Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Review: Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Becky Wade is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors! I feel like her books need to be a television series. After reading all the stories of the Porter brothers, it’s a refreshing change to read Dru’s story.

I really enjoy the banter and playful nature of Dru and Gray’s relationship. Dru has such a tough “guy” exterior that is so funny considering she’s such a girl in her emotional life. She’s got all the same emotions of the girly-girl with all the toughness of the brothers she grew up with.

Gray is just so stinkin’ arrogant. He’s your stereotypical football star. He chases women, drinks too much and thinks that the world revolves around him. It’s nice to watch the changes in him as he realizes that he’s not necessarily going to get what he wants from Dru.

Both Dru and Gray change over the course of the story. They grow into more compatible people. This story has elements reminiscent (to me) of the movie The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. I also love the fact that we get to see more of the Porter family. They have become such a concrete image in my mind.

I hope you’ll check out Her One and Only by Becky Wade! I loved it and I’m sure you will too.

I got this book for free for this review. I get to read all sorts of awesome, free books because I blog for Bethany House. If you’d like to learn more about Bethany House reviews just click here.

Book Review: No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer

Oh my gosh! How pretty is this cover?

When I found out there was a new Witemeyer book coming out I literally did a fan-girly squee! And I wasn't disappointed when I finally got my hands on this gem.

No Other Will Do is the the story of a life-long friendship between Malachi Shaw and Emma Chandler. Malachi is Emma's hero and Emma is Malachi's angel. They met under strange circumstances when they were young. Although they've been separated for years, when Emma writes to Malachi that she needs him, he comes to her rescue.

Emma and her aunts, live in a women's colony that Emma started. Men are not allowed. This policy isn't something that has endeared the colony to the surrounding townsfolk. Suspicious and malicious attacks shake the women as they realize they might need help. Emma contacts her hero and Malachi comes to the rescue.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The characters are lovable and well developed. The aunts are some of my favorites but of course Malachi and Emma are wonderful. I always love a good mystery and this one did not disappoint. Witemeyer always leaves you wanting the next volume.

I highly recommend this book and all of Karen Witemeyer's books!

I love to read! And I get to read all sorts of amazing books for free because I review for Bethany House. Interested in becoming a reviewer? Click here!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Review: Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Where do I begin? 

I really enjoyed this book even though it's a bit on the slow side. I tend to tear through books like a crazy person. But for some reason I had to really take my time through this book. I really loved the characters. The cover is beautiful!  The ending is not what you'd expect. Or at least it's not what I expected. I had a very clear idea of what would happen and **whamo** not even close. The story is heartbreaking in places and full of emotion. Sometimes you're reading a story and you aren't quite prepared for the impact it will have on you. This was such a story. I highly recommend this book with a nice chair, warm blanket and a cup of something. Maybe some tissues, too. 

I get to read all sorts of wonderful Christian fiction books. Interested in getting free books, too? Contact Blogging for Books

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Book Review: Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

This is the second book in the the Walker Family series by Melissa Tagg. I love a good historical fiction and have been an avid reader of that genre for some time. But between Melissa Tagg and Becky Wade, they’ve turned my eyes to modern Christian fiction. I’m hooked!

Amelia Bentley is the editor of a small town newspaper whose time is coming to an end. Logan Walker is the reluctant new owner of the newspaper. He just wants to shut it down or sell it so he can move on to bigger things; Running a presidential campaign. So when Logan and his daughter come to visit family and get the paper in order, Amelia has her chance to try to convince him that the paper is worth saving.

I love this series! I love the characters. This is the second book I’ve read recently with a single father and daughter :) The cover art is beautiful and cozy. I also really enjoyed the whole mysterious story of that Amelia and Logan chase down, as well as, the road trip.

Newspapers have always been fascinating to me. I wrote for my high school paper in Tennessee, did 4H newspaper projects and also spent a semester writing for my college paper at Lee University. Add into that my love for Superman/Clark Kent and I’m a little obsessed with newsprint.

I highly recommend this book, the previous one From the Start and Melissa Tagg’s other series Made to Last and Here to Stay!

I was given a copy of this book in return for posting a review. But I would have read it anyways :)

Book Review: Her Texas Family by Jill Lynn

Lucy Grayson is looking for a new start in a new state. When she moves from Colorado to Texas to find a new job and get away from some past issues, this independent woman finds something she doesn’t even know she needs. A family. Lucy and the town doctor,Graham, don’t really get along from the beginning. He’s a widower with a young daughter and he’s still grieving the loss of his wife. When Graham’s daughter takes to Lucy it seems to soften his heart. Can they learn to get along with Graham’s in-laws watching closely? Her Texas Family is a wonderful story!

Having never read anything by Jill Lynn before, I can tell you I am now a fan! Her writing style is very conversational and down to earth. The characters are real and so are the situations. Wonderfully written modern romance! I can’t wait to get my hands on the previous book, Falling for Texas.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

THM Sugar free Pink Floof (S)

I've been doing the THM lifestyle for about 2 years now. THM is Trim Healthy Mama. This, however, is my first THM-ified recipe.  I can't give all the details of the recipe because it's based on a recipe from the THM cookbook. However, I can tell you that I created the rest myself. I LOVE jello salad! It's basically jello and cool whip which equals a ton of sugar. And since I've been off sugar for 2 years and have really bad detox symptoms when I eat it I shy away from a lot of southern favorites.

So when I tried out the recipe for Lemon Pucker Gummies from the new cookbook (pg. 397) and discovered the consistency was like jello I had a total clarity moment.

In recent post on Facebook groups someone suggested replacing the 2 cups of liquid in the recipe with an equal amount of Bai5. So I did that and let the "gummies" gel up. After that, I got out my immersion blender and blended about a cup of heavy whipping cream and 2 packs of truvia into whipped cream. Then using a fork and knife chopped the jello up. Added the whipped cream to the jello and mixed it until it looked like pink floof. Actually it came out more purple.

The gummies on their own are a fuel pull but adding the whipped cream makes this yummy dessert an S.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What's in the Stack - March 2016

Another month, another stack of yummy books. So over the past couple of months I've had lots of time to sit and read what with the broken wrist thing. And I've found a new favorite author. Karen Witemeyer is the latest in a series of authors whose work I've devoured. I tend to find an author and read everything they've ever written. My last one was Mary Connealy and although she's still by far my favorite to stalk, I've had to take a break as I've read all of her most current series. And it's her fault I've found Witemeyer anyways. They've done a few of those novella collections together.

I've also run out of Witemeyer books now. But since the last book I read was With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry, I discovered yet another wonderful author, Melissa Jagears!

So this month’s stack has a couple of Jaeger’s books included as well as a couple of books by an author that my book buddy recommended, Laurie Alice Eakes. Also, I am so happy to be reviewing a copy of Playing the Part by Jen Turano! I’ve been lucky enough to meet her at my local library since she happens to be a local. All her books are excellent. They have such rich characters and settings. You can’t help but literally laugh out loud while reading her page-turners.

So here’s the stack:
  1. Playing the Part by Jen Turano
  2. A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jaegers
  3. A Bride in Store by Melissa Jaegers
  4. A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes
  5. Heart’s Safe Passage by Laurie Alice Eakes
  6. Who Switched off My Brain? By Dr. Caroline Leaf - (Doing some research for homeschool)

If you’ve gotten this far, I’d love to follow you on Goodreads. Here’s my profile: https://www.goodreads.com/etandksmom

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review of HelpTeaching.com Pro Plan


So, I’ve really been loving this new educational website I got the opportunity to use and review. It’s called HelpTeaching.com and we’ve been using the Pro Plan

HelpTeaching.com makes some areas of homeschooling much easier. I know for our family testing isn’t always the priority but sometimes it really helps to reassure where your kids are academically. Many times I find that I’d like to have the kids dig a little deeper in a subject. And HelpTeaching.com provides lots of ready made resources like worksheets, online tests and also lessons.

I’ve especially liked the upper grade science and English resources. This one is a worksheet for a unit on the Respiratory System.


And this one is showing the structure of DNA! The printables are really high quality and very easy to understand. I also love that you can save the tests as pdf files for later use or for reference.

Another cool feature is the Games area. You can create custom bingo cards and word searches with the generators. The Test Maker is amazing! You simply search through the over 130,000 available questions and add them to make your own test. You can also share the test with your kids/students online. They also have a great help section should you run into any problems while creating your tests. Here are just few of the helps topics from the testing section:

  1. How to Administer Tests Online
  2. How to Find Questions
  3. How to Customize Your Tests
  4. How To Use Questions with Images
  5. Using Question Groups
  6. How to Design a Good Test
  7. How to Write Good Test Questions

There are lots of freebies on HelpTeaching.com but I’ve found that the Pro Plan really is a way better experience. They're always adding more resources. One of my favorite resources is the Blog. I’ve always been a follower of homeschooling and educational blogs! I’ve gotten some amazingly useful ideas from blogs. This is the most recent blog entry from the HelpTeaching.com blog. It’s relevant to homeschoolers!


I have to be honest, as I first toured the site I was worried that it was geared more towards public school teachers. As a homeschooler, my needs don’t always line up with what is geared toward the schools. However, after digging a little deeper I found some really great resources that I hope to continue using for years to come. My daughter and I love the word search puzzles. I found lots of great science lessons and worksheets that my 2 high schoolers will no doubt be using as well. It really does have something for all age groups. Many resource sites  are also geared more toward elementary education. So it was really refreshing to find resources for junior high and high school as well!

Here are some of the perks of using the Pro Plan on HelpTeaching.com

  1. Use Test Maker™ to create unlimited custom tests and worksheets
  2. Up to 100 questions in your custom tests and worksheets
  3. You get to use questions with images
  4. Save your own tests as PDFs
  5. Use Test Room™ to administer unlimited online tests & lessons
  6. Pre-made premium content(Common Core ELA and Math)
  7. Browse and search CCSS-aligned questions by standard
  8. It’s only $24.95 for the whole year!

HelpTeaching.com has been an interesting find. It comes highly recommended!

Click here to see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say about HelpTeaching.com and the Pro Plan!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review of Home School in the Woods HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections

Our family recently to the chance to use and review HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections from Home School in the Woods. We've been homeschooling for a really long time and Home School in the Woods has been around for much longer than we've been choosing curriculum. They are a trusted source for high quality curriculum. It was so cool to get a chance to give feedback on one of their products.


It’s our first time trying a lapbook product. I was a little unsure when I first looked at the product because it honestly at first glance looks like a lot of cut and paste. But because it’s an election year and I really want my kids to get an idea of what’s involved in the election, I gave it a go.

Elections_Lap-Pak Cover Image_zpszrbqjobd.jpg

Here’s a little information on the product. It’s broken down into 21 sections/projects. 

  1. Definition of Election
  2. Different forms of Government
  3. The American Experiment
  4. The Three Branches of Government
  5. Suffrage
  6. Who Do We Vote For?
  7. Terms of Office
  8. A "Handful" of Political Parties
  9. Caucuses and Primaries
  10. National Conventions
  11. The Presidential Campaign: Platform
  12. The Presidential Campaign: Stump Speaking
  13. The Presidential Campaign: Media — News Source
  14. The Presidential Campaign: Campaign Advertising — Spreading the Word!
  15. Raising Money
  16. Statistics
  17. Election Day
  18. The Electoral College
  19. Inauguration Day
  20. The Electoral Race!
  21. The "Vocabinet"

Each section has an audio portion that give you the information that’s also presented in the booklet that you print out and assemble. You can use the booklet and audio as a read-along for emergent readers. My daughter preferred me to read the sections to her as we worked on the different parts of the lapbook.

2016-02-09 12.03.56.jpg

You can see she really loves the coloring part. The audio portions range from 1-7-ish minutes which is very easy to fit into any school day. I printed out portions as we got to them but you could print it all out at once. I found it easier for me to cut sections out and she would do the coloring and adding the pieces to the lapbook. My advice is: Get good glue. You want the pieces to stick and stay. My daughter has had a little more experience with the Home School in the Woods as she was in a homeschool co-op class that used the Time Travelers curriculum. She really loves all things crafty.

Here’s some product shots to show the finished product.
The little one on the right actually moves with a brass fastener! So cool!

The doors really open!

I really appreciate all the interactivity that results from the projects. It makes for a fun piece they can hold onto and show off. This was such a fun project. I’m not sure we are lapbooking converts but in the very least we had fun with this particular lapbook.

As a supplement to the lapbook, we also got some books from the library. Here's a couple of the ones we found. Monster Needs Your Vote by Paul Czajak and Vote from Eyewitness Books. 

Click here to see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say about HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections from Home School in the Woods!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Minor mishap and a lesson in physics

Miss me? Me too :) On January 23rd, it was a Saturday, I was helping a friend pack their kids room for a move. I stepped up on a bed. Of course, I removed my shoes because I'm not rude. After I finished the work that took me up on top of a bed, I stepped off...on to my shoe...and fell. So yeah, I broke my left wrist. I heard a loud pop. And this thing has been my constant companion ever since. Pretty, huh?

This is the second time in my life I've broken a bone. The other time I was 10 and it was my right wrist. I can tell you that this time around has been so much worse for several reasons. 

  1. I am not great at typing with one hand. 
  2. I can't drive well with one hand. 
  3. One word...bra...'nough said. Seriously, try it one handed. 
  4. Showers with one arm wrapped in a trash bag? Not easy. 
  5. I can't straighten my arm...even when sleeping. 
  6. I can't open ziploc bags unless they have actual zippers. 
  7. I haven't tied my shoes in almost a month. I just step in and deal. 
  8. Toothpaste...try it.
  9. Putting hair up in a ponytail/clip one-handed...not happening. 
  10. I don't bother unbuttoning or unzipping pants anymore. I've become the master of quick changes.
It's also been eye opening. I'm a very prideful person. I know! I never realized how self-sufficient I am. I've had to learn to ask for help for little stuff. It really stinks. I have to trust that my daughters hairdressing skills are not going to give me a "daddy ponytail". But I've also come to be thankful because: 
  1. It could have been so much worse. 
  2. Where I fell was between two hard wooden beds. 
  3. My head missed the second bed by inches. 
  4. My back and spine missed a large wooden dresser by inches. 
  5. When I fell, I was holding a handful of nails. 
  6. I was in the company of a friend who saw me fall and was there to help. 
  7. I didn't twist my ankle stepping on my shoe. 
  8. I have a amazing husband who came to be with me at the ER.
  9. I'm right handed!
  10. My family is amazing! They've been really helpful and patient with me. 
Anyways, it's not been a great month for me but then again sometimes it takes something sucky to make you stop and appreciate the wonder of the ordinary. I get to rid myself of the beast next week. But in the meantime, I'll survive. 

Here's my yucky X-ray for all you sciency people. Pretty gross.