, on the helmets, and more!

See some more ways Kidecals can be used:

{Oh and for you deal seekers- shipping is always free!}

I received a promotional credit to Kidecal. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Who Doesn't Love a Good Quiz?

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

We ladies love a good quiz don't we? From quizzes in our favorite magazine to the newer quizzes on Facebook to tell you which Golden Girl you are or what color you are, we all like to take quizzes for a deeper understanding of ourselves. A little self-exploration if you will. Apple (at only 9) is quickly starting to feel the fun in taking a little self quiz and the extra thrill in doing one with a friend.

We already know faiThGirLz! books rock and the Big Book of Quizzes is no exception. This is the perfect book of fun quizzes for your tween. Apple did a whole bunch of them the minute she got the book. I glanced through them and was glad to see she' fairly self aware- musical, messy, dramatic, creative, and clever are a few adjectives she picked for describing herself and they are right on.  There are quizzes like "Are You a Good Friend?" and "Has Gossip Got You Gripped?" 

These are great ways for your tween to pass some time and learn a little more about herself and her friends. There are also a couple of quizzes about boys and dating. Ahh. I wish they weren't even in there. At 9 (or 10 or 13), I'd rather her focus not be on boys or dating or romance but I certainly know well enough that many girls her age are just entrenched in that talk. There was a One Direction concert a few hours away this week. SO SO SO many of Apple's friends and their moms were all over Facebook with pictures and updates about the concert. Apple doesn't listen to much modern music. None of us do on a regular basis (except I do at Zumba). It isn't that all modern music is "bad" but a lot of it has questionable content especially all the focus on romance and relationships. I just feel like she's too young to be focused on that and boy band crushes. Hey I was all about some NKOTB at her age but it just isn't a necessary part of being a tween. So we refrain. And while we've had some discussions about flirting and crushes for the most part she & I agree that there's plenty of time for all that later.

So all in all a great, entertaining little book of quizzes that she can't wait to share with her friends. Now is a perfect time to think ahead to the holidays. What tween girl on your list would love the Big Book of Quizzes?

This book will release August 26, 2014.

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

Healing at the Ocean

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

I love the water. I've always felt an amazing sense of calm and peace around the river, lakes, and especially the ocean. I grew up camping and swimming and the water is just a happy place for me. I see my children feel that same sense of peace at the water's edge and my heart soars. Some of God's most beautiful creations are blue and stretch as far as the eye can see. Wanda E. Brunstetter must have a similar love of the ocean. It (specifically Sarasota, FL/ Pinecrest) is the scene of her newest book The Healing Quilt.

As you can see from the video, this book has a lot of characters! It was a little difficult in the beginning to keep them all straight but each of their stories is unique from the others and I quickly felt like I knew each of them. Lamar and Emma Miller have come to Pinecrest to ease Lamar's arthritis. Lamar has found real joy in the beach setting but Emma begins to feel homesick. She reluctantly decides to hold a quilting class- something she enjoyed doing in their hometown in Indiana. Now there are 2 previous books telling of these quilting classes but I have not read either of those.

healing quilt The Healing Quilt
So this quilting class quickly attracts 6 very different people in the area. There's a man (eventually a couple of men), a pregnant lady, a retired widow, a young teen in a wheelchair, and a single waitress. As they begin the class (some reluctantly), Emma prays God will use her simple quilting class to help these folks along the way. The stories each develop well and soon we see the challenge each quilting student is facing. Their struggles are all very easy to understand and many of us could relate to one or more of them. Lamar and Emma have sweet gentle spirits and their Plain lifestyle just complements their demeanors.

I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read an Amish or Mennonite fiction in a little while and I quickly became engrossed in this one. The story lines are easy to follow (once you learn the characters and easy to read!). I really thought I had most of it all figured out by the middle but Brunstetter made sure to throw in some surprises. I now want to go back and read the other 2 books in this series to learn more about some of the characters from Emma's previous quilting classes. Of course I also love the vivid descriptions of the beach and ocean as they transport me back to my own happy place. If you love easy fiction that you can lose yourself in for a bit then I would recommend The Healing Quilt.

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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Meal Plan #7

Monday- Baked Hamburger Steak- Pretty sure that is my most "repinned" Pinterest Pin. Click the link for my "recipe." 

Tuesday- French Bread Pizza- Another super easy and versatile meal. So easy that Apple (who is 9) can make it pretty much solo. We buy loaves of French bread at the store (the fat ones, not the long skinny ones), slice in half, spread on your own marinara sauce or buy a jar of pizza sauce to use, cover with pizza cheese blend, add on your favorite toppings. We usually do a cheese one and a pepperoni one. We throw on olives if we're feeling fancy. Then just pop them in the oven on 350 for 15- 20 minutes or until the cheese is all nice and melty. Oh one more matter what pizza sauce we use, Apple likes to put pizza seasoning on it too. I have a really hard time finding the pizza seasoning blend but we like to keep it on hand. It does add extra flavor.

Wednesday- Taco Soup- Click the link for my recipe. 

Thursday- Frito Chili Pie- Long before Sonic put this on their menu, my great granddaddy taught me this recipe. Heat up chili (I'm using leftovers from what I made last week), put Fritos in the bottom of your bowl, pour on chili, and top with as much cheese as you can stand. If your chili is hot enough the cheese will melt and oh boy oh boy! Definitely one of my comfort food favorites and perfect since it feels like fall is well on the way! 

Friday- Orange Chicken with Rice- This is one of Speedy's favorite meals and one we "cheat" on. I usually buy popcorn chicken in the frozen food section and we get the Panda Express Orange Chicken sauce (tip it is usually cheaper at the Panda Express than it is at Walmart or Kroger). After the chicken cooks we toss it in the sauce and serve with rice. And veggies. Ta-da. Perfect Friday night meal because it takes almost no time at all to prepare.

Saturday- Spaghetti- Okay so I'm noticing I overloaded the tomato sauce based meals for this week. I truly planned these meal plans at one time and I had to change several of them. Just know we aren't actually eating at home every single night and in a couple of weeks you will see a meal plan that is all "make up" meals. Something tomato based from this week is sure to be on there....I make my spaghetti with homemade sauce- crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic powder or fresh garlic (you can also skip those last 3 for a packet of spag seasoning), cooked & drained ground beef, and usually a can or jar of drained mushrooms. Another fall favorite. 

Sunday-Chicken Salad Sandwiches- Mmmmm chicken salad- Canned chicken or cooked chicken that has been shredded (in my KitchenAid mixer with the paddle attachment), mayo, Ranch dressing, chopped celery (or celery seed), salt, pepper, grapes (opt), almonds or pecans (opt) on some good bread. Yum yum yum yum yum. Best on crescent rolls.....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pinterest for Homeschool

Pinterest can be scary. I remember trying it the first time myself and feeling like it was an odd waste of time. Back then (you know 2 years ago) there wasn't much content on Pinterest and I found myself doing weird searches just to find things to Pin. Fast forward to today and Pinterest has EVERYTHING! 

There are so many fun ways to use Pinterest:

*Scroll through things pinned by friends and those you follow in the recent feed
*search pins by category or popularity or even by searching a word in Pinterest
*Pin items as you come across them online (those little Pin It buttons are the best)
*Look at specific boards for ideas on cooking, Vacation Bible School, Health & Beauty, books, and so, so much more

As Pinterest grows (I heard just the weekend that Pinterest is becoming a man's tool as well for things like hoarding....err....I mean survivalist tips and weapons info) it's time we got more comfortable with Pinterest and made it really work for us. I will focus on using it for homeschooling but trust me it can be used for almost any subject.

  1. Use those boards to your advantage. All this time I've had a "Homeschool Helpers" board and it has been a great place to pin curriculum, tips, projects, and more. The thing is one big board like that can be difficult to navigate. It's actually much better to use smaller categories. Think about Pinterest as your file cabinet....all your homeschool paper wouldn't fit in one folder. You need more than one. I'm slowly working on this and now I have a "Homeschool Science" board and a "Mystery of History Vol 1" board. Don't worry about going back and sorting out your one big board (if you have one). Just start smaller boards and add to them as you can. You can always sort when you have a few minutes to spare.
  2. Follow people with great boards. Repin away. When you find a board with several items you enjoy it's a good idea to follow the whole board. That way new pins to that board will pop up in your feed when you get on Pinterest. I found this especially helpful when I was doing VBS planning. I followed many boards on the theme we were using so I was constantly seeing new ideas from other VBS leader's boards. It works the same way with homeschool. Especially specialized subjects or curriculum. I've followed Mystery of History boards so I have access to their ideas and can choose what to pin to my own MOH board.
  3. Search. Search. Search. Today I looked at a worksheet in my child's science and wasn't pleased with it. I didn't even want to make the copy of it because I knew there had to be something better out there. So I hopped on Pinterest, typed in my subject, and boom I had 20 choices of worksheets. I selected one (oh so much better than the original one) and printed it right off. What an advantage to my kids (and to me!) that I can pull something I need so easily. 
  4. Projects. Maybe you are uncrafty like me. Maybe glitter makes your skin crawl. Maybe you can't even draw reasonable stick people. If so, Pinterest is the place for you. All the super crafty, imaginative moms live in there and they can teach you to make a diagram of the heart and ventricles with a pipe cleaner. They can also tell you all the right shows and movies (many on Netflix or Amazon Prime) for the days when you just can't handle a project.
  5. Books. Books on every subject. Book reviews. Book information. Books for everything, in every grade, forever. Books. Whether a book is age appropriate, whether a book is boring, whether a book is amazing and goes with everything you need! Yay books. Pin them. Pin some for yourself too. Reading is a pastime that keeps the ol' brain exercising.
  6. When you just need a few minutes of pin scrolling, check out the categories. Next to the search bar is a 3 line button to click. Education is a great place to start. Kids is another good one. When you get tired of those jump on over to the humor...if you can ignore the tacky, rude ones you are sure to find something to make you laugh. 
  7. Secret boards- these are a little used feature that can be very useful. You can pin Christmas lists or anything else that you don't want to be public knowledge. You can also add friends to those (as well as any other boards) so you can collaborate together. 
So while you are still fresh and happy and in the mood to plan all things homeschool hop on over to Pinterest for some fun ideas. Just don't OD on the glitter..........

Into the World of Graphic Novels

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

I need to begin this review by telling you that I have no interest in comic books or graphic novels. Personally I have no interest at all. However I have one child that is super artistic and loves to learn all about everything and I have another child that loves to read graphic novels. I let you guess which is which.

Books= knowledge. Children= curious. Having a book like Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels by Brian Michael Bendis offers my children knowledge about an interesting field. Bendis is certainly an expert in the world of comics and he begins this book by explaining his quest for comic book knowledge as a child. He concedes that there was little written or taught on the subject at the time and so a lot of his skill and savvy was self taught or picked up at conventions. Now that he teaches college courses on graphic novels he has an idea of what interested people need to know about that world.

Bendis uses his experience to divide the comic book/ graphic novel industry up section by section and he explains each part. In the 7 chapters of the book, he goes into the art and business portions of this business. I also like that he lays it out plain and simple that riches and fame shouldn't be the primary goal of a budding comic book artist. He also includes PLENTY of amazing graphics from his own collection as well as those of other artists. The interview section of this book is great as well because the reader gets insight from various people in the industry.

All of that being said there are a few rough around the edges things in the book. I'm a prude and proud of it and I will be self editing some of the words and wording before I put this in a place where my kids can peruse it. I knew when I got the book that it might not be appropriate for them at their young ages but I do think it is a good resource for a less explored field of work. The thing is my Avengers loving child has already spotted the book with an "OH COOL!" exclamation. I think as parents of this generation we have more opportunity than ever to expose our kids to a full array of jobs, occupations, hobbies, and information. We should use it wisely and carefully.

 I want my kids to find their natural bent, their God given talents, and I want them to use them to His glory. Right now I have clues into their interests and strengths but I have no idea where God will take them or what type of profession he will put them in. I feel like it's part of my job to open up the world for them so they can learn about a variety of jobs, cultures, and pastimes. Even really cool ones like graphic novel art and writing.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Practical Advice that Sticks

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

I know many of you share similar lives to mine. Lots of you are stay at home moms or homeschooling moms that are fighting to raise your children to share your faith in God. And like me, most of you have heard the staggering statistics of young adults that leave the faith after high school graduation. So I'm sure you've spent much time on your knees praying to God that they will choose the narrow path. Perhaps like me you have Proverbs 22:6 on your heart and mind often.

There are so many parenting books out there. They can be overwhelming. I've reviewed many for you here on the blog. Some that are amazing, some with a few good points, and some that felt like repeats of others. Today I want to tell you abou Dr. Kara E. Powell's book The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. So evidently this is like a sequel to Powell's book with Dr. Chap Clark titled Sticky Faith. I have not read the first book but it seems to be geared towards high school kids and youth groups and how to ensure their faith sticks as they move on to college or the workplace. Powell took part of the work from Sticky Faith and her work at Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a whole lot of interviews with a whole lot of families to compile Sticky Faith for families.

Simply put: this is what you've been waiting on. This book to give you ideas (so many ideas) on ways to incorporate your faith into the everyday life and workings of your family, to encourage you (because I guarantee most of you incorporate lots of these ideas every day already), and to help you set goals (she recommends beginning with 2-5 and I think that's perfect) is what you've needed. I love it. I quoted from it on Facebook and in conversations several times already. I felt so pleased when I came across things we already do and I felt so challenged by so many of the ideas, things I just haven't thought of. Like anyone else I was also able to identify a few that just wouldn't fit our family or work into what we are striving to teach our kids.

There's even a Sticky Faith family portion of the website here. I think one of the things that impresses me the most is that Dr. Powell isn't just looking to sell a book or sell you on her ideas. She'll be the first to tell you that most of these ideas and stories come from other people. She obviously has a real heart for giving kids faith for life. I have to tell you the idea of my kids going into a youth group scares me. We have a wonderful friend that was an AMAZING youth pastor and we could envision our kids learning from him but then God called his family to Africa. The youth group at our church needs some new life. It needs some ambition. It needs a lot more Jesus. I feel good that I now have the Sticky Faith resources to help when we get to that level. I may not be a youth group leader but I can certainly be a youth group sponsor! If you are a youth group leader or sponsor or know one I encourage you to point them in the Sticky Faith direction. They need to start equipping kids in better ways to be prepared as they step out into the adult world. What we've been doing hasn't been working. It's time for a re-boot.

Sticky Faith for families includes Biblical principles and wisdom and tried and true family methods for working that faith into your family. If you want your child to live for Jesus then you have to start living our your faith in Jesus right now. I encourage you to start with your Bible and read The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family as a supplement.

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

Meal Plan #6

I'm not even going to apologize for posting late anymore.....sigh.

Without any further ado:

Monday- Teriyaki Chicken- you can do this in the slow cooker or in the oven. We like the teriyaki marinade and sauce. It's a little thinner than the sauce. Pour some over your chicken. Throw in sriracha or rice vinegar and/ or soy sauce for a deeper flavor. Cook and serve with rice. We always throw in some stir fry veggies too.

Tuesday- Baked Chimis- I found this recipe on Pinterest and my family loves it. Especially my very picky son.

Wednesday- Pepperoncini Roast- There are lots of versions of this out there. The simplest is to use a good beef roast, put it in the slow cooker, cover with a jar of sliced pepperoncinis. We serve it on buns with mayo or ranch and provolone or swiss cheese. It is spicy but oh so good. You can also throw in beef broth, ranch powder, or a number of other items. Very versatile!

Thursday- Chef Salad- Your favorite lettuce blend, chopped hard boiled eggs, deli meat, cheese, you get the idea.

Friday- Chili- Everyone has their own favorite chili recipe. I make it in big batches to freeze or use with other meals.

Saturday- Hot Dogs- Go great with leftover chili and slaw.

Sunday- Omelet Casserole- This is named something else on my menu but it is a recipe from a dear, dear friend. I'm going to print exactly what she sent me and then fill you in on a little change I tried.

1 lb. Cheese, shredded
2 c. cooked, chopped ham-you could use chunks of ham or slices of ham torn up.  I use whatever I have.
1/2 c. melted butter (I usually omit this and it does just fine)
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 dozen eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pint cottage cheese (this is what makes it really good!)
1/2 c. milk

Mix flour and baking powder. Beat eggs and season with salt and pepper (this can be done in the blender). Add cottage cheese and milk to eggs. Add 1/2 cup butter, if desired.  Sprinkle ham and cheese in the bottom of a greased 13x9 casserole dish.  Top with egg mixture.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then lower to 350 and bake 15 more minutes or until puffed and golden on top.  If you find that this doesn't seem to have set, and it still very shaky, then bake it for another 5-10 minutes at 350.  Sometimes I have to do this, and sometimes I don't.  I will say, the more cheese you use the less set it seems to be.  I can't stick a toothpick in and have it come out clean because of the cheese and cottage cheese.  Just check the center shakiness, and it will be telling.

Isn't she awesome?? So I made this ham omelet several times in the last couple of years. Last week I decided to make it (for lunch one day) using sausage instead. Y'all.....I can't even explain. As I told dear JH SHUT. THE. FRONT. DOOR. It is amazing with sausage. Try it. You'll love it. Your family will love it. They will eat it all in one day and then cry when there aren't leftovers the next day. Really.That's why I'm making it again this week.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Recaping Our First Two Weeks

All praise to the Lord for an awesome first two weeks of school! Woohoo! I spent much time in prayer this summer. I held meetings with the kids to discuss possible homeschool changes. I read blogs, magazines, and books for ideas. I met with other homeschool moms and picked their brains. I prayed. I prayed some more. I spent a lot of time planning (and praying over that planning). And God blessed the work.

We've had 2 full weeks of 5th grade and 2nd grade and they've gone so well! I want to share with you what's working so well for us in case you are in the praying and planning stages still.

*The kids eat and get dressed and then spend around 20-30 minutes outside before school. We learned a long time ago that TV had to be banned before school and church. It just distracts everyone. I read a blog (I'm searching for it but lost it) where the mom scheduled her kids a 30 minute recess before school each day. I knew this would be a huge plus for Speedy. During one of our meetings I mentioned this idea to the kids and they were both excited. It's been great. They get their wiggles out and they are ready to get started by 8 am. Plus they aren't distracted by needing or wanting to do certain things after we get started. That goes for me too. If I have things to do I know I have 30 minutes to work on it....and drink some coffee.

*The one main request from both kids was more "project/ hands on" activities. I really kept that in mind as I selected curriculum this year. We are doing Mystery of History Vol 1 and there are tons of options for projects and hands on. We don't do them all but I've found selecting a small project for each lesson has helped. They are also working on a timeline (Apple), maps (Speedy), and memory cards (Apple). I've found it's also super easy to find a show or movie to reinforce what they are learning even if it isn't exact (like they watched Ice Age this week but they are fully aware that it is not accurate). We are doing Apologia's Who Is God? for Bible. They LOVE it! They are enjoying the notebooking activities and they beg to do extra every day. BTW I was so excited to win the next book in the series (Who Am I?) from Apologia on FB!

So more activities- less worksheets= happy students

*We are also doing an altered calendar this year working out to approximately 5 weeks on, 1 week off. The kids were more than willing to begin a week early in order to look forward to a week off at a time. I've gotta tell you though I think they will be sad when it's time to take a week off. They are enjoying school THAT MUCH! I'll have to make sure to plan some fun activities those weeks. 

*For Apple, I realized I was giving her a lot of what amounted to busy work. I guess as she progressed up in grade level I felt like she needed a bunch more work. Honestly it was not helping her at all. She was totally overwhelmed last year and so was I. I've got her back to basics this year. She's sharing history, science, and Bible with her brother. She's doing Shurley English for the first time and really likes it so far! She also does Math U See, Life of Fred, handwriting, and spelling. I really think at this point that's plenty along with reading. I made a big fuss over lots of activities to go along with her reading last year but this year we've moved away from a lot of that. We're focusing on comprehension and book reports. The girl reads everything. I have no real concerns about her reading level or comprehension.

*Speaking of spelling, Apple has always excelled at spelling (because of her consistent reading). This is Speedy's first year of spelling. They are both using text books and at the point the words seem very easy. I'm giving them the option on Mondays of looking over the words and taking a test on them. If they can't pass then they will do the week's unit of spelling. If they do pass then we put it away until the following Monday.

All in all they are happy and relaxed and I am happy and relaxed. I'm continuing to pray as I want the whole year to be this way. After 2......tough years we really needed to have a good year. 

Have you started yet? How's it going?

Let Your Tween Girl Share a Blessing

I received a free copy of this book from Tommy Nelson in exchange for my honest review. 

Apple's handwriting....could use some refinement. I've tried several methods to get her interested in writing and sometimes she's into it but usually she isn't. I actually think that may be a drawback to one to pass notes to during class! Well except her brother...but she isn't passing him any notes.

This picture doesn't show it but there's also a cute little band and brad that keeps it closed when not in use.

So when I saw this adorable book from Tommy Nelson I got so excited! Share a Blessing is a softcover bound book of 24 cute cards and several pages of several stickers. Some of the cards are postcards and some are one fold cards. They are all precious. Seriously. Apple has had more trouble choosing cards for people because she thinks they are all perfect!

Here are just a few of the 1,000 stickers.

She's sent one as a get well card to our Pastor and she's used one as birthday card. She also is sending one in a baby shower gift today. I hope to have her send some of them to cousins and friends in other places as well. I love a handwritten note or card by mail and I want to teach her the art of sending them out. The cute designs make it easy to entice her to do so.

You can see a couple of the cute designs above. To see even more check out the flip book preview. For only $9.99 you just really can't go wrong with this for any tween girl. The stickers and cards and worth well more than that. 

I have one copy to giveaway also! Woohoo! Follow the easy Giveaway Tools widget to enter.


I received a free copy of this book as a Tommy Mommy in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

Get Ready for the Riot #FiveKTape

These are my besties. Note that they are trimmer than me and this was a couple of years ago. They are still trimmer than me and I've gone a bit backwards in my health and fitness goals. Sometimes baseball, softball, soccer, choir, church, and everything else gets in the way of my workout time. Not just sometimes...lots of the time. So the one on the end there with the biggest bicep...she has challenged the other BFF and I to participate in an obstacle course in a few months. We've got to start training. HARD. Especially me. We have another super fit friend that is pushing us as well.

So join me as I review a few products (that I am receiving free in exchange for an honest review) as I GET READY FOR THE RIOT. I've got a couple of products lined up already and today we are starting with 5KTape. Have you heard of Kinesiology tape? I have seen people with it on before and wondered why in the world they had tape on their arm or leg. I found out there's loads of research and videos available online for athlete taping. Basically this tape provides stability for muscles and joints to relieve pressure and pain as you run and workout.

I started out watching a few videos on Youtube for usage instructions and information. I decided to start out trying it on my knees since I have the most trouble with those (I've told you in the past about some amazing insole inserts that I've tried that certainly help with the problems). As I workout more and fight to lose weight my knees are always a concern. So I watched the videos then pulled out my 5KTape to give it a try.

First of all you get 2 rolls with this promotion! Woohoo! This should definitely last me until our Riot.

Second I was jazzed to see this 5KTape is premeasured and cut into convenient strip sizes. This tape is super sticky so I wasn't wanting to involve my scissors.

You can see it is spit down the middle as well. Kinesiology tape is super stretchy and is made to form right to your body. I've seen it applied to arms, legs, back, knees, shoulders. It needs to be flexible and easy to use for a multitude of areas. I haven't tried any other brands but I can assure you this 5KTape is versatile.

When you start watching application videos you will see you need to remove the end of one side to begin. The tape comes with convenient lines on the back to help you remove a piece to begin. 

It's easy to fold the piece back and forth across a line the tear the paper backing to remove a small strip.

This was my first time applying. I followed the instructions on the video and I got relief from this tape pattern but as with anything I think my taping technique will improve with practice. This knee was bothering me after a Zumba class and I was able to tape it the next day and go for our family walk. I also left the tape on the following day after a shower. I pulled it off that night although I've heard it can last up to 3 days.

Different view of my beautiful taping job.

So here's what you need to know specifically about 5KTape:

  • Waterproof
  • Breathable 95% cotton, 5% nylon tape
  • Hypoallergenic 
  • Provides stability and support for muscles and joints
  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Improve circulation
I'll be keeping you informed as I try new uses for this tape and I will certainly be updating you as I get ready for the riot.

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, August 5, 2014

The Benefits of Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime- do you love it or hate it? Maybe you've never even tried it! With some changes in the pricing and with taxes being added in I decided it was time to evaluate Amazon Prime.

**A 1 year membership is now $99. That works out to $8.25/ month. Still a little cheaper than Netflix (especially since Netflix also has had a price increase although I'm not affected yet.

**If you are a blogger, a Prime membership is really a must. Many companies sending products for review now require a Prime account to approve you. Otherwise you may be liable to pay your own shipping and handling on a review product. At an around $5.99 per product for shipping that quickly adds up to equal or more than the $8.25/ month average. It also ensures that you receive these review products in a timely manner. I work with companies through regularly and it is the norm for them to now require a Prime account. Thus an Amazon Prime membership becomes a necessity for the business of blogging. I also buy many of my business supplies through Amazon as the prices are so much cheaper than anywhere else.

**On a personal level those shipping fees are the same and even if you only shop online once a month you've quickly added up a large s/h bill. I know at Christmas especially it is great to have free shipping for Christmas purchases. Now that my kids are older I can't buy "surprise" gifts if they are anywhere around but if I order online then they are certain not to see them.

**Amazon Instant Video offers many options for streaming television and movies. While some of the offerings overlap with Netflix we often find a variety of choices available on Prime that we can't watch for free anywhere else. Even Redbox fees add up quickly if you rent a couple of movies a week and let's face it with 2 kids I'm checking out at least 2 movies at a time. 3 if Hubby and I want to watch something that isn't animated.

**Kindle Lending Library offers 1 free book rental per month. Now I wish they would upgrade the system so it was easier to find select a book but with 2 Kindles in our house we do try to regularly take advantage of this offer. Apple is a speed reader and it's great for her to check out a free one a month that may not be available through our library's online checkout system.

**A new feature is Amazon Prime music. This is an unlimited music player offering many songs for instant listening. I haven't had a whole lot of time to try this feature but it is a nifty app on my new smartphone and the time I've spent listening I have enjoyed. A little old rock on your favorite list? You'll find plenty to listen to on Prime music.

As you can see I find that Amazon Prime is worth the $99 per year. Are you a Prime subscriber? If not keep your eyes peeled because Amazon often offers free 30 day trials to Prime. They are a great way to check out the program and see if you would use it on a regular basis.

No affiliate links are included in this article and I received no promotion or compensation for this post.

Little Critter Learns Some Life Lessons

I received a free copy of these books for the purpose of review. 

Do you ever have a day when you are just in a bad mood? A day when nothing is going your way and it seems like everyone is wronging you or everyone else has something better than you? Do your kids ever have days like that? The thing is I think we all have those types of days but when my kids are nagging and whining I have a hard time remembering how I feel on those days. I just want their whining to stop!

There are 2 new Little Critter InspiredKids board books available: Being Thankful and We All Need Forgiveness. Both of these are by Mercer Mayer and if you are like me you remember Mayer's Little Critter books from your own childhood. Little Critter is a grumpy dude at the beginning of both books.

In We All Need Forgiveness, he is having one of those days when things just aren't going his way. Everyone around him, including the family pets, seems to be contributing to his bad day by ruining his toy or making him drop his cookie. By the end Little Critter realizes sometimes he needs forgiveness too and that it's important to forgive others quickly. I love the moral of this book. I do wish there had been a moment when Little Critter told his friends and family he forgave them rather than just accepting their forgiveness. Overall though the story is sound and one that Speedy enjoyed. It's hard not to love all the detailed illustrations and fun expressions of Little Critter!

Being Thankful begins much the same way. Little Critter is longing for bigger and better things. He wants those new sneakers, new scooter, and big ice cream sundae. His parents try to explain he needs to be grateful for what he has but it falls on deaf ears. A trip to his grandparents' farm is just what he needs. He gets to experience the gratefulness of the animals at the farm and his grandparents give him a little life lesson and reminder about being thankful. I liked this book very much because not only did Little Critter learn a lesson, at the end he shares it with his sister too.

These books are both available in board book format and soft cover. You can see a preview of Being Thankful and We All Need Forgiveness by clicking the links.

I have a copy of each book to give as a set to one lucky reader! How awesome is that? I'm so excited to get to share these with you. So enter via the easy Giveaway Tools widget for your chance to win.

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

Monday, August 4, 2014

Meal Plan #5

Again I'm a day behind. So sorry about that. We had a yard sale pretty much all day Friday and Saturday. Yesterday was church and recuperating.

Because it was our first week of school and we had the yard sale, my meals again got a little off track but I have to tell you having the ingredients in the house for at least 7 meals is making a big difference. We don't have to run to get fast food 2 or 3 nights a week. I can go in the kitchen and throw something together in the slow cooker or in a hurry. Without further ado here is my plan for this week.....

Monday- Roasted Chicken- We actually did this one day last week because my daughter accidentally thawed out the whole chicken instead of chicken breasts. Whole chicken (defrosted) sat on top of 2 big aluminum foil balls in the slow cooker. Cover with your favorite seasonings (we used italian seasoning) and spray with your favorite oil (we spritzed with veggie oil). Cook time will vary based on size of the chicken. It tasted amazing and I served it with greens, mashed potatoes, and homemade sourdough bread. 

Tuesday- Hawaiian pork chops- Easy to do in the slow cooker. I cover mine with a can of pineapple slices juice and all. You can also add in some teriyaki sauce or soy sauce for a deeper flavor. 

Wednesday- Baked Ziti- There is the recipe I plan to try. We actually have potluck at church on Wednesday night so I hope to make a pan to take and a pan to freeze.

Thursday- Nachos- ground beef, tortilla chips, fiesta cheese, guacamole, salsa, black beans, olives, whatever you want to add. I usually pile it all on a cookie sheet and bake it a few minutes.

Friday- Red beans and rice- This meal is really subjective. I used to subscribe to e-meals and I got a recipe from them that I use. Google or check Pinterest to find a recipe that you'd like to try. We always put sausage in ours. 

Saturday- Philly Steak sandwiches- You can use Steak 'ums or flat iron steak to create your own philly steak. Throw in some soy sauce and worchestershire for flavor. Of course serve with onions and bell pepper for an authentic flavor.

Sunday- BLTs. Bacon. Lettuce. Tomato. Nuff said.

Are you planning along with me? Have you tried any of the meals I've posted?