Monday, January 26, 2015

Green Tea Lemongrass GGMS

In an on again, off again attempt to lose weight, I keep returning to Trim Healthy Mama.  I SO LOVE the concept, but have some issues with the application of it.  So, as I am dealing with an issue, that presses me closer to THM again, I am getting out all my special ingredients again.  One of my favorite things with THM is GGMS, or Good Girl Moonshine.  A beverage with Apple Cider Vinegar and ginger and about as many variations as you can imagine.  We have been enjoying a Fruit Punch GGMS and I just got to thinking...what would happen if...

So, here is my variation of GGMS
Steep 8 bags Green Tea of your choice in about 4 cups of water. (You will add more water later and ice when you are ready to drink it!)
Into a pitcher, put:
 4-8 tsp THM's Sweet Blend or approved sweetener (I do not like it sweet, so I do 4t, but you may want much more)
 8 tsp. lemon extract
 8 T. Apple Cider Vinegar
 2 T Ginger (powdered or fresh...I like using the Gourmet Garden brand that comes in a tube
It costs SO MUCH MORE than powdered or the fresh root, but the taste difference and ease of use make it the go to for me...)I use a squeeze about 2" long for this recipe.
Lemongrass, also from the tube and about the same amount...I did not measure...but I did learn something about the lemongrass...it stayed chunked up in the drink...SO STIR IT INTO SOMETHING BEFORE ADDING IT TO YOUR PITCHER...like the Apple Cider Vinegar.

Swish all of this around and add the tea.  Add 32 oz cold water.  Chill and/or serve with ice.
This makes about half a gallon of GGMS.

You can add some lemon juice or essential oil (MAKE SURE YOUR ESSENTIAL OILS ARE SAFE TO INGEST) if desired.



Friday, January 9, 2015

3 Ingredient Swedish Meatballs

I am in a season of EXTREME busyness..and getting meals on the table takes some advance planning and forethought.  All the plans in the world don't mean much when the meat is in the freezer at 5 pm...and I have been there/done that too many times.  We have a couple of days where we are gone for a large chunk of the day...so I need some EASY MEALS...let me tell you this is about as easy at it gets!  I do not recall where I originally got this recipe, but BLESS HER a thousand times for posting it...you have made my life a little easier.

So you need 3 ingredients:

32 oz frozen meatballs
1 12 oz jar beef gravy, I use Heinz Savory Beef
sour cream...I do not measure this, but just mix it in until I like the look of it.

So, here is what I do...toss the meatballs in the crock pot with the jar of gravy and cook on low until you are ready for dinner...about 20 minutes before serving, mix in sour cream and pour meatballs over cooked noodles or rice.  Serve with a salad or veggie of choice.

Now, you could do this with homemade meatballs and gravy, but I just do not always have time for that.

Bon Appetit!

Homeschool Planet


Today, I get the pleasure of introducing you to Homeschool Planet,  an online planner from Homeschool Buyer's Co-op.  I am going to say at the beginning, that this did not work well for us, and I will explain why at the end, but it is still a valuable tool you may find helpful in your homes.

There are A LOT of great benefits of Homeschool Planet...probably my single favorite is the AUTOMATIC RESCHEDULE function...miss a day, week month, etc and you are able to reschedule all of that work by pushing it forward...this SERIOUSLY is my favorite function.  I have planned out MONTHS of plans only to have things go awry and then all that work is garbage.  This is the best thing ever!  I tip my hat to you Homeschool Planet!

My second favorite function is the planning out your school year tool.  You select the days you school or don't, the time you have off, start and stop dates, etc.  This is a WONDERFUL function as you begin to shape your days...I know this seems small, but I seriously LOVED IT!

Ok, so pros or what I liked about Homeschool Planet:

You can give assignments to more than one child at a time if the info is the same with just a simple click...EASY!
You get email updates for your calendar and assignments, etc
You can track attendance and create a transcript
The dashboard is WONDERFUL...you see your calendar, family members (with pictures if you like), you can add widgets, (like a shopping list, memory verse, weather, daily quote) which customizes what you see each time you log in. Oh and you can CHANGE the background theme...this became VERY IMPORTANT as I began to work with Homeschool Planet.
It is pretty intuitive and easy to learn and there are several tutorials available to help you begin.  This is great for those of us (ME) who aren't as tech-y as others!
The Customer Service was AMAZING!  This is such an important thing for me.


And Cons or what did not work for us...

I accidentally assigned the same lesson everyday through the end of our school year.Rather than an automatically filled in date being in the box when you are adding a class, I would love to see that be blank.  Oh and it assigns it to the END OF YOUR SCHOOL YEAR...Delete and begin again.  This was a SMALL irritation, not a HUGE problem.

The layout when you have all the classes is a bit much for me to take in among the regular calendar items...looks cluttered and hard to see among the many entries.  There are both planner and calendar views, but I did not see much difference between the two.  You can color code which helps but I think I would like to see a greater difference between the two views.

I did not like that I had to be a member of the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op to use the planner.  I got several emails over the review period that were not something I was interested in.

Price- The price puts this out of range in my home.  It is $65 a year or $6.95 a month.  My regular planner is less than half that price. 

It was hard to get to the computer to get to the lesson plan...I personally function better with a paper planner.  This was the kicker for me EVEN with the automatic rescheduler.  I just love my pen and paper.  Mobile access in regard to my planner means I can pick it up and throw it into my bag.


See what my friends at Home and School Mosaics had to say here.  

Still not sure, try it free for 30 days here.  They will not ask you for credit card information, so you do not have to worry about any charges unless you sign up.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

High Maintenance Lashes for this Low Maintenance Girl

Ok...so...I REALLY LOVE make up...a lot...I have gotten into a habit lately of not wearing it daily, but really...this barn needs painting!  Anyway, while this barn needs painting, life is crazy busy and I just haven't made the time for this to be a priority...BUT I cannot LIVE without mascara.  I have been on a quest for just the right thing...you know...long, thick (but not spider leggish), make your eyes pop.  Well, nothing ever completely filled the bill...I cannot tell you how many trips out to grab another tube, hoping for a miracle serum of just rightness...


Well...I think I have finally found it!  Moodstruck 3D Fiberlash.  This is the BEST MASCARA EVER!
So I do have to say though...the price tag almost made me choke...I think the most I have ever paid previously was about $15...this is $29...there, I said it...now, before you check out...let me remind you...this is the BEST MASCARA EVER and I WILL be buying it again.  It is MUCH cheaper than those extensions (which are about $100-125 and last UP TO 2 months...this is looking better and better!) and MUCH LESS of a hassle than false eyelashes!

I will show you why in just a second, but first...check it out here and get more info about Younique here.  I know you can read about this everywhere, but these are NOT false lashes, but natural fibers made from green tea leaves.  They are hypoallergenic, safe for contact lens wearers and water resistant.  The product washes off with soap or eye makeup remover.  I would personally recommend an oil free eye makeup remover...but that is just me.  Also, the product recommends beginning with a base coat of regular mascara first, but I have heard mixed things...My Mother in Law said, "Oh, nobody does that.", The website says that you get the best application with a base coat of mascara.  The presenter I worked with, Raquel, says it is optional.  Since I currently have a REALLY BAD tube of mascara, I usually chose  NOT to use a base coat.

Now, I say this is a mascara, but it is really a three step system, using two products.  You apply the Transplanting Gel, then a layer of the Natural Fibers, then another layer of the Transplanting Gel.  Through trial and error, and by asking Raquel questions, I learned that it is a good idea to work one eye at a time, so the gel doesn't dry before applying the fibers.  Be generous with the Transplanting Gel...this helps the fibers stay in place.  I noticed in the beginning that when I was tired, my eyes would get every itchy...after talking with Raquel about this, I tried appling more of the gel and that helped tremendously.  No more issues for me!  One reviewer suggested combing through your lashes with a comb in between steps so that you don't get your lashes all clumped up...I am going to try this IF I can find one in my makeup box...remember, I am a LOW MAINTENANCE GIRL!

So, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then this must be worth three thousand...seeing really IS believing...



Raquel mentioned that your Moodstruck 3D Fiberlash set should last about 3 months and I completely agree with that...once mascara has been opened, it is not good forever, even if you do not use it everyday.  Younique has a variety of other products that are natural based and they do not test on animals. 


You can try Moodstruck 3D Fiberlash for yourself to see if you love it as much as I do...one reviewer said that they were going to set aside $10 a month to ease the purchase into their budget...I love that idea and will probably do it myself.
Please check out what others had to say about Moodstruck 3D Fiberlash here


Friday, October 31, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo: In His Image

Wizzy Gizmo: In His Image
Old Testament Bible Series
Ages: none specified...many ages can benefit from this resource, but I would suggest 3-12
Price: $12.99


Wizzy GIZ-WHAT?!?!  What can possibly come out of something called WIZZY GIZMO?  Can it be legitimate?  "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"  As a Member of the Home and School Mosaics review team, we were generously given a product of our choice and then were able to download some of the others if we chose to do so.  I chose The Wizzy Gizmo Old Testament Bible Series Book Two: In His Image to review because we were just about to start our Worldview series on a similar topic.  I had NO IDEA what was coming!

Before we move on, let me share with you a little more about Wizzy Gizmo...if you are like me, you are probably just scratching your head, perhaps a bit perplexed...from their website:
We are parents, pastors, worship leaders, Sunday School teachers and Homeschoolers who are committed to equipping our children for life, by planting them firmly in God's Word; and we want to help you do the same.  Why? Because we believe that, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

Learn more about Wizzy Gizmo and the team that is creating these materials.  These links were informative and fun to read.


Some of these points are probably covered in the above mentioned links, but here are some of the things we LOVE about Wizzy Gizmo: In His Image

The story is wholesome.  There is nothing inappropriate to censor out while reading.  It is funny too...which I love...you will need to see Qwacky's nose blasting incident in Chapter 2 for this.  I just love the sweet feel of this book.

The illustrations are colorful and fun, but are not overwhelming.  The characters are also fun!  Qwacky and Pepe, Wizzy Gizmo, the children...The many different personalities were blended together well.  This would be a great book to use as Bedtime Bible Stories.  Read a chapter each night and leave your children wanting to know each night what happened next and eager to come back the next evening to find out.

Vocabulary words are in bold type within the text of the book and then there is a glossary in the back.  Words like Cacophony, askance and inerrant are sprinkled in the text...which also makes me think...this book does not dumb down the Word to a child's level, but teaches them and allows them to reach for greater understanding...I LOVE THAT!

As you read along, doctrinal issues like Trinity, ex nihilo, and inerrant are brought up within context and explained.  These do not feel forced to meet a certain criteria, but has a "when you walk along the way" (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) feel to them.  This is how I would explain these things to my children as they come up.  Besides being introduced in a natural manner, your children will learn theological truths like: God created everything out of nothing, the Bible is without error and God sustains all things.

There are comprehension questions after the story is done.  This is a valuable resource and reinforces what the Bible says and teaches, not what the story was about.

In the book I received, you get to see many instances of what it means to be made in God's Image while stepping through Genesis chapter 2.  The story leaves you wanting more...so I look forward to seeing many more Wizzy Gizmo books coming down the line. I HIGHLY recommend Wizzy Gizmo!

 I got the chance to review the other items too and one product I would like to share with you is the Fast Track Bible Pack New Testament Card set.  This is a set of 5 x 9 cards that are really a survey of the Bible books.  Right now, only the New Testament cards are available, but the Old Testament cards are in the works.  On each card, you have a Bible book summary, key chapters and verses, theme and doctrines covered.  This is such a FANTASTIC tool in an easy to understand/teach manner.  When I saw a sample, I had to have these.  They are sturdy, colorful and very helpful.  I cannot say enough about these.  At $14.99 for the set, they are an affordable Bible Study Tool.  You can find ways to use these cards for different ages here as well as see an example of the card for yourself.

One last thing to share that I am excited about, Wizzy Gizmo is continuing to produce tools to help us in our Christian parenting.  At some point, these will be a product that you will be able to purchase, but they are works in progress.  52 Bible Verses Every Kid Should Know caught my attention when I was poking around the website.  These are fun devotions that focus on a verse and then give some simple instruction so that it can be applied.  There is a worksheet available to print.  Let me tell you, I will be spending more time in here in days to come.  I love that the verses seem to have themes: Thanksgiving, Confession, Christmas...I look forward to seeing this become finalized.  Justin, from Wizzy Gizmo, says that these will be a baseball card size.   Wizzy Gizmo also has a Weekly Devotional in the works that looks like it will focus on the names and attributes of God.  It is not quite ready yet, but you can subscribe to their newsletter to find out when it will be ready.  Justin said these will be similar in style to the Fast Track Bible Pack cards.   It looks like Wizzy Gizmo is really helping families by providing great Training Resources for Kids to support us as we teach them to walk in the way they should go.
Doesn't that look neat?  Sign up to receive Wizzy Gizmo's newsletter for more information about these cards.

And...for a GIVEAWAY...Receive one copy of either the Fast Track Bible Pack New Testament Cards OR the Audio Drama by leaving a comment about why you think this would be a great resource in your home.  This giveaway will end on November 7, 2014!

See what my Friends at Home and School Mosaics have to say about Wizzy Gizmo

Anybody want some salad dressing ice cream?

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Taco Soup

Today, I am going to share my adaptation of Lisa Taylor's Taco Soup recipe...Her Grande Cooking technique was used by my homeschool support group every so often as we would gather and prep meals for our families.  It was a fun time of fellowship and many hands making light work.  What I love most about this particular recipe is that it is SO EASY to throw together and get into the freezer.  You cook the meat and pretty much open cans and dump it in a bag.  Some may shudder, but let me tell you...I NEED meals like this to keep my sanity...and it is MANY steps away from the Golden Arches!

Here are the measurements for one meal's worth...as adapted by me for my family's preferences.

1.5 lbs ground beef, cooked with onion and garlic.
3 cups tomato puree- we do not care for tomato chunks in our soup
1 c tomato sauce
1 15 oz can refried beans- slightly thickens the soup and we LOVE refried beans
2 cups salsa- we have a produce stand that sells a pico style salsa that is DELCIOUS...but Costco's Organic salsa is also very tasty...be careful though, sometimes it has a bite.
1 can pinto beans
1 can chili beans- not chili
1 can kidney beans
3 c water
1 pkg. taco seasoning

After the beef is cooked, dump everything in the bag.  I use empty #10 cans to set my bags in to help with finishing this recipe.  That is one of the best things I learned from our freezer meal sessions.  Sometimes I stir everything up in a LARGE pot first to break up the refried beans and just measure into the bags, but most of the time I just dump it into the bags. I HIGHLY recommend using 2 gallon bags for this OR making a double batch and dividing it between three bags.
You can use Rotel or diced green chiles in this if you like, we prefer it without.

To cook: Thaw and pour contents of the bag into the crock pot...cook on low 6 ish hours or heat in a pan until hot.  Serve with cilantro, sour cream, cheese and corn chips.



Enjoy!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Love Letters from God

Love Letters from God
Written by Glenys Nellist
Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp
Zondervan Publishing
Ages 4-8
Price: $16.99

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.
From the website: Love Letters from God, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp, is a whimsical collection of eighteen iconic Bible stories that include little love letters from God written especially for the reader.


Love Letters from God is a Bible Story book, with beautiful illustrations for children ages 4-8.  Retelling some of our favorite Bible Stories, one thing that makes this book unique is a lift the flap letter that you can personalize for your child (Or children) that gives an application that is at the child's level.  Children love to get letters, and it is fun to lift the flap and read the letter at the end of the story.  My son was a bit old for this book, as he is reading the Bible on his own...but he still enjoyed looking through the pages and lifting the flaps.
I think this book would be best used to read one story/letter per session, whether you do it daily, weekly or as you think of it.  It is too much to take in all at once and it would be sad to rush through it just to get to the end.  There is a lot to see in the illustrations and much to talk about in the story and letter.  There are some good lessons in here...like, for Joseph: God will never leave you...or David and Goliath:Do not be afraid of the giant things in your life.

One thing that I did not care for were the little extras the author added in to fill in details or make the story more interesting to read.   For instance, In the first story, the author refers to the day as one magical morning...well, that sounds pretty harmless, but are we unintentionally taking away from the majesty and power of our God by saying that?  Was it magic or did God speak everything into existence.   In The Lions Who Lost Their Lunch, the author seems to give the lions a voice in this retelling of the story.  They knew Daniel was coming, they were looking forward to eating him, he smelled good, the lions almost laughed out loud...It seems to just make the word a bit ridiculous.  In the Very Smelly Belly, Jonah prays while holding his nose and when he gets vomited out onto dry land, it says he did "several flying somersaults".   I could go on, and these are little things, but  I do not think we need to dumb down the Word of God and God's Word does not need embellished. You might want to look through this book and see if those things bother you or not before you purchase it.