Tuesday, August 22

Everyday Homemaking Review

One of the required merit badges for Boy Scouts is the cooking badge…or should I say the ‘dreaded’ cooking badge.  It’s dreaded because it’s so long, and so in-depth…the boys have to do a variety of cooking projects and learn a ton about nutrition, and they’re just really not into it.  But Everyday Homemaking just let us check out their new Everyday Cooking book, and in the span of two months, we’ve got this badge nailed! 

The book is available in both e-book and physical format.  We received an e-book, so we printed it out double-sided (took 100 pages) and then used a combing machine to turn it into a spiral-bound book.  I also laminated the front and back pages (prior to combing) so that if it were to get wet or dripped on, those could be wiped clean easily.

Let’s peek inside the book!

Table of Contents:
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Time Saving Tips 
  • Breakfast Ideas
  • Appetizers and Dressings
  • Bread and Grains
  • Main Dishes & Soups & Sides
  • Desserts and Snacks
  • Homemade Vanilla Extract
  • Low-Carb and Gluten-Free Pantry Helpers
  • Basic Measurements and Helps
  • Meal Planning and Shopping Hints 
  • Sample Menus & Menu Planning Masters
  • Basic Cooking Skills Checklist
  • Basic Kitchen Accessories
  • Kitchen Equipment
  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • Pressure Cooker Tips and Favorites
  • Index of Recipes
  • Index of Practical Tips

I had my scout pick out three recipes for us to try initially – figuring that if they were his idea, he would be more into it, and it worked out nicely.  He choose Red Beans & Rice, Pancakes (he also learned scrambled eggs with this one), and Chicken Quesadillas.  His breakfast-for-dinner dish came out beautifully (and yes, those are chocolate chips in those delicious pancakes!), with no leftovers to be found.  With Chicken Quesadillas, he learned about using food scraps (we’d had chicken the night before) to create new dishes – they were also a hit.  Finally, we had the Red Beans & Rice.  I’m not sure if it’s because this was a more difficult dish for him, or if it’s because we’re kind of picky about our Cajun cookin’, but this was the least favorite of the three dishes he created.

Some of the things that I liked about this book, other than just its simple recipes, include:
  • Practical time and money-saving tips
  • Information on different cooking methods (including crockpot and pressure cooking)
  • How to make base ingredients (such as biscuit mix) from scratch
  • Meal planning and shopping tips
  • Low-Carb and Gluten-Free options (while we don’t need this, it’s a big deal for many families)
  • A home economics checklist (this book could be used as a high school semester elective course)
  • Reproducible forms and checklists
  • Two separate indices (makes it easier to find what you’re seeking)

One of the things that I didn’t like about this book was the lack of photos.  I should say that my son didn’t like it – he is a visual person and responds to graphs, tables, and illustrations.  There were pictures of the bread baking steps (which are very helpful), but not of the various recipes.  When he was trying to decide which recipes to make, I think he might have been more adventurous if he’d had an idea of what the final product looked like.  (The picture is a note from one of the pages of the book.)

As a special offer, the author is offering 10% off The Everyday Family Chore System and/or Everyday Cooking (print or e-book) through Labor Day! The code is TOS10books  You can apply it to as many books as you'd like, but you have to have the cart filled first.  Expires Sept 5.

See what others are saying about Everyday Homemaking at the Homeschool Review Crew!

Crew DisclaimerEveryday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}

Thursday, August 17

Fun, Fun, Fun (Beach Boys)

Five Days of Getting Your Homeschool Year Off on the Right Foot

A big part of our school year is the field trips.  Generally, we will study a topic ahead of time and then take the field trip - this helps them to fully understand the hands-on experiences.  The kids have been to nearly every state, and experienced a wide range of of historical, scientific, and cultural activities that they wouldn't have been able to do solely in our home state.  

Not every family is able to road school, but that doesn't mean that field trips shouldn't be a part of your school.  If you are interested in starting to road school, or even vacation-school, here's a post to get you started on that journey!

Here are some FREE, local field trip options:
Find your local field trip options through this app from Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Finally, though these aren't free, educational subscription boxes are a great way to bring the field trip into your home.  Here are some of our favorites!

Grow Up So Fast (Chantal Kreviazuk)

Five Days of Getting Your Homeschool Year Off on the Right Foot

Homeschooling is a big job!  If you're trying to be mom, wife, housekeeper, chauffeur, and teacher...you're going to tucker out quickly.

One way to keep your homeschool running smoothly is to assign age-appropriate chores.  Responsibility charts are also a good way to teach kids to keep up with their school assignments.

Here are the things we use...

School Responsibility Charts
We've been using these for several years now, but periodically update them to reflect changes in interest and age level.  All of our charts are available FREE at our Teachers Pay Teachers store.  This year's change is a Star Wars-themed chart that separates the schoolwork from the electives - hence showing where their priorities ought to lie.  When they've completed the assigned lesson, they get to mark in each Imperial symbol.

Chore Responsibility Charts / Allowance
I can remember, as a kid, getting to stick little stars next to my chores each evening after completing them.  It was so gratifying to see those little rows of stars going all the way across!  While we don't use that kind of chart, we do use a base allowance system, with additional opportunities for earnings.

See - I figure that school is their job.  And just like we'd expect to be paid for doing a good job, I want them to learn that a job well done gets earnings, while a job that is not done well does not get earnings.  (Whether that still holds true in today's society is a different argument.)  They have a base set of chores, which earns them a base weekly allowance.  Their pay can be docked, if chores aren't completed properly.  Allowance is paid in Mom Bucks.

In addition, just like we could choose to pick up a side job, they have the opportunity to help out around the house for extra money - particularly when trying to earn one of those big Lego sets.  What they haven't figured out yet (so don't tell them!) is that by volunteering to do something, they get a little extra.  I want them to learn to look around and notice what needs to be done...

That said, our new-teenager is going to be learning all sorts of chores this year, such as mowing the yard.  He's terribly thrilled (dripping with enthusiasm...) about getting to do outside chores, but I suspect that, given his introverted nature, he'll come to appreciate the alone-time it affords him.

Wednesday, August 16

Straighten Up & Fly Right (Nat King Cole)

Five Days of Getting Your Homeschool Year Off on the Right Foot
The number one thing you can do to get your year off on the right foot is to GET ORGANIZED!  This includes having everything printed and ready to go (if you're not using pre-printed curriculum).

Through the years, we've tried various forms of organization, but these are the things that work the best for us, in our home.  We do not have a separate school room, but choose to learn at the dining room table.  When necessitated, one of the boys will take his reading to another room while I work with the other at the table.

A Place for Books
This does not include the three bookshelves we have around the house (one for read-alouds, one for supplemental materials, and one for fun books).  This shelf is just for curriculum that is currently in use.  We took the shelf part of our dining room storage cabinet and turned it into daily curriculum storage.  

Each boy has his own section of the shelf, and curriculum that is being used by both goes in the center.  Also, within the row of books are index card boxes that hold game pieces and flash cards.  As we often reuse the three-ring binders, they get new stickers each year showing what materials are inside.  These are simply sticky envelope labels that we've written on.

A Place for The Little Stuff
Pencils, pens, rulers, scissors, glue, tape, crayons, colored pencils, erasers.....it's all itty bitty and easy to get misplaced.  I found this Pampered Chef tool-turnabout for a dollar last year at a garage sale, and it has been entirely worth what it cost!  The boys know where to find writing utensils, and where to put them back at the end of the day, and it's easy for me to just take out the ones that don't work and refill as needed.  No more finding pens and pencils all over the house.  A simple desk organizer would work well, too.

A Place for Manipulatives & More
We traded a few years ago for this fantastic wooden bookshelf, and it has been a lifesaver in the organization department.  On the left, we have math manipulatives, larger math manipulatives, and Boy Scout materials.  On the right, we have mom's office supplies, audiobooks & paper supplies, and storage for completed schoolwork.  Everything in one easy-to-access place!

Desktop Access
Call me what you will, but I don't believe in giving the kids their own technological devices.  In an age where kindergartners have cell phones and babies play on tablets...well, I just think it's all gotten a bit out of hand.  We have one desktop computer.  It's in the dining room and open for anyone to see what's on the screen.  Everyone has to share the same computer.  I know...how very 1990 of me.  All of our computer files, games, materials, etc are at this desk - making it easy to find something, because it's going to be somewhere right there.

Now - my question to my readers is - how do you organize your files within your computer?  Pictures, curricula, office files, etc....they all go to the same hard drive, and it can be very difficult to organize!  Send us your best tips (by Sept 1st), and you will be entered to win our new Spanish Daily Calendar!

Tuesday, August 15

Get Ready (Temptations)

Five Days of Getting Your Homeschool Year Off on the Right Foot

After making our curriculum choices for the year (see what made the 2017-2018 cut!), the next thing I want to do is make sure that everything is printed out and ready to go.  I don’t want to be foundering around on Monday morning trying to find materials, only to find that they haven’t been printed yet!

We’ve tried printing everything at home and sending it to the local office supply store – but each of these options comes with its pitfalls.  In the end, we usually go with taking it to the office supply store.  

Why would we pay someone to do the printing?  We usually make that decision for speed and convenience.  However, the costs tend to fall on the astronomical end of the scale, and that takes up a huge chunk of our homeschool budget.

Read on for a fantastic discount!

A New Option for Printing
The Homeschool Printing Company charges considerably less than any other place we’ve used in the past; as much as 85% less than your local printing shop costs!  We even found that their prices were less than it would cost us to print things on our home printer, and far more convenient and quick.
Read on below for an awesome discount!

The Homeschool Printing Company is a small business owned and run by a family who homeschooled their daughter from 5th grade through the end of high school.  They remember what it’s like to be a homeschool family, and they’re understanding of homeschool families’ needs.

Our Experience
The Homeschool Printing Company officially opened for business on June 1st 2017, and I learned about them a few weeks later.  Though we’d already done the bulk of our printing for the upcoming year, I still had several hundred pages left to print, and the prices looked SO much better than our usual place, so we gave them a shot. 

I was so impressed with the printing quality, speed with which I received my copies, the packaging, and even how easy it was to give them the info of what I wanted printed!   All I had to do was email the files and tell them how I wanted it printed : whether to do double-sided or not, black & white or color copies, three-hole punched, or bound together.

One thing I really appreciated about the company was that I could send several small files.  At our office supply store, I had to combine every teeny tiny file into one large 2000+ page file, or the prices were even more outrageous.  With the Homeschool Printing Company, it doesn’t matter whether you have 2000 pages of itty bitty files, or one 2000 page file, the price is going to be the same.  And it’s going to be reasonable.

Printing Costs
Here’s what they charge for printing on 20-lb., 92-brightness,
8.5″ x 11″ letter-size white copy paper (standard):
  • 1-sided color copies = 8 cents
  • 2-sided color copies = 14 cents
  • 1-sided B&W copies = 3 cents
  • 2-sided B&W copies = 5 cents

Available for an additional charge:
  • 20-lb., 3-hole drilled paper = Add 1 cent/sheet
  • 22-lb., 94-brightness paper = Add 1 cent/sheet
  • 24-lb., 98-brightness paper = Add 2 cents/sheet
  • 28-lb., 100-brightness paper = Add 3 cents/sheet

How does this compare?
To print a 146-page PDF in color, double-sided, on 24-lb. paper, they only charge $10.95. Compare that to what any other local copy shop – or even any online printer – charges. At our local office supply store, the same file costs $21.33 to print.

Shipping is additional, of course. They use FedEx Express 3-day service. They don’t add on any “handling charges” to the shipping costs. You only pay the actual cost of FedEx shipping.  Depending on how far you live from Minneapolis, here’s what shipping charges would be:
  • Up to 500 sheets = $8.50 to $10.75
  • 501 to 1,000 sheets = $11.00 to $13.50
  • 1,001 to 1,500 sheets = $17.00 to $18.75

The files arrived shrink-wrapped, with cardboard on the top and bottom to prevent getting wrinkled or bent.  Each file was separated by a colored sheet so that it was easy to see where one ended and the other began.  (We like to use those sheets as separators in our three-ring binders…recycling!)

Try them out Risk-Free!
The company is so certain that they can provide you with excellent printing. . . at a lower cost than you’ll find anywhere else. . . that they’ll make an offer you’ll find hard to resist.
  1. Send an e-mail to TheHomeschoolPrintingCompany@gmail.com.  (Include my name : Yvie @ Gypsy Road to get 10% off!)
  2. Attach some PDF files that you’d like printed.  (They don’t even need to be homeschool-related. It could be an e-book on parenting, gardening, or anything!  The files just need to be PDFs that you want to be printed on letter-sized white paper.)  If they’re too big to attach to an e-mail, use Dropbox, Drive, or another cloud-based service, and send them the link to the folder where they are.
  3. Let them know if you want the files printed single- or double-sided, B&W or color, and if you want any paper upgrades (three-hole punch, binding, etc).
  4. They’ll get back to you as soon as possible (usually same-day) and let you know what the total cost would be to print and ship your order.  (Make sure to include your physical address so they can calculate the shipping charges.)
  5. Once you hear back from them, you get to decide whether to go ahead and print up your PDFs.  There’s no obligation.  You’re free to say ‘no,’ without any issues.
  6. If you do give the “go-ahead”, they’ll print up your order as soon as possible and ship it out by FedEx.  In the package, they’ll include an invoice that you can pay (by check or PayPal), only if you’re 100% satisfied!
  7. If something isn’t right when you get your package, don’t pay the invoice.  Seriously!  E-mail them instead.  Let them know what’s up, and they’ll either fix it or cancel the invoice.
  8. If you have any questions, send an e-mail to TheHomeschoolPrintingCompany@gmail.com.  They’ll respond promptly.

Get a 10% Discount!
If you do decide to take them up on this offer, please let them know who put you in touch with them (Yvie @ Gypsy Road).  If you do that, you’ll get a 10% discount on your first order!  But they still won’t ask you to pay for it until after you receive your printing and are 100% satisfied.

(Disclosure: I will receive a small credit for my own printing if you use my name - Yvie @ Gypsy Road - as the one who referred you.)

2,000 pages, printed and hole-punched  $60.00

Expedited shipping  $13.50

Being totally prepared for the entire school year with just a few mouse clicks  

(For comparison :  Office supply prices were :  $211.24 w/ free shipping for the same order)

Monday, August 14

Beautiful (Jenny Phillips)

Five Days of Getting Your Homeschool Year Off on the Right Foot
One of the biggest challenges to your homeschool year is having the right curriculum.  Each family is different; each curriculum is different; and there's no 'right' curriculum - only the one that is right for your family.  

For a few years, we used A World of Adventure, and we loved it!  Sadly, though, the author quit writing it halfway through the series.  Then, we spent a year using Memoria Press.  This is a fantastic curriculum and will prepare children for rigorous higher learning; however, it was just too much for us, and the kids were drowning.  I set off on a mission to find something similar to AWOA, where the subjects were streamlined.  

Finally, after much searching, I stumbled upon The Good & The Beautiful when my friend, Jane, posted this video on her blog.

This video is about the History curriculum, but I liked it so much that I began to dig into their other products.  What we discovered was a streamlined curriculum that really fit our needs!  As an even sweeter bonus, it is SO affordable, I'm even going to let the kids write in the books and not give it a second thought - because they're that affordable!  The older one can write in it, and I can buy a new one as the younger one advances.  (And 'affordable' isn't a word I often use beside 'curriculum'...)

So what does our year bring?

Fourth / Fifth Grade

Seventh Grade

**Block scheduling for history and science...alternating days...allows for more in-depth lessons.

We've allowed the boys to pick their own electives, based on their own interests, this year and will be doing them a few times weekly.  However, as their responsibility charts indicate, core school work must be completed before they begin on any elective classes.  The only exception here is P.E., which will be completed daily....since all children need to get out and about and run around!

A little more about The Good & The Beautiful....  
(No, I am not affiliated with them - just love them!)

The language arts programs cover several different subjects at once - including character, literature, geography, spelling, writing, reading, art appreciation, and grammar.  This kind of streamlining is not only good for the soul, but it's good for taking up less space in the car!  (Which, you know, is important when you're living out of the car while travelling from one job to the next.)  Levels 1-5 are available as free downloads, so that you can check it out and see if it's right for you, but I promise that it's a lot cheaper to buy their print version!  This is hands-down the most affordable curriculum we've ever seen.
See Levels 3 & 5 above....these are Levels 4 & 7.

In the classical style, this is a four-year program that wraps around to begin again after completion.  Each year comes with four different sets of printable pages, spanning kindergarten to twelfth grade, with age-appropriate work.  There are timelines, audio adventures, craft projects, and Charlotte Mason-style read-alouds.  

One of the things that makes this different from a traditional classical curriculum is that each of the four historical eras (Ancient, Middle Ages, Early Modern, Modern) is covered during each year.  Each year, however, a different aspect of that era is covered.  (ie, for Ancient : Year 1 = Egypt, Year 2 = Greece)  

The curriculum was created to be used together by the family, and this is the only thing that all of our students will be doing together this year.  Years 3 and 4 have not been completed, but are currently in the works - you can see the progress here.

Year 1 & Year 2

When is handwriting not just handwriting?  When it pulls double duty by reinforcing other subjects!!  The handwriting courses include artwork, poetry, Bible verses, and quotes that support character qualities. The courses also help provide practice with drawing skills.
They also offer Science and Typing programs, but we have not used them, so I cannot speak on them.

Art Instruction is included within each of the courses...