Saturday, January 28, 2017

B is for... Bread!!

Are you a bread baker?  I love homemade bread, but I really only make it in the colder months, for some reason :)  I like to make an overnight bread that doesn't take any kneading--sounds nice, doesn't it?

I don't remember where I found this recipe, I've been using it for the past 3 or 4 years.   I wish I knew where the recipe came from so I could credit the source!

It's SOOOOOOO easy :) I can even throw it together right before I go to bed, when I'm exhausted, it takes less than 5 minutes to get going!!

Here's the recipe:  In a large bowl, mix 3 c flour, 1tsp salt, 1tsp yeast, and 1 1/2 cup warm water.  I just mix it with a little spoon and it looks kind of sloppy, like this:

At this point, I cover it with plastic wrap and a towel and leave it till morning!

In the morning it's time to bake...this bakes up nicely in a cast iron pan with a lid (I don't have a lid, so I just cover it with another pan!)

Looks a lot different in the morning, kind of bubbly and slimy-ish

Preheat your oven AND your greased pan to 450F.  I pull the preheated pan out of the oven and just dump the dough in and cover it with another greased cast iron pan.

I just dump it into the preheated (greased) cast iron pan.

I don't have a lid, so another cast iron pan works well! :)
 Bake it with the lid on for 30 minutes, then take the cover off (watch out, it's HOT!!) for another 10-15 minutes till the top is golden brown.

That's it!  it makes a delicious loaf of bread with a nice chewy consistency and a beautiful golden chewy crust.

 Here's a picture of it being used in toasted cheese sandwiches from a couple years ago (you can read about that here: toasted-cheese-sandwiches-revitalized

So go ahead!  Mix up some bread tonight and tomorrow you'll be happy you did!

A Net In Time Schooling

Monday, January 23, 2017

Fingerless gloves easy knitting pattern :)

I only knit in the winter :)  Why?  I'm not sure, maybe just because the things I make are wintery.  At any rate, between last winter and this winter several pair of wrist warmers (like  fingerless gloves, I guess) have been lost, so I'm knitting up some more :)  I don't really follow a written pattern, but basically do the same type thing on this easy pattern.  Sometimes I make a picture on them (just drawing it out on graph paper).

I'll share my easy knitting pattern with you in case anyone wants to give it a try!

This is knit on double pointed needles, size 6.  You could use circulars, but I just don't like them :) (I 've never gotten the hang of them!!)

You've probably figured out by now that I'm not some great be encouraged!!  This is easy!!!  :)

Key:  k=knit p=purl

Cast on 24 stitches, 8 on each of 3 double pointed needles.

K4 P4 and keep going till you have your cuff the length you wish. I like a cuff of about 3 1/2 inches.

Switch over to all knitting for another 2 inches or so.  I usually try it on and make sure it's at the base of my thumb.

Here's where it seems weird, but is easy.  I don't know if this a thing that real knitters do or not :) but it works for me ;)  basically here, you will do this:

K 1 row, then after the 3rd needle, flip the direction and P 1 row (so it's kind of like you're going backwards).  Then when you get back to your start point, flip it right way and K another row, then flip and purl back, and so on.  Do this till you have done :
Row 1 knit
Row 2 purl back to the start
Row 3 knit
Row 4 purl back to the start
Row 5 knit
Row 6 purl back to the start.

This weirdness will give you this nice thumb hole:

After this, K 4 rows all around, the regular way.  Then it's time for more ribbing, so do 4 more rows of K4 P4 ... and then you can cast off and decide to do a thumb or not :)

To make the thumb, I just pick up 16 stitches onto 3 double pointed needles and knit around for 4 or 5 rows, then switch to the K4P4 pattern for 3 rows and then cast off!

Don't forget to finish off your project by nicely weaving in your yarn ends!

Some members of my family like them with thumbs, some without.  Here's how they look in both instances.

I hope these instructions are clear!  If you have questions, please ask!  :)

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Sisters of Sugarcreek by Cathy Liggett (REVIEW)

Ohhhhhhhh!!  I love this book!  :)  Okay, is that a good enough review?  Well, I suppose not...let me tell you more! :) 

The Sisters of Sugarcreek is a story about 3 women of different ages, circumstances, histories, and even cultures who have all experienced loss.  They are brought together through different things and grow closer together as confidantes, encouragers, and supporters of each other.  

Lydia is a new young widow who is Amish.  Jessica is a single mom who has just lost her aunt (who was like a mother to her) and has inherited her aunt's store.  Liz is a little bit older widow who is kind of empty.  The story kind of focuses around the store and their knitting/sewing group...and occasionally the secret kindnesses that they perform.  When I try to put in words what centrallizes this story it is hard.  There are so many different sectors, but they all mesh together to form one cohesive story.  Each of the women finds a man in their life who becomes more meaningful to them (yes, it's kind of a romance, but that's not really the focus).  They are a picture of sisterly support among non-blood sisters.  Women who are made sisters through their common sharing of life and Christ-following.

Each of the women has a large problem, either emotional or financial or other...and the story follows them to the resolution of those.  I'm not going to give more information other than to say that it is a happy ending for all involved.  

The story was about characters who I wish I knew!  The story made me wish that I knew them and was involved in their lives!  

I enjoyed this book greatly.  There was a lot going on in the book, but not in a way that it confused the reader.  More like it felt like a longer book than it is, just because of all it covered.  You know how sometimes when you read a good book and it feels like it's done so quickly?  This book didn't feel so quick, but felt just right.  I would definitely recommend this book!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

In the Shadow of Denali by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse (REVIEW)

My family is intrigued by Alaska.  None of us have ever been there, but we are always interested in the state and its beauty.  How fun to read a book with the setting in the Alaskan mountains, particularly Denali (Mount McKinley) !

First of all, the cover of this book is lovely and gives a clue as to the topic of the book -- historical, railroad town, mountainous beauty, pretty girl.  And it's true to its suggestions -- the book is a historical fictional book set in the early days of the McKinley National Park ( Denali today), in a railroad town, in the early 1920's.

The story begins with a prelude, describing a treacherous climb of Denali (Mt McKinley)--one in which murderous plans and actions are involved.  Three years later we meet John and his daughter Cassidy who have moved to town to work for the Curry Hotel.  Along comes a new character, Allan who, unknowingly, has ties to John.  Life continues and feelings of betrayal give way to understanding and forgiveness ...except for one individual back home -- the murderer mentioned in the prelude.  He is set on destruction and his greed-driven life wants to prevail.  I know this is quite vague, but I think you will enjoy reading the story lines without too many hints!

The characters in this book are very nicely developed and flow throughout the book.  I felt like the characters were woven together to give a wonderful story, seeing different aspects and points of view.  It was not confusing in any way, a little predictable, and a happy ending. :)  It is a Christian book and, as such, highlights the power of God and how to attain peace with Him.

I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to others!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A is for adequate

I'm the type of person who wants to excel.  I have that drive to do my best at whatever I do...and throughout my life I have been blessed to have success in many areas.  I was a straight-A student throughout high school, college, and grad school.  When I play games I try to win...and like the games that I can win.  If I don't know how to do something I want to learn to do it and do it well.

Okay, well, forward to my life today of homeschooling high schoolers.  Yes, I still want to excel.  Homeschooling in a rural area sometimes means that in order for my children to have certain opportunities I have to be willing to provide them.  For instance, my oldest daughter (11th grade) is interested in computer science.  To advance her knowledge and allow her opportunities, I have signed on to coach a team for a cybersecurity competition (Cyberpatriot -- see this post) as well as an FTC robotics team (post here) .  I am not a computers person -- more of a life science this is a stretch for me.  When we go to different competitions and trainings, I see other teams with coaches who are oh so much more qualified than I am (often these teams are through public school) and it makes me feel bad for my kids (because their "coach" does not know everything or even much) and even question if they are being hampered because they are homeschooled.

At this point I have to grab my thoughts and remind myself of all the benefits they are receiving from being homeschooled.  We are homeschooling for so many different reasons and I need to remind myself of these priorities.

So, I feel like I have to "resign" myself to being ADEQUATE.  Not necessarily the best, not even with potential for the best, but adequate -- "sufficient, good enough, acceptable" (Merriam-Webster).  I am allowing my children to be able to explore their interests, no promise of winning every time, but they are getting what they need.  Am I just feeling maudlin today?  I don't know...but I think I am okay with adequate.  God gave me these children, He has helped me raise them thus far, and He will equip me to continue with this work.

As a Christ-follower, I really have access to the power of God and His guidance in my life, helping me to be a mom, a wife, a homeschool educator, and every other role that I fill.  Thankful today for this verse:

Philippians 2:13(NIV) for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.  

If you're interested in following along with more "Blogging through the Alphabet" posts, check out this linkup!  
>Hopkins Homeschool

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Cherished Quilt by Amy Clipston (REVIEW)

The Cherished Quilt by Amy Clipston is an Amish fiction book about a young man and a young woman and how their stories intersect.

Christopher has just endured a terribly tragedy and is unsteady in his own home.  He moves to stay with his uncle and learn his leatherworking trade.  Emily's father works with Christopher's uncle and when Chris arrives she tries to befriend him, though he pushes away her offers of friendship.

Chris gradually warms up to Emily and she learns of his horrific secrets, secrets that keep him from sleeping or living normally.  As you might imagine, in an Anish romance type book, they fall in love, only to be stopped......   by what???  I guess you'll have to read it to find out!

You might guess from the title that a quilt is involved in the story, yes, but I think I ought to not tell you about that either, as you will find out when you read this.  Kind of curiously it is not a big part of the story :)  Someone must've thought that part of it would make for a catchy title!

Did I like this story?  Kind of.  It was a happy ending, a love story, a "clean" story, and and easy read.   There is a large glossary of Amish terms at the beginning of the book, I kind of found that off-putting.   It might have been better in the back (?)  I thought that the character of Christopher was nicely explored.  The storyline was maybe a bit fast and unbelievable (the speed of how things worked out), but it's fiction, and I think it is kind of a feel-good read, so that would fit.

I would recommend this book, especially for someone looking for a light feel-good type read.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FIRST Robotics (First Tech Challenge) -- and why I like it for my children!

How do you feel about robots?  :)  Do you have jr. highers and highschoolers who are interested in engineering and computers?

A few years back my kids and some friends of theirs formed a FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team.  This is their third year in this competition.  Basically they build a robot to complete a challenge and then compete with and against other teams.  They "win" by winning the challenges the most times, but there are also other awards for things like enginering notebook, special designs, control/use of sensors, and more.  

Here's this year's challenge:  Velocity Vortex

The core value that is HIGHLY encouraged and given center stage is GRACIOUS PROFESSIONALISM.  In our three years of competition we have seen this concept illustrated over and over again.  It is what makes FIRST an organization that I glady encourage my kids' participation with.   We have been helped by other teams, and we have helped other teams as well.  So many times when our team's robot has failed on the field we have had youth from multiple different teams approach our team and offer to help them rectify it.  These teenagers (who are, yes, very competitive!) independently offer to help other teams succeed.  There's no meanness, no snobbishness (even from the teams who are definitely "elite" teams), and a great spirit of helpfulness.  
My children are involved in several other national type organizations/competitions, and BY FAR the FIRST organization really, truly exemplifies this concept of gracious professionalism.  As a parent this is what I want my children to learn and do.  

Here's my kids' team's robot for this year (so far!  I'm sure there will be many more changes before our competition this February!)

If you want more information about FIRST, check them out here!  :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 My REVIEW of a great resource!!

Our homeschool journey began kind of on a whim (well, not really a whim, but basically we moved to a new state, couldn't find a Christian school, and therefore made a decision [in August] to homeschool for that next schoolyear and jumped right in).  I wanted to explain that because we didn't spend years and years researching homeschool materials or plans, we kind of leapt right in.  Possibly due to that there are MANY great homeschool resources which I have not known about, even in the 7 schoolyears (maybe we're in a rut?)

I am very excited that this year I get to belong to an organization  whose members review various homeschool resources!  My very first review is for a wonderful online resource called .  As a part of this year's Homeschool Review Crew I have the opportunity to tell you about the Yearly Membership for .  I had never seen this online product before, but as I explored the options within it I began mentally planning the addition of so many classes for my children!  As a matter of fact, I let my children look it over and they made lists of so many classes they were interested in that I don't know if they'll have the time to take them all this schoolyear or if it'll spread into next schoolyear.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

The website has a helpful "start here" button on the navigation bar on the top of the page to orient you to the options and how to use the site.  There is an easy way to see all the courses available, by clicking on the "quick links."  There are also other ways to navigate by grade level or subject.

We have tried online classes before and know what works for us.  If a lot of time is taken up searching for where you left off or where the actual class is, then we tend not to use it,  This website seems to be very easy to navigate, even for my children, who are in 7th, 9th, and 11th grades.  Lessons on range in topic from your basic core classes to many different electives (arts, computers, languages, and more!)

My 7th grader took a different geology class first semester and was anxious to try the geology class offered here.  She jumped right in and has been filling in her journal, worksheets, and charts while watching the lessons.
She really enjoys the descriptive videos

The lesson plans and video give directions for her journal/worksheets
Besides geology, my 7th grader has also begun French, Middle School Health, and Keyboarding.  There are various formats for the different classes (some mostly audio, some with worksheets, some with interactive .pdf's, and more!

Wondering what my other kids will be using?  My oldest, who is very interested in computer science and design has been using the Image Editing and Creation (and loving the open source editing program GIMP which was introduced in this class -- she didn't know about that beforehand!).  She is also beginning Foundations for Teens, with Right Now Media videos and worksheets/essay questions.  She's using the French as a bit of a review and wants to try the SQL Server Beginner Course if she can fit it into her schedule.

(after)                                        (before)
Here's a sample of one of her edited photos

My 9th grade son has been learning about ancient history and will be using the Drive Thru History Ancient History.  Actually the whole family loves these videos, we used to watch them when they were on Netflix several  years ago, so we'll probably all watch them just for fun :) but hey, educational value too!  It definitely enhances his ancient history studies!  
We all enjoy the Drive Thru History videos!

Okay, so you probably get that I love the variety of options of classes in this website.  There are classes for so many different age groups, too; preschool options, elementary, middle school, high school, and even classes for parents!!

Besides all the classes, there are many other benefits to using this product.  There is a large resource section with items such as certificates, planners, free printable calendars, and a recordkeeping and transcript-generating product called applecore, which you receive access to with your Yearly Membership to  

Whew, that's a lot of info, isn't it?  Long story short...I love this product.  Where has this been all my homeschooling life? (well, it's been here, I just didn't know about it! :) )  I would very highly recommend this product to homeschooling parents with children of all ages.  It is very inexpensive for what all you get from it. I think it is well worth your money.  They even offer discounts to civil servants (military as well as police, firefighters, and such) as well as to small groups and co-ops. Until January 15, 2017 they have a sale going on for 50% off the regular annual cost!

We'll definitely be using this resource all year long.  

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, January 9, 2017

Reading--is it hereditary?

I love to read.  I always have, even as a child.  My husband, on the other hand, barely picked up a book as a child and I was dismayed to find out after we were married that he did not care to read!  :/  Yikes!

I had always heard that children learn to love to read from their parents.  What would we do?  How would our kids feel about reading?

I'm thankful to say that our situation has worked out well...kind of a double return.

My children all love reading!  Even now, as teenagers, they check out multiple books from the library and read quite a lot. did that happen?  I don't know, but I'm glad that it has!  We have always read to and with them, and audiobooks feature frequently in our drives.

This week's library treasures 

And we have an added husband now LOVES to read!  My TV-watching guy has discovered the joys of reading!  He began reading when the kids would have a book that they loved and wanted him to read too, so he did...and he's really enjoyed it!  For a few years he was reading primarily the kids' books (think books like Hatchet and other adventures like that) but now he has branched out to books of his own choosing as well.  Currently he's reading Lord of the Rings.

I don't know how that all worked out so nicely, but I am happy to say that I belong to a family of readers!!

How about your family?  What kind of pattern have you found?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Onion Pie!!!!!!!

I have an old cookbook which I purchased at a yard sale--recently I read all the way through it, looking for some recipe inspiration.  It's the Farm Journal's Country Cookbook, copyright 1959 and man does it contain some great recipes!

Okay, so it does contain some strange ones, too... (Molded beef ring in gelatin anyone?

Anyhow, one of our FAVORITES is Onion Pie!!  Sounds weird, doesn't it?  Well, it's a delicious addition to a meal!  It's kind of like an onion-y sour creamy custard-y thing.  It goes well with so much!  Tonight we had it with meatloaf, but have had it with kielbasa, chicken, beef roast, and more.  Sometimes I double the recipe and I have made it without crust before, also, just in a casserole type dish.  

Would you like the recipe?

Basically you just make a pie crust and bake it for 10 min till it's golden, then...

Slice up several onions (I usually do like 8-10, whatever type you have on hand -- I've done it with white, yellow, purple, and a mixture).  Sautee them till softened and a bit browned.  Spoon the onions into the pie crust.  

Mix up 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of sour cream, and 1/2 cup milk.  3 Tbsp flour, and a little salt and pepper.  Pour this over the onions into the pie crust. 

Bake at 375 or so for 30 min or so till set and golden on top.  I usually take it out and let it cool/set for another 5 min or more.  

One pie full usually gets eaten up by my family of 5 in one meal (okay, I have 3 teenagers...)

Give it a try!  It's a great addition to dinner!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Keeper of the Stars by Robin Lee Hatcher (book review)

I was happy for the chance to review another book by Robin Lee Hatcher. I have read many of her books and find them enjoyable. This book, Keeper of the Stars, is another one!

In Keeper of the Stars, Penny is a young librarian who lives in her hometown and holds a deep sadness, bitterness, and guilt inside. Guilt about the way that she treated her younger brother before his untimely death, sadness from his loss, and bitterness at the man she assigns responsibility to for her brother leaving his college life, joining a band, and ultimately dying in a wreck.

Trevor is the musician who encouraged Brad (Penny's brother) to follow his dreams and join his band. Brad had taught him by example about God and a Christian life, and when he was dying he requested Trevor go to his hometown. Not knowing what will await him there, Trevor travels to this new place, finds an apartment, and gets a job. He meets with Rodney (Penny and Brad's dad) and Penny and lets them know who he is and why he is there.

I cannot tell you more about the story without giving away things that you ought to read, so let's leave it here!

It is a good story. So many of us struggle with guilt and bitterness and these things affect so many sectors of our lives. We can really relate to someone who we see as having a very valid reason for holding onto these. We also cheer to see some of these being given to God and turned around by Him.

The characters were people you can resonate with, people you'd like to be friends with. The book is an easy read, interesting, keeps you returning to read a little more.

I didn't love how the chapters were written, with some chapters about Brad and his past years interspersed with the story, but it wasn't a huge drawback.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to you too!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”