Hi, my name is Melissa. Pour yourself a cup of tea and stay a while. I'm completely devoted to my Savior, madly in love with my husband, and joyously raising my daughters. I'm so glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy your time here!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Everyday Cooking from Everyday Homemaking: A TOS Crew Review

Everyday Homemaking
 (Read to the end for a surprise for YOU from the author!)
For a homeschooling and part-time working mom, it can be really intimidating to think about what to cook for an entire week. When you add in picky eaters, dietary concerns, budget boundaries, and time constraints, overwhelmed might be a better description! Everyday Cooking from Everyday Homemaking is the perfect back-to-school title for every mom, whether you are homeschooling or not.
Everyday Cooking
We already eat at home almost every night, but I'm always on the lookout for new recipe ideas or even twists on recipes we already make. I do not have a family of extremely picky eaters except when it comes to meats. My girls are not your typical chicken nugget and hot dog kind of kids! They much prefer meats in a less prepared fashion like tacos, chicken pot pie, etc. Up until recently they have not had a lot of interest in trying new foods, but as they have become more interested in cooking with me as well as watching come cooking competitions they have become braver! 
I really like how encouraging the introduction is. The author's style is very conversational and as I read I felt like I was just sitting at my kitchen table having coffee with an encouraging friend! The cookbook is so very well organized and simple to locate what type of recipe you want quickly. Both the table of contents and index are extremely clear and helpful tools for finding what you need.
The first recipe we tried was for taco seasoning. This is not a new meal for us, but I have never tried making my own seasoning before. I've always been afraid it wouldn't turn out right and then my family wouldn't eat it. I decided to be brave and go ahead and try it! 
As with all of these recipes I was pleased to find I had most of the ingredients in my pantry already. As I skimmed through the recipes I was pleased to see there weren't any "weird" ingredients, as my husband would say! Every recipe contained things I already bought on a regular basis or had in my pantry. This is a huge bonus for us since we work within a budget. While we do not tend to skimp on food, we do make choices to buy healthier things and not too much prepared foods. 

When Beth and Grace saw I was getting out ingredients they bounced up and down and asked if they could help. I used the pdf cookbook on my iPad so I didn't have to print anything. I easily could have and this will be the best way for some, but honestly I really like the ability to use the digital format on my iPad. I already have enough random recipes floating around the kitchen!

Let me first of all assure you, none of these photos are posed. Grace was really that excited about making this! She's usually the one who likes to cook with me the most, so I was excited that Beth was equally as interested.

I had the girls read the recipe and find each ingredient and read to me the measurement amount. I made sure to hand the right measurement to them. We had some very good learning moments about the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon when they misread a direction! I love cooking with my girls and helping them learn! 

The girls made this all on their own and helped me stir it into the meat I had already cooked while they were stirring this together.  I did leave out the cayenne pepper because with the exception of my husband we generally do not like spicy food. 

Verdict: Delicious!!!!

We all really enjoyed this seasoning mix although we are planning to use a little more the next time I make tacos. I was really excited that everyone loved it so much. We eat tacos almost weekly and although everyone has been pleased with the store-bought seasoning we use I love knowing I can make my own at a MUCH cheaper cost and with no extra, unnecessary ingredients or food colorings. 
I really like that layout of the text. It is easy to navigate and has a clean style that makes it easy to follow. It is user friendly enough for kids to use, especially junior high or high school, on their own. I have a recipe scrapbook for each of my girls I'm working on and a copy of this will absolutely be included. I really liked the tips at the end of each section and the space to write extra notes. In addition to a variety of delicious recipes with simple ingredients, there are wonderful instructions for planning, preparing, and serving meals for families large or small. 

If you struggle with meal planning this is an all-in-one resource. Not only are the meals simple, fast, and healthy, there is a wonderful chapter on meal planning. One of my favorite sections was, The Tortoise and the Hare. In this section the author compares slow cookers and pressure cookers. I really appreciate this comparison and although I don't own a pressure cooker yet, I'm tempted to give it a try!
Are you ready for the surprise now from the author, Vicki Bentley? She has generously provided a coupon code for both Everyday Cooking and The Everyday Family Chore System! These two books are being reviewed by me and my crewmates on the Review Crew!
 Use this code for either or BOTH books!
(Expires September 5)

Make sure to add the books to your cart and then put in the coupon code!
Take a look at what my Crewmates have to say!
Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Phonics Museum App from Veritas Press: A TOS Crew Review

Veritas Press
Teaching a child to read can feel like quite a daunting task when you first start out. I remember when Rose (now 12) came to me at 3 years old begging me to teach her how to read. I had no idea where to begin and put her off for a year. I was amazed that both Beth (now 10) and Grace (now 7) asked the same at about the same age. At the time I had no intention of homeschooling and really didn't know what resources were available. It has been exciting for me to see how many new resources have become available in the last 9 years and the Phonics Museum App from Veritas Press is going to be my new go-to recommendation for homeschool moms for phonics! 
Veritas Press Phonics Museum
Although Grace is already a proficient reader, she is still only 7 and loves apps geared towards her age no matter the content. This was a great phonics review for her and she has enjoyed it so much. The kid-friendly interface was easy for her to use. She really liked the instructional videos with Ms. Biddle. I wasn't sure if she would feel like it was too young for her, but I know she didn't because I never had to request she play with the app, she just daily asked if she could have permission to play her reading app. In addition to that, when she did play I would have to make her end the game or she would have continued indefinitely!  Although this was more of a review for her, she jumped in with glee and excitement as with all of her learning experiences! 

Grace liked choosing the character at the setup of the app. Even though Grace reads well, reviewing phonics in this way has been really good for her. The games encourage her to intentionally think of starting sounds and how they work together. Her sisters, especially Beth, would often sit alongside of her and she loved that. Sometimes Beth jumped in and played as well. One of my favorite aspects was the addition of fine-art paintings in the background!
 The Phonics Museum App is visually beautiful. The interface is smooth and attractive. The graphics are sweet and highly detailed, but not overly distracting during the learning process. I also like the music which is not overpowering during the games. I liked that the entire time Grace was engaged she was learning/reviewing her alphabet and sounds. The addition of handwriting takes this app to the next level. Kids are engaged with visual, auditory, and tactile activities.The handwriting was especially beneficial because Grace tends to have the habit of writing strokes in a non-traditional direction. She gets them written down, but not always quickly while printing.
This is a quality learning app without advertising or materialism. Its simple and sweet. The only thing I would like to see is maybe more options for what your little kid avatar looks like. Whether you are looking for a full digital reading program, a supplement to your current reading program, or a way to review phonics, take time to check this app out! You can get it on iTunes!
Check out what my Crewmates have to say!
Phonics Museum App {Veritas Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Preserving memories

 I haven't had as much time to scrapbook the last couple of weeks, but I have a few pages done!




Friday, August 18, 2017

Week in Review: Week of August 14-18

We kicked off this week with our "official" back to school week! We have been continuing with school all summer, but this was more or less back to full schedule. We are waiting another week before starting with our Heart of Dakota studies because I have some group learning things I wanted to finish with the girls.

The girls said they loved our new schoolroom setup and it seemed to work really well for us.

I don't have as many pictures because we had a few mornings where the girls stayed in their pjs really late! They worked on literature, grammar, spelling, and mathematics individually. We also had an inventors study we have been working through and we continued our study of the states. We moved down into the southern states. There were a lot more to cover and it may take more review than our previous regions! 

One new addition is consistent foreign language studies! A very dear friend blessed us with the Signing Time series. I am working it into the schedule a few times a week. The girls seem to be really excite about that. I'm also giving them DuoLingo time a few days a week. This is a great first exposure to foreign languages in a really safe and affordable venue. Finally Rose is studying Spanish with schoolhouseteachers.com (affiliate link). This again is a really nice, gentle way to study foreign language. I do not feel a need to push this intensely and have found the girls to be eager learners, enjoying their toe dips into various foreign languages.

That was our week! How as yours?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Preserving Memories: August 11

It's been a while since I've posted my layouts for scrapbooking. I'm still doing lots of layouts, but I got busy and forgot to post them!

I'm having fun this month being a guest member on Connie Prince's creative team! You can click on the layouts to see the kits I used to create these layouts.