Tuesday, May 17, 2016

America's Best Breakfasts By: Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman




Breakfast. The most important meal of the day. My family eats breakfast for dinner quite often as well. I am always looking for new ways to make eggs or a better pancake recipe or a delectable omelet. Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman made it their mission to find America's Best Breakfasts, which is the title of their newest book.

I love breakfast food. I don't know anyone who doesn't love it. You can do so many things. There are pancakes, cinnamon rolls, crepes, eggs and bacon, French toast, fried potatoes....and so much more. In this new book, we are taken on a tour of America through breakfast food. From coast to coast we are given the local favorites of where to eat and a few recipes along the way.

Starting in The West Coast and Pacific Northwest we arrive at CafĂ© Gratitude (awesome name) in Venice, CA and their Golden Tumeric Iced Latte. Yum! As they take you on an adventure throughout the entire area, the couple also stops at popular restaurants and gives you their best recipe.

The next stop is The Midwest. We arrive in Omaha, NE at the Over Easy restaurant with their recipe for Cheesy Biscuits and Vegetarian Gravy. Oh my! Sounds delicious! I couldn't pick a favorite in this area because everything sounded so scrumptious.

Next, we find ourselves in The South. Raleigh, NC brings us to Joule, a coffee shop and restaurant. The owner's recipe for the BLT Deluxe made me so hungry. I actually did make this one because well, avocado...LOL! I am from the South so this entire section was my favorite. There were a few restaurants represented that are close to my home and I do plan to visit them soon.

The final stop is The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. We arrive at the Sofra (a restaurant that bases its menu on seasonal options) in Cambridge, MA. Their recipe for Granola is on their menu all year round because of its popularity and well, it's granola. Yum!

Toward the end of the book, the authors provide a list of the best Bloody Mary's in the country as well as their location. They have also given detailed instructions on how to make the perfect egg. No matter how you take them, scrambled, over-easy, poached, you will always make the perfect egg with their simple directions.

I really have enjoyed going through this book. It will stay on my shelf and I will use it for years to come. I will also take it with me when I travel so I am sure to find the perfect breakfast spot no matter where I am in the USA.

*I was given this book by Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

A Dream Of Miracles By: Ruth Reid



Another Amish fiction book...that I love! Ruth Reid is so talented and has done it again with her newest Amish book.

A Dream Of Miracles kept me on the edge of my seat. It is a beautiful story of romance, reclamation, and trust. Mattie Diener is a widowed mother of two small children. She lives in an Amish community in Northern Michigan. She has had a very rough time adjusting to a life without her husband. When one of her children becomes gravely ill, her family doctor is out of town and the replacement calls CPS suspecting child abuse.

Mattie is devastated as her son struggles to stay alive and no one believes her that he is truly ill and she did not harm her child. When the CPS representative, Bo Lambright, arrives at the hospital, he questions Mattie but feels compelled to believe her. It goes against everything he learned in his training but something makes him feel close to her.

As time goes by, Mattie's son becomes critical and another CPS agent takes it upon herself to use Mattie as an example. She takes away Mattie's rights to her children and places her daughter in foster care and takes away any visitation with her dying son. Bo steps up and helps Mattie in every possible way. As he is going through the motions of helping Mattie get her children back, he starts to remember his own past and where he came from.

As Mattie and Bo begin to know one another there is comfort and healing found in each other. But, Bo is an Englischer (meaning, not Amish). It goes against everything Mattie believes in to have any sort of feelings for Bo and he realizes she would never leave her community.

As time goes on, Bo continues to be there for Mattie. But, he starts having dreams about his past and his future. No matter how hard he tries to run, he can't escape his roots and where he belongs. Mattie finds the courage to protect her children and fight for them. Bo finds where his heart belongs and knows what decision must be made.

I truly loved this book. A Dream Of Miracles made me really feel what the characters were feeling. Ruth Reid is an extraordinary writer and I plan to read more of her books.

*I was given this book by BookLookBloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

An Interview With Sonya Shafer (Simple Charlotte Mason)



Recently, I contacted Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason. She has inspired many families to use the Charlotte Mason Approach of homeschooling. She has four daughters and her passion for teaching others about CM and the blessings that come along with it are so fascinating. I have taken one of her DVD courses (All Day Charlotte Mason) and it sparked a fire inside to learn more about this method of homeschooling.

I encourage you to check out her website where you will find many free resources and information as well as products to purchase for your own homeschool.

1. How did you get started with Charlotte Mason's method of homeschooling?
 
"Twenty years ago, when I started homeschooling, I attended a homeschool convention much like the HEAV convention. In one of the workshops, the speaker explained that home school does not have to look like school at home; you have options. She then outlined the main approaches to homeschooling, and one of them was the Charlotte Mason method. As soon as I heard her brief description, I knew that was the approach I wanted to use. My heart just resonated with what she was describing. So I grabbed whatever books I could find on the Charlotte Mason method (this was before the Internet) and started learning and implementing little by little. Fast forward twenty years, I'm still learning and loving it!
 You can find out more about the other approaches and why I chose Charlotte Mason in my video on YouTube: Five Flavors of Homeschooling."

2. What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out with the CM method?
 

"The Charlotte Mason approach is a collection of methods. If you are starting out with a young child, you can easily jump into using all of the methods from the very beginning. If your children are used to a different approach, however, you might want to ease into it. You can adopt a few of the methods in some school subjects and work with them until you feel comfortable, then adopt a few more. It may take a bit for everyone to get used to the new way of learning. Especially if you had twelve or more years of traditional schooling methods engrained in your mind, you may wonder if Charlotte Mason methods really work; they may seem too simple. But rest assured, you can trust the process. I've graduated three and still use CM methods with my special needs child, and I see the benefits every day of the wonderful education they all received!"

3. What is your favorite part of using the CM method?
 

"Goodness! That's like asking which is my favorite child! I think all of Charlotte's methods and philosophy are brilliant, but if I had to pick just one part to rave about in this interview, I think it would be the broad education the students receive. We spread a feast of a wide variety of subjects (around 20 different school subjects) that present great ideas and feed the student's mind. But happily, this approach does not place a burden on the teacher. It is not the teacher's job to dispense all of the knowledge. She simply introduces the student to great books, music, art, nature, etc. and allows the student to glean truth and beauty on his level directly from the source. 
I love this aspect because it respects each child as a person. Even my special needs daughter receives the benefit of beautiful art and music and poetry and nature; her education is not limited to just the 3 Rs or a dry, utilitarian schooling. Plus, the variety and the first-hand gleaning from excellent sources cultivates a love for learning and gives the student the tools to self-educate. With that desire and those tools, the student can continue to learn about God, people, and the world we live in for the rest of his life. Really, if you think about it, a CM education is just practicing how to live a rich and full life."

4. I have taken one of your seminars (on DVD) called All Day Charlotte Mason. What would be another great resource of yours that would help me to get a better understanding of the CM method?
 

"A few come to mind. On our website at simplycharlottemason.com, you will find a Learning Library chock full of practical how-to articles and videos. They are sorted by topic, so you should be able to easily find what you're looking for. We continue to post weekly teaching tips; you can receive them via e-mail or subscribe to our audio blog in iTunes or Google Play.
For those who really want to feel confident with CM methods, we have what I fondly call my brain-in-a-box. It's a 12-DVD set, "Learning and Living: Homeschooling the Charlotte Mason Way," recorded live at a CM conference where I shared everything I could think of about the Charlotte Mason approach."

5. Do you have a favorite book list that you would like to share with readers who may not know where to begin?
 

"You will find several free e-books on our website to help you get started; just look in the store under Free Resources. Plus, I highly recommend the two classic books that I began with twenty years ago: the short and practical "A Charlotte Mason Education" by Catherine Levison and the sweet and encouraging "A Charlotte Mason Companion" by Karen Andreola."

6. Narration is a big part of the CM method. How do you suggest families begin narration in their homeschool?
 

"Narration is a integral part of many school subjects. In its simplest form, narration is the student's hearing or reading a passage from a good book, then retelling everything he can remember in his own words. (It sounds easy until you try it for yourself!) 
One great place to start with narration is Aesop's fables. They usually tell a complete story in just one or two paragraphs, so they're great to practice narration with. Tell the student to listen carefully because you are going to read the fable only once. After you read it, ask him to tell it back to you in his own words. You will both find that it requires a pretty high level of thinking to pay full attention, remember what was read, keep it in the correct sequence, mix it with the ideas already in your mind, form it into coherent sentences of your own phrasing, and then give it back, either orally or in writing.
Narration is a powerful method that can be leveled up or down according to the student's abilities. The free e-book, "5 Steps to Successful Narration," will explain more. Also, we recently did a comprehensive Q&A series on narration that should be helpful. You can find it in our Learning Library or grab it in book form, "Your Questions Answered: Narration."

7. Charlotte Mason was all about nature study and informal learning. What are some frugal ways to incorporate that in the homeschool?
 

"Learning is a way of life and doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't cost anything to go outside once a week and spend time observing nature in your yard, your neighborhood, or a nearby park. With just a sketch book and a field guide, you can record your growing relationship with God's creation. Jot down or draw what you notice; little by little you will learn the names of the trees and birds and flowers and shrubs and clouds. But do more than learn their names: watch them and notice what they do, when, where, and how. Record your observations in your notebook and, over time, you'll find that you are growing in your knowledge of science, but also in your sense of wonder and awe at our all-powerful and wise Creator. And when that happens, you will know that you and your children are growing in what is most important."
 
Here are a few more resources for you to check out when you have time. Please feel free to save them for later. But, I urge you to take a look. Sonya Shafer's website is busting at the seams with information about homeschooling and Charlotte Mason. You will love it!
 
Five Flavors of Homeschooling video:

SCM Learning Library:

SCM weekly e-mail signup:

SCM Audio blog on iTunes:

SCM Audio blog on Android:

12-DVD set, "Learning and Living: Homeschooling the Charlotte Mason Way":

Free e-books:

"A Charlotte Mason Education":

"A Charlotte Mason Companion":

free e-book, "5 Steps to Successful Narration":

Q&A series on narration:

"Your Questions Answered: Narration":
 
 
I hope this post has been a blessing to you. Please visit THIS PAGE to enter the giveaway on my blog for a Family Pass to the HEAV in Richmond in June. Don't miss it!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Navigating The HEAV (Homeschool Convention) & A GIVEAWAY!!!



It's that time of year again! Homeschool convention season. It is my favorite time of year. So much anticipation for next year while enjoying a little break in schooling. We school all year round but take off a week or two after we finish. This is my second year blogging for the HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) and my fifth year attending the convention. It will be held on June 9, 10, and 11 this year.

You will not want to miss the giveaway at the end of this post (it is for a Family Pass to the HEAV for all three days!).

Navigating the HEAV can be a huge burden. It is overwhelming if you do not have a plan and you can leave frustrated (I have heard this from other homeschoolers I know). It lead me to write a post about how to attend the convention with less stress and a plan of action. You will be able to manage your day and organize yourself to get the most out of the convention. It can be so frustrating to show up and have no clue where to go or what to do.

Here is your guide to navigating the convention:

  1. Register as soon as you know you are able to attend (or wait for your chance to win a family pass!). By registering online, you are able to pay beforehand and not have to wait in a long line when you arrive.
  2. While you register, don't forget about all the "extras" you can also take part in (you can find a list of these at the end of this post).
  3. Remember, parents of preschoolers who are attending for the first time are free!
  4. Pastors get in for free as well (pending approval after a review of your request). Please tell your Pastors to take advantage of this. There is a special Pastors-only workshop on Saturday morning hosted by Mike Farris and Dave Miranda).
  5. Find a hotel, if needed. If you are travelling more than a couple hours away, a hotel is the best option. You can easily find good deals nearby and you won't have to worry about parking and driving long distances each day.
  6. If registering for graduation, do so in a timely manner. It is a wonderful event and you can go on the website for more information.
  7. Sign up to volunteer. Volunteering is such a blessing to the HEAV (it takes more than 600 volunteers to make this convention happen). There are perks to volunteering which include a pass to get into the UCS (used curriculum sale) 2 hours early!
  8. Gather all or your unused books, curriculum, games, manipulatives and sell them at the UCS. You can access the UCS registration site HERE to get started.
  9. Print out a list of vendors, speakers, and exhibitors as well as the schedule and a map of the convention center. Start researching each one and highlight the sessions you wish to take advantage of. Plan out your visit using the print outs.
  10. If there are sessions that you still wish to attend but there is another that you have to go to, you can purchase a recording of that session (or you can purchase the entire convention recordings). Right now you can take advantage of a wonderful deal by purchasing last years (2015) recordings for only $69.  
  11. There will be a Silent Auction in the exhibit hall as well. It is a lot of fun and there are so many wonderful treasures to bid on.
  12. On Thursday, the 9th of June, there are free "how to begin" workshops. They are introductory sessions with Yvonne Bunn. She is very knowledgeable and sweet. I urge you to attend these if you are considering your options and want to know the laws about homeschooling.
  13. There is a free Shuttle Service available as well. You can find more information about that HERE.
I will be writing a blog post on a few tips that will make your visit even easier in the next few days. Until then, here is some more info on the "extras" I wrote about earlier:
  
And now for the GIVEAWAY! Enter on the Rafflecopter below. The winner will be announced by May 19th!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 2, 2016

When In Doubt...Read Your Bible



I truly feel like America has fallen so far from God. We became a great nation fairly quickly. We are falling very quickly. Christians are fighting against one another instead of loving one another. We are divided on issues. Christians should be fighting on their knees in prayer not amongst one another. So, when in doubt, read your Bible.

The Bible gives us the standards by which to live by. It gives us laws to uphold, sins to avoid, and instructions on how to live a righteous life according to Jesus.

There are many issues on the news today that have caused strife among all Americans. I am not here to discuss any of them but to simply state that we need to be in God's word...DAILY. When we read His word often enough, it becomes a part of us. We have it in our hearts and can discern right from wrong according to God.


"If we abide by the principles taught
in the Bible, our country will go on
prospering and to prosper; but if we
and our posterity neglect its instructions
and authority, no man can tell how
sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm
us and bury all our glory in
profound obscurity."
-Daniel Webster
 
This great country was built upon the principles of the Bible. Our very foundation was made according to God's Word. So, what has happened? Why does it seem as though sin is good and good is sin? One answer: we don't read God's word and uphold it as our standards for living. We laugh in the face of God and flaunt our sins as though we have no fear of Him. We justify our actions in the name of mercy and love. But, is it love to let someone live in their sin and ultimately die and go to hell?
 
"To sin by silence when
they should protest makes
cowards of men."
-Abraham Lincoln
 
Reading the Bible daily seals those words into your heart. When an issue arises, you can easily seek out God's will because you already know what the Bible says about it. Pray that God will instill in you the words you read so that when the time comes you can know what He says already.
 
"The foundations of our society
and our government rest so much
on the teachings of the Bible that
it would be difficult to support them
if faith in these teachings
would cease to be practically
universal in our country"
-Calvin Coolidge
 
It is sad that we are raising a culture that deplores God and anything Biblical. Parents are not going to church anymore and their children are being raised to have whatever they want and do whatever they want. But, the Bible says "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) It also says, "A fool despises his father's instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent." (Proverbs 15:5)
 
God tells us in the Bible to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. To teach them about Him and they will not depart from it. To teach them to follow your Godly example (as a parent) and they will be prudent. Children are the future of this country. Teach them about God and His love for all people. Teach them how to love others and to walk in the truth.
 
Speaking the truth in love is so important. Reading your Bible helps you to be able to do that. But, we DO need to SPEAK. Don't just sit idly by while people are dying in their sins. Show them God's love and tell them what Jesus did on the cross for THEM. Don't fight with your Christian brothers and sisters over matters that are not important. Fight together, on your knees in prayer, for God's will to be done and for the lost to be saved.
 
 
"Our lives begin to end the
day we become silent about
the things that really matter."
-Martin Luther

 



Sunday, April 24, 2016

The I Quit Sugar CookBook By: Sarah Wilson




Sugar. It comes in many different forms. It is in almost everything we eat. You can't go to the grocery store anymore without reading labels and then you might still get tricked into buying something with sugar. Sarah Wilson's new cookbook, The I Quit Sugar Cookbook, is everything you want it to be and more. She truly outdid herself with these amazing recipes, pictures, menu ideas, and more.

I have been weaning myself from sugar for a while. I have gone cold turkey a couple of times and had withdrawal from it. Sugar is more addicting than cocaine. It causes cancer, diabetes, obesity, inflammation, leaky gut, and the list goes on. Americans eat more sugar than anywhere else in the world. I have many health problems and that is why I am on a healthier me journey. I want to live a long life. Sugar creates so many health problems and adds to the ones I already have. This cookbook is giving me a lot of motive to kick it to the curb altogether.

There are three parts to this cookbook: 1. The Bits At The Front (helpful hints on how the book works and how to really get started in quitting sugar). 2. The Recipes (Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners, Snacks, Desserts, and everything in between). 3. The Bits At The Back (Shopping lists, safe sweeteners, FAQ section, and so on).

It is filled with beautiful pictures and delightful insight. Some of my favorite recipes are:

  1. Cheeseburger Wontons (p.102)
  2. Superfoodie Lasagna Cake (p.140)
  3. "Sweet" Tacos With Easy Slaw (p.200)
  4. Sweet Potato Nachos (p.230)
  5. Raw Snickas Ice Cream Bar (p.279)
  6. Cardamom and Sea Salt Ganache Tart (p.318)
  7. Kombucha recipes (starting on p.342)
There are almost 400 pages of info and recipes in this book. It will take you all day just to look through it and then another whole day to figure out what you want to make first. I really enjoyed this cookbook and am glad I get to add it to my collection. I especially love that it is a book that is about health and clean eating. Americans eat so much bad and processed foods. We need more people to write books like this to make people more aware of the dangers of sugar and junk food.

*I was given this book by Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

The Berenstain Bears~Mother's Day Blessings




Mother's Day is quickly approaching. It is such a special day to celebrate being a mother, a daughter, a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, and a friend. Children love to spoil their mom's on this special day. The newest book by Mike Berenstain, Mother's Day Blessings (a Berenstain Bears book) is so sweet.

Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear all want to do something extra special for Mama Bear on Mother's Day. They go to Papa Bear for some ideas and he has the perfect surprise for her. They will take her to Sunday Brunch at Bear Country Inn. The children want to include their grandmother as well.

During the Sunday drive to church they notice all of the mother's who have to work on Mother's Day. Some of them they didn't even know were mother's. Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear all start thinking about how special the day really is for each of the mother's and that those mother's are very special to their children.

During the church service the Pastor gives bible verses about mother's and gives a word about being a mom. After church is over the children get to tell their mom and grandma what their Mother's Day surprise is and they are all very excited.

This is a very delightful story for children to learn about the many different mom's out there. It also makes children more aware of the mother's who have to work on Mother's Day and to pay special attention to them. Some of them don't get a day off and we should be thankful for the jobs they do.

*This book was given to me by BookLookBloggers.com in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*