Monthly Archives: November 2013

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 12

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 12

Our Classical Conversations group took a field trip this week to the Dyer Observatory. If you live in or around Nashville, I would HIGHLY recommend it. It was an exceptionally good field trip and dovetailed BEAUTIFULLY with our recent CC Cycle 2 Science Grammar and Science Projects. The astronomer in charge re-visited the relative size of the planets and stars, took us on a planet walk to show us the relative position of the planets, educated us about the different planets as we walked, then did an activity to illustrate the phases of the moon and showed us the telescope they use at the observatory and how the roof moves to allow it access. It was very cool!

Our field trip yesterday is one of the reasons I’m a day later than usual getting this post up! We were gone half the day for that and then we also had to deal with a neighborhood dog attacking one of our chickens! We thought she was a goner when we left for our field trip, but my husband (now known as the “Chicken Whisperer”) did not give up on her and, while she is terribly beaten up, she’s definitely hanging in there. We’re now referring to her as “Timex” since she can “take a licking and keep on ticking!”  What a crazy day!

Classical Conversations Week 9 Skip Counting 15Math

For this week’s math, I love to do hand motions. The hand motions have helped ME to remember the conversion of teaspoons, tablespoons, and fluid ounces, so hopefully they’re helpful to the kids, as well! I’ve done these same hand motions for a couple of years, so I don’t know if I saw someone else suggest these, or if I stumbled upon doing them myself!


For 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon, we make a teacup with our hands using our thumb and first three fingers. We stick out our pinky to drink our tea “fancy-schmancy-style” and as a result when you tilt up your 3-fingered TEA cup, you end up with 1 pinky sticking up in the air to remind you that 3 teaspoons=1 tablespoon.

Then, we pretend to be holding a glass using our thumb and first two fingers and we set it down on the table to remember that 2 tablespoons=1 fluid (the liquid we pretend is in the cup) ounce.

Classical Conversations Week 10 Skip Counting 15

I got some feedback that the Skip Counting 14’s booklet was helpful for some children to review, and I think some of you who tutor used it in class. I’m OVER THE MOON (seriously, you have no idea!) to hear that something I created was actually HELPFUL! So, I went ahead and made booklets for the 15’s, the Squares and the Cubes. You can click on the images to the right, or you can find them on the printables page.


I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the person that put together these geography review games out at Purpose Driven Games! My children love them, and I plan to use them OFTEN over the break to review! You can click on the image below to go to all three of their Cycle 2 review games, or you can click on the individual links below the image.

Classical Conversations Geography Review Games

Cycle 2, Weeks 2-6 review game.

Cycle 2, Weeks 7-13 review game.


Classical Conversations Waterloo Napoleon Bonaparte

Lion’s Mound Waterloo Memorial
Photo Source: fatboyke


The video at the link below does not specifically talk about the Battle of Waterloo, but it’s well done and a good biography of Napoleon. You’ll need to be around to read the captioning for any non-readers. There are a handful of other videos on this website about Napoleon and the French Revolution, so it’s just an all around handy place to visit to expand on Week 11 and Week 12’s history sentences!

Once you’ve watched the little overview, above, this 5 minute video concentrates on the Battle of Waterloo itself.

I’m not in love with the game at the following link because I think it’s probably not the right combination of education and fun for my two kiddos, but hey, just finding a video game about Waterloo is pretty cool, so I wanted to pass it along!

Again this week, some of the best books are no longer in print. Bummer! So, check your library, or pick them up used from Amazon. For example, we have this great Usborne book on our bookshelf to read this week:

This one is still in print, and the Kindle version is only $0.99:

For the tweens and up (this one is actually still in print!):


One thing that I would LOVE to do with my kids during this break period is put together a paper mache solar system model like this CC mom is working on! I think the kids would love for us to do a project like that and I’ll bet we’d learn a lot!

The Right Stuff is a full-length movie and rated PG, so I wouldn’t normally recommend it here (Common Sense Media recommends is for 10 and up). BUT, I really enjoyed this movie several years ago, and this week’s science just makes me want to watch it again! It’s about the 7 astronauts of the Mercury space program, the early days of NASA and the Space Race and it’s a very well made movie! So, for you parents, or children for whom you think it appropriate, settle back and enjoy a great movie about a really cool period in our country’s history! It reminds you of how incredibly brave and adventurous astronauts really are!

Product DetailsSigh . . . and now that I’ve started recommending regular movies (this makes me feel very guilty for some reason!), I’ll go ahead and throw in a plug for Apollo 13 (recommended for 12 and up by Common Sense Media). Another great movie about the Space program that really makes you think about all that goes into successfully getting into space . . . and getting back home again.

I’m going to try not to feel too guilty about recommending those movies! It’s time to take a break, after all, so so take a break and curl up with something that will make you appreciate that CC Science sentence even more!

Product DetailsThere is also a documentary series by BBC Earth available on Amazon (free streaming for Amazon Prime Members! We love our Amazon Prime, and I think you can try it free for 30 days if you want to stream this video for free.) called “The Planets.” I’ve just discovered it, so I can’t say whether it’s a winner or not, but the fourth episode is about the Moon and the process of getting there.  Some of the other episodes also look like they’d be good fits for the last few weeks of CC Science Grammar.

And here’s another video series, this one is on the history of NASA, that looks great for this week and is also has free streaming for Amazon Prime Members!

One last (REALLY!) video recommendation . . . and it’s one I mentioned in an earlier post, but it fits even better with this week’s Science grammar:  A Tour of the International Space Station on YouTube. If you read the CC Science Snippets (available on CC Connected), this week’s talks about how the Shuttle program was responsible for building the International Space Station, so it’s a good time to take a tour and see what living in space is all about!

There are SO many great books on Space and the Space program available, that I won’t recommend a ton. You can hit your local library and walk out with a stack, I feel sure. Here are just a couple to whet your appetite:

This one is available on Kindle for only $2.99:

We read this one a few years ago, and will read it again in the next week. It’s really neat to read a children’s book written by Buzz Aldrin himself.

Product Details



And with that, we head off into the sunset for a break for a few weeks! On one hand, I’m ready for a break and on the other hand I’ve got lots and lots of ideas related to this upcoming 12 weeks that I’m ready to get going on! I’ll be back on the blog during the break with some thoughts and plans that just can’t stay in a holding pattern until January! See you then!

This post is linked to:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood


Gluten Free Applesauce Bread

Applesauce Bread Gluten Free Quick Bread

There’s just something about applesauce bread. It’s warm and comforting. It smells FANTASTIC while it’s baking. It’s wonderful plain, it’s delectable with butter, and I love it with peanut butter! It even makes a great sandwich for lunch with peanut butter and possibly a little bit of honey. Yum!

Now that I’ve typed all this, I need to go and make some more.  NOW.

Gluten Free Applesauce Bread

Gluten Free Applesauce BreadIngredients

1 1/2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour*

3/4 cup Rapadura or Sucanat (or 1/2 cup honey**)

1/2 teaspoon xantham gum

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup applesauce

2 eggs

1/4 cup butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients.
  3. Add wet ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or top looks set and toothpick comes out clean.

* You can buy yours pre-mixed, or there’s a great tutorial by Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, or here’s what’s currently in mine (we like a whole-grain-type flour):

  • 4 Cups Sorghum Flour
  • 3 Cups Brown Rice Flour
  • 2 Cups Potato Starch
  • 1 Cup Tapioca Starch

Basically, you’re shooting for a mixture that’s about 70% whole grains and 30% starches.

** If you choose to use honey, you’ll want to watch it closely. Honey browns more quickly than the other sugars.

Applesauce Bread Peanut Butter

We love Applesauce Bread with peanut butter SO much, that it was impossible for me to take a picture without someone taking a bite out of it first!

Applesauce Bread

And, if you don’t move quickly around here, little hands will suddenly appear in your pictures helping themselves to the subject of your photography. We aren’t the most patient bunch.

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 One Project at a Time Link party - ABFOL Weekend Bloggy Reading I participated at #GetHimFed FridaysGrab button for Bakewell Junction

Menu Plan Monday 11/18/2013

Menu Plan

I had a WONDERFUL time at the Ladies’ Retreat with our church this weekend! And, now that I’ve done two days worth of dishes, surveyed the house, declared it a disaster zone, and called off our regularly scheduled plans tomorrow to deal with it, it’s time to get this week on track with a Menu Plan!

You’ll see that tomorrow’s breakfast plan is what I like to refer to as the “out of a box” variety. We don’t actually do cereal all that often. Sometimes, though, it’s just the fastest way to get people fed. A few months ago, I was trying to figure out a way to add flavor to some of the unsweetened cereals we keep around (like brown rice crisps, and quinoa crispies) without just adding honey (or straight up sugar as my, ahem, husband has a preference for), and I decided to try adding some chocolate peanut butter.

Turned out, that was a hit with the kids, too. We’ve tried it two different ways.  The kids prefer it with the Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter (13g fat, 7g sugar per serving), but I prefer it with the PB2 Chocolate Peanut Butter (1g fat, 3g sugar per serving). Have you heard of or tried the PB2 products? They’re very interesting. I like them. Basically, they roast the peanuts for the peanut butter, and then squeeze most of the fat out, and grind the peanuts into a powder. To create peanut butter, you just mix 2 tablespoons of the powder with 1 tablespoon of water. And, if you want to add them to a smoothie or something similar, you can just add the powder without re-hydrating first. Again, I like them! And, I like adding the chocolate peanut butter powder to a bowl cereal to make an “out of the box” breakfast more substantial. Sometimes I re-hydrate it first, sometimes I don’t. It just depends on what I’m in the mood for.

Menu Plan Peanut Butter Cereal

And now, here’s the menu plan for feeding people this week:


Cereal with Peanut Butter

Leftovers – clean out the fridge!

Oven Baked Salmon, Purple Hull Peas, Panfried Kale


Baked Oatmeal

Pizza with cauliflower crust

BBQ Pork, Corn, Baked Beans, Green Beans


Leftover Baked Oatmeal

Almond Butter Sandwiches on GF Bread, Carrots, Apples and Bananas



Gluten Free Pancakes

Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese on GF Bread

Shrimp and Alfredo Pasta, GF Zucchini Patties


Leftover Gluten Free Pancakes

Hummus, GF Pita (NEW), Carrots and Apples

Salmon Wraps


GF Coconut Flour Muffins

Leftovers from the week or Out

Tostadas with Beef and Refried Beans


Leftover GF Coconut Flour Muffins

Baked Potatoes with BBQ Pork

Home Church


Snacks for the week

HomemadeSuper Swim Bars (Granola Bars), Popped Amaranth and Bananas, Almonds and Chocolate Chips, Smoothies, Popcorn, Apples/PB/Granola Sandwiches

StoreboughtFruit PouchesFreeze-dried FruitGluten Free Pretzels


If you’re looking for a menu plan template, you are welcome to download one by visiting the Printables page.

This post linked to:

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 11

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 11 Math Cubes

We shot off rockets this week in our Classical Conversations group this week.  It was GREAT fun, and the expressions on the kids’ faces were priceless, but I have no pictures. It’s really hard to tutor and take pictures at the same time, I’ve decided. And yesterday, I was too busy getting a second shower of the day from the water bottle rocket that prematurely went off right beside me, anyway. Sure, it was 30 degrees outside, but it was 100 degrees in my classroom, so really the kids did me a favor. And I think they thought that was as fun and funny as actually launching the rocket itself.  Makes for good CC memories.

Review Games

The kiddos in my class love to play Firecracker (see Printables page to print your own cards), and beg for it every week. They don’t seem to think it’s getting old at all (which goes to show you that you don’t have to have a million review games in your arsenal, just a few good ones), but this week I wanted to shake things up a little. So, we did two other simple things to review:

  1. Timeline Freeze Dance: Easy, easy easy! Just play the full version of the Timeline song starting wherever you like and for as long as you like. The kids free-form dance until you hit pause and then have to sing the next item on the Timeline. It’s simple, it’s energetic, and it gives them a chance to break the song up in ways other than weekly. It’s a really fun way to review!
  2. Nerf Gun Target: I’ve used a nerf gun a few different ways in class. If you’ve got rowdy boys who love nerf guns, they’ll love you for bringing one . . . but you’ll want a good gameplan for making it work well for review. Yesterday, we just took turn as teams answering questions, and then one person from each team got to stand up at the front of the classroom (we tweaked our shooting spot as we went) and shoot at a big target I’d drawn on the board to earn the points for their team. We didn’t have a lot of time, so we asked enough review questions to allow everyone a chance to shoot. Again, easy prep, easy set up, and fun for the class. My children at home love this game, too. We draw the target on a storm door, and then have some fun! You can also use this as a way to choose your question topic, by assigning each circle of the target with a different topic. Everything outside of the target can be “Timeline” which means that a missed shot isn’t a wasted shot and things can move along pretty quickly.

Learn Math Cubes Classical Conversations


I am SO excited about sharing with you the the little tool I made for learning the cubes! Don’t tell the kiddos, but I think learning the cubes is BORING!! It might be my least favorite week of math. And, I think they’re hard to remember, since the numbers get big so fast and have no discernable pattern. So . . . I made a little cube of cubes. Smaller kiddos (abecedarians) will need assistance from their parents, but my five year-old has been able to handle it at home beautifully, and he LOVES it! He has been going over and over his cubes while folding and refolding his “Cubes Cube.” I created two files. One is in color (for printing on white card stock or plain paper) and one is black and white (for printing on colored card stock). You can find them both on the “Free Printables” page.

A couple of quick tips:

1) Since it’s a square, it’s easy to cut the outside of the figure out with a paper cutter. If you want to make them for multiple children, that’s the easiest route to go (and you can cut multiple at a time). Cutting out the small center rectangle with scissors doesn’t take very long.

2) Pre-folding is the key to making this easy and do-able for children. Crisp, nice folds make for a better cube.


This is one of my favorite things that I stumbled upon this week. My children are crazy for jokes and will love this! It really is just a joke book that uses indefinite pronouns. It’s a short book (for Kindle, cost is $0.99), and after finding it, I realized that someone has made it into a little video of it on YouTube (no audio, just slides of the pages of the book):

Indefinite Pronouns

And since I thought the indefinite pronoun jokes were such a good idea, I went looking for more and found this great printable. The jokes are perfect for the youngest of kids and the grammar lesson would be good for older kids (of all ages).

Here’s another little video on indefinite pronouns. It’s a little slow, but the information is good.–Lo


I’m giving my husband ALL the credit for finding this FABULOUS website! You will definitely want to check it out!

It’s all about the Palace of Versailles, and has amazing fly through videos, and a really well-done video game about building the palace. Kids can get familiar with the architecture style, statistics about what it took to build the palace, the architects, etc. It is extremely impressive. While Versailles fits most appropriately with our history grammar about Louis XIV (Week 9), it did play a role in the French Revolution  discussed in this week’s history sentence (and you can certainly understand why starving people might get a little upset that the people taxing them were living this opulent lifestyle once you’ve seen Versailles!). There’s good history recap of Versaille at this website.

In other history news, this probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Ummm  . . this week’s history sentence is about the guillotine. The guillotine was invented during the French revolution (ironically, because it was considered a humane form of execution) and became the symbol of the revolution. During this period of history, up to 40,000 people were killed. And 16,594 of those deaths were by guillotine. It’s crazy. It’s fascinating. And, it’s gory. Really, really gory. So, while I’m not into gore and nastiness, and there is no blood in any of the videos I’m about to post, it’s hard to avoid things like cartoon heads rolling with this topic. If you’ve got sensitive children (or are sensitive yourself) you’ll want to preview these.

Lots of cartoon heads rolling in this one, but no blood.  Depends on how sensitive you and your children are. Humor is a little subtle for some younger children, but they’ll probably pick up the gist of the story.

Pretty simple video with a good overview of the French Revolution:

This is an EXCELLENT video, longer than the others, and targeted at middle school or high school students:

There are some good books for Foundations age kiddos for this period. Yay! Unfortunately most of them are out of print. Boo! I’m going to go ahead and show them here, in case you can find them used or at your local library.

  Product DetailsMarie Antoinette

The following books are historical fiction.

The two covers below are for the same book.  Goes to show you what a change in cover art can do for (or to) a book. The first cover is no longer in print. Regardless, the book gets EXCELLENT reviews for giving tween readers (9-12) a sense of Marie Antoinette’s younger years.

Marie Antoinette Royal Diaries

Here’s one more book aimed at tweens that looks great. This is by G.A. Henty, so it’s an older book (100+ years) with an updated cover. It probably contains some older language, but like most Henty books, is very well thought of. It’s also available on Kindle.

French Revolution


They might be GiantsA Shooting Star  video:

Here are some great books on this week’s science grammar:

Meteor Showers Book  


I can’t help it. This is one of the catchiest song by They Might Be Giants and I could NOT get it our of my head during class! So, I leave you with the official Istanbul (not Constantinople) video . . . which I will not claim is overly educational. Just likely to get stuck in your head! (Note: This video channel is on auto play and will play another They Might Be Giants video went this one is over.)

This post linked up at:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

Gluten Free Biscuits Recipe

Gluten Free Biscuit Recipe

This is our family’s FAVORITE recipe for Gluten Free Biscuits! It goes together quickly and easily and the recipe can be adapted to use more than one starch or flour, so you can tailor it to what you have on hand.

So, with no further adieu, I offer you (drum roll, please!) . . .

Gluten Free Biscuits

Gluten Free Biscuits Recipe


  • 1/2 Cup Starch (Potato, Tapioca, or Cornstarch . . . I typically use a combination of Potato and Tapioca)
  • 3/4 Cup Flour (Brown Rice or Sorguhm)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, whey from making yogurt, or milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F Spray a baking sheet or stone with cooking spray, or use parchment paper.
  2. Place the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Process for a few seconds until mixed.
  3. Sprinkle the butter chunks evenly over the flour mixture, cover, and process with until the mixture resemble coarse crumbs (about 15 seconds).
  4. Pour the liquid evenly over the mixture. Process for 8 1-second pulses, or until the dough gathers into a moist clump (you can also move dough back to the mixing bowl at this point and mix it by hand).
  5. Using your bare hands, quickly gather a clump of dough, lightly form it into a biscuit shape, and drop it onto the cookie sheet. Repeat this for all the remaining dough, trying to handle the dough as little as possible (it’s sticky).
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. Makes 6-8 biscuits (I often double the recipe).

You can make these without the food processor and just cut the butter in with a pastry cutter. They’re still delicious. They don’t turn out looking quite as pretty because the texture of the dough tends to be chunkier, but don’t let that stop you from trying them! You don’t want to miss out on a good thing just because you don’t want to use a food processor! Mmmmmmm!

Gluten Free Biscuit Recipe

This post linked up:
 One Project at a Time Link party - ABFOL Tending the Home Tuesdays works for me wednesday at we are that family
Creative Geekery  Photobucket Weekend Bloggy Reading 

Menu Plan Monday 11/11/13

Weekly Menu Plan

We’re mostly planning tried and true meals for this week’s menu plan.  I’ll be headed out on Friday for a Ladies’ Retreat with our church. That means that I don’t have to feed anyone for 24 hours at the end of this week. Woohoo! Daddy’s in charge!! Daddy is much cooler than Mommy (and throws the menu plan out the window), so there is no telling what’s in store around here. It’s probably best that I don’t know. I tend to spoil all the fun.

So, here’s the plan for feeding people this week:

Menu Plan: Sweet Potato


Eggs, Gluten Free Biscuits, Fruit Smoothies

Sweet Potatoes and Side Salads

Roast Chicken, Green Beans, Purple Hull Peas


Gluten Free Applesauce Bread

Salmon Wraps

Chicken & Rice Casserole, Broccoli, Butternut Squash


Leftover Gluten Free Applesauce Bread

Almond Butter Sandwiches on GF Bread, Carrots, Apples and Bananas

Community Dinner at Church

Menu Plan: Gluten Free Pancakes, Breakfast Table


Gluten Free Pancakes

Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese on GF Bread

Oven Baked Salmon*, Gluten Free Zucchini Patties, Purple Hull Peas
*Now that I know that the Salmon IS in the freezer!


Leftover Gluten Free Pancakes

Hummus, GF Pita (NEW), Carrots and Apples

Daddy’s Choice . . . Mom is away at Ladies Retreat!


Baked Oatmeal

Leftovers from the week or Out

Shrimp and Alfredo Pasta, Side Salads


Leftover Baked Oatmeal


Breakfast for Dinner


Snacks for the week

Homemade: Super Swim Bars (Granola Bars), Popped Amaranth and Bananas, Almonds and Chocolate Chips, Smoothies, Popcorn, Apples/PB/Granola Sandwiches

Storebought: Fruit PouchesFreeze-dried FruitGluten Free Pretzels


If you’re looking for a menu plan template, you are welcome to download this one by clicking on the image below. It’s in Word, so you can edit to your heart’s content.

This Week's Menu

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Quick Dinner Recipes: Egg Drop Soup and Tuna Fried Rice

Quick Dinner Fried Rice

One night this past week, I went to the freezer to pull out the salmon to make for dinner, per the Menu Plan, only to discover there was no salmon there. ACTUALLY, there WAS salmon there, but I couldn’t SEE the salmon because it was buried in the chaos of my freezer . . . and that should be the subject of a whole blog series in and of itself: creating order from chaos in the freezer. I’ll get right on top of that.

In the meantime, here are the “save the day” quick dinner recipes that got us through that evening:

Quick Dinner Recipes –
Egg Drop Soup and Tuna Fried Rice


Pin-Quick-Dinner--Recipes Egg-Drop-Soup

Egg Drop Soup


5 cups chicken broth
3 cups packed baby spinach leaves
3/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon vietnamese fish sauce (or substitute miso)
3 eggs
Optional: sliced green onions


Heat chicken broth over medium-high heat until boiling.

Stir in the spinach leaves, sesame oil, and fish sauce  (or miso) and cook until the spinach begins to wilt.

Beat eggs well.

Stir broth mixture with one hand, so it moves in a circle around the pan, while slowly pouring in the eggs with your other hand.  Swirling motion and heat will cook and create thin ribbons of eggs.

Spoon into individual bowls and top with green onion if desired.

Tuna Fried Rice

2 eggs
1 tbsp. milk

olive oil

4 cups cooked brown rice
1 5-oz. canned tuna, drained and flaked with fork
3/4 cup corn
3/4 cup peas
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Optional: 3 tbsp. cup finely chopped green onions (green part only)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to pan to coat.  Whisk together milk and eggs. Add to skillet, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until eggs are set. Remove from heat. Fold eggs into quarters and chop finely. Hold eggs on plate.

Recoat pan with olive oil, and place over medium high heat again.  Add green onion, if desired, stirring for about 2 minutes.  Add rice, corn, peas, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and soy sauce.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add tuna and eggs, gently stirring for another 2 minutes, until heated through.  Serve.

Post linked up:
 One Project at a Time Link party - ABFOL Tending the Home Tuesdays works for me wednesday at we are that family
Creative Geekery
  Photobucket Post Comment Love Weekend Bloggy Reading 

Great Grocery Deals! 11/10/13

Great Grocery Deals

Saturday evening I was working on my monthly order with Azure Standard. If you have a route in your area, and you like to purchase “whole food” or “real food” type items, you really should check them out. I think you have to create an account in order to see their prices, but they really do have great grocery deals. They brought a route to my area of the country early last year, and I’ve been so glad that they did! They’re opening up more routes all the time, so if there isn’t one near you, contact the company and tell them you’re interested. Maybe they’ll bring one your direction soon!

When I’m shopping with Azure, I like to comparison shop with Amazon and with Vitacost. While Azure has GREAT prices, I do sometimes find lower prices at one of these other places, so I usually check to see.  I already order quite a few grocery-type things from Amazon, but recently I discovered a couple of new items that are great deals and I wanted to share!

Great Grocery Deal: Almond Butter

Barney Almond Butter Great Deal on Groceries

Did you know there’s an almond butter shortage? Until recently, the absolutely best deal on almond butter was at Trader Joe’s, but as a result of the shortage, even Trader Joe’s is struggling to keep it on the shelves. Prices for almond butter have really gone up everywhere and it can be difficult to find at all.  I noticed about a week ago that Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program carries a brand called Barney Butter. It’s a roasted almond butter, not a raw butter, but we like to keep roasted around to make sandwiches, especially when we need to take lunch somewhere that’s not peanut-friendly (we don’t have peanut allergies ourselves). There are three scenarios for ordering from Amazon:

  1. Just order it once: The 3-pack of Barney Butter Almond Butter is regularly $26.97, or $8.99 for a 16 oz jar, which isn’t too bad these days for almond butter.
  2. Order the 3-pack via the Subscribe and Save Program: You’ll get a 5% discount for subscribing (set your delivery increment at anywhere from 1 to 6 months and cancel at anytime), which brings the price down to $25.62, or $8.54 for a 16 oz jar.
  3. Order the 3-pack via the Subscribe and Save Program, along with 4 other items: When you have 5 items shipping to you in a single month in Amazon’s subscribe and save program, you get an extra 20% discount on all of the items that you order. That brings the price down to $21.58, or $7.19 for a 16 oz jar, and that’s a GREAT deal!

Nut Thins Amazon Subscribe and SaveGreat Grocery Deal: Nut Thins

A friend who also has celiac introduced us to these gluten free crackers. They’re delicious, but like most gluten free things, can be kind of pricey at the grocery store. This evening, I was trying to see if I could find a better deal at Azure, Amazon, or Vitacost and discovered that these are also part of Amazon’s Subscribe and Save Program.  Again, that means there are three scenarios for ordering from Amazon:

  1. Just order in once: The 12-pack of crackers is regularly $26.51, or $2.21 per box. That’s actually not a bad price compared to the grocery store
  2. Order the 12-pack via the Subscribe and Save Program: You’ll get a 5% discount for subscribing (set your delivery increment at anywhere from 1 to 6 months and cancel at anytime), which brings the price down to $25.18, or $2.10 per box.
  3. Order the 12-pack via the Subscribe and Save Program, along with 4 other items: When you have 5 items shipping to you in a single month in Amazon’s subscribe and save program, you get an extra 20% discount on all of the items that you order. That brings the price down to $21.21, or $1.77 per box, and that’s a GREAT deal!

I love Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program! I order from them pretty much every month, so it’s usually not difficult for me to find 5 items to order from them in total.  You can see some of the other items that I order from them here. I especially love that you can order something as small as this and it still counts toward your five items and your 20% discount!

What about you? Found any great deals on groceries lately? If so, please share!

Photo of grocery carts source: Code Poet, Creative Commons License

Great Gift Ideas (and Reviews) #1

Gift Ideas and Reviews

It gets to be about this time of year, and we all start thinking past Thanksgiving and on toward Christmas. If you’re like me, you usually have the PERFECT gift in mind for one or two people on your list, but are still waiting for inspiration to hit for all of the others. Coming up with great gift ideas can be hard!

I don’t know about you, but when I’m trying to make decisions about what to give, I am a review reader. I love to see what other, real people, have to say about how something worked (or didn’t work) for them. And, when it comes to toys for children, I want to see what ages it worked well for, because, as we all know, the age recommendations on toys may or may not be truly reflective of what age child will enjoy the toy.

So, I thought I’d look back through some of the toy successes and failures around here and see if I could give you some useful recommendations as we head into the gift-giving season. We’ll start this week with one of our more recent successes, Snap Circuits Jr.

Great Gift Ideas for Children Snap circuits

Watching my son play with this toy last week (and again today) is actually what made me think about starting this series.  My son is 5 and we gave him this set for his birthday.  You can see in the image above that the age recommendation is 8 and up.

Back in 2009, we gave the larger version of this toy, Snap Circuits SC-300, to my nephew, who was about 8 1/2 at the time. According to my sister, he really loved it. Like my son, he enjoys making and building things. So, I’d been thinking about getting my son a Snap Circuits kit when he got old enough, and decided to go ahead and give it a try with the Jr. version for his 5th birthday.

Great Gift Ideas for Children Snap CircuitsThe long and short of it is: I don’t know why the age recommendation is so high. The kit is safe. I’ve seen no way for him to get shocked or otherwise injured (even if there were a shock, it would just be from the batteries powering the board, so it wouldn’t be much of one). Five year-olds, obviously aren’t likely to put small parts in their mouths, and while there are some small parts, the pieces are mostly larger and easier to handle than those contained in many Lego sets. So, I’m baffled about why they wouldn’t set a lower age recommendation. If you have a child who enjoys Lego sets and following the required instructions to build them, even if he or she is just in the early stages of doing so, then this is definitely a toy that I would consider.

The set contains a book with different projects and the child must follow directions in order to complete the circuit and get the promised result. My son’s favorite project so far was turning the plastic fan piece into a flying saucer and launching it across the room.  He also loves all the projects that set the board up to make (albeit, mildly annoying) noises. For the first few projects, he needed assistance, but since then, he has worked on the projects primarily alone. Occasionally, he’ll need to get a little clarification, but usually by the time I’ve disengaged from whatever I was working on to help him, he’s figured it out by himself.

My FAVORITE thing about this toy (besides the fact that he enjoys playing with it)? The box and packaging are extremely well designed (you can take a peek in the picture above). All the parts can very be easily put back in their place (by your child!) when he or she is done playing with it. It’s unusual for us to go this long with a toy of this nature and not lose a piece, or have to come up with another storage option to keep up with things that don’t fit back in the box well.  This gets played with regularly and he picks it up beautifully every time.  I love it!

And, of course, the bonus is that it’s really very educational, without his even realizing it. He’s learning to follow directions, complete real electronic circuits, and audit his work when there’s a problem.

Snap Circuits Jr. is a winner, in my opinion, and a great gift idea for children. I highly recommend it . . . for ages 5 and up!

This review is totally unsolicited. This really is just a great toy that we purchased and have really enjoyed!

I’ll be collecting all of the gift reviews that we do this year and putting them all in one place. You can see them here!


Classical Conversations Week 10

Classical Conversations Week 10

This week our “Science Project” was Facility Clean-up! I loved the opportunity to do a little something for our hosting church. They are wonderful and we SO appreciate their willingness to host our Classical Conversations (CC) group each week. Just to keep it real here, when I asked my son after the day was over what his favorite and least favorite parts of his CC day had been, “cleaning up his classroom” fell into the “least favorite” category. We need to do some work on the idea of serving others joyfully, obviously. All the children in my class were wonderfully helpful, though, and more than willing to pitch in and get some things done. Maybe they still went home and told their mothers it was their least favorite part of the day, too . . . or maybe it was just my ornery rascal. Sometimes he likes to say things just to see what my reaction is going to be. Anyone else got one of those?

Skip Counting SquaresMath

My kiddos enjoyed last week’s Skip Counting Maze, so I went ahead and created one for this week as well. You can download it by clicking on the image to the right.

Math Squares unifix cubesMy favorite way to introduce the squares in class (and I’ll probably go over this again at home, where we have more time) is visually. I realize that the objective of our class time during CC is not to teach (this is SUCH a difficult thing to retrain your brain about), but to introduce the material and drill it. However, when it comes to the squares, I just think it helps children to see it, even if the younger ones don’t really understand exactly what  they’re seeing.  So, I like the worksheets that show the grid and how the square that has 2 sides that are each 1 space is one square in total, the square that has 2 sides that are each 2 spaces each is made up of 4 squares in total, etc. (there’s one example of this out on CC Connected called “wk 10- squares cut-n-paste.pdf“). Or, another thing that I like to do is use unifix cubes to illustrate how they work. In a CC class, you only have time to really illustrate about the the first 5 like this, but I do think that it helps introduce the mathematical concept to the children in a way that also holds their attention while you teach them the skip counting song. You can also take the unifix cubes back in when we’re learning the “Area of a Square” on Week 17 to reinforce the idea and link the two pieces of grammar together.

While doing a little research to see if there were any newer or better ways under the sun to teach this concept (none that I could find), I did find this interesting webpage showing the pattern in the “ones” place of squares, which is something I’d never realized before (but you all probably have known this for years!).  I love it when trying to teach my children teaches me something new, too. One of the great things about homeschooling.


CC3 Image


If you’re looking for a good way to review the History sentences thus far this year, and you have access to CC Connected (C3), I can tell you one thing we’re going to do this week at our house.  Melody Stroud has created cards for each of the history sentences for the first 12 weeks of the year. There are images that accompany them. We’ll be taking all of these cards, cutting them apart and then shuffling them and my children will work on finding the ones that go together and getting the sentences in the right order.  Just in case you are on C3, but have trouble finding things (you’re not alone!), the image to the right shows you how to set your search to pull up just the 12 applicable files.

In my hunt for reading related to this week’s grammar, I just couldn’t find a whole lot.  Here are two that I haven’t read personally, but look potentially good:

This one is a novel, but gets good reviews for historical information, and looks best for a “tween.” You can peruse the reviews yourself by clicking on the image:

These Eyewitness books are usually good for a broad overview.  This particular one is not available at our local library, so I haven’t had a chance to take a look at it to see what kind of information it provides and how well it fits with our history grammar.

Eyewitness Russia

NOW, this book looks GREAT, and I’ve ordered it, because it’s also not available at our library. I’ll come back and give you a review here after we’ve actually received it!

Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Moscow


This is unrelated to this week’s history grammar, but there are two things that we’ve enjoyed very much the week around here that I don’t think I’ve recommended before and thought you might want to check out.

Hooray for Inventors! by Marcia WilliamsThe first is a book called “Hooray for Inventors!” by Marcia Williams.  I like Marcia Williams’ books very much and my daughter ADORES them, since they’re typically written in a comic strip-style, and she is currently obsessed with comic books! I didn’t realize that this particular book would fit well with our CC history grammar, but it has. The book is dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci (Cycle 2 Week 6), so the first couple of pages show some of his more forward-thinking inventions, the ones that didn’t come to pass until hundreds of years after he drew them – the helicopter, the parachute, the hang glider, etc. In addition to Leonardo Da Vinci, the book also has a section on Gutenberg (Week 13 of Timeline) and Watt’s Steam Engine (Week 13 of History in Cycle 2). And of course, it has information on a lot of other inventors, as well. It’s a great little book!

Poster for Your Friend the RatAnd the second thing is this little short film from Pixar called “Your Friend the Rat.” I pinned this on Pinterest quite some time ago because I saw it elsewhere, but I wasn’t overly confident that it would be worth it. What I’ve since discovered is that it’s about 10 minutes long, terribly entertaining, and really contains a decent amount of information – both historical and scientific. Of course, it’s well done since it’s from Pixar and I was pleasantly surprised by the information. It contained a good (and not overly scary or gory . . . my little boy has a very low tolerance for both, even the animated kind) description of the Plague and the role of rats and fleas. It gives the scientific names (great reinforcement of Cycle 1 Week 1 Science) of the rats it discusses, and even explains that human anatomy and rat anatomy are very similar (hello, Cycle 3 Science). I just wanted to give it a little shout out, since you may have been like me and been skeptical. It’s only $2.99 from Amazon to download, so not a bad deal at all. There’s a description of the overall plot at Wikipedia, if you’d like to read a little more about it.

Science Grammar

Our public library recently started creating Curriculum Kits. They’re designed for teachers in the public school system doing unit studies in their classroom, but anyone can check them out. I just happened to stumble onto a couple while looking for books relating to our CC topics a month or more ago. There aren’t many curriculum kits and there was a waiting list, so I made the request and have been patiently waiting. When I stopped by the library early this week, two of the librarians stopped me to tell me that I had a HUGE box of books and they didn’t know how I was going to get them to my car! It’s such a new thing that the librarians at our branch had never seen one of these kits before either! And they were right – it’s a HUGE box of books and it was HEAVY carrying it to my car. But look at all the great stuff inside of this one:

Science Space Curriculum



Books, books, and more books! All about Space and the Solar System. I’m excited, I’m thrilled, I’m overwhelmed, I’m inundated, and I’m very, very concerned that we’re going to get some of these books mixed up with all the rest of the library books we have around here. The kids have been forbidden to remove a single item without requesting to do so first! Really, though, it has saved me a LOT of time searching for books on topics that tie in with our Science grammar.




Our favorites from this treasure chest so far have been:

Our Sun BookOur Solar System Book

Both books are full of GREAT photos or illustrations and TRUCKLOADS of good information. The “Our Sun” book not only talks about the parts of the sun, but mentions Copernicus (from Cycle 2, Week 6’s history grammar), the tilt of the earth’s axis and how it affects seasons (this was discussed in the Science Experiment in Cycle 1, Week 13) , and the role of the Sun in the Water Cycle (Cycle 2, Week 4). There are no reviews on Amazon (yet! I need to write one!), so I’m not sure I would have gone looking for it if it hadn’t been included in this curriculum kit. It’s a real winner, especially for a CC family, in my opinion. Look for it!

Here are a few more books that look like they’d also dovetail nicely with our CC grammar this week. These weren’t included in our kit, but they’re either by authors or part of a series that I usually think does a great job.

Phases of the Moon The Moon Book  The Moon Seems to ChangeMagic School Bus Takes a Moonwalk

And finally, there were three videos included in our Space Curriculum kit. We haven’t had a chance to watch them, so I can’t say whether or not they’re worth tracking down, but I know it’s nice sometimes to have a different kind of media to use, so I’ll list them here in case you want to check them out for your family:

  • Wonders of the Solar System
  • The Solar System!
  • NASA ISS: A Tour of the International Space Station (I can’t find this DVD anywhere online, but I’m wondering if it’s the same video that’s out on YouTube here. We watched it a year or so ago and it was great! I highly recommend if if you have children interested in space. As an adult, I found it very interesting, as well.)

Sun, Solar System, Space Videos

The NASA website itself has tons of information out there. If you have children for whom space is very interesting, it’s well worth checking out!

See you next week!

This post is linked to:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood


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