Monday, December 30, 2013

Thrift Schooling's Top Ten Posts of 2013

The Top Viewed Post of 2013 is not surprising!
 GLIDEWARE is by far the winner!!! This new product has JUST recently gone into production and is the hottest new accessory to maximize your kitchen space. 

Ordering glasses online is a cinch these days, all you need is a prescription from your doctor and you can find some great deals at discount sites such as Firmoo. 

My absolute favorite children's book that I read this year. Totally deserves to be at number 3!

#4 An Etsy Shop Review: Woodworks By Brooks
This post was a big hit. Customers are hungry for handmade.

A book I will so be keeping on my shelf!

Throughout the year I've been able to provide my readers with several Purex brand products. The most popular among my readers was their new Fels-Naptha Bar!

A new cereal hit the shelves this year. One of my kids favorite item to review this year!

An excellent resource dealing with anger issues on all levels. Scripturally based and thought provoking.  

A Crew Review that my kids thoroughly enjoyed.

An excellent digital product. 

Looking forward to a great New Year with plenty of reviews, recipes and encouraging posts! Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Personal PIzza Making {For Kids}

 Pizza is generally a big hit with kids. So why not use pizza making as an opportunity to learn? Begin by making a simple pizza dough recipe, with very few ingredients
Pizza Dough
3 1/2 cups all- purpose flour
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a measuring cup, measure one cup of warm water, add yeast and let sit 2-3 minutes.

In mixing bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Add water and yeast mixture.

Beat in electric mixer until combined.

Add remaining flour one cup at a time until nice ball forms.

Knead 8-12 minutes.

Add small amounts of flour if dough becomes too sticky. You are looking for an elastic like consistency.

Place dough on lightly floured surface. Divide into four small balls.

Cover with a damp cloth for 20 minutes.

Grease cookie sheets and give each child a cookie sheet, dough and rolling pin. Roll out dough into desired shape.

Cover again and let rise for 90 minutes.                                  Pizza Sauce
                                                                                            2 small cans Tomato Sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees                                                2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
                                                                                            1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
Bake crust for 15 min                                                           Salt and Pepper

Combine sauce ingredients and spread onto hot crust.

Have each child top with mozzarella cheese and desired toppings.

Bake for another 20 minutes or until browned.                                          

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Monday, December 16, 2013

TV in the Home

I was a young teen. Some meetings were being held at my non-denominational, non-confrontational, non-political, church. Strong, challenging words were not the norm from the pulpit. Yet a guest speaker had come through and was holding a Friday evening and Saturday morning service. The topic? I honestly can't remember. But what I do remember is this comment, " sometimes I think that all Christians just need to throw their TV's out the window!" 


I was flabbergasted. I honestly had no clue as to why anyone would say that or what television had to do with Christianity. I was confused, what was wrong with TV? So of course, after the meeting I went right back to watching Full House and Saved By The Bell episodes day in and day out. Along with MTV, HBO and everything else cable had to offer back in those days.

 Now I laugh because the extremist in me had gone both ways since I've lived on my own. In my first apartment, after college, my friends and I had no TV and I continued to live without one for several years. It was kind of a hippy, getting back to nature reasoning back then. Then when I got married we didn't have one at first but I think people felt sorry for us or something and thought we were deprived and kept trying to give us one. I guess they didn't understand that some people really do not want a TV in their home! (Which makes sense, I didn't understand it either at first). 

Finally, my husband and I ended up accepting a TV but only watched the station with the rabbit ears. Over the next few years we went from small, to big, to no TV again, to only in the kid's playroom. It was a battle really. What do we do with this monster? Get rid of it completely, cut back on how much we watch or not really worry about it and go with the flow?

3 Ways To Keep TV Watching In Your Home To A Minimum

1- Set a Standard
Whether it is for the shows you watch, or the kids, have a set list of guidelines concerning what kind of shows you feel are appropriate in your home. I know some people who say they turn off any show, no matter how much they like it after they hear at least three swear words. Some might cut it off after one. My husband and I have agreed that if we wouldn't watch a show in front of the kids, then we don't watch it at all. This puts a limit on many things, but helps keep the atmosphere in the home more peaceful. As for children's shows, saying no to certain shows may be hard at first but after a while the kids get used to it. Now our kids generally know what they can and can't watch and will willing turn off anything that is against what we believe as Christians. 

2- Family Screen Time
We've all seen the old movies where the families hovered around the old radios to tune into a radio program. Then TV's began to enter the home and it was the same idea. Only certain shows were aired at certain times and if you wanted to watch something, it was as a family. Our family has a few certain programs that we watch on Hulu, or several movies we enjoy on our TV that we will watch together in the evenings once in a while. It makes it more special when we are together as a family rather than having the adults in one room and the kids in the other watching whatever they want. 

3- Try to Limit the Amount Per Day
There is actually one day in the week that we don't have the kids watch any programs at all and it's amazing how creative they can get in their playtime! They honestly don't seem to miss it. Then the other days, they have a limited time. But honestly, some days we don't even watch anything because there is so much to get done. I don't get rid of TV simply because I do use some programs for educational purposes and I don't want the children to grow up thinking it's entirely evil. Rather I want them to learn self-control when it comes to leisure activities. To learn how to balence work and play is a healthy skill. 

What are your thoughts? How to do handle TV in your home?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Perfect Pork Chops

The key to perfection in this recipe is generously oiling your pan! It gives the chops a nice crispy texture that makes you wanting to keep going back for more!

**Printable Version**

6-8 Boneless Pork Chops
2 cups Italian Style Bread Crumbs
2 eggs (beaten)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Season both sides of chops with salt and pepper

Dip first into beaten eggs and then into the breadcrumbs

Bake for 15 minutes on one side

Flip chops over and bake another 10 minutes or until golden brown

Quick, easy and tasty!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Roasted Chicken {Recipe}

When I know that I don't have much prep time in a day but want to have a good hearty meal in the evening; Roasted Chicken is usually my go-to dish. It's easy and tasty! 

Although, this particular chicken pictured above turned out more amazing than usual simply because the chicken was completely organic. So organic in fact that my husband and sons went to a friend's farm and killed, plucked and cleaned the chicken themselves. Best chicken ever. We knew where it came from, that it wasn't fed all kinds of weirdness nor was it injected with antibiotics or other harmful chemicals. The taste was richer and more flavorful than any store bought chicken I've ever prepared!
Don't worry. You don't need to go out and slaughter your neighbors chickens for this recipe. Any chicken will do, and the recipe still turns out great!

One 3-4 lb Chicken
6 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (or Coconut Oil)
1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Chili Powder
 1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Whole Onion (cut into quarters)
3 Cloves of Garlic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry.
Combine spices, including salt and pepper and rub all over chicken, inside and out.
Cover outside of chicken with oil.
Stuff cavity with garlic and onion.
Place in roasting pan, uncovered.
Bake for 1 hour or until juices run clear. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Save This, Buy That

I have a confession to make. I love food. With that said, I never  learned to cook until quite recently. When I first got married I had no clue which spices went with what, how to make a simple pie crust or even how to fry chicken! I have to say that it didn't come easy but now that I've gained some basic  knowledge in the kitchen I love a culinary challenge. If I am going to be preparing something for dinner and I notice I don't have an ingredient, I can't always "run to the store" to pick up what I need. Not with living out in the country, with several  little ones! Instead, I have to get creative. Some of my best dishes have been created under pressure, simply by using what is on hand.

Maybe that's why I love cooking shows like Chopped or Iron Chef America. It's always fun to see what the chefs will create with what they are given. Sometimes when I watch cooking shows I think, "it sure would be fun to be one of the judges!" You know, to actually taste the kind of food that "make your taste buds sing." 
So when I saw that Member One Federal Credit Union was holding a cook-off with local restaurants preparing delicious Thanksgiving themed meals, I knew I had to check it out!

The Five Roanoke Restaurants That Participated Were:

US. Foods
Sarah's Place 
Elephant Walk
Beamers 25

Each contestant prepared a cost friendly meal, dessert included! Proving that a delicious Thanksgiving meal is attainable, even on a budget.

It's funny, I expected just some samples, on a toothpick or something. No. Each restaurant had an all out Thanksgiving Meal presented. You could visit each station and try what they had to offer. Honestly, I couldn't even get to all of the food, there was so much of it! And, I was partial to Cedars, only because I have an obsession with Middle Eastern Food, soooo I did back to them for seconds! Needless to say, I voted for them! Actually, they are the ones that received the Judges Choice Award. Each of us there received a ticket to vote and the People's Choice Award went to Elephant Walk. I do have to say, their meal was pretty good too.

All the proceeds went to Feeding America and if you brought canned goods you received a free drink. Overall the experience was fun, we had a blast. The lack of seating was annoying though, it was hard to stand and cut your food if you couldn't get a table. But, I would certainly go again if they hold it again next year, I hope they do!

Monday, November 25, 2013

You Know You Live in Virginia When

You Know You Live in Virginia When.....

5-  The term "Biscuits and Gravy" does not refer to a Thanksgiving side dish!

4- You  go to a "Yard Sell" to buy a "Playpin"  

3- You go buy produce at the local supermarket only to find the employees smoking. In the store. Right next to the food you want to purchase. 

2- You order lemonade at a restaurant and are given a lemon and some sugar with your water to make your own.

1- School kids get a SNOW DAY with only a chance of snow in the weather forecast.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Is it Monday?

A study was recently preformed at a local nearby college about the reactions of mothers dependant upon their short-term or long-term memories in relation to their parenting styles. For example, if their child was having a temper tantrum, instead of remembering what worked last time to calm them down, the mother would react in a negative manner, thinking that there must not be any possible solution to remedy the matter. The ones who could calm themselves down, and remember what worked last time, where able to better handle the situation. 

Interesting. How many times do we approach a situation with our children, thinking that there is no possible way to deal with them? If we could just stop, think, and remember what worked last time, we would be a million times better off!

I'm guilty of the "forgetting" for sure, I think I just get caught up in the moment. Thinking that there must be no possible way to change the situation and that I must be doomed with disobedient and disrespectful kids!
Well, no. There is hope for everyone and change is always an option!

As for Monday. When I was on Facebook, I remember I would try not to check it too often on Mondays because it seemed that mothers always hated their kids then, couldn't wait until nap time that day, and were ready to pull their hair out! I just didn't like reading the posts because it was too depressing! As for my own Mondays, I try to remember, it IS Monday, and everything will be better tomorrow. I can't explain why but the behavior of my children is always a billion times better, when it is not Monday. Yes, I have to deal with the Monday blues with them, but at the same time I have to calm down, relax and remember that this too shall pass and not get worked up and make any hasty life decisions!

Be encouraged, if your kids are acting up, relax, just look at the situation and ask yourself what worked last time, if you can't remember, just remember, tomorrow is another day, and God's mercies are new every morning!

Our Homeschool Forum

If you are looking for a place to connect with other homeschool families, Our Homeschool Forum is a new place to relax and unwind when you need a break! A division of Rainbow Resource, Our Homeschool Forum features articles from contributors, (such as myself!) who are currently in the trenches of the homeschooling. Encouraging articles are available to inspire and encourage! The forum is available for support and strength for newbie homeschoolers and veterans alike! 
If interested, feel free to click the button below and check it out! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole {Book Review}

 photo Franklin_Deal-300x451_zpsb3f59745.jpg  Franklin Sanders shares in Volume One of At Home In Dogwood Mudhole, Nothing That Eats  about his journey toward a more self-sufficient way of life. Sanders shares from his articles written for his Moneychanger newsletter. This is a newsletter written, by him, each month for seventeen years to his faithful readers! He shares the joys and pains of everyday life in a humorous and down to earth fashion. 

This particular book begins in June of 1995 and shares his family's journey through September 2002.  An interesting fact about this time frame, is that in the middle, were the fears of what would happen when Y2K hit. Sanders shares his perspective and how they prepared. I know for me, at that point in time, I was oblivious to the concerns and possible catastrophic events that could have followed. Sure I knew about the possibilities of the computers crashing, but I was a college student, doing my own thing. Honestly, I could have cared less. Yet now that I have woken up to reality, not only with the recent recession but also now that I am raising a family, my mindset about the way life should be lived has drastically changed. And because of this new thought process, I had a feeling I was really going to enjoy this book. I was right. 

It's funny, because I thought after reading the first section of the book that I had absolutely nothing in common with the author. He is a Southerner. I am a Yankee, (my accent exposes that quite quickly down south where I live!) He goes to an Episcopalian church, I attend a Pentecostal one. He enjoys war re-enactments, I could care less. But, that being said, I could totally connect to the author. 

As I would read about his venture in obtaining chickens, I would be sighing, saying, "yes, someone who has been there, someone who understands." 

When he made a comment like, we bought some guinea hens to take care of the ticks in my backyard, I was laughing as I heard my guinea chicks in the basement that we bought for the same reason. 

I smiled when I read that his son woke up at 4:30 in the morning to go to a chicken slaughter. Ironically enough, my husband and two young boys were heading out the next morning, at exactly 4:30am to go to a friend's house to help him slaughter chickens. I also laughed because this was never the norm for me. I didn't grow up on a farm. 

This whole experience is very new, which means this book has come at a perfect time. Still in our beginning stages of learning to farm, this book has been encouraging. 

I think that this is exactly what will happen if things really do continue to go downhill in this country, that the people that we connect with aren't the ones that we would expect to. 

Denomination shouldn't matter now, but it certainly won't then, personal opinions and hobbies won't be important. Surviving, or should I say, thriving in survival, will be what draws us together. How we can help one another and learn from each other. 

I'm not a prepper by any means. But what I do feel is important is gaining the skills lost by our forefathers, by the pioneers. Did you know this summer I used a sickle to "weed eat" around my gardens so I could get to them. That's right no lawn mower. Now, Sanders uses work horses on his property, we are currently using goats, requires a lot less maintenance than horses do! We've lost some animals and we've failed in some ventures. Seeing a stillborn animal on your farm is sad in and of itself, but even harder when you were depending on it for food. Sanders story helped to encourage me to keep on going and keep trying and not give up! He shared about stillborn piglets and it just reminded me that these things happen, it's a part of farming, it's a part of life.

Whether you've farmed all your life, are just getting started or simply appreciate the life of a farmer, then you will love this book!  
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Volume One: Nothing That Eats
$22.95 Paperback
 $16.95 Kindle/ePub/PDF

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics {Review}

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Apologia Educational Ministries has a new book available in their Young Explorer Series by Jeannie Fulbright called Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. Using the Charlotte Mason approach, Apologia teaches science from a creationist perspective. This book includes 14 lessons that can be divided up in a way that best suits your need. We are currently using this course in our homeschool adapting the suggested daily schedule in a way that works for us. Their suggested schedule breaks the book up into 28 weeks, covering one lesson over a period of two weeks. They suggest using this book twice a week, but we spread it out and are doing it four times a week, sometimes five, depending on how many experiments there are!

The textbook, believe it or not, can be used with children in grades K-6. I know that sounds like a wide age range, but it can be done! The material is presented in a way that even my kindergartner can understand the basic principles. Yet the vocabulary words are challenging enough for a sixth grader. Two type of notebooks can be purchased depending on the ages of your children. The Jr. Notebooking Journal (which I used for my Kindergartners and Second grader) has age appropriate activities such as coloring pages, crossword puzzles, full color mini- books, Bible verse copy work and many hands on experiments. The regular Notebooking Journal for older kids is meant for students who have mastered handwriting, can take notes and ready for upper elementary experiments. 

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Jr. Notebooking Journal
Apologia has changed the way we do science in our homeschool. Ever since day one, my children have loved science. A majority of my teaching materials are science based. But just because I have tons of science experiment books doesn't mean it can be used as a complete curriculum, rather they are meant to be used as supplemental material. When the kids were really little I would simply go through the books, do the experiments and just have fun. There really wasn't much of a rhyme or reason to the experiments we did. It's just, they absolutely love the hands on aspect of experiments! Now that my two boys are in kindergarten and second grade, they are ready to dive deeper into the how's and why's of science. Now, I know that Chemistry and Physics may seem like quite advanced subjects for such little minds, but I thought I would give it a try and see how it would go!
I had a friend look at the cover of the book and say, "wow, that looks like a college textbook! I actually do have to agree, and it may be intimidating for some parents at first glance, but, when you begin to use the book, the concepts truly are easy enough for even a kindergartner! 

The author speaks right to the student, making concepts such as density, buoyancy, and volume understandable. She uses everyday objects that a child can relate to such as bread, balls and Legos to explain scientific terms. 

There is quite the abundance of experiments in this book! Each chapter has several experiments recommended, we did almost all of them in the chapters we have covered, but  you can pick and choose which ones would work for you! Most of the materials needed are everyday household items. What I have been doing, is each Saturday, I make a list of the materials that I need for the following week and pick them up when I go grocery shopping. If it is easier for you, they have a list in the book of all the materials needed for each chapter, so you could by everything before the school year begins so you have it on hand!

I don't think my children could tell you which experiment was their favorite. Because there were so many of them that they loved! But what I can say, is if we don't do an experiment one day, they will often ask, 'when are we doing an experiment?'

I like the variety of the activities. There is always something new for them to learn about in a tactile way!

The pictures below show the children learning about the freezing point of water, and how the addition of salt can change it. And yes, this was one of the fun, edible experiments!
In the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, both narration and notebooking are encouraged to facilitate retention. The way the book is set up, is there are breaks throughout the reading to allow for your child to dictate to you what they have learned. 
One of my children's favorite activities was "Archimedes Play." Learning about how to find density, the children are to write and perform a play about the ancient Greek mathematician, Archimedes. This allowed for creativity and movement and they were so excited to share about what they had learned with their father that evening when he came home!

One thing that I have not yet embarked upon in our homeschooling is lapbooking. It's not that I'm entirely against it, I'm just don't have the desire to spend so much on printer ink for one project! Well, the notebooking activities that coincide with these lessons are an excellent alternative! You buy the notebook, which includes everything you need, similar to a lapbook. Not only does the junior notebook include coloring pages and copy work but full color flap books and activities. I definitely plan on using Apologia year after year in our homeschool! The notebooks keep the younger ones occupied and if they seemed to get restless during the reading, I would have them work on the coloring as I read. 
My kids received this plasma globe as gift and  fit in perfectly  when learning about electrical charge!


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Thursday, November 7, 2013 {Review}

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My kids are still young and at this point I actually do enjoy teaching them Math. That is not a subject I fear, yet. The only problem is, with Math, when you have just a slight age difference in your homeschool, you need to be sure to take time out, each day, for each child to drill math facts. has been an extremely helpful online tool to help my children practice, practice, practice, their Math skills, daily. IXL provides both Language Arts and Math practice. I have been working with the Math with my three children over the past few weeks.

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Yes, that's right, I said THREE children. Even though I'm not "officially" homeschooling my youngest, who is three, yet, this program seemed like the perfect opportunity to teach her basic computer skills. And she has been doing surprisingly well! IXL has programs for kids ages Pre-K through 12th grade for $9.95 a month or $79 a year. {Each additional child costs $2 a month or $20 a year}

Each child received a cute little icon to sign into the program with. And they loved having their own password, or "secret word," to sign in with! 
 Below is a list of some of the skills that my second grader has been working on during his practice time. The ones with the gold medals to the right of them are the ones that he completed. Next to the ones with the medals, you'll see the number 100. This doesn't mean he received 100% on the section, rather he reached the goal of 100 points and completed the level. How it works is, after each problem you solve you receive points. Your goal for each section is 100. But, while going through the problems, if you miss one, then you lose points and have to keep trying until you reach your goal. I liked this method, but the kids didn't so much, they would get frustrated seeing their score drop especially when they were so close to their goal!

 In our homeschool I like repetition and practice. I like going over one hundred charts and addition and subtraction flashcards. The only problem is, it can be very time consuming with several children. What I like about IXL is it is simple and to the point. There are no flashy images trying to teach math concepts. There is a time and place for that, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty of Math practice, they get to the point. Below is a screenshot of one of the Math problems for my second grader. I completely feel comfortable leaving him and his brother who is in kindergarten with this program for ten to fifteen minutes a day for their math practice. Some of it is even more challenging than what I would do with them on my own. This has been working out great for us. They get their Math practice in each day, while I work with the other child with another subject in the meantime. 

I wasn't sure how my three year old would do in the Pre-K lessons but she has surprised me! She loves the simple repetition. At first I thought it would be too boring for her. Counting objects or dots and typing in the number. But she loves it and can't wait to do it. I think it's mainly because she gets to do what her big brothers are doing, and she's gaining computer skills, (yes, I still use a mouse). Not sure how useful that skill with be in a few years with touchscreens being so popular but it's still helping her with fine motor skills, regardless! The way I would work with her is just have her on my lap each session, reading to her and guiding her with each problem. It was great teaching her numbers, counting, shapes, etc. 

 Once each child would accomplish certain goals, they would receive "virtual prizes." Simple, yet rewarding for the kids, something to strive towards. They love seeing what new object they've gained. If the other children are in a different room they always come running to see what the other got when they receive their awards, it's cute.

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