Thursday, January 31, 2013

Excellent resources~ From the Old Schoolhoue Magazine

So~ I've been a subscriber of TOS (The Old Schoolhouse Magazine) for a number of years now~ You can be sure that I am pleased with it! But things have changed greatly over there in the past year.

I wanted to make sure that all of my readers know that now, instead of paying for the magazine subscription (which can be accessed for FREE on your eReader), The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is offering amazing resources by subscription on their new(ish) website,

If you sign up with the current $49 Special Price (regular subscription price is $139), you will receive a tote bag (I love my collection of TOS totes, and so do my kids. Mine goes EVERYWHERE with me, and everyone knows that I "homeschool with heart."), as well as the annual "print" copy of TOS Magazine, in addition to a year subscription to the site.

What's included in the site? Oh... so much! I'll highlight a few of my favorite things~
  • Free Digital Back Issues 
  • Literature Lessons with Adam Andrews (Love his teaching style!) 
  • And archived 15 week logic class with Lisa Duffy
  • These alone are worth the subscription price, in my opinion! However, there is SO much more! Planners specifically for Mom, The High School Student, The Middle School Student, Primary Grade Student, and Special Learners planner. These planners have all sorts of forms and encouraging articles to choose from, so that you can print out your own personalized planner. Very cool!
  • Some archived history lessons with Diana Waring 
  • Classical History Series with Jennifer Courtney (These would pair well with the Ancient History Drive Thru History Videos that are currently available streaming on Netflix!) 
  • Guitar lessons(!) 
  • Art Lessons
Really, there are an incredible number of resources available here. So glad that I have this resource in my back pocket (Or really, on my laptop/iPad! :) )

Have YOU checked out What is your favorite feature? If you haven't, why not? (There is a special $1 "Try it for a month" option although you don't get the annual hard copy or the nifty tote bag, but if those don't interest you, what have you got to lose? :)  )

I'd love to hear your opinions!


Disclaimer~ the links in this article are affiliate links~ The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Natural" Gifts for Valentines Day (Thru Feb 5)

Looking for some out-of-the-ordinary, NATURAL gifts for your loved ones this Valentine's Day? I just learned that Abe's Market is offering a sale on select gifts..... 

In addition to the items on this sale, like those pictured above and this one (Which is on sale for $22.49~ Should be good for about 128 loads of laundry),
Soap Nuts Laundry Detergent, 16 oz.  

there are some other items that might be of interest~ 

These are personal favorites that I have used.... 

Organic Ginger Syrup - 3pkGinger syrup ~ Delicious on pancakes, waffles, and vanilla ice cream (Oh... that would be yummy on vanilla ice cream over apple crisp!) ($12.50 for 3 8oz bottles).

For those who are looking for natural, aluminum-free deodorants that actually work, this is my favorite so far~ It is a little different rubbing on a spot of "cream" but since I haven't been stinky at all since using it, I can handle that! :)

All Natural Lavender Deodorant 

Some fun things for the kiddos (Not on sale, but neat ideas!) 

Sidewalk chalk with a twist, and one that might be a little less concerning if it makes its way into a "mouthy" child's hands (and possibly .... mouth.... ). Made in the USA, and good for kids with food allergies~
 Veggie Sidewalk Chalk- The Swirl

eco-kids USA eco-crayonsThe Soy Crayons we own (Crayon Rocks) are OOS at the moment, but these look pretty cool! Great options for kids that have issues with regular wax crayons.
           eco-kids USA eco-crayons

And something for the older kids~ This looks like it would be a fun project for February Vacation, no? I have enjoyed making mini-books myself upon occasion~ love the papers and embellishments! 
Artterro Bookmaking Kit

I hope that this gives you some ideas, if you're looking for something unusual for Feb 14


Amazon Kindle Freebies & other assorted goodies January 29

A few freebies, and some good deals on Amazon~ I like to share some as I find them.....
(I appreciate your shopping through my affiliate links, the items that aren't free put a few pennies in our budget... :D Just click on the pictures~ they are linked up for you)

As most of us know, prices can change at any time on Amazon, so be sure to check before you buy!


Currently free (Probably not for long, tho')
American Trivia, (I'm putting this one on my laptop Kindle, to use when we're schooling or out and about. :) 


and a couple of Christian titles, 
one for mom, (Cynthia Heald... 
I have enjoyed Bible Studies by this author )  

and one for the kids~  ( this one is a "comic" style. Be forewarned~ there are some frames that deal with some of the violence in the Old Testament. For free it's a good one to check out, and see what you think)

A little time travel romance~ Just finished reading this one, and enjoyed the story. Could be a good read for the time-travel-loving teen in your life.

A Steampunk novel that looks interesting~ Haven't read it ... but could be fun !

 And how about some Historical Sci-Fi? These two books look intriguing... I have them in my queue... 

Discounted Kindle Books Today:

OK, for my homeschooling peeps, here is a great deal! All 6 volumes of Charlotte Mason's Homeschooling Series for $0.99! I am thinking that I might enjoy this more in the electronic version~ more likely to take notes, highlight, and share tidbits with this one!

Having lived in Cambridge, MA for 9 years, with Rosie's Bakery just a short walk away, these recipe books make me all nostalgic... :) Congo Bars~ Yum! 

 Discounted Toys and Sundries
 54% off this set of 30 twistables! $5.97 Great deal! Perfect for the young child who is always needing to sharpen their pencils! (Might need to add this to our "Sunday School Bag" )

Guess I'll call this pot from Cuisinart's Chef's Classic Series a "Sundry." I've had this pot for months now, and it is still one of my favorites. I think this price is pretty good compared to what I was seeing in B&M stores this past week. (currently $22.24)

Here's something to consider tucking away for Valentine's Day...  I picked up some of these lollipops a year ago to add to Christmas presents, and they were a hit with everyone who tried them, young and old. Tasty, and not so bad for you! (currently $5.59 for 40+ organic lollipops including such tasty flavors as mango tango and pomegranate pucker.) This is an "add on" item that ships free with orders over $25, just FYI. :)

Well, I hope that you find something useful in this post~ I'm contemplating making this a bit more of a regular feature. I'd love to hear if you would like to see more of this sort of post or not.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Menu Monday, January 21, 2013 (Korma)

Mmmmm.... wintery weather and crispy cool temperatures just beg for warm spicy food, don't you think? It's been awhile since I've participated in Menu Plan Monday, but was inspired this week(Just a little late getting my post in on MONDAY... on the east coast, anyway). :)

Tonight I made a recipe based on my dad's Chicken Korma recipe (he was taught to make it by his room-mate in Bible College who was a native East Indian). This version has a few shortcuts and substitutions, but I thought it turned out fairly decent, and so did everyone else in the family, apparently, as all the bowls were scraped clean! :)

Quick Chicken Korma

Chop 1 onion and saute over medium heat. While it is cooking,
Chop 1 pepper in medium to fine dice (I used orange) and add it to the pot. While those are cooking,
Slice 4 large carrots into fairly thin slices and add those to the pot.

Cook these three ingredients until they are fairly soft(10-15 minutes?), then
Add 3-4 minced garlic cloves.

After about 2-3 minutes stir in the following spices (These are measurements to start with, but please adjust to taste~ I plan to play with them a little more myself, because they weren't quite "perfect" tonight, while still being quite delicious)
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cloves
(2-3 tsp curry powder is optional, I didn't use it this time around... wasn't feeling curry-ish)

Stir the veggies and the spices over medium heat for 3-5 minutes then add your chicken.
I tend to made an open space in the middle of my saute' pan, leaving the veggies around the sides, and cook the chicken there in the middle. 
I used 3 chicken breasts, cubed into about 1 inch pieces. We could have used a little more meat, but this is a good way to s-t-r-e-t-c-h that grocery budget! :)

When the chicken is reasonably cooked (about 5 minutes),
Toss in 1.5 to 2.5 cups whole cashews. Stir for a bit then

Add 2 cans purred tomato (I just whip diced tomatoes in the blender) and
4 cups broth (use your choice... I have been using Knorr's Concentrated vegetable broth)

Let this mixture come to a boil, then simmer for at least 1/2 hour (While you make your rice). It's even better if it can simmer for 1-2 hours to let the flavors meld.

If the sauce is a little too "soupy" it's great to add some freshly grated coconut. I grated in about 1/4 of a fresh coconut this time around (Yay for husbands who pick up ingredients like that! and it was a good one this time, too!)

Serve over rice.

For the rest of the week:

Lentil stew/soup
"Leftover Pasta"
Deli Meat/Cheese wraps
Sausage and Potato Frittata
Saturday is "Boys Fend For Themselves"~ Eldest and I will be eating at Rein's New York Deli on our way home from a Feis

What's cooking at your house? Feel free to comment here, post your menu plan, or browse for inspiration over at Menu Plan Monday. I'm also posting on "Try a New Recipe Tuesday" so head on over there for some more inspiration!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Last Days of Christmas... ;) (Including a finshed project!)

Goodness... I was doing so well getting pictures and posts of our "Days of Christmas", and then we all got sick. :( I think that it was a mild form of flu, but it definitely knocked us out for a while. Needless to say, we weren't feeling terribly photogenic, so although we did open presents, we did NOT record them digitally.

I do have one more photo from when it was still "Christmas"... the day of the Tiniest (For the Eldest), the Biggest (For the Middlest) and the Middlest (For the Littlest). Eldest received her traditional charm from her daddy (a sparkly bee this year), Middlest received a salt-water fishing rod, and Littlest received a new game (Zitternix). The variety of sizes was rather fun! :) 

Youngest decided that he needed to balance the Zitternix box before opening it up.... ;) Who knew? This is a rather fun little game~ a version of pick up sticks that is fun to play, and easier to "Regulate" as there is no "Judgement call" on whether a stick wiggles or not. 

Remember that photo of eldest holding the raw materials for a hat? Guess what I finished? :D (No ear flaps, though, she wasn't as set on them as I thought) 

Didn't it turn out pretty? I thought it reminded me of the dawn, but my nightowl instantly determined that it was like a sunset over the water. :) The Blue and Brown are baby alpaca (Soooooo soft!) and the gold/oranges are wool. 

Gadzooks! Check out the day-glo effect with the flash on!  ----->
The other photos are more true to the actual colors.   

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible, NKJV

The Max Lucado Life Lessons NKJV Study Bible is great for this momma who is more often serving in Sunday School than sitting through a sermon. It has a definite place in devotional reading and study. This is my first NKJV Bible, which I appreciate, as it is the version my children are memorizing from at AWANA. It is a little easier to read (less Thee/Thy tongue-twisting), while still maintaining the beloved (in my case, at any rate) vocabulary and poetry of the KJV.

What is unique about this Bible? Clearly, the text remains the same, so the extra features are what sets it apart.

Each section (Whether one chapter or two... it varies throughout) features "Life Lessons" in the side margins. These "lessons" follow a pattern
They summarize the Situation in the text.
Observations give bite-sized nuggets of truth that can be extrapolated from the situation.
The Inspiration portions are devotional excerpts from Max Lucado writings that are appropriate to the passage. I appreciate the thought-provoking inspiration of Max Lucado.
Application asks questions that help one to see the relevance of the passage to their life, or gives suggestions on things to DO that relate to internalizing the passage.
Exploration gives Scripture References for further study~which allows a deeper look than devotional study if so desired.

Other features include articles scattered throughout that focus on Christ Through the Bible, and New Life in Christ, as well as full-page topical devotionals that could be good for group discussion. A Two Year Reading Plan is included, if you are a check-the-box sort of person. :)

From a physical/aesthetic standpoint, I prefer this hardcover version as a "Read-at-home" Bible, vs a "Carry-with-me-everywhere" Bible due to its weight and bulk. The typeface is easily readable, with distinct subject headings. The Life Lessons are in a smaller, clean type-face, and there are many "ponderables" (Twitter ready?) that could be overlooked by virtue of their lighter ink, but have the ability to catch your attention, if you are looking, with a larger font size.   Here's an example

"God's love can't be legislated, but it can be chosen. Choose it won't you? For the sake of your heart." - Max Lucado Come Thirsty

The Max Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible is available online and from Brick and Mortar stores. There are also electronic, leather and leather-look versions to choose from.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the Booksneeze Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Under the Summer Sky by Lori Copeland (First Wild Card Book Review)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


After a man named Jones rescues Trinity Franklin from a river, they find their destination is the same: a small town in North Dakota. A seemingly coincidental beginning comes to a delightful and charming ending when orchestrated by the One who can put the pieces of any lost and broken life together.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930205
ISBN-13: 978-0736930208


Near Piedmont, South Dakota, 1893

“Don’t put me in that barrel!”

“Do you want to die, woman?”

“No! That’s why you can’t put me in the barrel—I can’t swim!” She had gone to the river for a simple bucket of water when this beast had swept in and captured her. She loved the good Lord, but she wasn’t ready to meet Him face-to-face. The sound of rushing water overwhelmed her senses as iron hands gripped her waist. War whoops filled the air as three riders poured over the hillside. She pounded the solid wall of flesh that enveloped her. “Let me go!”

“I’m trying to save your life, lady.”

The stranger heaved her over to the barrel and unceremoniously dumped her inside, stuffing her head between her knees before he slammed the lid down on top.

“I can’t swim!” Her muffled voice echoed in her ears. Was he deaf    ? Mad? What kind of man would put a woman in a barrel and send her over the rapids when she couldn’t swim? She banged on the wooden sides. “Let me out!”

All bedlam broke out, and even through the barrel Trinity could hear grunts, shouts, and the sound of bare fists meeting flesh. Her heart hammered in her chest. She willed herself to be still, but she could feel the barrel shifting underneath her, teetering at the water’s edge. “Don’t let me fall in, don’t let me fall in,” she whispered. A flour mill sat downstream, but if she reached it she would be too late. A few minutes in the turgid waters and she would drown.

Grunts. More fists.

Please, God. Please, God.

She swallowed back the urge to shout. Calling out would mean certain death. Her brother, Rob, had written tales of rebels, both Indian and white, banding together to plunder and commit unspeakable acts, but never in her wildest dreams would she have thought to encounter one of the lowlifes. A gunshot—then another. Trinity’s heart crowded her throat as the fighting grew fiercer. The barrel shifted again.

Don’t let me fall in. Don’t let me fall in.

A deep rumble. A shove. Trinity’s heart sputtered. She was close—too close. She could almost smell the cold, rushing water. She heard the shuffle of men’s boots—though now it sounded as though there were fewer of them. Maybe two? Against overwhelming odds, the stranger appeared to be winning.

Rapids rushed in the distance. Relax. That beast of a man is strong. He still faced formidable odds, but it sounded as if he were besting the enemy. Trinity felt the tension draining away from her. The ruckus would be over soon and he would release her from her wooden prison.

And then she would demand to know who he was and how he’d had the audacity to risk her life!

Locked in a duel, the men’s groans filled the air as they strained against one another. The sheer force in their tones made her cringe. Then—the unthinkable. A boot caught the edge of the barrel and sent it toppling into the churning water.

Trinity screamed as the current caught the barrel and bounced it downstream. Terror-stricken, she watched the water seeping through the cracks in the wood. The rapids were only two hundred yards downstream—she had to be getting close.

She was going to die. Rob had perished far too young, and now she was going to join him. And it was all her fault. She should never have left her nice, safe café job in Sioux City and come to this rugged land. She had refused to accompany Rob a year earlier when he’d pleaded with her to join him and help him settle Wilson’s Falls, the plot of land their family had owned for generations. She should have held to her belief that no good would come of her visiting this remote country for even a short time. No amount of money on earth could keep her safe now—not even the handsome sum the railroad was likely to offer for the family’s parcel of land.

The trip was supposed to be brief. Never once had she thought her journey would end at the Pearly Gates.


Jones whirled when he heard the barrel hit the water. The man locked in his grip took advantage of the distraction and landed a blow that took Jones to his knees. He swung wildly, landing a punch that momentarily staggered his opponent.

His eyes swung back to the barrel. Only a few moments before it went over the rapids. The other thug came at him and he managed a hard right and then his signature left, the knock-out blow. His opponent slumped to the ground and Jones took off running down the bank. His boots thrashed through a heavy thicket as his eyes followed the bobbing container. When he reached a wide spot, he dove in and surfaced just within reach of the barrel.

“Hold on! I’m here!” he yelled.

The girl’s reedy voice came back. “I can’t swim! Get me out of here!”

“I’m trying!” He lunged, his hand brushing the barrel in vain. Charging again, he only managed to hurry the barrel along. It flew over the rapids and he heard her screams until the roar of rushing water snatched them away.

Shoot. She was going to be mad as a wet hen.

“Are you still there? I can’t hear you!”

He couldn’t imagine why not. She was yelling loud enough for them to hear her all the way to Canada.

“I’m here! Just hang on!”

“I can’t swim!”

Like he hadn’t heard her the first eight times. Closing his eyes, he dove under the swift current.


The thin wood split as the water and rocks smashed the barrel into kindling. Trinity gasped for air, her breath lodged in her throat. The wind and water whipped wildly about her. Where was he?

Anger churned with panic as she bumped along. Objects blurred as she choked, struggling to right herself. She went down, down, down, thumping and bumping over rocks. This was it. This was the end. She’d never done anything worthwhile in her nineteen years. Nothing but wait tables and serve others—but that was good. To her knowledge she’d never caused anyone an ounce of trouble, so she could meet her Maker in good faith.

Now she would draw her last breath—gurgle it, more like—but…she broke the waterline, choking. A strong hand latched onto her hair as she went under again.

Pain blinded her—pain the likes of which she’d never experienced. Her very roots were being ripped out. She struggled to break the fierce hold, and did, momentarily, but then something snared her and yanked her back to the surface.

“Stop fighting me!” a male voice demanded.

She saw him then—the man who’d stuffed her in the barrel. At the moment it didn’t matter what he’d stuffed her in; he was an anchor in the storm. Her efforts ceased. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight.

He was a strong swimmer, but she was dead weight. Dragging her through the water, he reached a ledge and paused to catch his breath. Paralyzed with fear, her heart threatened to pound out of her chest, and for the first time in her life she couldn’t find the words she wanted. His arms around her were powerful, and the feel of his prickly dark beard against her cheek brought a blush to her face. She’d never been this close to a man before—except Rob, of course. When she poured coffee at the café she bent close, but never this close. She could smell him, hear his ragged breath in her ear.

“Sorry I scared you,” he said, swiping his face to clear the water out of his eyes. “I didn’t mean for the barrel to go over.”

She nodded, still not able to find her voice. She was in the middle of a rushing rapid, standing in the arms of a stranger, finding her brush with death very difficult to comprehend.

“Hold on.” He hitched her up and swam the remaining distance to shore. Throwing her on the bank like a landed carp, he crawled out and collapsed beside her. For a moment they lay in the warm sun, gasping for breath. In a novel the moment might have been romantic, Trinity thought. Instead it was wet and cold and ghastly.

“Who are you?” she asked, finally finding her breath. Since she could speak she should probably thank him—it was only polite—though at the moment she wanted to throttle him for putting her life in danger in the first place.

“Doesn’t matter. I’m just passing through.”

“What’s your name?” She had the right to know who’d almost killed her, didn’t she?


“Jones what?”

“Just Jones.” Rolling to his back, he stuck out his hand. “Are you all right?”

Trinity stared at the proffered hand, stultified. “Why did you stick me in that barrel?”

“I saved your life.”

“You could easily have taken it. I don’t…”

“Swim. So you’ve said.” Struggling to his feet, he removed his left boot and dumped out a stream of water. “Sorry I upset you, but those men would have distressed you more.”

Her gaze fixed on the tall stranger. She knew she should feel nothing but gratitude, but he’d scared the wadding out of her. “Well, before you stick a lady in a barrel and send her downstream, you might want to make certain you can save her.”

Jones dumped the water out of his right boot. “Don’t figure there’s any reason for me to apologize for saving your neck.” He glanced up. “What are you doing out here alone, anyway?”

“I was doing my wash.” She pushed to her feet and brushed the wet hair out of her eyes.

“You live around here?”

“Not live. I’m staying here for a while. I’m in the process of selling my land, and once I do I’m going back to Sioux Falls.”

“Nice town.”

“You’ve been there?”

He nodded, shoving his foot, wet sock and all, back into his boot. “Couple of times. Do you want me to walk you back to your place?”

“No, thank you.” She’d had quite enough of him for one day.

Nodding, he set his Stetson on his head and adjusted the band. “You might want to keep a close eye out for the others. The men scattered, but they’ll meet up again.”

Trinity swallowed, trying to retain her composure. She’d get home, and then she wouldn’t rest until she’d sold the land and left this godforsaken place behind her forever. “Thank you. I’ll be careful.”

“You think you can handle these wilds?”

She lifted her chin. “Of course I can handle myself.” Granted, he had caught her in a bad circumstance, but chances were that the men were only passing through and she’d have no more trouble with them.

“Do you have a gun?”

“My brother left one.”

“Do you know how to use it?”

The chin rose higher. “I do—if necessary.”

He paused, a slow grin starting at the corners of his mouth. Dark curly hair, penetrating brown eyes, and skin browned by the long hours in the sun. He was handsome, no denying it, but Trinity had more important things on her mind. “I see you’ve got things well in hand.”

She nodded coolly. He had every right to suspect that she was one of those helpless simpering females, but she was far from vulnerable. She’d been on her own since Rob had left to work this land, and she’d learned to care for herself nicely.

He started off and then turned back. “By the way…”

She pushed another lock of soggy hair out of her eyes. “Yes?”

His gaze drifted down. “You lost your skirt in the water.”

Gasping, she looked down. She was wearing nothing but her bloomers! And he hadn’t said a word until now.

When she looked up, he was gone. Drawing herself up straight, she sniffed. And a good riddance it was.

Under the Summer Sky was an enjoyable light read for my Winter Vacation. There were some undeniably humorous situations in which Trinity found herself, and the descriptions of the locality made me homesick for wide open spaces. I particularly enjoyed the idiosyncrasies and antics of one of the minor characters, her motorcycle and her elephant. ;) I also appreciated the truths encountered, which included such ideas as "Don't judge a book (or person) by it's cover" and "True love waits.... and waits.... and sometimes waits some more!" :)

Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the FIRST Wild Card Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



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