This Month's Featured Resources...

Ten Days of RoadschoolingTeaching Kids About HerbsLego St. Patricks Day Mardi Gras

Sunday, January 29

Slow Cook Superbowl

Super-Yummy Superbowl!
Nacho Cheese Dip
Don't just grab the can from the store, impress your friends with this easy-to-make homemade dip!

  • 1/2 c beer
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/2 c salsa
  • 1 stick Velveta, cubed
  • 1/4 c fresh cilantro
  1. In a pan, mix beer, cumin, oregano, and garlic.  Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer 2 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix beans, salsa, cheese, and beer mixture.  
  3. Place into crockpot, cover and cook on low 3-4 hours (or high 1-2 hours).  When it bubbles, serve it with fresh sprinkles of cilantro!   
  4. Goes wonderfully with our homemade pretzels....


Barbecue Pork Sandwiches
As a Carolina girl, I can tell you that it doesn't get any better than this!

  • 1 c catsup
  • 1 c chili sauce
  • 1/4 c dijon mustard
  • 5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 lb boneless pork roast
  • 8 buns
  1. In a pan, mix catsup, chili, mustard, vinegar, worcestershire, and garlic.  Bring to boil, reduce and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Marinate pork with mixture in a glass bowl - overnight.
  3. Place into crockpot and add 3/4 c water.  Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours (or high 4-6 hours).
  4. Shred cooked roast into pieces, place on bun and add barbecue sauce as desired.


Hearty Vegetarian Chili
....because we all have friends who eschew meat, but still love the game!

  • 1 diced butternut squash (peeled)
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 38 oz black beans (drained)
  • 4 oz green chiles (do not drain)
  • 1 c vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sour cream and cilantro, to taste
  1. Mix everything except cilantro in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours (or high 3-4 hours).
  2. Serve with sour cream and cilantro, as desired.

Saturday, January 28

The Book Shack - Filling a Homeschool Need

Once upon a time, there was a magic place called The Book Samaritan.  For nearly seventeen years, the fairy godmothers provided families in need with books, curriculum, and supplies so that they could homeschool their children, even if funding was tight.

As time passed, the kingdom became a darker place.  Trolls hid beneath the rocks and tried to disguise themselves as villagers in need.  The fairy godmothers began to lose steam.  They had families, who also needed their help, at home.  Their good idea had begun to take over their lives, and they were tired.

They decided to close the castle doors, and draw up the moat, forever.

BUT!  Some villagers from a nearby village strongly believed in the fairy godmothers, and their mission, and they agreed to use the magic wand to continue spreading love and help across all the land.  The called it The Book Shack.

However, as these new godmothers belonged to a different village, the princess (who had helped the fairy godmothers along the way) would not be sending knights to aid with the mission in the new village.  And so, the new godmothers began to scour the land for knights and princesses....
It's a true tale.  The Book Shack is a non-profit group, an extension of the Book Samaritan which was run out of Pawhuska, OK for many years.  They operate in the same vein, taking in donated curriculum and books, and then shipping it out to homeschooling families who have felt the financial crunch and cannot afford supplies.

As it comes upon that time of year for used curriculum sales, keep in mind that you can donate any unsold items to the Book Shack, and you will be helping other families in need.

It might seem strange, giving away huge boxes full of supplies, curriculum, books, manipulatives, and other homeschooling items to people that you don't know, but you are helping another family to have that freedom of schooling choice.  Also, as an added bonus, both your donation and your shipping are tax-deductible.

How to help:

  • Book donations: We accept any used books, workbooks, flash cards, kits, DVDs, CD-ROMS, and school supplies. They will be catalogued for immediate redistribution.
  • Cash donations: Be assured that 100% of all contributions will be used to purchase much-needed curriculum and cover renter's insurance for the distribution center.
  • Books, curriculum, cash contributions and postage are all tax deductible gifts.
  • Please pray for our continued efforts to reach out to homeschooling families through this ministry.
Please forward curriculum donations to:

The Book Shack
PO Box 235
Prague, OK  74864
Please forward cash donations to :


NOTE: Shipping via "Media Mail" is the most inexpensive rate available. Just ask the clerk for the "Media Mail" rate when shipping books, curriculum, or other materials.

If you’re in need of materials, you can send a letter to this organization, along with your children’s grade levels, and they’ll do their best to help you out. Find out more about requesting materials.

You’re probably asking, “But what’s the catch?” It’s simple really. When you’re finished with the materials, they don’t want you selling them. They simply request that you send them back so they can be used by other homeschooling families in need.

Check it out. The Book Samaritan is a great organization that has already helped many homeschooling families, and The Book Shack will hopefully help many more in the future.

Groupon Coupons

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like to save money, especially in our currently-fragile economy.  But we also don’t want to give up the things that we love to do – because that’s what makes life worth living!

Shopping the bulk bins, making things at home, using a discount…all of these are good ways to save money.  And now there is a new way to help you save, too.  It’s called Groupon Coupons, and it’s a place you’ll want to check out before planning your next vacation, or even your basic weekly shopping trip!

You may be familiar with how Groupon itself works, but Groupon Coupons doesn’t just offer savings on vacations, events, and experiences.  In addition to those, they offer savings on restaurants and retailers.  Searching for coupons is easy – you can save money with the simple push of a button!  Also, it’s free – there are no membership or transaction fees.

Being able to search for coupons near your location allows you to save time sifting through hundreds of unusable coupons – they’ll be already tailored to where you live!  Some of them are even coupons that you’ll not find anywhere else – they are exclusive to Groupon Coupons.  There are many many different types of offers, and you might find some unexpected deals, such as searches from Ancestry.

Here are some of the places located near Oklahoma City where you can get a great deal with Groupon Coupons:
  • Home Depot
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Walmart
  • Best Buy
  • Kohl’s

They also have online coupons available for retailers such as these :
  • Travelocity
  • Shutterfly
  • Harry & David
  • Amazon 

If you’re looking for another way to save money, try doing a search for the stores and restaurants you already visit.  If you’re already going to be spending money on those things, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to save some on that visit?

Tuesday, January 24

Slow Cook January

January : Winter Warm Up
Squash Enchilada Casserole

  • 2 c chopped butternut squash (peeled)
  • 16 oz hominy (drained)
  • 16 oz black beans (drained)
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 large chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 c salsa
  • 4 oz diced green chiles
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 10 oz enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz pkg cornbread mix
  • 1 c shredded cheese
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • sour cream & cilantro, to taste


  1. Combine squash, hominy, beans, onion, pepper, chiles, salsa, garlic, and salt.  Pour enchilada sauce on top.
  2. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours (or high 4-5 hours).
  3. In a bowl, mix together cornbread mix, 1/2 c cheese, milk, and egg.  Spoon batter on top of veggies in crockpot.  Cover and cook on high for 50 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle remaining cheese over mixture.  Serve with sour cream and cilantro, if desired.


Winter Soup  (utilizes in-season veggies and the Scarborough Fair herbs)

  • 2 diced parsnips (peeled)
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 large carrots (chopped)
  • 1 diced turnip (peeled)
  • 1 diced potato
  • 2 c water
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 30 oz northern beans (drained)
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley


  1. Mix everything except the parsley together in the pot.  Cover and cook on low 10-11 hours (or high 4-5 hours).
  2. Stir in parsley before serving.


Spicy Apple Cider

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 8 c apple cider
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 sliced orange


  1. Place cinnamon, cloves, all spice in cheesecloth and tie with twine.  
  2. Put cider, brown sugar, orange, and spices into crockpot.  Cook on low 2-5 hours.  Discard spice bag.

Sunday, January 22

History & Geography....Virtual Curriculum Fair 2017

This week in the Virtual Curriculum Fair, we’ll introduce you to our favorite history and geography resources.  

You guys know us...we are all about some history here at Gypsy Road, so paring it down is going to be difficult to do!  

In addition to our regular curricula (the A World of Adventure series), we supplement all over the place.  Audiobooks, read alouds, subscription boxes, costumes and dramatizations....it's all about having fun!

Audiobooks
  • Heirloom Audio Productions produces wonderful, professional audio dramas that bring history to life for the entire family. As a travelling family, we enjoy listening to audiobooks regularly, and the first time we heard one of their audiobooks, we were just BLOWN AWAY!  If you've never heard one, you should definitely learn more here.
  • When the kids were a bit younger, we listened to many Jim Weiss audiobooks while cruising the interstate!  Great Hall Productions has an entire line based on classic books.  Many are available at your local library.
Books & Read-Alouds
  • The Magic Tree House series has a book for almost any topic you dream up, and Mary Pope Osborne is still writing!  Each of the books has an accompanying research guide, and there are free teacher guides and art activities are online.
  • "We Were There books are easy to read and provide exciting, entertaining stories, based upon true historic events. Though written simply enough for young readers, they make interesting reading for boys and girls well into their teens." (description from Wikipedia)  I read these aloud to the kids, and they adore them!  There is a WWT book for almost every facet of American history up to the 1960's.
Subscription Boxes & Games
  • Both Carmen Sandiego and Little Passports help to reinforce world geography lessons.  Carmen Sandiego is the detective who fights crime around the world in thirty-minute segments.  
  • Little Passports covers either US or World geography (depending on your package), and includes activities, stickers, a toy / art project, and a letter each month from a different state / country.  The program is designed for children as young as three (up to about ten), and gets them excited about world geography.  You can read our review for it here
  • Adventurous Mailbox is most closely related to Little Passports, but is more like an extension of that program.  Once the boys had outgrown Little Passports, I floundered through several programs, trying to re-create the excitement that they had with that program.  FINALLY, I found it with Adventurous Mailbox.  We loved it so much that we're already on their waiting list for the next session!  See more info here.

Costumes & Dramatizations
Our children regularly come up with costumes to reenact the time periods we are studying.  This helps to bring history to life, and draws the arts into our curriculum.  A few times each year, they will get together with their friends and have a 'movie day,' where they put these costumes to use and make films.  They are learning how to write a script, use technology, and digitally manipulate that technology to create a final product.  AND they're having fun the whole time!

Vacations
Another way that we reinforce history lessons is through field trips.  No matter where our truck lands, we can find something history, science, or geography-related in the area!  Here are some of our favorite stops, and the history lessons we've learned there.  We've created unit studies for you to use when you visit them, too!  (Bottom of each post.)
A short note.....if you've read all the way through, then you've seen the phrase 'see the full review' more than once.  We don't recommend products that we don't believe in.  I've written reviews for several different products - some in exchange for the product (and that's noted on the review), and some just because I really believe in it.  In this roundup of history resources, there isn't a single resource that we don't use daily and completely believe in.  Just wanted to get that out there...  😎

Wednesday, January 18

Governmentalist (Joss Stone)

Ah...government.  It's a bit of a dirty word these days, but never has there been more need to educate our children about the Constitution and how the US Government was designed and is supposed to work...   (I mean, let's face it...the 2016 election made the 2000 election look well-organized and friendly.) On that note, we recently took a trip to our home state's Capitol Building, to learn about the three branches and how they work together.
Our Capitol offers free tours, and they offer some backstage information and areas for Scouts and other civic and service oriented groups.  While this wouldn't crack the boys' top ten lists of favorite places they've toured, the follow-up conversation in the car on the way home was educational (for them) and insightful (for mom).  They asked a lot of hard questions about the information they'd been told about how the government works....because it really doesn't jive with what they hear on tv and what they see in the world around them.
One of the things that did impress them, however, was the beautiful architecture of the Capitol Building.  The dome inside, which we learned took decades to finally get built, was splashed with color all over the inside, and topped with the indian statue (see top of this post).  The statue was designed by a local artist from our hometown, which was a fun thing to learn!
While we weren't there when the legislature was in session, there are nice seating areas to watch the sessions, as well as sound-proof press rooms for the media.  We've seen this particular room on the news several times, so it was interesting to see it in person.
Our final stop on the tour was the press room, where the Governor makes her speeches and announcements.  While she wasn't there during our visit, our son had no qualms about stepping up to the podium and talking about how he believes our country should be run.  .....luckily, most everyone had already left the room by that time!  However, it does reinforce the notion that we need to educate the next generation about the good and the bad of government, and hope for a more civilized, better future for them.

Government Unit Study

Tuesday, January 17

Jeepers, it's January!


We're beating the winter blues with some awesome mini-vacations / field trips....including this one to Medieval Times!  Read on below to find out how you can get very discounted tickets, or even win a family four pack!

At the castle, we all wore our Medieval finest, had a chance to check out the horses, and cheered on the Red Knight in the jousting tournament!  The birthday boy even got a special greeting from the king himself!


Winter's chill is taking hold of the kingdom this January and February, and what better way to warm up than with a hot, delicious bowl of soup! Known for their famous tomato bisque, Medieval Times is partnering with non-profit Dallas LIFE to help those in need create their own healthy soups by tackling hunger in North Texas with a food drive and by releasing the bisque recipe for all to make.

To donate, bring any non-perishable food item to the Dallas castle and receive 45% off adult admission for a Thursday, Sunday or the 2pm Saturday show through February 12th.  Suggested food items include the makings for soups including tomato sauce, beans or peas, broths or stocks and canned vegetables. 

The history of soup is as old as the history of cooking.  The act of combining various ingredients in a large pot to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested, simple to make/serve food was inevitable. This made it the perfect choice for both sedentary and travelling cultures, rich and poor, healthy people and invalids. Soup (and stews, pottages, porridges, gruels, etc.) evolved as dictated by local ingredients and tastes. There was no tableware, so soup was drunk right out of the bowl, as was any type of stew.

Soups are a great option nutritionally, they provide us with lots of important nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories. Soup can be a simple addition to any meal and a great way to make sure that you and your family get the essential servings of whole grains, vegetables and protein in one bowl.
  • For more information, visit MedievalTimes.com.
    • 2021 North Stemmons Freeway
    • Dallas, TX 75207
    • 1-888-WE-JOUST (935-6878)


ABOUT DALLAS LIFE
Dallas LIFE reaches out to homeless men, women and children with food, clothing, shelter, education - and a proven path to recovery and self-sufficiency.  It is the largest homeless shelter in North Texas, housing up to 500 people per night.


Dallas LIFE welcomes the needy. Whether it is a homeless man, a single mother with children, or an entire family, Dallas LIFE is a safe place to recover from the trauma of homelessness. Some come beaten and bruised; others addicted and confused. All need a fresh start and a loving hand-up. At Dallas LIFE, these needs are met every day!  For more information, visit DallasLIFE.org

DISCOUNTED TICKETS
To donate, bring any non-perishable food item to the Dallas castle and receive 45% off adult admission for a Thursday, Sunday or the 2pm Saturday show through February 12th.  
Jeepers!
We've teamed up with The Mommy Island and The Kids Did It to bring you a HUGE giveaway hop......enter as many of the giveaways below as you can stand!  Our own prize is a family four-pack of tickets to Medieval Times in Dallas, TX.  These are redeemable during February's Monday through Friday performances (excluding Feb. 14th).  Good luck!


Sunday, January 15

Science & Math for Struggling Learners


2017 vcf-009
The subject of the week for the Virtual Curriculum Fair is math...and science.  The two kind of go hand in hand, don't they?

We'll introduce you to our favorite :
  • hands-on science program
  • science dvds / learning aids
  • math resources for struggling learners

Struggling Learners
Math.  It's the dreaded four-letter word.  At least in our house...what about your's?  After a few years of math lessons, and still no progress on being able to count by ones, we had to try something different with our special needs son.

I stumbled upon this Montessori hundred number set, and it's helped quite a bit.  It's both visual and tactile, but without requiring handwriting (another struggle).

Another program we've used is Touch Math.  A teacher-friend of mine recommended this one, and helped with learning how to apply it, and it has made a world of difference for our son.  It's definitely a program for tactile learners.  Granted, he'll probably be in his forties and still counting on his fingers, but whatever.  His figuring is actually pretty good, and he can do it on his own.  

Two other tactile tools we have used are the Judy Clock (telling time; elapsed time) and the Pretend Money Set (think, what you'd give your little one to play store). If you have a struggling learner, I would highly recommend any, or all, of these tools!



Other special needs posts :
Hands-On Learning
We've used both the basic Magic School Bus science kits and the Young Scientists subscription club, and I have to say that Young Scientists is a lot better.  Not only are the kits more comprehensive and tailored for learning, but your child gets a new one in the mail each month.  I think every child likes getting mail addressed to them!  Also, you can generally pick up either of these over at Educents for steep discounts!

The Young Scientists Club has thirty-six different kits - a new one arrives each month.  It's set up as a continuous learning experience, with each kit building upon the one before it.  All of the needed materials are included (except for something like 'tap water'), and they are quality materials.  At first glance, it may seem up there, but when you consider that you're getting thirty-six different sets of lessons, each with 5-10 experiments and all the needed materials, and the lesson plans...it's quite the bargain.

For our older son, we do more badgeschooling - that's what I've dubbed it when he takes his Boy Scout badges and lets them pull double duty for classwork.  (Learn more about badgeschooling.)  As an example, here is a badge our son did on Oceanography...I promise he learned more than most 6th graders living in Oklahoma would learn about the topic!!  Badgeschooling can be done for any subject, really.  Homeschool Legacy offers unit studies that provide resources and activities covering both school work and badge work.  The company offers both Boy Scout (BSA) and American Heritage Girl (AHG) options, and each unit study completes all of  the required badge work for one or more badges.

Dvds & Books
The Magic School Bus set is comprehensive, with books, movies, science kits, and a free curriculum that pulls everything together.  I like that the books are written on a few different levels, so that kids can start reading them in first grade, yet still be challenged by the same characters in fifth grade.  You do not have to have the kits to be able to benefit from this set!

Having visual and auditory learners, movies are a big part of our schooling.  When it comes to science, we tend to stick with secular approaches, and we discuss the topics covered frequently.  Some of our favorite series include include : 
We went through a Bill Nye the Science Guy phase there for a while, but Wild Kratts remains the overall favorite.They know more about science basics than either my husband or I did at their ages, solely from watching these shows.  

Wednesday, January 11

National Cowboy Western & Heritage Museum

The National Cowboy Western & Heritage Museum is America's premier institution of Western history, art and culture....
NEW FAMILY EXIHIBT: Power and Prestige Children's Gallery
February 3 - May 14, 2017


Designed to complement the temporary exhibition Power and Prestige: Headdresses of the American Plains, the Museum offers a fun activity space to explore bravery, pageantry, artistry, community, and respect for culture and diversity. The Power and Prestige Children's Gallery offers dramatic scenes and stories, a mapping journey, a story station reading area, make-and-take activity areas, and continuous programming to engage children to explore on their own, in small groups, or as a family.

February 4
Saturdays for Kids: Power and Prestige Children's Gallery Community Opening
10:00 a.m. - Noon

Be among the first to explore the new Power and Prestige Children's Gallery! Enjoy storytellers, music, and food samples as well as hands-on, minds-on activities including a mapping journey, story station, and make-and-take projects that focus on the universal concepts of community, diversity, artistry, respect, bravery, and pageantry. Designed for children ages 4 - 12. Free for children and accompanying adults. Reservations requested by noon on Friday, February 3; call (405) 478-2250 ext. 264.

My readers receive a $2 off coupon for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
  • When you visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum - as a student, enthusiast, patron of the arts or guest of a special event - you enter a premier institution unmatched in its ability to immerse you in the narrative of the American West through one-of-a-kind galleries of artwork and artifacts.
Limit 4 people per coupon. One coupon per party. Not valid for special events.



Winter (Tori Amos)

Rejuvenation....it's our word for the year...and today's post is all about how winter is a season of rejuvenation.  It's a time for rest, relaxation, and family togetherness.  We are gypsies on the road for spring, summer, and fall, but winter is a season for being gypsies at home.
Outside, autumn's hard work helps to keep us warm through winter.  Inside, our old-fashioned clothes dryer helps keep the humidity tolerable.

A family tradition....we took advantage of the icy cold to mix up a batch of hard candy.  Make your own with this recipe!

We found some math beauty...in the brick patterns and the contrast of a bright, warm inside to the cold, brisk outside/

It's a time for rejuvenation.  The whole world seems to sleep peacefully...
  
The chickens huddle in their toasty coop and the gardens rest under a blanket of snow; everything rests in preparation for spring.

Winter is a time for cleansing....clearing off the brush from last year's storms and letting the land get ready for spring.

This is how we sled....and how we fall!

Unlike our friends up north, the pond still isn't solid enough to skate on.

Even with her broken foot, the boys found a way to help mom sled...

...because, most of all, it's a time for joy!