Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lilla Rose Fall Colors Sale #prettyhair

If you haven't had a chance to enter my Happy Monday, Happy Fall Giveaway, you still have time. Just click right over and enter to win a beautiful Lilla Rose Flexi Clip, then jump right back here and check out the Fall Colors Sale going on until Saturday.  My friend Jennifer would love to help you find the perfect accessory for your hair this fall.  You can see all the pretty fall colors at and pick up a few Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers while the price is so good.

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Schoolhouse Review: Apologia's iWitness Series #hsreviews

Apologia Review

I have yet to meet a resource from Apologia Educational Ministries that I didn't just fall right in love with and their new iWitness series is no exception.  The iWitness books are designed to look like real life field journals with handwritten notes and clippings about the discoveries made in GOD's Word. We've had the privilege of reviewing the three newest iWitness books (brand new -- as in just published this year) and the neat thing is there are currently two more that we can add to our studies now and two more coming in 2015.   The books that we've been reading are iWitness Biblical ArchaeologyNew Testament iWitness, and Old Testament iWitness. Each one of these books can be used with students of all ages as read-alouds and/or read-togethers, but will be best suited as read alones for students ages 11 and up.  My 8th and 10th graders have enjoyed them immensely.  These gems are jam-packed with information and it is all presented in a fun, easy-to-comprehend way -- like looking first-hand at personal notes of historical archaeologists.  Isn't that neat?

In all honesty, I have enjoyed reading these books with the Eagle Scout and the Princess just as much as they have enjoyed reading through them.  We've used them as part of our daily Bible study time and I've learned all kinds of new things about the Bible that I didn't know before we got them.  I've even been able to use them as I prepare to teach children and middle schoolers at church.  They are chock-full of information.  These books have really grabbed my kid's attention because they give an opportunity to really dig deeper into understanding GOD's Word in an interactive manner.  Isn't that exciting?

Written by Doug Powell, the art director for Apologia, the iWitness series is Christian apologetics presented in a way that readers have a chance to figure out the truth for themselves.  Reading through the books offers students (and parents, too) an opportunity to find the answers to tons of questions they might have about the Bible, faith, and Christianity all by themselves through a treasure/scavenger hunt format.

And did I mention they were gorgeous books?  Beautifully crafted and magnificently designed, each of the pages invites you in and calls you home.  I totally enjoyed reading this Interview with the Author and being able to have a glimpse into his thought process as he writes creates books works of art that teach and train and help the reader own their faith and know you'll enjoy it as well.  That's a super-important goal that I have for my children -- that they own their own faith -- so this is an incredible resource for us.  I want them to KNOW anad BELIEVE in the GRACE and MERCY that is JESUS wholeheartedly.

Here's a glimpse inside the covers of the books we've been studying:

Apologia Review
iWitness Biblical Archaeology ($14.00) takes you back in time to biblical events and shows you the evidence found that proves their true existence. Beginning with the Flood in Genesis and continuing to the shroud used in the burial of JESUS, readers can answer their questions about the Bible.  There are pictures of the Dead Sea Scrolls, fragments of ancient letters and current pictures that show modern views of ancient events.  Truly fascinating.

Apologia Review
New Testament iWitness ($14.00) gives clues to the reader to find out information about each of the 27 books in the New Testament and to help you understand WHY and HOW they were written.  It explains how the writings of the New Testament were recovered, how they were copied, and how these particular books were selected to be a part of the completed New Testament of the Bible.  Readers study graphs and compare variations of Scripture to bring clarity and focus to the Gospel.

Apologia Review
Old Testament iWitness ($14.00) explains why the Hebrew Scriptures are so important to our faith and why the Old Testament is still relevant to us today.  I LOVE the explanations of its divisions and the purpose shared for each of the 39 books and was super-excited to share them with my kids. We are always looking for ways to help our Bible Drillers find the individual books of the Bible in a timely manner (they only have 8 seconds in competition) and knowing the divisions is a great way to do just that.  What a nice reinforcement at home for what I'm teaching at church.

These books are great study tools for my kids and I like that they are learning so much as they explore the field journals.  I'm looking forward to adding JESUS iWitness and  Resurrection iWitness to our library soon along with iWitness World Religions and iWitness Heresies and Cults when they are published next year.   All four of these iWitness books are intriguing to me.  You can find out more about these wonderful books and more by following Apologia on the following Social Media platforms:




Join me as we become eye witnesses to the wonders of GOD through the iWitness series,

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review the iWitness series as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

Click to read Crew Reviews
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Monday Giveaway #prettyhair

Happy Monday!  Happy Fall!

We have a crazy-fun week ahead of us and I thought it would be the perfect time to share a quick giveaway for all of you dear friends.  We will be enjoying a fall family picnic at Percy Quin State Park tomorrow with many of our homeschooling friends and hiking down to the waterfalls at Clark Creek State Park on Thursday with even more of our homeschooling friends {and the MainMost!  YAY!}.  Then there's robotics, the last soccer game, a couple of Girl Scout meetings, tumble, art, and Chess Club to attend PLUS the Princess heads out for a fun night of food and fellowship mid-week. Oh, yes, there's also a Newsboys concert this weekend at Praise in the Park.  See what I mean about crazy-fun?  

There's so much going on that we'll be for sure needing to pin our hair back out of our eyes to enjoy the happenings of the day.  My girls are crazy about all of their Lilla Rose hair accessories ( that were introduced to us by my sweet friend, Jennifer, over at a glimpse of our life so we thought you might like to try one out, too.  It sure is neat to have hair accessories that are just as pretty as they are functional.  And it's super cool to have friends that share their goodies so I can share with you!  She's running a great special right now, too, so make sure you check that out.

I think you'll agree that this Turquoise Tranquility Flexi Clip is simply beautiful.  Enter to win it for yourself on the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Day Has Great Potential!  Hold on tight!
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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Fortuigence -- Personal Statement #hsreviews

Fortuigence Review

In 15 years of homeschooling we have certainly seen our share of failures.  There are curricula that don't meet our needs or match the learning styles of my children.  There are dry programs that my kids just do not like.  And there are things that we have to push through to get done.  I think that is true with any homeschooling family.

And then there are the days that are definitely homeschooling successes.  Those are the times we find a curriculum that is simply perfect for our needs and excite a child to learn.  Those are the days that I want to celebrate.  When we find a perfect curriculum or program, I want to make sure that I share it with my friends.  Lucky for me (and you), we have found that celebration-worthy program with Fortuigence in the Essay Rock Star Personal Statement Writing Course ($57).  The Personal Statement Writing Course is the first of four units that make up the entire Essay Rock Star Writing Course ($197).  Taken in their entirety, these courses would be the equivalent of one semester of high school credit and could be awarded a 1/2 credit on our high school trancript.  

So how exactly do you know when you have found the right program?  The true success story?  Is it when the 15-year-old doesn't want to turn in just "any old handwriting sample" but instead he wants to work on it and rewrite and rewrite some more?  Ot is it when he sits for an hour to get his pre-assessment done just so that it is perfect?  Yes.  Definitely yes . . . that's when you know that what you're doing is right.

Essay Rock Star Personal Writing Course is perfect for middle and high school students ages 12 - 18. My 15-year-old Eagle Scout has found it to be most helpful as he works to craft his very own personal statement essay.  An online writing course, Essay Rock Star is tailored to the individual student's needs from the very beginning.  Students work at their own pace through five steps of the writing process and complete the course with a "tell us about yourself" essay that will work on college and work applications alike.  While my son is learning to share about himself, he is also learning to write with focus as he is instructed on thesis statements and descriptive details that turn boring fact recitation into interesting essays.
Fortuigence Review

Developed by veteran educator Lily Iatridis, Fortuigence offers stellar instruction based on skills mastery.  I knew that we could use all of the writing help we could get at Long Leaf Academy.  I have found my only son to be a much more reluctant writer than any of my daughters.  (I'm not saying he is a lazy writer, just admitting that he lacks motivation when it comes to the written word.) Although he was not thrilled to begin a writing course, he found the online components intriguing and was willing to comply with my request that he do so.

Students begin the Personal Statement Writing Course with an introduction, explanation of grading rubrics, and a pre-assessment of writing.  From the very beginning, the Eagle Scout was hooked. After watching the short video and printing all of the rubrics, he spent quite a long time choosing which writing sample he wanted to submit for pre-assessment and even took time to rewrite it before turning it in.  Within 24 hours, Mrs. Iatridis had read his writing sample and emailed him back to let him know how excited she was to work with him.  He received such encouragement to share his story that he eagerly began the next lesson.

There are seven lessons in the Personal Statement Writing Course and each one includes a short video, examples, and an assignment to submit for grading.  Students begin by brainstorming and follow up with freewriting, revising, editing, and finalizing.  At the completion of each lesson, students submit their assignment online and await a response.  They are not allowed to move on to the next lesson until they have successfully completed the previous one.

Part of why this works so well for us is that it is truly a self-paced program.  There is no pressure to "hurry up and finish" (thank goodness, because the Eagle Scout takes FOREVER in the editing stage) and my boy can spend time impressing his teacher (something he NEVER tries to do for me).  He looks forward to her feedback emails on each lesson and works to improve before submitting his next lesson.  I thought I would share a snippet from one email so that you can see just how encouraging it is:

Hi Eagle Scout,
I’m sorry it’s taken me a bit longer to send you feedback than usual! I had a very hectic day yesterday, and I didn’t have any quiet time to sit down and think through your essay. You’ve got a lot of strong content. Correct me if I’m wrong, but your thesis statement is, “Boy Scouts has given me so many opportunities such as travel and adventure.” As I read through your essay, I looked for that recurring theme, or proof in support of that thesis, in every paragraph.   . . .
If any of this is at all confusing, don’t hesitate to email me! Again, you’ve got a lot of strong content to your essay. It just needs a bit of tweaking and a conclusion. When you’re done making these adjustments to your draft, send your draft to me in a reply to this email, and we’ll wrap up our work on this assignment.
Ms. I :)

Isn't that the greatest?  With a teacher like this, who wouldn't want to do their very best?  My Eagle Scout shared that it is very cool how Mrs. Iatridis responds so quickly and gives me great imput on how to improve what I'm writing.  Especially since I'm her Star Student.  {Obviously this boy does NOT have a self-esteem issue.  He is quite the comedian.} He truly has enjoyed all of the assignments and especially likes that he can work on them at his own pace.  I like that he is getting constructive criticism from someone other than me and that Lily reinforces what I've been teaching.

And just a quick note on Customer Service:  when this tired momma brain totally flaked out, Lily was quick to help me figure out my account issue with grace and delight.  She personally responded promptly to my emailed questions and helped me figure out what I had missed.  She has been a delight to work with and has been such an encourager to my son.  I enjoy having her on my team.

You can find out how to have her on your team and learn more about Fortuigence on the following Social Media platforms:

Lily Iatridis on Google+  

Fortuigence on Google+

Make sure to visit and check out all that is offered in this gem of writing course.

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review the Essay Rock Star Personal Statement Writing Course as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

Click to read Crew Reviews
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yummy Chicken Pie

I made a new recipe for an old favorite last night.  This Chicken Pie was delicious.  Pure comfort food -- and super easy.  My oldest daughter was impressed and said it looked pretty.  She actually asked if I really made it.  Hmmm . . .

Super Easy Chicken Pie

2 chicken breasts, boiled and chopped
1 can cream of chicken
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 - 1/2 cup chicken broth
2 cans of mixed vegetables, drained
salt and pepper to taste
2 deep dish pie shells
1 boxed pie crust to be used as top crust

Combine all ingredients and place in the deep dish pie shells.  Add top crust.  I "latticed" one and left one solid.  One pie crust was enough for both pie shells.  Bake at 350 degrees until top crusts are golden brown.  (This took about 30 minutes at my house.)  Serve with biscuits for pure comfort on a plate.

This super easy supper is a definite "serve again."

Enjoy . . .
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Staking my Claim

I'm staking my claim to my blog today over at Bloglovin.  I'd love for you to follow my blog that way.  It sure is easy to read my favorite blogs now.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shipwreck Stew

I have had this recipe for at least 20 years and this is the first time I've ever actually made it.  I can't remember if it was given to me as a young bride or if I found it in a recipe book somewhere, but it's handwritten on an index card tucked in my recipe box.  I used to search through my grandmother's recipes and write down the ones that I thought would be good to make, so I'm guessing it came from there.  I decided to try it, because I need something different.  I'm tired of making the same old-same old.  Do you ever feel that way?

I happened to have everything on hand, so today is the day.  Here goes:

Shipwreck Stew

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup rice
3 cups chopped potatoes
1 can (15 ounce) kidney beans
1 can (8 ounce) tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Brown ground beef with onion; drain.  Layer ground beef, rice, potatoes, and beans in a large casserole dish.  (I used a 9 x 13 glass dish.)  Combine remaining ingredients with 1/2 cup water in bowl and mix well.  Pour over casserole layers.  Bake uncovered at 350 degreees for 1 1/2 hours.

And it was a hit.  Everyone agreed we will make this again.

I'm joining with my friend, Lisa, over at Home to 4 Kiddos.  It seems she tried a similar version of this recipe before, too.  How fun is that? Pin It Now!