Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A New year, a new stack of books!


It's a new year and that means a new stack of books to read! Every year for the past 5+ years I've been doing the Goodreads reading challenge. I think it's suppose to be something like 100 books in a year but the most I've ever read in a year was 43 books last year. 

Anyways, these are some books in my stack right now:


My goal for this year is only 12 books. Funny, that's what my goal was for last year also. I've found that if I make smaller goals it's super easy to succeed. So, what's on your list?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tales of a Grungy Crockpot...and how to de-grime it! Plus, a recipe!


I don't know about you but I use my crockpot about 1 to 2 times per week. It gets loaded down with everything from barbecue chicken to chili and sometimes it gets a little gross. The kids (and the adults) drip some food down the side or the chili boils over a little and the poor crockpot gets messy. So today, I saw the poor thing sitting on the counter and thought I'd give it a good scrub.

Here's the before photo. It's seen better days. I don't usually think about this thing. I just clean out the stoneware part and go about my business.


Here are the supplies I used to give this thing a good scrub. 


I hold on to old yogurt containers so I can use them for random things like this. You need baking soda, water, an old toothbrush, a cloth or paper towel and an empty container. First you are going to pour a couple spoonfuls of baking soda in to the empty container. Them pour some water in to make a paste. Like this. Sorry, I realize it's a little difficult to see the paste. It should be the consistency of school glue.


Then you will take your toothbrush and dip it in the paste and scrub the inside of the crockpot base. You can re-dip as needed. The baking soda acts as an abrasive to help loosen the caked on grime. Just keep scrubbing and dipping until you get it all loosened. It only took about 2-3 minutes.


This next part was a learning process as I obviously hadn't cleaned this thing in a while. You want to take the crockpot base and set it on the sink so that it's sort of straddling the sink (see the picture below). You aren't suppose to submerge the crockpot.  Then pour really hot water into the crockpot base. I started my electric kettle before I began scrubbing so I'd have the hot water ready. 


Placing it on the sink is very important because you see those 2 little dots in the bottom of the base? Yeah, apparently they are hole :) Learned that the hard way. But my countertop got an amazing steam bath. When you have rinsed it thoroughly and wipe down the inside this is what you'll have left. 


It could probably use a little more scrubbing but it's clean. Then use the paper towel or cloth and some hot soapy water to clean off the outside. And voila! A clean crockpot that's not disgusting or embarrassing. You won't mind bringing this to a potluck. You might even be so proud that you'll leave it out on the counter!


Now here's my favorite barbecue chicken recipe: 

Crockpot Chicken

3-4 chicken breast halves
1 bottle your favorite barbecue sauce

  1. Place chicken in the crockpot. 
  2. Pour barbecue sauce over the chicken. Save a little sauce if you want to use as a condiment later. 
  3. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or Low for around 5-6 hours. 
  4. Shred the chicken and serve.
My family loves it on hamburger buns with cole slaw and chips on the side. 




Thursday, January 7, 2016

Review of SchoolHouseTeachers.com Yearly Membership

See below review for more information and a coupon code for 50% off SchoolHouseTeachers.com!

I was recently given the opportunity to review the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com! I’m completely hooked. I’ve been clicking through all the resources available and making my list for future class to teach while utilizing the website.






My favorite class so far is called Foundations for Teens. It’s a video based Bible curriculum for High Schoolers and probably nobody younger than Junior High ages (12+) as there are some mature themes covered. And I just happen to have 2 of those...High Schoolers that is. Here are some of the topics covered:


  • Apologetics
  • Prayer
  • Doctrine (The Bible, the Trinity, Creation, Sin, Salvation, Worship, the Church)
  • Why We Trust the Bible
  • Redeeming Darwin: The Intelligent Design Controversy
  • The Bible: Why Does It Endure?
Even in the very first video, I was hooked. I previewed the video and then immediately had to show my teens. They reluctantly came in to watch the video, which is only 19 minutes. But sometimes as a teen that feels like forever. Not the case here. This is a photo of the boys watching intently.

This is a 22 unit course with “approximately 28 hours of video instruction”. It should easily count for ½ credit. Probably as an elective.
On a more personal note, I found the hosts backstory very interesting. He gave his testimony and told about his Muslim family. I also enjoyed Mac Powell from Third Day! The kids really enjoyed that the video wasn’t super long and the footage was actually shot in Jerusalem. 

I think I would consider this particular curriculum for use in homeschool, as well as, in a homeschool co-op setting. It includes questions to print out and essay questions to complete as well. We printed out the questions for the first series and did those while watching the video. The boys said they appreciated the high quality of the video. And they brought up some interesting points afterwards about the cave which is the suspected site of Jesus’ birth. You know it’s good when your teens who don’t want to talk start telling you what they learned. This curriculum comes highly recommended!
My 12 year old even came in to get in on the action.

I also took some time looking through the SchoolhouseTeachers.com website. There are lots of resources on there. I found the Planners especially interesting. The Schoolhouse Planner alone has 800 pages of calendars and schedules to make your school year planning go more smoothly. 

Also, with your Yearly Membership you get access to over 10,000 streaming videos through the Media Library provided by RightNow Media! Titles include VeggieTales, What's In the Bible, John MacArthur, Dave Ramsey, John Maxwell and lots of others. There's literally something for your whole family to watch. 

Something else I found to be really interesting and worth digging in to is the variety of courses available. The courses are broken up by subject and grade level to make it easier to find what you are looking for. 

Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were recently given a  full Yearly Membership Option to SchoolhouseTeachers.com for review. SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a homeschool online learning experience unlike any other, brought to the homeschool community by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
FEATURES:
Available to families World Wide
  • Work at your own pace
  • Help Tutorials
  • Media Library with over 10,000 streaming videos
  • Courses are listed by subject or grade level.
  • Quick links to courses you know you are taking
  • Achievement Certificates
  • FREE planners and monthly bonus eBooks.
  • Record Keeping Help
  • High School Help
  • Focused Learning Centre to help struggling students with specific skills
  • Course Check Lists
  • Encouragement and much much more.

WHAT CLASSES ARE AVAILABLE?

HOW MUCH DOES A MEMBERSHIP COST?
SchoolhouseTeachers.com


To see a FULL list of classes available in the following subject areas click on the links below:
Join monthly for $12.95 each month or save over 10% on a one-year membership for $139. One fee serves your entire family. Anyone living in your home can use the site 24/7. You can cancel anytime. Special pricing is available for small groups and co-cops.
Price includes all available teacher interaction and lessons, hundreds of e-books, the Schoolhouse Planners, and other downloadable teaching and learning products. Remember, you don’t need a membership for each child; one membership serves your entire family! From today until the end of the month we have a 50% discount coupon code for our followers.
In addition to the daily, weekly, or monthly lesson plans offered, members of SchoolhouseTeachers also receive many extras — Digital back issues of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, all 5 of the popular Schoolhouse Planners, recordings of the Schoolhouse Expos, free monthly eBooks and TOS supplements, and membership to Applecore, an online homeschool tracking software, among them.
Click here to see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say about SchoolHouseTeachers.com!


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Just the most disgusting post I've ever written...With Pictures!



I am going to apologize in advance for this post. And I'm also going to make the following disclaimers:

  1. My mom did in fact teach me to clean the toilet. 
  2. I'm not a disgusting person.
  3. I do clean the bathrooms in my home. 
  4. I am not for hire.
  5. This toilet has been cleaned before. 
  6. *Insert whatever snide comment about my cleaning abilities*
Now that that is out of the way, lets get started. 

Here is what you will need:

One absolutely, embarrassingly revolting toilet. (Note: See that white bit? I already scrubbed for about 1 minute.) (Another note: the brown stuff is not "stuff" it's from hard water and scum.)



You will also need a container of this. It's called Bar Keepers Friend. It works similarly to Comet. I got it at Walmart for around $2. It doesn't have the bleachy smell of Comet. 



You will also want (and this is essential) one of these. It's a pumice stone designed for this very purpose! I got it at Home Depot for $2.49 each. If you have a really messed up toilet you may want to buy 2. I also found them at Walmart for $1.89 but I'd already gotten them at Home Depot. 


And lastly you are gonna want to protect your hand with a great pair of cheap rubber gloves. I got them at Dollar Tree :) They were going in the trash afterwards and I don't want to tell you how hard I searched Walmart for them. Seriously? I couldn't find them anywhere. 


Now that you've gotten all your supplies together here's what you do. 
  1. Put on your gloves cause eww.
  2. Open the toilet. (duh)
  3. Give the toilet a good scrub with the handy dandy toilet brush. Just to make sure you don't have uhm "stuff" floating around. *gross*
  4. Flush.
  5. Sprinkle some of the Bar Keepers Helper in all around. 
  6. Unwrap your pumice and dip it in the toilet water until it absorbs some of the water. Don't worry it's clean enough. And besides you aren't gonna want to use this pumice anywhere else. 
  7. Start taking out your aggression on the nastiness that is your toilet. Scrub like nobody's business. Make sure to get under the rim where the water comes from. 
  8. Flush as needed to clear out the gunk. 
  9. Make the kids come watch! Seriously, they need to know how to clean toilets too. 
  10. Get down so you can see the messy areas you may have missed. Grime likes to hide. 
  11. When you think it's good enough, add a little more Bar Keepers to it and give it another good scrub with the toilet brush. 
  12. Flush one more time. Voila! Clean toilet. 
  13. Just wipe down the rest of the toilet with a wad of toilet paper or a clorox wipe and make the kids come see how clean it is. Or make the kids do the wiping down. They'll thank you later. 
  14. Make sure your husband sees it too. He'll brag to the kids. At least mine did :) 
Here's the result: 

So there ya go. A clean toilet in less than 30 minutes. I actually went through 2 pumices. I cleaned 2 toilets. The first wasn't even worth mentioning. But together it took less than 30 minutes. Hopefully, this helps someone :) 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Free Advent Calendars and Christmas Printables

December is already in full swing! What?!?

When my kids were younger there weren't a lot of quality printables and worksheets available. So lots of times I would create my own. Here are 3 that I made for them.

We've never celebrated Santa but it was a big deal with lots of their friends and it's fun to make crafts with cotton balls so one of them includes Santa just for "jollies". :) Enjoy and feel free to pin or share them.

#1 - Activities for Advent Calendar: Each day leading up to Christmas do an activity together as a family.




#2 - Countdown to Baby Jesus: Cut out and paste a star every day to countdown to Baby Jesus! 




#3 - Countdown to Christmas: Build Santa's fluffy beard with cotton balls glued on each day. 




#4 - Happy Birthday, Jesus! Coloring page - A cute little coloring page for Christmas. Makes a great stocking stuffer with crayons. 




#5 - Nativity Coloring page - Complete with the star on top and says "A Savior is Born"! 



Saturday, November 21, 2015

Free Printable Gratitude Journal and Don't forget about Tom Turkey!


The past 2 weeks have been extremely low key around here. Our homeschool co-op was cancelled for snow 2 times which means we didn't have to leave the house! It's been really nice and quiet. We've gotten school done, done some cooking, cleaned out a closet, packed 10 shoeboxes! 

Here's my chickie with the boxes we packed. 


Here's an example of what we included in the boxes. 
Contents (l to r): tshirt, notecards, pencils, erasers, pens, crayons, clothes pins, deodorant, devotional, craft project, bookmark, paper, stuffie, fork and spoon, bell neclace, balloons, soap, toothpaste, paperclips, rubber bands, hard candy. 


Also, with all this "free time" I organized a Thanksgiving party for homeschool kids. During this planning, I created a printable for a Mini-Gratitude Journal. It is 2 pages, so print it on card stock and print on both sides of the page. Cut it into 8 cards, punch a hole, tie a cute ribbon and write down all your blessings! 


Here is the link to download it: 

Also, it's that time of year again! 
Don't forget to download and make your Countdown to Thanksgiving featuring Tom Turkey!


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Gift Guide for Tween Girls

This post contains affiliate links to products from a trusted retailer. Thanks for your support!

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Whether you are ready or not the shopping season is upon us.

I have 3 kids. This year they are a 16 year old boy, 15 year old boy and a 12 year old girl. I’m forever surprised by how hard it is to shop for them every year. They grow out of things and they get too old for things. I’ll admit I’ve probably made some not so great purchases over the years. They are always thankful for what we get them at Christmas time but I’m sure they would like input just in case.

So this year, I had them help me with lists. We got stuff for this list from Christianbook.com. They have lots of awesome deals and lots of cute stuff that my daughter is going to love. She is at that tender age where she likes to play with Barbies sometimes but she also loves to listen to music, watch chick-flicks, make crafts and read lots of books.

So without further ado, I give you the Gift Guide for Tween Girls. Teen boys version is coming next!


1 photo 1_zpspyverp6n.jpg
  1. Dance Sing Praise Live Love Shirt
  2. Mandie Triple Feature DVD
  3. Grace Stirs It Up - An American Girl book
  4. Gold by Britt Nicole

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  1. Reborn Dog Tag Necklace
  2. NIV True Images: The Bible for Teen Girls
  3. New Creation Canvas Bracelet
  4. Jesus Is My BFF Button Set

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  1. Keep Calm and Trust God Keyring
  2. Make Your Own Pop-Up Cards
  3. Party Tyme Karaoke: Contemporary Christian CD
  4. The God Girl Journey: A 30-Day Guide to a Deeper Faith

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  1. Child of God Stretch Bracelets, Set of 3
  2. Faith Tag Dog Tag Necklace - The Light
  3. Mr. Right, Button Set
  4. Believe Bracelet

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  1. Princess Button Set
  2. Grace Necklace
  3. PlushCraft Puppy, 3D
  4. For I Know the Plans I Have for You Plaque

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dollar Store Finds for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

We pack a shoebox every year. And my teens and I volunteer for the warehouse every year. It's so much fun! If you are fortunate enough to have a distribution warehouse in your area, I highly recommend signing up to work. You get a free t-shirt, ornament and a huge sense of accomplishment when you see all the awesome shoeboxes! Don't forget national collection week is next week November 16-23rd. For more information on Operation Christmas Child go to the website: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

Every year I try to pack as much as I can in to the box we put together. And being a frugal mama, I always try to get more bang for my buck. So I thought I'd take a trip through our local Dollar Tree and see what we could find in multi-packs. So here's what we found during a really fast run through the store.  I'm sure with a little more time we could have found lots more. These are great for fillers.

Shower Caps for older girls

Microfiber clothes are great for baths or cleaning. 

Great for all ages and both boys and girls!

Can you imaging the look on the little girls faces?

Super cute socks!

Awesome 4 pack!

So cute!

Gotta love the Smurfs :) 

Monday, November 2, 2015

What's in the November Book Pile?


These are the books in my pile right now. What's in your pile? 

Not in the pile because I've been carrying it around with me is From the Start by Melissa Tagg. I was first introduced to the work of Melissa Tagg when I received a review copy of Made to Last. It wasn't bad. I found out that she'd written even more books so of course I had to check them out. From the Start is the first in a series called The Walker Family. 

Comment with your pile! I'm always looking for new authors whose works I can devour. 

Happy Reading!



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review: After a Fashion & In Good Company



If you haven't discovered Jen Turano you are seriously missing out on some of the funniest romantic comedies to date.

The first time I got my hands on one of her books was through Bethany House's Blogging for Books program. The cover of the book just jumps out at you and makes you have to read it. I mean look at this face. She's practically begging you to sit down and let her explain how the whole thing came about.

A Change of Fortune
The covers always catch the eye. The ladies are fashionable but don't let them fool you. They are not the well-behaved ladies that their well-poised photos would have you believe. These ladies always find themselves in the middle of some sort of mischievous activity.

After reading the first series, I had the great fortune of meeting Jen at my local library. She is a very interesting and utterly charming lady. So when I got the chance to read the latest books from Jen Turano, of course I jumped at the chance.

This latest series is called A Class of their Own. The first book is After a Fashion. It features leading lady Harriet Peabody who after quite the "eventful" delivery of fashionable goods finds herself in need of employment. Enter our leading man, Oliver Addleshaw. He's in a bit of a bind as he needs to play the part of a family-type man who's more settled in life to impress a client. Oliver makes Harriet a completely honorable proposition to have her pretend to be his fiancee until the deal goes through. It's a bit like in Pretty Woman but a lot less inappropriate. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can't tell you how many times I've laughed so hard I woke up my poor snoozing husband (I read at night).

The second book in this hilarious series is In Good Company, which I've read twice now. I LOVE this book! It follows up with some of the characters in the previous book and introduces the story of Millie Longfellow. She's a brilliant if not under appreciated nanny. She's once again found herself out of a job. Coincidentally, Everett Mulberry, a wealthy bachelor who has recently inherited 3 wards is once again in need of a nanny. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? It's got a very Pride and Prejudice feel with a lot of Lucy and Ethel thrown in. Everett and his lady friend are preparing to go to Newport for the summer as most classy people do. But with Millie, the children, a nosy (if not well meaning) matchmaker in tow it's not smooth sailing.

I love love love this book! I read it in July and just finished re-reading it last night. It's a wonderful seat-of-the-pants adventure. Lots of swoon-worthy scenes. And yes, plenty of laugh-out-loud-wake-the-poor-sleeping-husband-up scenes. I am so ready to read the next book in this series. It needs to show up soon! It's called Playing the Part and it follows the story of Lucetta Plum from the previous books. And it's not going to be out until March next year?!? Seriously? Oh well, that's plenty of time to catch up on all of Jen's books :)

I get to read awesome books for free because of the wonderful people at Blogging for Books. If you'd like to learn more please visit their website: http://www.bloggingforbooks.com/