Thursday, February 28, 2019


Ahhh the sunshine makes winter days seem so much nicer! :) Even though it's 3 degrees today, the sun makes it seem less dreary!

Similarly, a verse of Scripture puts days in a better perspective ... have you ever heard of Bible Gateway's verse of the day?  They have a program where you get a verse emailed to you every day (check up in the upper right hand side of this blog!)  God uses His Word in our lives every day. Thank you Lord!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

IXL Learning -- my REVIEW

Online learning is something that has many applications.  I do like having online courses that I trust my kids to use and learn with...and am always on the lookout for more.  This session we had the opportunity to try out an annual membership to IXL, produced by IXL Learning, which is an online platform for review/learning different topics in many different subject areas.

My children are in 9th and 11th grades.  IXL has many different options for these two ages...for the past several weeks my children have been using the language arts and some of the math offerings in this program.

It's really a quite easy-to-use program, each problem/question is quick to answer and if you get it wrong, the correction is given, as is a chance to learn why your choice was wrong, or to learn more information about the applicable topic.
There's no question about if you got the question right or wrong :) And the incorrect answers are followed
with a thorough explanation of what you did wrong...

...and then a great lesson about the rules or concepts that you have forgotten to use

...then followed by a chance to see how you should have answered the question.

 Math topics are treated similarly--

A huge list of skills/topics to review/test yourself on.

If answer is correct, you get a "Fantastic" but if it is incorrect, it is clearly wrong :) 

Instructions are given as to why your answer was wrong and the concepts you need to refresh/re-learn

And then you are shown how you should have answered, and why.

I really like this program, as do my children!  My daughter, especially, has been using the grammar sections a lot.  In high school, a lot of grammar is reviewing topics already learned, and we've appreciated the fact that there are mini-lessons given when a question is answered incorrectly.  This also helps with new/expanded topics. 

For the high school levels, the courses are basically maths and language arts.  The precalculus is quite thorough, and we are finding that the 11th grade precalculus and language arts are great reviews for standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT!  Not to over-repeat myself, but the fact that answers are not just marked wrong but are then taught/re-taught is SO valuable!  My students are learning, not just flipping through question after question.  

We also appreciated the independent usage of these "lessons".  I am not having to correct the work, but I can view a report which shows each child's usage, progress they are making,So far topics we ought to work on more together, questions and question types that are proving difficult to him or her, and more diagnostic/evaluative type data.

So far, I've only really told you about the high school subjects, since this is where my kids are, and these are what we've been using.  If you have a younger child, however, the program is available for not only math and language arts, but additionally for science, social studies, and even Spanish!

I am really impressed with this program.  I enjoy the level of materials it covers, the ease of a student's independent usage, the ability to "check up" on your student very easily, and--really--the enjoyable nature of the product!  My 9th grade daughter had this to say about the program:  "I really like IXL. It is fun and colorful. It has a lot of color, not just one or two. It ( at least for 9th grade) is a lot of review, not necessarily teaching. But it is very helpful. It aslo has explanations if you get something wrong. I like that part of it. They also give you "awards", like little badges when you complete something or answer 20 questions in a row correctly."

I definitely appreciate this product, IXL, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.  If you'd like to hear more about what other folks who tried this product out have to say--especially to hear what those with younger students who may have used more than just the math and language arts-- please click on the link below and check out many of their reviews!

Immersive, Adaptive Learning Online {IXL Learning Reviews}

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Squash Soup -- so easy!

Here's another family favorite for cold winter days...squash soup!  

There are lots of variations on this recipe, different seasonings, etc. but at the base it's the same:  squash and chicken or vegetable stock.  That's it...and then you personalize it! 

Here's how I make it:

1.  cut your squash (winter squash--the one in the pic is a butternut...but you can use other favorite storage squashes--I've used hubbards and buttercups as well) in half or in workable pieces  [if you have a big hubbard you might have several pieces to allow you to fit it into a baking dish/dishes :) ]

2.  bake in oven for an hour or so until it is soft

3.  Allow to cool a bit and then remove the flesh from the skin (the picture below was when I didn't allow it to I had to use more tools than normal, haha! :) ) Usually I just use a spoon.

4.  Put the squash flesh into your blender (whatever style you happen to have!) -- I like to fill it up about 2/3 or more with squash and then add chicken stock to fill it up to the fill line.  I add salt and pepper at this stage, and a little worcestershire sauce and often some Italian herb paste (really, add whatever you want!  Garlic is great in it too!)

5.  Blend it up!  Pour it into a large saucepan and repeat until all of your squash is blended.

6.  Heat until it's the temperature at which you would like to serve it!  Taste it to see if it has enough seasonings, and feel free to add more if you'd like.  **sometimes I've added a little cream, too, if I have gives it a more velvety feel and yummmm...  :) 

7.  Enjoy!  We like to eat this with sourdough bread :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cutting cherry tomatoes!

I just made a recipe that was SO delicious--and it used cherry tomatoes, sliced in half.  I know that lots of summer recipes, salads, and more use sliced cherry tomatoes - but it takes so long!!  A few years someone told me a way to slice cherry tomatoes, but I was skeptical...and then I tried it this past week (with grape tomatoes actually) -- and it was SO EASY!!!

It's not earth-shattering, but it IS a little time- and frustration-saver!

1) Place your (washed!!) cherry tomatoes on a cutting board or flat surface

2)Place a plate on top of the tomatoes, pressing slightly to hold them in place

3) Get a long serrated knife out (length longer than the diameter of your plate -- if you don't have as long a knife, just use a smaller plate!!)

4) While pressing downward on the plate, hold the knife so that the blade is parallel to the plate/counter and slice smoothly through the sides of the tomatoes, all the way through to the other side!

5) Pick up your plate and be happy that your tomatoes are halved so nicely!

Yay! So quick and easy--now use in your intended recipe :) 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Easy cinnamon roll recipe!

Okay, first of all, I'll start this by saying sorry that I forgot to take an "after" or "completed" picture!  :/ we were hurrying to go to a party and I was bringing these and I didn't think to take a pic before they'd all been gobbled up!

Here's how to make easy cinnamon rolls:

Make a quick bread dough of your choice (mine is the one I used in this meal).  
Roll the dough out on a nicely floured surface, so it won't stick (!!)
Melt butter (I used a whole stick for a double recipe) and then add a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon and enough sugar to make a thick paste-ish consistency.
   Yes, yes it is a lot of sugar :) 

Spoon the sugar mixture onto the dough and spread thinly over the whole surface.

 Roll it up and cut into slices!

Place the slices into a greased cake pan and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes or till the dough is solidly baked and browned.

When baking is done, tip over onto a cookie sheet or tray and cool a little and eat!

Easy and delicious!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership -- my short review and links to more reviews!

This is our family's third year using, which is kind of a huge collection of homeschooling classes and resources.  You can read my earlier reviews here and here.  This is a subscription service, and as a subscriber/member, you have access to an enormous amount of courses for preschool aged students, up through high school--and even some for parents!

The Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership is a great value.  Please check it out and explore the site as well, but definitely also check out other homeschooling folks' reviews of!

One thing I really appreciate is that they have a lot of courses for high schoolers as well as those for younger students.  My son used the Economics course and really enjoyed it (and learned a lot too!)  I also really love the Foundations for Teens course, which is an apologetics course geared toward teens-- covering a huge amount of topics, with great videos and worksheets/questions as well.

So I'm not going to go into detail about the courses, check into them :) They vary from just a worksheet-type or reading/questions class to audio lessons with guided notes to videos with questions...quite a variety of formats.  There is actually a separate section just for parents -- and these little courses or videos are not necessarily only about'll find some neat ones such as Let's Talk Dinner (in which you and your spouse become more mindful about meals) and Spring Cleaning for Slackers (haha! Love that title!)

I do want to mention some of the "other" stuff available with an Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership  .  There are recordkeeping and planning guides.  There are scope/sequences for classes.  

Two of the extras which I would like to highlight are the World Book resources, which have a vast array of encyclopedia articles as well as other searchable media on a huge variety of topics.   This access is availablel with your membership.  

Another really helpful section which is accessible to you is the "videos" tab--which brings you to RightNow Media -- and houses a searchable library of tons of great teaching videos!   The apologetics class's videos, which I referred to earlier, are found at this site, as are many others.  We happened to be listening to my older daughter's college chapel one day and really enjoyed the speaker, Donnie Smith, who was speaking about leadership.  We checked on RightNow Media through our membership and found many other videos that feature his teaching--and plan to watch those.  It's easy to use and is an amazing resource.
I think each year that we use we discover more things we like about it and different ways to use it within that year's homeschool plan.  We really enjoy it and plan to continue using it :) Check out their Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership as well as reading others' reviews to get a better feel for this great resource!

OH!  There's also a great COUPON code right now !  Here you go!  :) Quality Online Homeschool Resources { Reviews} Quality Online Homeschool Resources { Reviews}

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