Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011-2012 Curriculum - a work in progress!

Not Back to School Blog Hop  It's that time of year, time to unveil our plan for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year!  We are year around homeschoolers, so we officially started 1st grade stuff  in May -  A light schedule of Bible, reading, and math with a few fun science things thrown in here and there.  Come mid-August we will be jumping into our new schedule full throttle and I'm so excited!  Hopefully the kids will be as stoked to start as I am :)

Our main curriculum will be Classical Conversations Foundations Cycle 3.  We are so excited to join our new, local CC community this fall!

First Grade Plan:

Bible:  Bible Study Guide for All Ages, Beginner Unit 1, Qtr. 1(we are almost finished), Intermediate Qtr 2 & 3

History:  American History cycle.  We will be using SOTW 3 & 4 as spines and will be doing many unit studies and lapbooks along the way to make this phase of history come alive.  We will also be reading from The Children's Treasury of Virtues

Geography:  Road Trip USA, TAG U.S. Map

Science:  through CC we will be studying Anatomy & Chemistry...we will use My Body by Patti Caretello, Janice Van Cleave's 201 Awesome Experiements , Mr. Q's Classic Science

Math:  Horizons 1

Phonics/Spelling:  All About Spelling 1 (we are finishing it up now) then will move to 2, First Language Lessons, Hooked on Phonics.  We will also be reading the Little House on the Prarie Series as read alouds.

Handwriting:  Writing With Ease, lots of copywork sheets from CurrClick to go along with our Bible and History lessons

Latin:  Latin's Not So Tough!

Music Appreciation:  Classical Music for Dummies

Art:  Discovering Great Artists, Drawing with Children,

4K Plan:

Gman will be also be doing Classical Conversations, in addition I will supplement phonics, writing, and math with:

Rod & Staff Preschool Workbooks, Letter of Week K4 Curriculum, and Explode the Code Get Ready, Set, Go

I feel very good about this plan, but I'm also somewhat of a curriculum junkie.  In a world with unlimited time and money, I would own it all!  Therefore, I still consider this a work in progress...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Friday's Frugal Finds

1.  FREE box of BALL Fruit Pectin!  Go here to get yours.  Perfect timing for some jam making.  See my post on how easy it is to make!

2.  FREE Ruby Tuesday Fresh Garden Bar add on to an entree!  Go here, log in with your Facebook account and get the coupon.  HURRY, all these Ruby Tuesday deals go super fast!

3. Chance to win $100 CVS Gift Card!  Wow, wouldn't this come in handy at back-to-school time!  It's simple:  for every 10,000 new "likes" on their FB page, they will give 10 fans a $100 gift card.  You must "like" them, then sign up on the Summer Sweepstakes tab with your Extra Care Card # and corresponding email.  Good luck!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Banana Bread!

This morning was a "Banana Bread kinda morning"!  I had a couple of over ripe naners staring at me so decided to make my fave recipe.  This bread is made with whole wheat flour but is so light, not dense at all.  I don't dig nuts in my bread, so I sprinkle some rolled oats on top for some crunchiness instead, but if you're feeling nutty feel free to throw a 1/2 cup or so into the batter and sprinkle some on top!

Dry Ingredients

1 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

2 large over ripe bananans, smashed up
1/3 cup milk (I use 1%)
1 egg
1/4 cup Smart Balance, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients until blended.  In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients until well blended.  Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix well.  Pour into greased loaf pan.  Sprinkle the top with rolled oats.  Bake for 1 hour. 

That's it!  So easy, yet so yummy!  The middle is light and moist, while the outside has just the right amount of crunch.  I like to spread a little Smart Balance on mine while it's still warm :)  Enjoy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

We Be Jammin'

Today was jam making day in the Fern - blueberry to be specific!  This will be the 3rd year we've been making jam.  When I first started, I had no clue how to begin.  During my web search I came across the Pick Your Own website and followed their step-by-step illustrated instructions.  The result?  Perfect jam every time!  If you want all the details, go to their site, but  I'll provide an overview so you can see how easy it is to do!

What you need:  jars, lids, rings, a large canner pot (I just use my largest stockpot), funnel, jar tongs, lid magnet,  pectin, sugar, lemon juice, and around 9 or 10 cups of fruit. 

The first thing to do is sanitize your jars and lids.  You can run them through the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle or you can wash, then boil for 10 minutes.  You need to keep them hot while you are prepping your jam so the jars won't break.  I boiled mine and filled up the sink with very hot water and let them soak until I was ready to fill.

Next you need to wash and sort your berries.  I just put mine in a colander, wash thoroughly, and discard any stems, leaves, or squishy ones.

Next, add berries to a large pot and mash 'em up!  This is your chance to work out any frustrations from the day and give your arms a work out!  Make sure you don't leave any whole berries.  As you do this, the smell will captivate's ahhhhmazing!!!

Next, you will add the pectin/sugar mixture and the lemon juice.  Then the remaining sugar, bring to a boil, and do a gel test to see if it sets up like you want it to.  If not, just add a little more pectin and bring to a boil.   Here's my little helper sneaking a taste while I'm doing the gel test!  Don't even ask why she has long sleeve Christmas pjs on.  It's only 100 degrees outside, she's making me sweat looking at her! 

Now the fun part - filling the jars with all the blueberry goodness!  By the way, you should have your large stockpot full of boiling water so you can drop your filled jars in.  Using your funnel, fill each jar, put a lid and ring on, then drop into the boiling water.  I usually let mine boil for 10 minutes.  After they are finished, remove each with the jar tongs and set out  to cool.

Then you wait for that beautiful popping sound!  That means the jars are sealed!  Let them cool overnight and your beautiful homemade jam is ready to store or give.  I love keeping jam on hand for gifts.  Everyone loves to get a gift made with love and what says love better than a big spoonful of sweet fruity jam made with your very on hands???!!!  I hope this inspires you to get in the kitchen and pump up the jam!

Friday's Frugal Finds

Here are some great freebies/deals and advice for making your money stretch further!

1. Super Cheap Subscription to Disney's Family Fun Magazine!  We LOVE this magazine!  It provides so many ideas for fun craft, party, recipe, activities that are kid friendly.  Today at Tanga you can get a year's subscription for only $2.99 with the coupon code disney.  Hurry, these deals don't last long!

 2.  FREE Dog Treats!  I never BUY dog treats, I always rely on treat freebies and here's one from Natural Nibbles.  Scroll down their home page and click on Free Sample in bottom right corner.

3. Pay with CASH!  Here's some advice to make your hard earned money go further!   It's worth a little extra planning time to make sure you have cash on hand instead of swiping your debit or credit card.  YOU WILL spend less if you have to hand over the actual money vs. plastic!   In our area, we've also had a lot of card number theft problems. So, not only will using cash save you money, it's safer too!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad

Those who know me, know I love spicy foods!  If you aren't a spice lover then you can always omit the jalapeno and it will still be fabulous :)  This was inspired by your traditional cucumber and red onion salad but with a twist.  You will need:

1 Tbsp. rice wine or white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. Sesame oil
2 tsp. Soy sauce
3 small kirby cucumbers, sliced and seeds taken out
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced thin with seeds and veins taken out
1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onion
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
salt/pepper to taste

In a small dish combine vinegar, oil, soy sauce and crushed garlic.  Mix well.  Next, add the sliced cucumbers (I like to cut my slices in half, so they look like half moons), sliced jalapenos, and sliced red onions.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.  Toss so all the ingredients are coated in the sauce.  Let chill for 1 to 2 hours.  This is great as a side dish or added to a steak salad!  Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Clean Sheets

Today I begin week 2 of the 90 Day Bible reading challenge.  The past week has been so fulfulling!  I've stayed on track and have almost 10% of the entire Bible read already, whoo hoo!

Today I am reading in Leviticus and my theme is "clean sheets"!  One of life's simple pleasures is crawling into a bed with freshly laundered sheets.  They are so crisp and clean, smell so good and promise a great night's sleep every time.  Unfortunately, after one night, they just don't hold the same appeal.  They aren't as comfortable and I won't be able to experience that luxurious feeling again until I go through all the work of stripping the bed, washing the sheets, and remaking the bed - such a daunting task, it only gets done once a week at best.

Living under the "old" law was  A LOT of work!  There were too many instructions to count!  Was this clean or unclean?  Which sacrifices do I need to make?  How do I make those sacrifices?  Talk about daunting!  After reading these verses, it just reaffirms how good God was to his people to abolish these ways and give us something "easy".  Is living a Christian life easy?  No, but because he gave his one and only son to die for OUR many sins, we have hope of eternal life!  I think I can safely say that if I lived in Moses and Aaron's time I wouldn't have any hope of that.  Too much work, too complicated...I've never been the best at following directions.  Repentance would be like cleaning the sheets, a daunting task, so I wouldn't do it as often as I should.  Thank the Lord, I can have "clean sheets" at any time now.  The process is simple....ask !  There is no stain that our Mighty God can't get out, he instantly restores us to his crisp, clean , sweet smelling followers!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday's Frugal Finds

This week's Frugal Finds are:

1.  Free Burger!  Many of you have probably already taken advantage of this deal from Ruby Tuesday, but if not HURRY!  I just checked and only around 7,000 remain.  "Like" Ruby Tuesday on Facebook, submit the form, and they will email you the coupon for a FREE handcrafted burger...YUM!  You can also follow this link.

2.  CHEAP cloth napkins!  Last week, I posted about how using cloth napkins can save you lots of money!  If you have a Southeastern Salvage near you, check out their clearance table!  They had the cutest cloth napkin 4 packs for only $1.95.  I bought mine at the Irondale location.  They are French country style with a painted rooster, colors black, red, yellow and brown!  I bought several packs and they wash up great, no bad wrinkling!  They also have matching placemats :)

3.  CHEAP Sports Gear!  Just in time for back-to-school and football season!  Lids is having their $5 sale days.  You can get tshirts as cheap as $2.50 and caps for $5.00.  I saw several Alabama/Auburn items, all SEC teams, Atlanta Braves, etc.  They also offer flat rate shipping of only $4.99 so you can buy a bunch without outrageous shipping costs!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Old Schoolhouse Deal!

If you are looking for a deal on the homeschooling mainstay, The Old Schoolhouse,  your wait is over!  TOS is doing a major wipe out of their warehouse and are offering  over $104 of merchandise for only $25!   This includes 7 issues of TOS, Homeschooling with Heart Tote bag, free shipping and up to 4 freebies.  You can earn freebies by sharing this deal on your blog, facebook, twitter, or through email.  Simply put in the comment section how you shared and they will put your freebies in the box!  Quantities are limited so hurry if you want to take advantage of this deal.

Dinosaur Fun!

We have 2 new members of our family this morning...dinosaur babies!  Yesterday, we had to make a stop at Michael's and of course the kids found something they wanted too.  Out of all the cool stuff to choose from they each chose a hatchable dinosaur egg.  I have to admit I tried to steer them to something else, knowing that once this baby hatched the fun would be over.  Wow was I wrong!  I never dreamed this $2 toy would turn into a unit study on dinos. 

The directions were easy, just immerse the eggs in water and after 24-48 hours the dinos will hatch. 

Then change the water and leave the dinos in for another day or so to let them "grow".  Our dinos only took 12 hours to hatch which was a bummer because it happened overnight.  It didn't disappoint the kids too much since they awoke to the babies sticking their heads out of the eggs, but it would have been cool to actually see it happen!  My advice:  put eggs in water in the morning and keep an eye on them throughout the day!  We went to the Kids Dino website to identify our newly hatched babies and learn more about them.  Fun activity, definitely worth  2 bucks!!!
The proud "parents"!

Savvy Storage Idea

I'm always looking for storage solutions on the cheap and if I can repurpose something I already have that's even better.  One item I ALWAYS have an abundance of is flavored coffee creamer containers due to my severe small coffee addiction.  When Beckie over at Infarranty Creative asked for strange storage ideas, I knew I needed to share this one.  These creamer containers can be used for so many things!  Simply remove the label and wash and dry thoroughly.  I make homemade chocolate syrup and iced coffee mix and these are perfect for storing these liquids in the fridge.  When I give these homemade mixtures for gifts, I wrap the container in tissue paper and wrap with a bow and instant cuteness! 
From this

To this!
They are also great for storing paints for easy pourability (is that a word?)...oh well, it is now!  Do you have any clever storage solutions?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kitchen Katastrophes

I love to cook, however I'm not a patient cook, therefore every once in a while I have some problems in the kitchen.  Yesterday, I decided to make a mixed berry crostada with the fresh blackberries and blueberries we had...yum!  I thought I had plenty of butter, so I start mixing up the ingredients...flour in, sugar in, salt in, butter in - oops, I only had 1 stick of butter left!  At this point I should have loaded up the kids and made a trip to the store, but I wanted a berry crostada NOW (notice the impatience here?).  So, I substituted Smart Balance spread.  Note to self:  NEXT TIME GO TO THE STORE! 

After 5 minutes in the oven, I see the beginnings of an oven disaster...melted butter is all over the baking sheet, about to roll right off into my clean oven.  My mind is working overtime....I can't waste my beautiful fresh berries and all of those ingredients!  So, I dump everything in a baking dish and hope the final product is somewhat like a cobbler.  Surprise, surprise!  40 minutes later I take it out of the oven, it looks like cobbler, it smells like cobbler, and IT TASTES LIKE COBBLER!  Disaster averted, ingredients saved, momma's fat and happy! 

Let me know I'm not alone with Kitchen Mishaps!  Have you made a mess in the kitchen?  Did you save it or have to scrap it?

Don't Stop Believin'

Visit GMG today!
This summer I've been participating in  the Ministry of Motherhood bookclub based on Sally Clarkson's book.  This week we are talking about the importance of training our children.  As I've read the verses this week, an 80's song keeps popping into my head (I know I've just dated myself!), DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' by Journey.  The chorus says "Don't stop believin', hold on...".    That's exactly what God tells us to do too! 

Hebrews 10:35-36 tells us not to throw away our confidence because it will be richly rewarded, perservere!  Matthew 24:9-14 assures us that persecution will come and many will turn away from what they've been taught, but we are to stand firm!  Don't stop believin', hold on because God keeps his promises and he has promised us our perserverance will pay off more than we can imagine!   My desire is that I can teach my children how important this command is...that in their everyday life they will finish what they commit to do, that they know what they believe and don't let others convince them otherwise.....that they Don't stop believin and hold on.....

Monday, July 11, 2011

90 Day Bible Challenge - Day 1

Day 1 is finally here!  I've really been looking forward to kicking off this challenge to read the Bible in 90 Days.  I just know that the next 3 months will be a great time of growth for me.  One of the great things about this Mom's Toolbox program is MUST check in with your group EVERY Monday during the challenge to let everyone know how you've done for the week.  Knowing that a whole team of people care and are cheering you on to succeed is an awesome, inspiring feeling!

This week I will read Gen. 1:1 thru Exodus 40:38.  Today's reading in the first 16 chapers of Genesis was a great way to begin a challenge such as this.  Genesis is a book of beginnings:  the beginning of our world, the beginning of man, and the beginning of God's great promises to his people!  Thank you Lord for being faithful and true to your promises ALWAYS!  Today is the beginning of an amazing journey.....

Friday, July 8, 2011

Enter to Win!

Have you heard of Timberdoodle?  They are a family owned company specializing in homeschool curriculum and educational products.  They held a Facebook party today and posted giveaways for lots of awesome products.  You still have time to enter!  Go here and you will see all the giveaways listed on the right hand side under recent posts.  Click on each one and scroll down to the "join giveaway" box.  I highly recommend using FireFox instead of IE to enter!  You can gain 4 entries for each giveaway and you are eligible to win multiple products.  Good Luck!

A Sneak Peek!

One thing I'm doing this week while the kids are visiting the Gparents is knocking out some D.I.Y projects on my to-do list!  The first is a storage cabinet for Gman's room.  I found this awesome solid wood locker style cabinet at our local antique mall for a steal. 

Can't you just imagine covered shelves and matching baskets for toy storage?!
It was in great condition, but it needed a little somethin' somethin' before it would be perfect.  Today I got out navy blue paint and went to work!  It's drying right now, but I think I'm in love!!!!  Looks soooo much better.  I still have a few finishing touches to add, so stay tuned for the big reveal!

Since I was already making a big mess, I decided to tackle this small project that has been on my to-do list for the past 2 years now.  I found this cute piece at the thrift store for only 59 cents, woo, hoo! 

I love cute, yet functional pieces so this fit the bill.  The center was handpainted by a woman named Lila in 1991....stylish for the nineties, but not quite my style now.  So I attacked it with some black spray paint and it already looks 90% better!
Terrible photo I know :(

I plan to do some lettering in the middle to jazz it up.  I can't decide if it will go in the Laundry room or by the front door yet????  Maybe inspiration will hit me soon and I will show you the finished product next week!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friday's Frugal Finds

Friday's Frugal Finds
Welcome to the first installment of "Friday's Frugal Finds"!  Each Friday, I will post money saving ideas or tips that caught my eye.  Follow me so you won't miss them!

This week's Frugal Finds

1.  Use cloth napkins and towels! Years ago I was a papertowelaholic!   I got it honest, because my mom is too.  However, the simple change to cloth napkins instead of paper has been life changing.  It is sooo simple!  You can pick up several packs on clearance almost anywhere or make your own if you can sew a straight almost straight line.  One roll of paper towels can last me several that's frugal!  Clean up spills with rags instead of paper towels too and you've made money!

2.  FREE Chick-fil-a meal!  It's that time of year again, Cow Appreciation Day!  Friday, July 8 dress like a cow from head-to-toe and get a free meal.  Dress kind of like a cow and get the sandwich only free!  Go here for all the details!

3.  FREE Lego Club Magazine for 2 years!  Go here to sign up!  If child is under 7, they will get Lego Club, Jr. mag.

4.  FREE Music!  I just discovered Jango Internet radio!  I've been a Pandora listener for a while, but was getting tired of all the commercial breaks.  Jango rocks!  I've been listening to it now for a couple of weeks and have yet to hear a commercial.  I even like the selections they pick better than Pandora.  They promote new artists too, so you can hear the latest and greatest tunes.

"Homemade" Salsa to die for!

Tonight is taco night and I am about to mix up a batch of my favorite salsa courtesy of my hero, The Pioneer Woman!  This salsa is sooooo good and super easy.  Everyone will be asking you for the recipe.  Go here to see step-by-step how Ree makes it or follow these instructions. This makes a Large batch!  I mix mine in my blender since I don't have a food processor big enough.  It keeps very well in the fridge for about 2 weeks, however it's never around our house that long!  Enjoy :)

P.S.  if you do visit the PW site, she is giving away 3 $350 Target gift cards, so make sure you register to win!

You'll need:
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (more To Taste!)
  • 1/2 whole Lime Juice
Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you'd like---I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.
Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour.

House Overhaul

This pantry makes me happy!
I love order!  I love for things to be organized, look pretty and uncluttered.  Unfortunately, I'm not a neat, orderly person :(  I'm a pack rat and a piler.  What's a piler?  Someone who piles things on every flat surface available.  Sound familiar?  I hope so, please don't let me think I'm the only one with this affliction! 

I'm tired of the piles and the clutter!  I've reached my breaking point, so this summer I have been working hard to get this house in order!  Thanks to my parents for holding Grandparent Summer Camp for a few weeks so I can get some major stuff tackled!  Last month, I cleaned out the scary basement and garage, cleaned and organized our master closet and the laundry room.  This week I'm tackling the kitchen, the kid's bedrooms, and organizing the basement.  Wish me luck!  I'll post some pics as I dig myself out :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tie Dye Fun!

Yesterday, the kids and I attended a tie dye party with our cover group.  This was the first time the kids had ever tie dyed and I must say they enjoyed it tremendously! 

All tied and dyed!

After the loooong 24 hour wait, the final product was revealed....drumroll please!

 It was like opening presents on Christmas morning.  They were so excited with their handiwork!  I have a feeling we will be doing this again in the near future.  It WAS fun, mom joined in too....I can't wait to sport mine this weekend!