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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Weekend Meal Planning


We're in the last few weeks of 2018. Hard to believe that December is almost halfway over.  We've managed to get the majority of our Christmas shopping out of the way, except for what will go in the stockings, the tree is up and lit, and the Christmas decorations are outside. 

Only three more weeks of meals (and two extra days) to plan and we will be in 2019.   Christmas is easy - we've already decided to make homemade tamales this year, but the rest of the meals are always a ton of fun to try to figure out something that we haven't had a in a while.


Sunday   Black Pepper Chicken (4) Teriyaki Green Beans (3)

Monday  Chicken Pot Pie

Tuesday  One Pot Fajita Pasta (11)

Wednesday  Country Fried Steak with Gravy, green beans and mashed taters

Thursday  Sloppy Joe Potatoes

Friday  Southern Fried Pork Chops with gravy, au gratin potatoes and salad

Saturday  Shopping Day - Dinner at Chic-fil-a 


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women (A Homeschool Crew Review)


This is it.. My final review for the year 2018 and the timing on this one couldn't be more perfect.  The girls and I have been reviewing Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women published by Zondervan and this review falls just in time for being able to order it and have it in hand before the start of the new year.





This beautiful hardcover book overs a full year of short devotions focusing on teaching young women how to navigate living in today's world.   The cover features simple floral artwork with rose foil accents and a font that resembles a cross stitch sampler.  The book measures 5.2 x 1.2 x 7.4 inches, making it compact enough to pack in a purse or suitcase when travelling without taking up much room, making it convenient to use year round.  Each  on page devotion includes three blank lines inviting the reader to make notations, prayer lists or other notes they feel inspired to jot down each day.   An attached ribbon to mark your place is also a very nice touch.


Written by Lindsay A. Franklin, each day of the year is given a page that first begins with a verse of scripture followed by a short devotion on a large array of topics such as doing the right thing, avoiding entering situations with preconceived notions  (such as that relationships with mother-in-laws are always full of stress), forgiving those who wrong us, and knowing when to use caution in certain situations. By focusing in on God's word and the lives of sixty different women found within the scriptures - such as Ruth, Esther, Abigail and Mary, Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women guides girls ages 13-18 as to how God instructs them to live their lives and to show them that God values them with high regards.



How We Used It

While both of my girls are slightly outside the targeted range of this book (Ashleigh being 10, Alyssa 19), we did look over the book together, read a few of the devotions and had some really nice discussions in response to what we read.  We didn't start at Day 1 and work through, but instead skipped around because I quickly realized that I wanted to instead restart this book anew on January 1st as part of our "girl time" each night.  By skipping around, it will allow for us to revisit those devotions we read together dispersed between those we haven't read rather than starting over.


Both Ash and Alyssa were very receptive to the short devotions in this book.  I had to laugh because before we started, when the book first arrived, Ashleigh said he didn't want to do it, thinking it was a school book.  I told her fine, she didn't have to do it, but that she would not be allowed to interrupt myself and Alyssa when we held devotion time.  The next morning, I found a note taped to the front of the book from Ashleigh asking to "Please let me in.  Love, Ashleigh".. LOL

 With both girl on board, it was very easy to include this book into our nightly routine.  Each night we
spend 10-15 minutes together having a pow wow in Mom's bed without the guys.  The devotions takes us less than 2 minutes to read allowing us to spend the other 8-12 minutes discussing what we read and how we can apply that to our own lives.

As said, we did skip around a bit in the book, taking a sampling of various pages.  I also took the time to read a number of the devotions on my own.  Unlike many other devotions that skip around each day to various sections of the Bible, or that focus on the authors own personal experiences and how they use the scriptures to help them in their own lives, this book instead spends sections  at a time focusing on a particular woman in the Bible and different aspects of her life.  Even unnamed women of the Bible, such as the Shumamite woman that Elisha encounters, is given multiple pages (the Shumamite woman is given 10 pages). I liked this a lot, as it feels almost like doing a Character study and gives the reader a better understanding of her life rather than just a small glimpse before moving elsewhere.


We have put the book aside temporarily while we read through the book of Luke for Christmas as well as focus on the Advent season, but I am looking forward to picking it back up on January 1st and starting at Day 1. It's a great way to not only spend time with my girls but to get them into the habit of spending time with the Lord each day.

#hsreviews #devotions #DevotionsForYoungWomen #Beloved #books #reading #bookstagram #christianity #faith


For more information on Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women and how to purchase, visit the product website.  You can also find more information about Zondervan and the various products they offer for Christian living at the following social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zondervan/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Zondervan
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKUDMeYSjLvcsSw2JR-fmvg
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/zondervanp/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zondervan/


Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women {Zondervan Review}


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Ellie Claire Art Journals (A Review)


When I was growing up, my grandmother had a beautiful family Bible with gold leaf on the pages, illuminated letters inside, and beautiful paintings throughout.  Since I couldn't find a family Bible comparable to the one that my grandmother had, I started playing around with journaling in my own Bible in the hopes of creating something my family will treasure.  There's something really soothing about interpreting what Scriptures mean to you by creating your own art and I hope that one day my descendants will look upon that Bible in the same way I use to look at my own grandmother's Bible.


 However, I always get disappointed when I try to attempt lettering or any types of embellishments  because I'll be honest, I haven't the first idea what to do.   Because of this, when I was given the opportunity to review three beautiful art journals from Ellie Claire, I was pretty excited.



The Illustrated Word:  An Illuminated Bible Coloring Journal
Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2zsP7PE
Barnes and Noble:  http://bit.ly/2Seb7os

I'll start with my favorite of the three to begin with.  This first journal is 9 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches and approximately 160 pages in length.  The  beautiful cover is soft to the touch with recessed artwork and gold accents while the pages are heavy weight paper ready for a wide variety of coloring media, from markers, pencils and even water colors. 


This journal is beautifully illustrated with more than 40 line drawings of artwork found on ancient manuscripts as well as inserts showing the original artwork.  A notation at the bottom of the pages lets one know where the artwork can be found, such as The Church of England Book of Common Prayers.  This journal is a nice cross between a journal and an adult coloring book.  The lined pages are perfect for writing down thoughts, prayer lists, or devotions. 


Even with cheap colored pencils, I was easily able to achieve beautiful colors from the high quality pages. The details are enough that one picture can provide many hours of relaxation without feeling overwhelmed. 


Faith & Lettering Journal
Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2RecR0W
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2KE25i7


The second journal I received was the Faith & Lettering Journal.  This journal is the same size as the Illustrated Word journal, measuring 9 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches and approximately 160 pages in length.  This particular journal offers guides and tutorials to practice free hand lettering, journaling, and creative artwork before trying them in your journaling Bible. The cloth binding allows for the journal to lay completely flat.


Beautifully illustrated colored pages offer an inspirational platform for your own artwork, while the lined pages give a place to practice how to take sermon sketch note-taking or to reflect on your walk with God and how journaling has strengthened your faith. 


This journal also features an elastic strap on the spine, allowing for a convenient place to keep a pencil or other writing utensil. 




Illuminate Your Story Journal
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2zpLcmQ
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2SinZu2


The smaller of the three journals, Illuminate Your Story offers an introduction to Illuminated letters and the various styles used by Monks throughout history.  The cover features the same soft touch material with recessed lettering and gold accent.  This book also features an elastic band to hold a writing instrument as well as a elastic band to keep the journal closed and an attached ribbon bookmark.  The fabric spine allows for the journal to lay flat.  This journal is 8 1/4 x 6 1/4 inches and contains roughly 160 pages. 

This particular journal walks you through creating your own illuminated style lettering.  Each letter is given step by step visual suggestions along with spaces to practice your own letters in two different lettering styles. These pages offer drawing guides as well as grid background to make practicing simple.  Other pages offer instruction of how to draw various flourishes such as birds, flowers, and Celtic knots.


My own personal attempt at creating an Illuminated letter A.


In addition to the guided practice pages, there are plenty of lined pages for journaling.  Each of these pages highlight a prayer, devotion or scripture to offer encouragement or to help bring your mind closer to God before taking pen to paper.


Finally this journal includes a pocket in the back for keeping small keepsakes.  Whether you include worship guides, postcards, letters or even artwork that you might want to try later, this addition can accordion outward to hold a descent amount of materials. 


My Final Opinion

Originally, I was going to give one of these journals to each of my daughters and then keep one for myself.

However, since each of these journals offer a different technique, each of which I would love to master myself to use with my own journaling, I have opted to keep all three for myself. 

However, I have decided to order a second copy of the Faith & Lettering Journal to give to my oldest daughter as a Christmas present. 

Any of these journals would make for a great gift for the journaling lover in your life.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Adventure Bible Polar Exploration Bible (A Flyby Promotions Review)


A few months back, the kids and I were both saddened to find out that the Bible that they used regularly for our studies had unfortunately been accidentally damaged.  This particular Bible had belonged to my son and was well loved.  As Ashleigh had her own Bible that she used for AWANA, I knew that Garrett was going to want his replaced.  I had my eyes on the New Adventure Bible, a popular Bible designed to interest adventurous boys using a jungle explorer type theme with iguanas, parrots and treasure maps that point out important topics or offer quick devotionals throughout.  For one reason or another, we did not have the opportunity to replace our Bible and Garrett has been using my Bible temporarily.

However, things happen for a reason and I was blessed to be given the opportunity to review the NIV Adventure Bible Polar Exploration Edition.  The main components that I was drawn to the original New Adventure Bible can be found in this new edition but with an exciting polar theme.  Instead of the parrots and iguanas that were found in the original #1 best selling Bible, kids will instead find penguins and polar bears.


Without a doubt, this version hit it out of the park for my son.

With over 9 million copies sold of the original version of this Bible, one only has to look at what this particular Bible series offers for children and why it finds its way into so many homes.

  • Full-color images of polar animals, arctic outposts and icy landscapes, will make learning even more exciting
  • Life in Bible Times- include articles and illustrations describing what life was like during ancient days.
  • Words to Treasure- highlights great verses to memorize.
  • Did You Know?- interesting facts which help you understand God’s word and the life of faith.
  • People in Bible Times- articles of amazing people of the Bible in an up close and personal way.
  • Live It!- hands on activities helping to apply biblical truth to everyday life.
  • Twenty polar-themed pages which focus on how to know you are a Christian, famous people of the Bible, highlights of the life of Jesus, and how to pray. 
  • Book Introduction- including arctic art and important information about each book of the Bible.
  • Dictionary/Concordance- define the meaning of confusing words.
  • Color Map Section- helps to locate places mentioned in the Bible.
  • Hardback glacial theme cover with metallic sheen
I'm really glad to have received this Polar Exploration version.  Garrett has shown more interest in the cute arctic animals more than he showed for the original version.  The text is large enough for him to read easily, along with larger fonts to draw attention to main themes for important sections of verse.  The NIV (New International Version)  translation is easier for him to understand than a traditional King James but yet not as simple as his previous version that was in NIrV. 

A simple table of contents is located almost immediately at the beginning of this Bible which is something I appreciate.  Garrett doesn't yet know the order of the books of the Bible and one complaint we had about our previous Bible was that the Table of Contents was buried about 20 pages in.   This version puts the TOC immediately behind the title page, making it easy to locate quickly.  

The Bible itself is 1460 pages printed on medium weighted paper.  The pages would probably not stand up to being marked with markers without bleeding through but should be able to handle a yellow highlighter for marking verses.  Following the completion of the book of Revelations, there is an appendix that includes a section of weights and measures (because lets be honest, who knows how much a talent or a cubit is), an index to look up general subjects such as a particular person, location, topic or emotion.  There is also an index to look up scripture for various activities to grow in faith. These indexes are fairly limited but do make for a great start for a younger student to use. There is also a Dictionary/Concordance included.  Finally, there are 8 full color maps to provide a visual tool for understanding locations, lands inhabited by the 12 Tribes, and Paul's journeys. 

Also included with this Bible is 20 full color glossy pages that focus on Christian living such as how
to pray or how to know you are a Christian, as well as a explanation of the ten commandments,  key moments in the life of Jesus or other famous people in the Bible.  I always like when Bibles include these types of extra inserts as it make for a reference that is super easy to locate when needed, especially when a child is trying to share the Gospel with a friend. 

Scattered throughout the pages are five bonus sections.  Some of these are called "Live It" and invite the reader to participate in an activity such as drawing a comic story about an event in their life or to narrate a Bible story as if they were actually there.  These activities are then used as examples of how God is in our lives, using scriptures for support.  Other sections called "Did You Know" offers a small piece of trivia that explains why or how something happened the way it did in the scriptures. "Life in Bible Times" focuses on an aspect of life in Biblical times, such as the food that they ate, clothes they word  or other aspects of their lives while the section "People in the Bible" brings focus to the stories of people found in the scriptures who normally do not get much attention such as King Agrippa.  Finally, "Words to Treasure" provide short verses for memorization. 






Another thing I really like that is a bit unusual for a children's bible is the introduction page for each of the individual books of the Old and New Testament. These pages give a brief synopsis of what is included in each book, from who the author of the book is, why is was written, around what period of time was it written, and some of the key events that occur within the book.  I really found these pages to be a great addition for a children's Bible and have only before seen similar pages in my personal study Bible.   

I am very happy with this Bible overall.  It's cute pictures really interest Garrett and provide a visual break for him to keep him from getting overwhelmed by column and column of text.  However, it's not so "kiddified" that he would need another Bible anytime soon.  He could easily continue to use this Bible without feeling it's too young for him for many years to come.  


#PolarAdventureBible  #FlyBy


The NIV Adventure Bible - Polar Exploration Edition is available for purchase at https://www.adventurebible.com/polaredition/  for $29.99 and would make a great Christmas gift for any child 8-12 years old.  A companion 365 Day Devotional that also follows the Arctic theme is also available for purchase.  




Weekend Meal Planning


Another Thanksgiving is in the books. I do so hope that each and every one of you had a wonderful holiday with your friends and family, giving thanks for all the blessings we each have in our lives.  My family spend the night prior in the kitchen making various foods  that we brought to a friends house for a Thanksgiving dinner.  My husband made his wonderful turkey like he does every year, which as always was a huge hit.  Alyssa and Ashleigh even contributed this time around and made mini apple pies that came out really well.


 This year, I ended up doing a majority of the baking.  Two pies (apple and pumpkin), homemade rolls (along with honey cinnamon butter to go with them), Pumpkin apple bread, and the sausage and sage cornbread dressing, I spent most of Wednesday in the kitchen so that Thursday morning, Charles could have the kitchen to himself to cook the 19 lb turkey.


With the huge event done with, I've decided to stick with a pretty simple menu for the upcoming week.  Probably not the most healthy but ooh well.. LOL   Unfortunately, with the e. Coli scare with the romaine lettuce, my salads have fallen to the wayside.  Instead, we will be adding fresh fruit to the mix to round out our meals.

Saturday
Turkey Sausage on Biscuits, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit

Sunday
Pizzas

Monday
Turkey Pot Pie Soup

Tuesday
Air Fryer Chimichangas with Fiesta Rice

Wednesday
Beef Stroganoff over Egg Noodles with Fruit

Thursday
Fiesta Potatoes

Friday
Chicken Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Peas and Carrots






Tuesday, November 13, 2018

EFBC Trip


We've been trying to get down to the History Museum to see the spider exhibit they have right now, but for whatever reason, we haven't been able to.  The first time we made plans, the kids got sick and were running fever so we had to stay home.   We made plans to go this weekend, but with the very large wildfires burning close by, we opted to stay home. As it is, I'm severely congested and dealing with a sore throat, enlarged glands, and a sinus infection from all the smoke. Lots of fun, let me tell ya.

However, I wanted to make it up to the kids and do something with them.  We decided to head to the Exotic Feeling Breeding Compound (EFBC) located in Rosamond, California and spend some time up close and personal with some amazing cats. 

Unlike a zoo, the EFBC does not exist to entertain the public by putting animals on display.  While the do support themselves by allowing visitors to come in, the compound is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the world's endangered feline species. They are primarily a breeding and research facility, however, a small percentage of their animals are rescues who needed placement. 

This was our second visit to the cat house.  Our first visit was during the summer and many of the cats were hot and not very active.  This time around, with the cooler temperatures, the kitties were very active.  They were also anticipating dinner (we were able to observe dinner time) so they were pacing and getting rather ancy. 


The EFBC is a very intimate setting with small but well designed enclosures with plenty of places for the cats to either hide, climb or relax.  The staff is well knowledgeable in regards to the care of the animals and even the volunteers are more than happy to help educate visitors.

Each cat has a name and a history.  For example, about is Kyoke, a 7 year old Clouded Leopard who was sent to the facility from another facility in Kansas.  









This beautiful boy below is Serrano, who was captured in Whiting Ranch in California but could not be released due to the fact that he showed no fear of humans.  Obviously someone either had him as a pet and let him go or at least someone had been feeding him.


Serrano put on a little show for us, vocalizing in small meows and padding back and forth waiting for his food.  It totally blew my mind that even when she was right in front of us, you couldn't hear him at all.  Charles didn't realize that Mountain Lions were so big.



This girl has been on of our favorites for both of our trips.  She's a Bobcat named Willow and she's about 18 years old. 


But I have to say,  I absolutely love the Jaguarundis .  If you've never seen a Jaguarundi they look like a cross between a cat and an otter.  The EFBC has two of them, a pair of sisters named Maya and Aztec that are 12 years old.  They are so neat to watch as they slink around and make little chirping noises.





Batari - a 4 year old Malasian Tiger 






Sand Cat waiting for Dinner

Maya getting some dinner
Willow coming over to say Goodbye before we leave

Batari relaxing on a log


As we we leaving, we saw this duo hanging out in front of the building.    A desert cottontail only feet away from kitties that would make it their dinner.


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