Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Ok, I have to say a few words so ya'll know what is behind this picture. Typically I am the one giving away gifts cuz I simply love to but just this week, I was the one on the winning end! A HUGE thank you to 5 Minutes for Mom for hosting the recent Ultimate Blog Party 2014. I was so incredibly blessed to discover I won the Angel Care AC 1200 video movement & sound monitor for smartphone, worth $299!!!! Cue the EEEEKKK!!!!!! What an amazing gift especially for a momma who has lost a baby & worries about something happening to her other babies. I just received it and am loving all the features & clarity.

Thanks again for this amazing gift!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mini Egg Bites

If you are like my family, we like to change up our meals and occasionally have breakfast for supper! In fact, this recipe that I am sharing, can be made in a huge batch and froze to make for an easy meal or snack!!! It is also one that you can easily adjust to suit your likes & tastes.

Granted, this isn't the best photo but when the kids are scarfing them down and barely leaving me any for pictures, what can I expect!!!

The easiest way to explain how to do this is to take a muffin pan, spray it well with non-stick spray and add in whatever food you like, whether it's shredded potato, ham, pepperoni, cheese, onion, bacon, broccoli, sausage, etc.

Add whatever "fillings" you like to an oiled/sprayed muffin pan. Then beat several eggs adding some salt & pepper to them (I think I used about 6 or so for 12 "muffins") and pour them over top the toppings in the pan till it's about 3/4 filled. Bake at 350 for about 20 or so minutes, or until the egg muffins are cooked through. These also freeze very well & make for a great on-the-go breakfast!!!

Check out some of my fellow crew members and what they are sharing this week!

Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind ~ Fieldtripping Fun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Great Kids Reads
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic ~ Birth and Babies
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ Canadian Teachers Pay Teachers Stores

Kemi @ Homemaking Organized ~ Homekeeping for Girls and Boys
Nikki @ Angels of Heart ~ Easter: The Cross for Preschoolers
Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling

Click the graphic below to see the entire group of blog posts!

April Blog Hop

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Zucchini Fries

As gardening season is kicking off (at least in this area), I thought I'd share one of our favorite ways to use the ever plentiful zucchini. Because we all know, we reach the point of thinking there is nothing else to do with the zucchini that is up to our eyeballs!

Yes, you read that right, zucchini fries!!! These little guys take a bit of prep work but knowing that you are eating a healthy snack makes it worth the effort! I prefer to use smaller zucchini's for this as they don't have the seeds in the middle. And yes, these fries are actually crispy and not soggy like many think of zucchini as. The best part is, my kids love these!!

Zucchini Fries:
2-3 small zucchini cut into "fry shape"
1/2 c flour (or a gluten free sub like almond flour)
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1-2 beaten eggs or egg whites
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Cut zucchini into fry shape (leaving the the skin on). Add flour to a dish & sprinkle in salt & pepper. In a second dish whisk the eggs. In a third dish, mix the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, smoked paprika and sprinkle in some salt & pepper.

Dip the zucchini strips first in the flour, then into the eggs then into the bread crumb mixture. Place a greased cookie sheet making sure the fries aren't touching (this ensures they will crisp up). Bake for 10 minutes then gently flip and bake for another 10 minutes or until they reach your desired level of crispness. Serve with a side of marinara to dip them in!

Check out some of my fellow crew members and what they are sharing this week!

Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind ~ Fieldtripping Fun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Great Kids Reads
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic ~ Birth and Babies
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ Canadian Teachers Pay Teachers Stores
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized ~ Homekeeping for Girls and Boys
Nikki @ Angels of Heart ~ Easter: The Cross for Preschoolers
Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling

Click the graphic below to see the entire group of blog posts!

April Blog Hop

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mexican Chili Cornbread Casserole

What happens when the flavors of chili, taco & southern cornbread decide to come together? You have this amazing mix of savory & sweet flavors all in one bite! This week, my cooking class made what I call "Mexican Chili Cornbread Casserole". This all-in-one dish is easy to bring together. While I came up with a recipe to follow, you can easily tweak the ingredients to suit your taste buds.

mexican chili cornbread casserole

1 1/3lb of ground meat (this amount is flexible a 1/3lb either way and can be any combo of ground meats, I used beef)
1/2c diced onion
1 small pepper diced
1-2 garlic cloves minced
16oz diced tomato, canned or fresh
6oz tomato paste
1 cup corn
1/2- 1 cup black beans (use whatever amount you prefer)
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4- 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes (optional if you like a little spice, we do!)
1/2c shredded cheese
1 box of cornbread mix (like jiffy) plus the ingredients to mix it up (which usually consist of egg & milk)

Saute ground meat, onion, pepper & garlic together. Drain fat. Add in the diced tomato, tomato paste, corn, black beans, chili powder, cumin, pepper, salt & chili flakes. Mix well & cook on low for about 10 minutes. Place into an 8x8 dish. If you like cheese, you could add some on top of this.

Mix cornbread according to directions. Pour on top of meat mixture & spread evenly. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes uncovered until cornbread is cooked. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of cheese on top & place back in oven until melted. If you desire an extra side, serve with some cooked rice.

Paleo & Gluten Free Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

This week I am joining up with the Schoolhouse Review Crew in a  blog hop series. We got to choose our subject so this week I am bringing you a series on:

If you are like myself, I am always on the lookout for tried & true recipes that the whole family enjoys. I love cooking from scratch and do so whenever I can. Today's recipe falls in line with not only "from scratch" cooking, but is also Paleo friendly AND gluten free!! The bonus?? It was a hit with my kids!! What is it??

Granted, these take a little prep work BUT in my opinion it is so worth it knowing exactly what goes in these chicken nuggets. Only whole foods, no fillers or questionable ingredients. I will always revert to these babies instead of giving my family nuggets pre-made from the grocery store. You could even take the time to make a huge batch of these and flash freeze them, place in ziploc bags then pull out for a quick lunch or supper. Just a note, I made a double batch of these & used half ground chicken & half ground turkey.

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons Frank’s RedHot Original Red Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Paleo Chicken Nugget Coating
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt

Buffalo Chicken Nugget Sauce 
1/3 cup Frank’s RedHot Original Red Hot Sauce
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup coconut flour, onion powder, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well. In a medium bowl place the ground chicken, one egg, 2 tsp Frank’s hot sauce and the coconut flour mixture. Mix with hands until well-combined but do not overmix.

Spoon out about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture and roll into little meatballs. You may get about 20 or so. Shape each meatball into a flatter, “nugget” shape. I did this after I had all the meatballs on the tray. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup coconut flour, 2 tablespoons flax meal and 1/4 teaspoon salt and dip each nugget gently into the flour mixture until coated on all sides.

Place the coated chicken nuggets onto a baking sheet covered with a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes.While chicken nuggets are baking, stir together 1/3 cup Frank’s hot sauce and 3 tablespoons butter and heat until warm and mixed well. Once the chicken has baked for about 15 minutes, remove chicken nuggets from the oven and using tongs, carefully dip each one in the butter mixture until coated on all sides. Place each nugget back on the baking sheet and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with celery sticks and dip of choice. 

I served ours with homemade cole slaw & homemade ranch dressing.

Check out some of my fellow crew members and what they are sharing this week!
Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind ~ Fieldtripping Fun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Great Kids Reads
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic ~ Birth and Babies
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ Canadian Teachers Pay Teachers Stores
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized ~ Homekeeping for Girls and Boys
Nikki @ Angels of Heart ~ Easter: The Cross for Preschoolers
Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling

Click the graphic below to see the entire group of blog posts!
April Blog Hop

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

One of my favorite things to do to welcome the month of April is to participate in the Ultimate Blog Party at 5 Minutes for Mom! I started doing this several years ago. Not only have I came across new blogs to follow, I've also met some great gals who then became friends because of it.  So whether you are a long time follower of Treasuring Life's Blessings or new and stopping by, welcome!

Just a quick intro about myself. My name is Jenn and I am a stay-at-home-homeschooling mom to 7 beautiful children. I parent 6 of my dear children here on earth and parent 1 precious son, Noah in Heaven

I've been married for 15 years to my husband Kevin. I have been a volunteer EMT for 13 years and a CPR/First Aid instructor for 6 years. I enjoy photography and I love to cook (I teach a cooking class for homeschoolers)! 

I also enjoy gardening

as well as traveling while camping & cruising.

I chat about various topics here and give an honest glimpse into our everyday life. Some of the topics & posts you'll find here are:

-frugal living (I also share deals & bargains you can find in stores & online)
-product reviews & giveaways

Overall, you'll find topics & posts here that live out my blogs name, Treasuring Life's Blessings, both big and small, the good and the not-so-good. Each moment of our lives has some bigger purpose and in this little bit of cyberspace I try to share a glimpse of our life with you!

I love connecting and interacting with my readers while hearing their thoughts & opinions! You can also find Treasuring Life's Blessings at FacebookTwitter & Pinterest.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and I look forward to getting to know you! :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spelling You See

It isn't very often we get to try out a product that is new and hadn't even hit the homeschool market until now! Enter Spelling You See that we had the privilege of reviewing from the Demme Learning company which is local to me in Lititz PA. This is also the same company who published the popular Math-U-See curriculum! We've had recent success with Math-U-See so we were excited to try out their brand new spelling curriculum! Hannah happened to be the lucky one who received Level E-American Spirit.

Spelling You See has a unique approach in how they teach spelling. This is not a boring, memorize a list of words then test, curriculum! This curriculum was founded by Dr. Karen Holinga, who has 30 years experience as a reading specialist. This spelling curriculum is not divided by grade but by levels and designed to go at the pace of a student. This philosophy follows 5 developmental stages of spelling:

-Skill Development
-Word Extensions
-Derivational Constancy

How this works:
To figure out what level to place your elementary student, you can follow this placement guide. Following this, it showed me that Hannah would be placed in their top level that is currently available, American Spirit. There are 5 levels available with 2 more in the works:

A- Listen and Write
B- Jack and Jill
C-Wild Tales
E-American Spirit

Coming Soon:
F: Ancient Achievements
G: Modern Milestones

This curriculum is divided into 36 weekly lessons spread out through 2 student workbooks consisting of 5 lessons a week. Each lesson takes no more than 10-15 minutes. The key to this curriculum is that the parent sits with the child to do each lesson. At the beginning of the week, you read the passage to your child then help them "chunk" the vowels and consonant pairs using colored pencils (meaning you color the pairs such as ea, ee, ie, ch, ph th, etc).  They also practice writing the passage daily. This helps the student visualize sound patterns, making them recognizable. You will do this for the first 3 lessons of the week. The last 2 lessons of the week involve you dictating the passage to your child for them to write down what you read to them. On day 4 you will help them with punctuation and spelling but the 5th day is sort of a "test" day in letting your child write the dictation completely on their own.
What makes this curriculums approach unique is that they bring together a visual, audio & physical learning experience in helping to learn spelling. And not only is spelling taught but handwriting is also practiced as is reading skills honed since they read the passage along with their parent! This also helps by writing daily the same passage to implant the words and their meanings. 
How we used it:
I read over the instructor's handbook before starting to learn how to really use this curriculum to the fullest potential. While you could possibly use this curriculum with just the student books, there is a lot of great info in the handbook as well as a special code to access online videos & content. So I would recommend purchasing the handbook to make sure you know how to best use this curriculum to the max! 
Each day, I sat down with Hannah and followed the guided schedule. She is a pretty good reader so we would read the passage together rather than the guidelines of me reading it to her. Then she used the colored pencils that came with the curriculum to chunk the vowel & consonant blends. After that, she would do the writing that was required for each day. Each days lessons were contained in a 2 page layout, one on the left & right, so no page flipping was needed.
We enjoyed the fact that the daily readings were tied into factual American history (which is what she has been studying this year for history). So not only was she learning spelling, she was also learning tidbits of history, practicing handwriting and reading all in just 10-15 minutes a day!

Each level contains 2 student books with the option of purchasing an instructor's handbook. Level E- American Spirit, which we reviewed is available for purchase at $30 for the student workbooks & $14 for the instructor's handbook. While there is no exact age or grade levels, this curriculum is for elementary ages or to be used as remedial work for older students who need to work on their spelling skills.
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Monday, March 31, 2014


Today my homeschool co-op cooking class made a classic comfort-food dish of chickenetti! This a very versatile recipe in that you can season it to your taste, add veggies if you like AND it freezes great so this is the perfect dish to make a double batch of and freeze some for an easy future meal. This is also a great meal to make using leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or from a cooked chicken. I actually brought in a bunch of seasonings from my cabinet and told my class to add what they want to their dishes (just a heads up moms in case you questioned what your meals tasted like! I offered, thyme, seasoned salt, onion & garlic powder, and salt & pepper).

For a 9x13 pan (my class made 8x8 dishes so just half this if you want):

8 oz of cooked spaghetti (or whatever pasta you prefer)
1 can crm mushroom soup
1 can crm chicken soup
1 cup chicken/turkey broth (or bouillon equivalent)
3 cup diced cooked chicken/turkey
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small onion diced
8oz shredded cheese

Combine all ingredients except cheese. Put into a  9x13 pan. Sprinkle cheese over top. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 min at 350 until bubbly.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

American Dream Builders and Lowes $50 Gift Card Giveaway!!

The kids and I enjoy watching any type of home remodel shows. We love seeing the ideas that get created and wonder why we didn't think of that! So we were excited when we saw the new show American Dream Builders on NBC airing on Sunday evenings! It's hosted by Nate Berkus which you probably have seen on tv before. This show is a mix of remodeling meets competition where they take the nations top 12 home designers to compete to become the nation's ultimate dream builder!

During the show, which is on Sundays at 8/7c on NBC, you can live tweet with the shows judges and contestants . Use #DreamBuilders to connect with them.

How would YOU like to win a $50 gift card to Lowes to start your own home remodel???

On behalf of NBCUniversal, I am giving away a $50 gift card to Lowes to one of YOU! I want to hear what you would remodel if you win the gift card! Follow the Rafflecoptor to answer as well as earn additional entries. Contest ends at 11:59pm April 1st. I can't wait to read your ideas!!

Please note: Each household is only eligible to win One (1) $50 Lowe's Gift Card via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification

You can also connect with the show via Facebook & Twitter to have the chance to win other prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was provided this gift card at no cost to me in exchange for a blog post promoting American Dream Builders on behalf of NBCUniversal Studios. No other exchange was given. All opinions are my own. I am providing this to comply with the FTC.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Taco Salad

Today my homeschool cooking class made one of our favorite, easy recipes! It's honestly one we love during the summer as this is eaten "cold" and can use fresh lettuce & tomatoes from my garden. It stretches far since it's served with tortilla chips and is a very versatile recipe in that you can add whatever toppings you would like to it.

What is this recipe you ask???

Taco Salad!!!!

Taco Salad, Gluten Free Recipe

As with a lot of my meals, I had to try and attempt to come up with a recipe as I typically just toss things together. I am SO not one to follow recipes as I like cooking on the fly! lol So with that in mind, I came up with a more precise recipe but please know you can adjust this to taste and add what you like! Because my class makes 8x8 dishes, that is what this recipe is for though when I make it, I make a 9x13 pan so just double the following ingredients if you want a 9x13 dish.

1lb ground meat
1 onion diced
about 8oz cream cheese, softened
about 8oz sour cream (or you could sub some of this for plain greek yogurt)
taco seasoning (homemade recipe listed below)
chopped lettuce
diced tomato
shredded cheese

Brown the ground meat with the onion. When cooked through, remove from heat and add 1 1/2-2 Tbsp homemade taco seasoning (to taste). Set aside. In a bowl, blend softened cream cheese, sour cream & 3 Tbsp homemade taco seasoning. In an 8x8 dish, spread cream cheese mix evenly on the bottom. On top of that, evenly spread the cooked ground, seasoned meat. Next spread chopped lettuce. After lettuce, add diced tomato then finish on top with shredded cheese. Feel free to add banana peppers, jalapenos, peppers, black olives, etc. Chill until ready to eat. Serve with tortilla chips and use these to scoop up the taco salad!
Taco Salad, Recipe, Gluten Free

Homemade taco seasoning:

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Mix all together in a bowl. I typically triple this recipe to make sure I have plenty on hand as it stores well!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Minion Pinewood Derby Car

My son participates every year in our churches boy's club Pinewood Derby Race. This year was no different. He decided ahead of time that he wanted to make a minion for his car. My brother has always helped him shape his car then I usually help him with design in painting and putting his wheels on. He was pretty tickled how his car came out this year and enjoyed having one of his co-op friends come along to watch the race!

He got to pick his number. Notice what he chose?? #13 in honor of his precious brother Noah's birthday as he was born on the 13th!!! His special way of including Noah!!

Erik's car just ready to cross the finish line!

Mango Languages

I have been on the look out for a foreign language curriculum since next year I will need to start counting credits for my high schoolers and I want them to get their 2 years of language started. We were excited to recently have a chance to review Mango Homeschool Edition from Mango Languages

Mango Languages offers online language learning for many foreign languages. They recently came up with a homeschool edition that offers over 60 foreign languages with more being added. Some of you may have even heard of Mango Languages before as many public libraries offer it in a limited edition. 

How it works:
When you log in to your dashboard, you will see you have many things you can do from customizing your account settings (such as picking your time zone), adding things to your profile, etc. There are also tutorial videos on how to setup your account & profile as well as videos for selecting and exploring a language. They take the guess work out of this program & make it easy to figure out and use.

Then the next step is what the kids and I were all anxious for, clicking on "Find a Mango Course Now!" We were taken to a page with over 60 languages to choose from such as Mandarin, Hebrew, Icelandic, Thai, even Pirate, just to name a few!

The next step was trying to figure out what language to explore for each of us. I had had several years of Spanish in high school then lived in Peru for half a year, so I wanted to try a new language. I decided to choose Canadian French. 3 of my children chose Spanish as they had started learning it before, they also dabbled in Canadian French and Pirate.

Once you click on a language, the info on that page tells you what types of conversational language is covered in that course. The way they teach the languages is to teach you conversational phrases you might use if you visited that country which is a far different albeit better way than when I learned in high school. You have the option to try a demo of that language without fully jumping into the course. If you decide to take that language course, you click on "join this space".

Once you choose a language to join, you'll see you have special features to access in that language such as discussions/forums, a member list of who is taking that course, chat, etc. From this page is where you click on a button to start your lessons. You have the ability to see the course menu and start wherever you wanted (say if you had taken this language before & wanted to brush up on specific things) or just start at the beginning.

At the beginning of each lesson you are given an overview of what the goals you would accomplish during that lesson. See the green arrows on the side? You control how fast you go through each lesson and have the chance to replay each "flashcard" as needed.

Each lesson shares a bit of a conversation in that language you might possibly have while in that country then it proceeds to break down the conversation into small bites to learn.

We appreciated how the words were colored coded so you could figure out which foreign word went with the english word! If you look close, there is a little symbol next to the french phrase above. You could click that to have the phrase said over again. They broke this phrase down in even smaller pieces to learn and you repeated it many times during the lesson.

Another feature of this program is the ability to say the word or phrase into a microphone when indicated and you could match it up to the teachers voice to see if your enunciation & inflection matched! This was a great teaching tool!

Throughout the flashcards in a lesson, cultural notes also popped up sharing information in how you would use a certain phrase such as the formality or the gender of the phrase/words. Another nice feature of this program is if you have to end in the middle of a lesson or your toddler presses the power button on your computer (ahem), Mango Homeschool Edition is always automatically saving your spot in your lesson so you can easily resume where you left off instead of paging through a lesson to find your spot.

How we used it:
We each did lessons 4-5 times a week. Each lesson varies in length but I'd say we got through them in 20 minutes give or take. Some of my children wrote down the foreign phrases or words in a notebook so they could practice them when away from the computer. After a lesson, we all saw how much we were picking up due to how we frequently repeated the phrases which got ingrained in our heads. We also tried out some demos of some other languages just to check them out as you have the ability to learn more than one language at a time (no limit to how many you can use!). 

This online curriculum offers so much more than just your regular foreign languages lessons. It's honestly hard to touch on just every detail! Currently available on their website is:

-Progress Assessments

-Built-in journals, discussions and wikis
-Collaborative learning spaces
-eNote messaging
/chat rooms

-Access to embedded/downloadable content

-Support from other community members

-Calendars to schedule meetings or study groups

They also have planned in the future to add:
-Enhanced Tracking and Progress Monitoring - including seat time (for students and parents)
-Goals and Personal Lesson Plans (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)

-Resume and Portfolio Builder

Are you looking for a great foreign language program for your family? You can try out Mango Languages for free! The recommended ages for this is 6 to adult. My 2 year old did pick up a few phrases that we said just from us being vocal about it.

Their introductory pricing is as follows:

1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total  
2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year total                      
3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year total                     
4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year total                 
5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year total

Anything over 6 subscriptions is a special group rate that will depend on the number in the group. 

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