Thursday, December 13, 2018

Meat grinding tip

'Tis the season (deer season) for grinding meat. I wanted to share a little tip with you...maybe it's something that everyone already does, but I didn't know about it and figured it out through years of grinding :)

When you're coming to the end of your meat chunks and have put the last bits into the grinder until the auger has finished pushing out ground meat...and you figure you're done, so take the grinder apart to clean it, you'll often find a good deal of meat left in the machine, unground. 

Here's how I make sure it all gets ground up--after all the meat pieces have been put into the hopper and are grinding, I follow them with a couple handfuls of already-ground meat, until all of the pieces have been ground through...then when I take it apart, the meat left in the auger parts is already ground and able to be added right in with the other ground meat. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women -- my REVIEW

Do you read the Bible daily? What about tools or devotionals to help you as you work this habit into your daily routine?  The most recent review product that our family has received is Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women, published by Zondervan.  My 14-year old daughter was excited to receive this lovely book and she and I have both been reading through it (sometimes reading more than one day's worth!)

This devotional book begins with a strong affirmation that the Bible is not only a "guys'" book (written by men, for men, about men) but that it is for women as well.  The author clearly brings out God's view of the worth of females and also encourages her female readers to dive in and learn what God has to teach us from the Bible and from the "normal" women who are a part of Scripture.

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women

As you can see from the above picture, this devotional is a very pretty book, hardbacked, with a handy ribbon bookmark.  It's sturdy but pretty, a nice combination!  

The book is set up as a series of 365 devotionals.  I say "series" but I do not mean that it begins at January, rather you may begin on any day of the year...the days are just numbered (like Day 244, Day 245...) so if you miss a day or don't begin in January--no big deal!  When I say "series," I am referring to the say that the segments go.  The devotionals in this book are not sporadic, different topics popcorned in every day--no, rather there are several days (or more than several in some cases!) focusing on different women in the Bible--some well-known (think Rahab or Delilah) and others much lesser-known (ever heard of Zelophehad's daughters?).

Each day's reading begins with a Bible verse or a passage of Scripture.  This is followed by a discussion, dealing with the meaning of the verse, the context, as well as a distinct spelled-out correlation to life today.  Girls reading these devotions will not feel like they are moving through a history book, but rather drawing conclusions from these lives of women that can be applied to their own lives today!

Each day's page also ends with a few lines for those who like to record their thoughts, responses, or questions.

So I think you can guess how we used this devotion book :) My daughter read it independently of me (I read it separately).  I think that 14 is a great age to be developing a habit of personal Bible study.  This book's entries, though short, can definitely help to engender this routine.  She and I both enjoy the book and its topics.

Oh, speaking of topics, what topics does it cover? Oh so many...too many to list here!  Things like kindness and caring, like God's plan, like greed and generosity, like responsibility, morality, relationships, and so much more!  

I really liked the consistency of several days' worth of devotionals focusing on a certain female figure.  Readers will feel more comfortable and better about the context as they learn more than one thing from the story of a woman in the Bible.

So? Basically I liked this book.  I do think that the entries are a little short :) but hopefully will accompany a more thorough Bible reading plan.  The title states that it is for young women (Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women) but frankly, this book is meaningful to thouse outside the 13-18 age range!  

I would recommend this devotional.  It's also pretty, which is a plus--it'd make a nice gift--and what better way to encourage someone to read the Bible than an attractive, easy-to-read guide?

To read more what other reviewers had to say about this Zondervan product, please click the link below:

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women {Zondervan Review}

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Meal planning

I really am convinced of the importance of meal planning...both fir financial as well a less-dinnertime-stress reasons :) YET so often I do not. Why????? I say I don't have time, but I really need to prioritize/make time for it!  Working on getting back to it again :) Good luck to me, haha :)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Christmas Remedy by Cindy & Erin Woodsmall -- my REVIEW

Are you looking for a quick Christmas fiction book for this holiday season? The Christmas Remedy by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall is a story about an amish girl with a passion for helping her community through helping them access medical and pharmaceutical help. 

Holly is an Amish young lady who has chosen an unusual path--working at a pharmacy and helping those in her area utliize medical help--rather than the traditional marriage+family route that her peers have taken.  She is making a great impact on her community, and when she re-meets an old friend, her loyalties are stretched. 

The pharmacy that caters to the Amish community is going through some hard times (from a variety of different situations) and she is embroiled in assisting with smoothing these all out as well as continuing on with her medical mission -- and has the distraction of her old flame.

It is a nice story, one that doesn't take too long to read -- and it focuses on Christmastime -- so if you're looking for a seasonal book to read, check it out!  I kind of felt a bit ambivalent about this one-- not my favorite, but nothing I disliked. Fans of Amish fiction will definitely enjoy this story!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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.”

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving-- Every day?!

Did you ever read the verse

1 Thessalonians 5:18"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ??

Wow, everything. I guess it goes back to being content and God bringing everything into our lives.  Though hard sometimes, today I thank God.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Adding cranberries

Here's another idea for adding cranberries to a meal--whether a holiday meal or not! Add them to your applesauce for a tangy-sweet side dish!  It's so fast and easy...wash the cranberries, cook them in a little water (they'll pop and spit and make lots of noise!) -- drain out any excess water/juice (add it into your stuffing, maybe?) and then mix your applesauce in with the cooked cranberries!  It makes a pretty dish for your table and a delightful flavor for your palate!

Friday, November 16, 2018


The first big snow of the year is always so beautiful, magical, and enjoyable :) I'm so thankful today for a snowy day if helping the kids with their schoolwork, making fudge, and adding to my stock of craft fair items!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Guitar 360 Method -- my REVIEW

Do you play the guitar? Do you want to learn?  I have one child who plays classical guitar and one child who has not taken guitar lessons (at least not before this review!) Sometimes taking physical music lessons is not a possibility, due to different constraints such as time or financial.  There are lots of learn-to-play programs which are available in the online world, ranging from free to different costs, and some may be more effective than others.  For this review we were given a subscription to Guitar 360 Method and both of my at-home kids wanted to give it a try!  We received the Semester 1 Bundle, which includes the Absolute Beginner bonus content and the thirteen week semester 1 (more about that bonus content later!)
Guitar 360 Method

This is an interesting product, one that you do not have to pay monthly for using.  Basically you purchase access to the semester's worth of guitar lessons, which are available online for you to use at any time (from any device, you just log in using your login credentials), and then you can move at your own pace!

The semester one lessons are broken up in to thirteen "weeks" which, if you'd like to do them in a weekly manner, that's great--otherwise you can view tham as chapters or modules which you work through at your pace.  Each week has a stated goal and the lessons and practices support arriving at that goal.  
This is an example week (there's a quiz at the end of this one too, it just didn't fit into my screenshot :)

SO what is covered? A lot!  The basics, how to actually play the guitar, and music theory as well!  Some of the many concepts covered are chords, strumming, picking, notes and their variable locations, dynamics, string muting, do-re-mi / solfege, minors vs majors, chord connections, and more...and lots of practice! 

The setup of the lessons is that the teacher (a real person) instructs the students with a variety of examples, slides, and listening/watching.  There are places where the students are instructed and then asked to pause the video to try out what is being taught.  There are also practices that allow the student to master what is being learned in that lesson.  The diagrams for fingering and chord placement on the strings are very clear. 

Music theory allows students to be able to listen and learn and correct themselves...and to move toward more flexible (less constrained) music playing.

SO--I said that my two children were going to try this out--how did they use it?  Well, for background, my 16 year old son has taken classical guitar for about 6 years, yet he was interested to use this course to learn more about strumming and the strumming the chords system of playing on a steel-stringed guitar (as opposed to the plucking/nylon strings of his classical guitar).  My 14 year old daughter had no guitar background at all, but wanted to learn how to play as well.

With our semester 1 bundle, they were able to begin with an "absolute beginner course" which took them through such things as the parts of the guitar, how to tune it, some basic chords, and strumming. 

My kids thought they'd do better to begin together (my son helping my daughter with things she didn't catch right away)...

but they soon found that a bit frustrating, as he had so much more guitar background :) so they split out and my daughter stayed in the absolute beginner lessons (where she still is) and my son quickly moved on and into the regular semester 1 lessons.

As of today, they are still both interested and wanting to do more and more lessons and practices to learn more how to play the guitar (daughter) and how to do the chords/strumming (son).  My son did learn how to hold a pick :) and strumming patterns...and how to make the sounds that you want it to make...and though he's still committed to the classical style, he will continue on in this course to add this style of playing into his repertoire.  My daughter is interested...and will probably continue on at a slower pace, adding guitar literacy into her musical experiences.  The great thing about this course is that if she decides to pursue it more consistently, it is still available to us (one purchase, not a monthly subscription!)

Right now, there is also a special deal for homeschoolers -- 20% discount by using the  HOMESCHOOL20 Coupon Code.

The publisher has noted, "The regular price is $149, which includes the 3-week Beginners' Course, Semester 1 (13 weeks long), and the 2 Bonus Song mini-courses. With the Coupon Code, their investment will be only $119.20 for 10+ hours of video content!"

Does this sound like something you're interested in? Be sure to check them out at Guitar 360 Method!

To read what other reviewers have to say about this product, click on the link below! 

Guitar Lessons with Krisz Simonfalvi {Guitar 360 Method Reviews}

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Driftwood art :)

With only a few weeks till craft fair day, the forest is "growing"!  Lots of driftwood trees in the making.

This year I'm trying something new...nativities and angels! You never know what you can make till you try! :) Hope they sell good!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Master Kitz The Starry Night -- my REVIEW

I'm sure most of us are familiar with VanGogh's Starry Night,a brightly-colored night sky with a magical feel.  The product that our family received for this most recent review was a kit to help a student replicate this famous painting.  The art kit is called Master Kitz The Starry Night and is produced by  The Master Kitz The Starry Night comes all together, so the student (and parent) does not have to scramble around looking for supplies, other than something to squeeze the paint out onto and roll with the rollers.

This craft kit contains the materials a student can use to replicate VanGogh's famous painting.

 It all comes in a nice sturdy box, and contains three paints, a patterned paint roller, 5** oil pastels, two pieces of Deluxe Art Paper, a stencil, sticker star masks, a sponge roller, instructions, and an eduational pamphlet about VanGogh.  (**Incidentally, we only received four pastels, probably just a packaging error, this did not affect our review)

The student may read the pamphlet to learn about VanGogh as well as follow the included timeline to learn about the evolution/development of VanGogh's painting style.

The student then begins with his/her replication of VanGogh's Starry Night.

I won't walk you through all of the instructions, but basically the student begins by flattening out the paper and taping it to the table. They place star masks (stickers which hold a blank space on the page), mix paint colors, and use a patterned roller to apply different colors of paint in different locations.  The star masks (stickers) were removed, and stencils were used to create the skyline (using the flat paint roller).  Final steps included coloring the stars with pastels in circular colors as well as coloring the other parts of the scene (trees and buildings).

Applying the stars

Using the patterned roller

Removing the star masks

Ready for the stencil

applying paint through the stencil


Coloring the stars and foreground

Her finished product

comparing with the original!

SO, what did we think of it?  Hmmm...I think I will say that it was a craft, not really what I'd consider "art" work for my child--she wasn't really learning any art techniques or anything, just using tools which were pretty foolproof.  By foolproof I don't mean that her picture looks exactly like the original, but that I believe it is the intended result (or nearly).

We did have some difficulty with the star masks (stickers) pulling up a bit of the paper when she took them up--

As my daughter was using the product, I was thinking about this review and trying to think about how it could be used in a homeschool setting.  I think the most valuable usage of this Master Kitz The Starry Night would be to cement in a young person's mind the look of this renowned painting and/or to accompany an educational unit about VanGogh, as a fun craft project to go along with the study, to give a hands-on aspect to learning about his life and painting style.

My daughter was a little disappointed, as she thought that the project was "too easy" and plus she said it didn't include the famous white swirl (which I suppose you could add in yourself!).  She agreed with me that it would make a good accompaniment to a study about VanGogh, especially for younger students (she is 14).

To read what other reviewers thought about this product, please click on the link below!

Master Kitz The Starry Night { Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, November 2, 2018

Homeschool Curriculum Review Crew (TOS Review Crew) -- applications now open for the 2019 year!

I have been blessed to be a part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew for the past few years and it has enhanced our homeschool as well as my life!

I currently am homeschooling two of my children, one in 11th grade, and one in 9th grade.  We live in a fairly rural area, and we are not a part of a homeschool co-op.  I have discovered so many wonderful products through this review process!

You might ask what is the Review Crew?   Well, it is a homeschool curriculum review service, with the reviews provided by homeschooling parents who have used the curriculum with their children and have written a summary/opinion about it.

What do I do?  Periodically reviews come available (several every month) and I have the opportunity to request to be on a certain review (or not, if it does not apply to our family).  I then await the approval onto the "list" of the reviewers for that curriculum or program.  Once approved, that product is mailed to me (yes, for free!) -- or emailed, in some cases :)

Upon receiving it, I (and my child/children) use the materials for the review period (often 4-6 weeks) and then write an honest review to explain the product and my (and often my children's) thoughts on the curriculum.  And then I get to keep it!

Does this sound like something you would like to try?  Applications are open RIGHT NOW for the crew, located at this link:   It's an easy application, it tells you what you need (including a blog on which you post at least weekly), and more.

If you're interested, check it out!  Feel free to ask me if you'd like more information as well! :)

You can see many of the products that I've reviewed right here on my blog on other posts!