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Monday, January 28, 2019

34 Weeks of Clean (Week 3)


I'm jumping in a few weeks late here, but I'm jumping in non the less.  January means 34 weeks of clean..   And I always start and I get a few weeks in and I stop. I am such a failure. haha  If your 34 Weeks of Clean, it is a weekly cleaning "challenge" hosted by my friend Michele at Family, Faith, and Fridays .  Head over to her blog to learn more.
Click to Visit Week 3 at Family, Faith and Fridays
unfamiliar with the

This time around, however, I have motivation.  I've explained before, we're a military family.  Being a military family means we can get orders at any time and it's time to pack up and move wherever Uncle Sam sends us.    For the last 9 years, we have called this home, however, there's a very good chance that this year is the year that we will be calling a new state home.  (fingers crossed)..

One of the bad things about living in the same place for 9 years is that we have acquired a TON of stuff.  We are a family of five and each member of the family has their own stuff in this 1100 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath home.  Most of this stuff, we just don't need and I surely don't want to pack it up and take it to our next duty station.

This means, it's the perfect time to use the 34 weeks of clean to break some of the tasks into smaller weekly jobs to help get a handle on everything and have a head start on the deep cleaning that will need to be done for our final move out. 

I'm jumping in on week 3.  This week's assignment is the kitchen cabinets and drawers.  This week, my poor husband has been working crazy hours from 8pm to 6am, so that means I have had tons of time at night alone and bored so guess what I've been doing?  If you guessed cleaning the cabinets and drawers of the kitchen , you would be correct :) 


To kick off the week,  went ahead and tackled the worst of our kitchen mess - the junk drawers.  A few years back, I did the 34 weeks of clean and at that time, I actually had four "junk" drawers.  I cleaned them out at that time and managed to re purpose two of them and have kept them from becoming junk drawers again..  However, my two other drawers have managed to become overflowing with junk.  They are the catch all for anything from small appliance manuals, batteries, keys, tools, ect.



With trash bag in hand, it was time to tackle the mess..  Between receipts that were a few years old, fasteners of all sorts, jewelry, and coins, I managed to sort through everything, throw away anything that was not necessary, vacuumed out all the debris that found its way into the drawers, wipe down all the spilled coffee, ect.


The drawers themselves were wiped down with magic eraser and then sanitized and only those items necessary were returned to the drawer and items such as jewelry was given to their owners and put away in a more appropriate place. 


You might remember that I am addicted to tea.. I absolutely love hot teas.  I believe it was the first time I participated in the 34 weeks of clean that I actually cleaned out one of the junk drawers and turned in to my tea drawer.  That drawer is still my tea drawer although now I also keep my pot holders and my measuring spoons in this drawer as well.


After drawers it was time to tackle the cabinets.


I'll be honest, that top shelf, I haven't taken out of the cabinet and wiped down in a while, as I just don't use it. I can't reach anything up there even when standing on a step stool.  But I pulled it down and was totally disgusted at what I found.  I don't know if was nicotine from years of smoking (I quite over a year ago) or if it was just kitchen funk, but it was disgusting.  That shelf got a throughout wipe down and sprayed with sanitize. lol


The camp shower that was on the top shelf was relocated to where camping equipment is kept in our utility room.


I just love finding random produce stickers on my cabinets.  My husband seems to think they should go on the front of the cabinets.. LOL


This is my husbands cabinet, for the most part..   He keeps most of his mead making supplies on the top shelf.  However, I do not understand why there were so many empty beer bottles and cans in this cabinet.  There was also the blades for a blender that got broken probably three years ago..

After asking him in a text message if there was a particular reason why the beer cans/bottles were saved and being told "decorations", I told him they were being tossed. LOL 


The final result.







This cabinet is one that I don't mess with that often beyond just the items at the very front bottom shelf for breakfast food, bread crumbs and popcorn.  I ended up throwing most of the stuff in this cabinet away, from two almost empty containers of TANG (one of which expired in 2014), old sippy cups, broken glassware and even a drink pitcher that we didn't even realize we had.


After taking everything out of the cabinet, I found yet another couple of really nasty shelves. I honestly can't remember ever bringing these two shelves out of the cabinet but I did and gave them a really great scrubbing with dawn detergent and a sponge.


I also found gunk built up on the inside of the cabinet, probably grease from hands.  That all got scrubbed off as well, and the cabinet doors got got a good wipe down as well.


All finished.

Final cabinet.  My Kombucha cabinet.  Right now, I'm needing to make a brew so my scobies are just hanging out in their hotel. I'll probably make a brew tomorrow and start a new batch.  This cabinet also contains essential oils as well as dietary supplements that we use when we are sick.  Also, our cartridges for our Cirkul water bottles are kept here.


Thankfully, these shelves see alot more use than the other ones and they get wiped down often (especially since I brew Kombucha in this cabinet) so I clean and sanitize that shelf in particular every time I start a new brew.  I did however, toss alot of stuff not needed and gave everything a really good wipe down and rearranged everything. 


After that, I am DONE.. lol  With all the cabinets and the drawers cleaned I'm wiped out. I believe I will pace myself throughout the week next week rather than waiting for the weekend to get to work. LOL  I'm too old.. lol

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Lunar Eclipse

Our family loves astronomy so any time there's something amazing happening in the sky, you can bet that we are out staring at the skies.  Sometimes we're watching rocket launches from SpaceX or ULA out of Vandenberg AFB, sometimes it's just to watch the ISS space station flying over our house, and sometimes we get lucky, it's a solar or lunar eclipse.  

While we will still have to wait til April 2024 to get to see another solar eclipse, we did  got lucky this week and had the opportunity to see a lunar eclipse this week.   This time around, I took the camera out and got some photos with it while my husband brought out the telescope and got his own photos. 

First, how about this AMAZING sunset that we were treated to before the eclipse.  We were a bit worried that the clouds might create a problem, especially since we were having overcast all during the day. However, as the sun started setting, the clouds began to move out.. By the time of the eclipse, the sky was completely clear but before that, we had this gorgeous view. 


Clear skies with a beautiful view of the moon.  This was about halfway into the eclipse.


 The red shadow upon the moon creates for an amazing photograph.


Saving the best for last, here's the photo my husband took with his telescope. This is a composite photo stitched together from four photographs of the quadrants of the moon.  (The moon is close enough to Earth that his telescope cannot bring the entire thing into focus). 


I hope you enjoyed these photos.  I look forward to sharing more of them as the year goes by and more astronomical events occur :)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Meal Planning


Getting an early start on the meal planning this week.   This week, I'm trying to cook out of my freezer as I had some roasts that I need to use. 


Saturday - Grocery Shopping - Eat Out

Sunday -  Ham, Cheese and Sauted Spinach Omelettes with Whole Grain Coast

Monday - Ground Beef Bulgogi with Rice and mandarin oranges

Tuesday - Swedish Meatballs with Egg Noodles, Salad and fruit

Wednesday -  Stuffed Shells with Salad and Garlic Bread

Thursday - Beer Braised Pot Roast with Roasted Broccoli

Friday - JalapeƱo Beans with Shredded Chicken with chorizo cornbread

Saturday -  Leftover Pot Roast Patty Melts with Sweet Potato Fries


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Practice Monkeys (A Homeschool Crew Review)


One thing I always regretted as a child was that I never learned to play the flute.  There was a time in my life that I wanted to learn but was not allowed to because even a used flute was fairly expensive.  However, I have always believed that learning to play an instrument, any instrument, is beneficial.  Because of this, I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to review Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes from Practice Monkeys.  I thought the opportunity to learn to play the violin might be something my youngest would really enjoy.



About Practice Monkeys

Practice Monkeys is a browser based source for all ages to learn how to play the violin.  Using the
Suzuki method of learning, the classes are taught by 26 year veteran violin teacher Mrs Van Kleeck,. The website offers both Live group classes as well as recorded lessons that help students master their instrument and subscriptions allow students access to both live and recorded classes each week.  The live classes are streamed four times each week in early afternoons while the recorded classes are available from the website 24/7 and can be accessed at the students convenience.

The website is well organized and easy to navigate.  After enrolling and being granted access to the appropriate level lessons for your student, parents will find a treasure trove of information, mostly in the form of very concise videos, from how to tune the instrument before each practice, demonstrations of the skills the student will be working on, how the parents can help the student throughout the process and how often the student will need to work with the instrument.  Along with these videos, the weeks four previously recorded lessons are also accessible as well as PDF downloads for practice sheets and skills checkoff lists for the level your student is working at.



The subscription price is considered a family price and you pay for the instrument level rather than the student.  This means that if you have two students who are both at a Level 3 on the violin, you would only pay for the Level 3 violin lessons and both students could access the classes.  However, if one student is Level 2 and the other is at Level 3, both Levels would have to be purchased.  Also, Assessments for progression to the next level is a separate purchase and would be per student.

Live classes allow your child to interact in real time with Mrs Van Kleeck. By using the computers camera and microphone, Mrs Van Kleeck is able to see and listen to the students during the class time and make suggestions, corrections or praise the student during their class time.

Our Experience

Before showing my interest in this review, I asked my youngest, Ashleigh, if she would be interested in learning to play the violin and she was super excited.  We knew this was going to be a big investment requiring us to either rent or purchase an instrument and accessories in addition to the lessons we would receive so we wanted to make sure Ash was on board.  Her excitement gave us the green light to go ahead and make the necessary purchases and within a few days, we were ready to get started.

We went into this review knowing we weren't going to be using the live classes and instead would have to rely on the recorded classes from the previous week.  Being that we are on the west coast and on a schedule that is dictated by the Air Force, making the live classes weren't possible for us. Instead, we use the four recorded lessons that are updated each week that were recorded from the previous weeks live classes.  For our classes, at level 2, instruction was roughly 15 minutes per class.

Ashleigh was the one who was initially taking the classes.  And for a few weeks, we worked on her bow hold, bowing with the instrument, putting the instrument and bow in rest position, ect. She initially enjoyed taking the classes and was doing well with it.


Unfortunately, once the excitement of the new violin wore off, she quickly lost interest and getting her to take the class or practice got to a point where it was like pulling teeth.  Ash being the headstrong child that she is, if she doesn't want to do it, she won't so we hit a wall pretty hard. Gone went my dreams of one day seeing her play in Carnegie Hall.

That's when my son, the son who has never shown interest in anything such as music or arts, my son who doesn't like to watch TV or anything beyond playing Minecraft or playing with his construction set, told me he wanted to try.

I'm going to be honest. I figured he would take a class, get halfway through it and decide it wasn't for him and would say "no thank you" as he always does when we try to get him to try new things.  I figured that the pretty violin sitting in it's case caught his attention and once the "newness" wore off, just like Ashleigh, it would collect dust. He had tried the piano and the guitar and both he quickly lost interest in, but since he asked, I figured I would allow him to try it.


Garrett LOVED it!!! Within a few days, Mrs Van Kleeck had my son singing the pentascale.  First off, my son does NOT sing. My son barely speaks and getting him to hold a conversation with you is a task, but sure enough, my son was doing the hand signals and singing Do-Re-Mi  along with Mrs Van Kleeck.  Within a week, I no longer had to ask Garrett if he wanted to do the lessons each day, he would instead bring my phone and the violin case so that I could make sure the violin was properly tuned so he could practice.  Garrett typically practiced every night, accessing the four classes for each week as well as pulling out his instrument and practicing on his own.   Mrs Van Kleeck is very high energy and I think this had much to do with Garrett's enthusiasm with the classes. He responded very well to that energy and that is a huge factor in getting a special needs/autistic child to do anything new. LOL


We were placed in a Level 2 class for this review.  In the course of the class, Garrett (and originally Ashleigh) would have to master ten skills in order to advance to the next level class.  These skills consisted of things such as placing the instrument in both rest and ready positions properly, holding the bow properly, sliding fingers to harmonic, crossing the strings while playing the instrument, and playing the pentascale on the instrument. Parents/Students are given a check list that shows each of the ten skills that should be practices to prepare for the final one on one assessment with Ms Van Kleeck as well as sheets to mark off for each day of independent practice.


The fact that we didn't attend the live classes was probably to our advantage with Garrett.  Ashleigh probably would have enjoyed the live classes but Garrett doesn't like to talk to others all that much and doesn't like to be put on the spot.  The recorded classes worked perfectly for us as he didn't feel like he was being pressured to interact, we could rewind the video if he needed to see or hear something again and we could pause to allow him to work on what was being taught at his own speed.

We ran into a minor glitch, one that had nothing to do with the class itself but because I had bought a cheap violin with cheap pegs.  The peg for our E String would constantly slip and keeping it in tune even for a few minutes was nearly impossible.   This created a problem for us and held him back a bit in the class and was rather frustrating for him.  Luckily, we discovered a product that helps keep cheap pegs from slipping and once we had that we were again rocking and rolling with the class.

Here's a video of Garrett showing how he has progressed using only the pre-recorded lessons.  Again, we were not able to attend any of the live classes.


I've honestly been taken aback by how much Garrett has enjoyed these classes and he's been upset that our access to the classes is coming to an end.  The only thing we did not take advantage of with our subscription was the inclusion of the student assessment.  We were going to try to get an assessment as I do believe Garrett is ready, however, we lost a family member and with the government shutdown and so our focus shifted temporarily.  However, long before our access ended, I spoke with my husband in regards to possibly paying for 6 months/1 year of classes so that Garrett can continue as we both feel that violin has turned to be a very positive thing for our son.  While we could probably get lessons here on base, my son has responded very well to Mrs Van Kleeck as well as her method of teaching and I can't imagine switching him to someone else.   We'll also be taking Ms Van Kleeck's recommendation as to the purchase of a better quality instrument now that we know it's something Garrett will stick with.  We're looking forward to re-enrolling Garrett with Mrs Van Kleeck hopefully in February.

#hsreviews #violin #LiveViolinClasses  #practicemonkeys #onlineviolinlessons #onlinepianolessons

I highly recommend these classes, especially if you have a child that is interested in the violin.  However, Practice Monkeys is also offering Piano classes, also taught my Mrs Van Kleeck.  The website also offers a free class for you and your student to get a feel of how the classes are taught before committing to a subscription.   Also, if you subscribe now (before Feb 1st), you can get a $10 per month discount for the entire time you have classes with Practice Monkeys.  You can find out more information by clicking here ---- http://www.practicemonkeys.com/reviewcrewblogreaders.html

Find More information about Practice Monkeys by visiting their website.  You can also find them on the following social media platforms:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PracticeMonkeys/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7wOO7WqC5Yk-nID8fhVaiA

Practice Monkeys Discount Coupon Offer


Online Music Education for the Violin {Practice Monkeys Reviews}



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Meal Planning


OOH I hate long pay dates..  The month of January is always hard on us. First, money is usually tight following the holidays but the pay dates always fall funny and we usually have 2 1/2 weeks between each pay period.. Soooo, cheap meals are a must.. 

Because the pay period falls on Monday this time, it also means that I have to shop the commissary on base - something I absolutely HATE..  The commissary on base is not cheap. So, we will be eating quit a bit of meals that I have prepared and frozen to save money before we head to town on Saturday.

Sunday - Chicken and Corn Chowder
Monday - Italian veggie skillet over rice
Tuesday - Beef Nachos
Wednesday - Hot Dogs with Coney Sauce and Tots
Thursday - Broccoli and Cheese Baked Potatoes
Friday- Spaghetti with Salad and garlic bread
Saturday - Grocery Shopping Day - In-N-Out
Sunday - Farby's with Fries

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Meal Planning


Tuesday:  Ham, Collard Greens, Black Eyed Peas, and Cornbread

Wednesday:  Crack Chicken Casserole with Salad

Thursday:  Arroz Con Pollo with Salad

Friday: Eggs in Purgatory

Saturday:  Nashville Fried Chicken with French fries and coleslaw

Sunday:  To Be Decided (Couldn't find ingredient for meal originally planned)

Monday: Baked Ravioli with Sauce, Salad and Steamed Broccoli

Tuesday: Beef and Broccoli with Rice and Mandarin Oranges

Wednesday: Chicken Curry over Couscous

Thursday: Shepherd's Pie Baked Potato

Friday: Salisbury Meatballs with Mashed Potato

Saturday:  Ham and Cheese Stromboli with Salad and Fruit Cocktail

Sunday:  Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

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