Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bringing the Kids into the Kitchen with Everyday Cooking (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Do you remember in school having home economic class?  I believe I took it in 6th grade myself. I would enter a classroom that contained banks of stoves, a few refrigerators, and sewing machines and for a semester, I would learn how to read recipes, cook meals and learn to sew.  My daughter recently graduated from High School and I'm sad to report, Home Economics has fallen to the wayside.  These skills must either now be learned at home or they must be learned on their own - otherwise they will find themselves living on a diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ramen noodles (if they can figure out how to boil water) and microwave pizza.

Because I don't want my kids to be in that situation, I've taken it upon myself to bring the kids into the kitchen with me - Garrett included.  I'm always on the look out for new recipes that are more "kid friendly" when it comes to skill levels.  When I got the opportunity to review the digital version of  Everyday Cooking from Everyday Homemaking , it caught my attention.  I thought it would be fun to let the kids have their own cookbook with healthy but hearty food that they could prepare with very little help.

We were given the option of downloading either the Blue Cover or Pink Cover edition. The two editions have identical content outside of just a different color covers.  We opted for the Pink cover option, which was easily downloaded to my Kindle.

Everyday Cooking is a 198 page downloadable PDF ebook filled with tons of recipes and cooking tips written by Vicki Bentley of Everyday Homemaking. It is also available as a spiral bound physical copy if you prefer.   With recipes from Belgium Waffles to Eggplant Parmesan, this cookbook is broken down easily into catagories such as Breakfast Ideas, Appetizers, Main Dishes, Soups and Snacks.  There are even sections for Gluten Free and Low Carb and Pressure Cooking. In addition to tons of family friendly recipes, there are also pages of kitchen tips and tricks to make pulling together a wholesome meal for your family easily and hassle free.

One great addition to this book is the index found at the back which lists the recipe name and page number for quick reference.   I really appreciate when cookbooks include these types of indexes in the back of the books, as opposed to being listed by ingredients.

How We Used It

I knew that I needed to find a recipe right out of the gate that I knew the kids already enjoyed and would be simple enough for them to read the directions themselves and able to assemble.  We quickly found a recipe for Deviled Eggs in the Appetizer section.  Since my kids absolutely love Deviled Eggs, I knew this would be a good introduction to the cookbook for them. With 6 easy to measure ingredients and only requiring one bowl, one spoon and a plate to put them on so that they wouldn't destroy the kitchen, we set out to make a few eggs to go along with our Lunch. For this particular recipe, Ashleigh got to play chef.

 Ashleigh had a great time using the measuring spoons to carefully measure out the mustard, mayonaise, salt and vinegar she needed to add to the yolks of our eggs and mixing it all up.

And of course, being able to stuff the eggs with the mixture when it was all mixed was a huge hit.

Then, she carefully put the paprika over the top.  Typically, we usually leave this part off because she always thinks it's going to be hot like cayenne, but this time I convinced her to go ahead and put it on.. Yes, she's sitting on the cabinet because she got tired of leaning over.. lol

This recipe got a thumbs up and was devoured pretty quickly by both Garrett and Ashleigh.

A few days later, it was Garrett's turn in the kitchen. Garrett decided he wanted to take a shot at making the Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Stuffed Shells that we found in the main dishes section of the book.

Getting busy stuffing the shells.

 Ashleigh didn't want to be left out (even though she had no problem leaving Garrett out of making the eggs) so she joined in with stuffing the shells as well.

Read to go into the oven :)

We also decided to make one of the breads that we found in the book to go along with the pasta, although we added a few ingredients of our own (rosemary and roasted garlic) to compliment the dinner.   This bread was a real hit with the entire family and has quickly become a favorite that they are begging for.

The final product - Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Stuffed Shells.  These were so yummy. While we had made stuffed shells before, we had never made this variation of them before and the kids ate them up without hesitation, even with the broccoli in them (which Ashleigh usually turns her nose up at).

We also tried a few other recipes that are included - but that I totally forgot to take pictures during the preparation. One of these was the Chicken Schnitzel which turned out absolutely amazing and was another hit with the family.  The kids might have had a little too much fun pounding our chicken breasts thin with the meat hammer.

What We Thought

#hsreviews  #homemaking #chores
Overall, I am very happy with this cookbook.  While these are not recipes you're going to consider serving for an upclass dinner party, this is a very good collection of homestyle cooking with enough options to give plenty of variety, even for the most picky eaters in your family.  The list of ingredients as well a the step by step instructions make it very easy for younger cooks to follow properly.  I know my kids were pretty proud to have whipped up a few different recipes "all by themselves" (with supervision).  Also, the tips are very helpful for those not completely comfortable in the kitchen or who may be unfamiliar with a particular recipe.  For example: when we were following the Deviled Eggs recipe, there was a reminder to not toss the egg yolks away and to mix them in with the other ingredients.  Another example is while we were preparing the Chicken Schnitzel, it gave tips on other ingredients that could be used for coating in order to make the recipe Gluten free.

There are many other recipes besides the small handful that we have tried so far that I am looking forward to allowing the kids to prepare.  In my opinion, this is a great addition to any kitchen but especially for those who would like to bring the kids into the kitchen and start teaching them Cooking 101.

The digital edition of Everyday Cooking can be purchased at the Everyday Homemaking Website for $15.99.  Personally, I find it to be much more than just a cook book and can easily be used in incorporating a home economics course in our homeschool schedule.  There's so much information beyond just recipes that I find it has a high educational value.

To learn more about Everyday Homemaking and the Everyday Cooking cookbook, please visit their website.  You can also find them on Facebook at   https://www.facebook.com/everydayhomemaking .

Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Answer to Saturday's Incident in Virginia

I originally posted this to my facebook. but I wanted to share it here as well. 

I've debated writing this.. and I'm sure the repercussions will be that I am “unfriend”  over it, probably before many even read it in it's entirety. The outcome will be that some will call me a racist (or whatever choice word you decide is in style today) and that I'm spreading hate speech simply because you don't agree with what I have to say. So be it.
I've seen so many people accusing people of defending the Natzi and other white supremacy organizations following Saturday's events. If you don't immediately say that the Unite the Right rally was wrong and show your support to the counter protesters, then you are as bad as the Alt-Right organizations.
What many don't seem to understand is that NOBODY is defending the Alt-right mentality (with exception to those who swing Alt-Right). I'm in so many various groups of different political orientation and the vast majority find the beliefs of the Alt-right despicable, as any sane person should.
But what many are not realizing is that while we're not defending the beliefs of the Alt-Right, we ARE defending their right to free speech.
We the People have a right to free speech. It's protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution as well as by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It does not matter if people agree or disagree with the message being shared but the right still applies. Saturday, a group of people had their First Amendment right stopped and that is what people are upset about and is what people are defending.
I don't swing Alt-right. I find that I align conservatively when it comes to politics. I believe all should have equal rights, regardless of race, gender, sexuality or religious beliefs – no rights should infringe upon the rights of others. I do not believe any one group is superior to another, as the Alt-Right believes. I also do not believe I owe any sort of restitution or should suffer infringements on my own rights in order to cater to another group (as suggested by the Alt-Left). ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, both in the eyes of this country and the eyes of my God.
I do not have to like what any one particular group says. But I do support their right to say it, so long as it is done legally. I do not like certain groups coming out and saying things like fry cops like bacon, as I personally support law enforcement, however, I do recognize their right to say it. I completely despise what the Westboro Baptist Church stands for, but I recognize their right to spout their filth. Because of this, I do not go out to attend rallies of those groups who's beliefs I don't agree with to counter protest because they have the right to spout off their stupidity.
You can't take the rights away from one group because you don't agree with them. If you take away the rights from one, you'll take away the rights of all. Sure, it's easy to say that the Alt-right shouldn't be allowed to spout their hate but then what? There are groups that feel supporting Law Enforcement is hate speech, so then do we ban vocal support of LEOs? What about those who feel the military is unnecessary and are warmongerers? Do we make supporting our military hate speech to apease them? It's a very slippery slope when you justify eliminating the rights of one group – you do so at the expense of any others that another group disagrees with. Rights are not based on feelings. You may feel that a group is hateful – many may agree with you. I may agree with you. But again, rights are not based on feelings.
The Unite The Right rally had their right to assemble infringed upon (multiple times).
So, yes, in a way, I'm supporting the Natzi groups. But I'm also supporting Black Lives Matter when they peacefully assemble.. I'm also supporting AntiFa, when they choose to peacefully assemble. I'm also supporting Back the Blue. I'm also supporting Westboro Baptist Church. I may only agree with one group out of all of those, but I still support their right to assemble peacefully, so long as they don't overstep that right and cross over into assault and battery on others. Once they cross that line and instigate an assault on others just because they disagree with them... well, then they are no longer peacefully assembling, are they, and then point is rendered moot.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

When Ewww Becomes Cool!! (Not So Wordless Wednesday)

Today, we found out that our poor rats have lice.  Luckily, we caught it early on and are able to treat it without them being in any discomfort and they will be good as new in a few days.  Turns out, it's pretty common for the shredded paper bedding that you can purchase for their cages to be infested with the lice and from now on, we will be freezing their bedding to kill anything in it.

Until we figured out what caused it, we were at a bit of a loss.  We've had our rats for a year and a half now without any issues and were unsure how they could have gotten lice in the first place until we started reading about them on one of our rat forums.  When the kids mentioned that there was something on the rats in the first place, I figured it was just crumbs from their food as they have been eating a few cherries lately.  But, what does a homeschool family do when confronted with the possibility of bugs?? They bring out the microscope.

That's exactly what we did.

After putting Niki on a piece of paper and giving him a nice belly rub over it, we prepared a slide and took a look.. At first, all we found was dandruff but then, we found a few.

Meet the Spiny Sucking Rat Louse

The bedding is now in the freezer and out two little guys will be getting fully treated on Friday (Long enough for the bedding to be in the freeze long enough to kill everything).. Then we'll be treating for the next 8 weeks.. But, it was a really neat thing to be able to take a look under the scope and identify what we were dealing with. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Greek 'n' Stuff (A Homeschool Crew Review)

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know the struggle that I have had with finding a foreign language for my kids.  We tried Spanish for a bit, we tried French for a while, and we even tried Chinese.  Once the "newness" of the program wore off, none of these held interest for my kids.  Eventually, we found the right fit with Latin for Ashleigh, but that left Garrett without a language.

When the opportunity to review Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 Set from Greek 'n' Stuff was offered , I was slightly hesitant. After all, Greek can be somewhat intimidating with it's entirely different alphabet.  I asked myself plenty of questions before asking for this program - How would Garrett react to learning a completely new alphabet? Would it be too hard for him? Would we sit down for the first lesson and have him balk and have a meltdown?  As the mother of a special needs student, I knew I wanted him to learn a second language but would Greek be asking too much from him for his capabilities.   After a long, thoughtful internal debate, I ended up asking for the review.  

And I'll be honest right now.  The moment I filled out the form saying I would like to review this product, I completely second guessed myself on the decision.  It's very rare that I actually do this - typically I have a decent idea if something can work for my kids.  I had very mixed feelings when I was informed I would be on this review - part of me was very excited to try it with Garrett but the other part of me was very anxious, thinking I might have gotten over my head and it would be too much for Garrett.   My fears were especially compounded when I pulled out my own book about the Greek language (that I honestly hadn't picked up since I purchased it)..  To say "it was all Greek to me" would be an understatement.  Granted, I had looked at the sample pages but I'm sure we all have those moments were we second guess things.   BTW - There's a Greek Placement test available on the website to help you select the correct starting level for your student, in case your like me and second guess every decision you make.. For our review, we opted for Level 3 based on Garrett's age and Grade.  I should also mention, prior to this review, Garrett had no previous introduction to Greek or Latin.

When the materials arrived, Garrett and I opened the box together and inside we found the three components that made up the set.  First was the spiral bound Biblical Greek Workbook.  This workbook is the textbook for the student and contains all the lessons, reviews, glossaries, and also the flash card templates that the students need to work though the curriculum. Second, there was a second spiral bound Level 3 Full Text Answer Key.  This book contains all the answers to each lesson found in the student book, as well as a schedule of lessons, teacher's tips and an appendix of very useful information about the Greek language.  Finally, the third component was the Pronunciation CD which contains audio pronunciations of new vocabulary and an Alphabet Song to help with memorization.

Our VERY first Greek Lesson
The new shiny curriculum was of interest to Garrett. He already knew that this would be "his language" and he was raring to get started.  A positive for sure but I had seen him get excited about other things, only to lose interest very quickly. How would this turn out? 

This system teaches Biblical Greek, also known as Koine Greek, and is the language most used by the Greek Orthodox Church. Designed by Karen Mohs, the way the program is broken down is fairly simple. For the first couple of weeks, the students learn the Greek Alphabet. Once they learn the letters and the sound that each one makes, they they begin to translate those letters into pronounceable words.  Activities throughout each lesson help reinforce what they have learned and provide additional practice, while the flash card templates can be cut out and put on index cards to provide additional review material.  Along with the CD, the program provides both written, audio and visual stimulation in which to present the material to the student.   

We decided to follow the recommended schedule as listed in the Answer Key.  Following this
schedule, this curriculum can be 36 weekly lessons consisting of roughly 4-6 pages out of the student workbook each week.  I found this scheduling recommendation worked well for Garrett and it did not overwhelm him.   The Answer Key does offer recommendations for additional books in order to find more information but I did not find that I needed any of those outside references to use the curriculum with Garrett.

The first two weeks, Garrett and I focused solely on learning the Greek Alphabet, learning three letters each day while reviewing those we had already learned.  I found writing the letters on our white board and allowing him to both identify the name of the letter as well as to tell me the sound that it made worked really well for us.  The three letters a day pace also worked well.  I admit here, Garrett had a bit of trouble with pronunciation of some letters due to his speech delay (for example, he struggled with Beta  and Theta) but consistent reviewing and correction helped to cement the proper annunciation in his head.   After two weeks, it was time to move on to actual words. 

I'm not going to lie.  The first time I wrote Άνθρωπος (the Greek word for A Man) on my white board, I cringed. It was one thing for Garrett to recognized θ as Theta, but he struggles with reading when using the English Alphabet as it is. How would he handle actually deciphering a Greek word?

I wrote it on the board and like a pro, Garrett proved to me that he had indeed learned those letters and their sounds. We broke the word down phonetically (anthropos) and defined it (a man). Garrett did the accompanying activities in his workbook which included writing the word several times and drawing a picture of a man. We made a flashcard for the word to start our deck of review cards and the lesson was over without any tears or meltdowns.

That has basically been how our last few weeks have gone. Tear free, meltdown free, and dare I say it, Garrett LIKES Greek. Weeks later, he's still as excited to do his lessons as he was for that first one. He's also very possessive of his Greek lessons - he does not want his sister (who has managed to also learn the Greek alphabet from listening in on our lessons) to participate in his lessons, after all, she has Latin and this is HIS Greek.

The format of the lessons works well for him, especially when we incorporate the flash cards with his lesson. I spread out the cards in front of him, pronouncing the word for him and ask him to find the correct card that matches. By flipping the cards over to their English meaning, I can work on proper pronunciation of the Greek word with him as well, making them a very handy learning resource at my disposal. I especially like that this resource is part of the workbook and not an extra expense. I simply trim out the words for the week from the back of the workbook, glue them onto index cards and we're set.

I recently got asked by a family member - Why bother teaching the kids Latin and Greek? When will they ever use these languages?  Wouldn't they be better off learning Spanish?  But when you realize that many of the words we use today are derived from Latin and Greek, especially in the fields of science and technology, then one can see the usefulness of learning them. For example, just the one word that I used above, Άνθρωπος , which is pronounced as Anthropos, meaning A Man, is the root for the word Anthropology, which is today's term for the study of man (from a historical aspect). And as Garrett progresses with Greek, then that opens the door for Latin as well.

Greek has worked very well for us and I found that all my nail biting and second guessing was really for naught as Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! turned out to be the perfect fit for Garrett. This is also a program that he could stay with for many years to come (there are 8 different levels currently available on the website), allowing us to stay with a format that works for him.

#hsreviews  #greek #greeknstuff

For more information about Greek 'n' Stuff and the Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! curriculum, be sure to visit their website (they even offer some free downloadable activities). You can also find more information on the following social media platforms:

While our review for Greek 'n' Stuff focuses on one of their Greek curriculum, members of the Crew were offered more than just Greek.  Be sure to click the banner below and read not only about Level 2 for the Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! curriculum but also reviews on Greek 'n' Stuff's Bible study curriculum for the book of Ester, Jonah & Ruth, 1 Samuel and the Book of Acts.
Teach Me Some Greek {Greek 'n' Stuff Reviews}

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

We're halfway though with The Truth Project as we completed Week 6's lesson on History.   It's been a really insightful look at the meaning of truth, and if your church offers it, I highly recommend it.

Last night to conclude the lessons, we had another ice cream social.  Always a huge hit with the kids.

The kids were also pretty thrilled to find one of the Edwards Painted Rocks.  Painted Rocks have become quite the craze on our base but we've only found a couple of them so far.

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