Hello Fresh

If you've followed here any length of time, you know I absolutely LOVE to cook and am always trying out new receipes! I also have a huge garden during the summer so I appreciate fresh foods and incorporating them into my cooking. You can imagine my delight when I recently got the chance to participate in reviewing a fresh food & recipe delivery service from Hello Fresh.

(click on photos to enlarge)
vegetarian, recipes, food delivery service, fresh food

What is Hello Fresh?

Hello Fresh is a company that sends out boxes of food weekly that contain almost all of the ingredients you need to make 3 mouth-watering meals. They do the work for you of coming up with creative recipes that are good for you & use fresh food, all delivered right to your front door!

How does this work?

First, you want to check out their page to find out if they deliver in your area. If they don't but you have a near by Fed-Ex office that accepts ground shipment, you could have your box delivered there for you to pick up. From there, set up your own account then take a look at the upcoming weeks meal choices and see if it is something you would enjoy. They offer 2 types of boxes, the Classic box & the Veggie box (for those who may prefer  meat-free meals). Select which kind of box you prefer. Then you can choose if you want your box to be for 2 or 4 people. If you selected the Classic box and you see a recipe you don't care for, Hello Fresh offers 2 different meals you can swap them with (not offered for the Veggie box at this time). Your order has to be placed by Wednesday night for delivery for the following Wednesday.

Speaking of delivery, no worries if you aren't home when your box of food is delivered. Those boxes are packed exceptionally well and can stay cold for a long period of time!

A keypoint about this company is just because you ordered a box one week, does not lock you into a certain number of boxes you have to have delivered. If you don't like any of the upcoming recipes for the next week, or you are going on vacation, simply pause the delivery service. You can even cancel at any point with no problem or added cost!

How we used it:

My kids were anxiously awaiting for Fed-Ex to arrive as I had shown them the recipes online we were expecting and they were drooling!! The meals we were expecting were chili dusted shrimp with corn relish, steak & brussels sprouts stir-fry and chicken quinoa stew. The box was securely wrapped and was evident it could not have been tampered with. On top were the 3 large recipe cards and then inside was all the ingredients bagged & labeled according to which meal each bag was. It was amazing how cold the inside of the box was. The large, reusable ice packs were still frozen solid!

Since the food box was delivered around supper time, we waited until the next day before we dove into making our first meal which was the chili dusted shrimp with corn relish. I love the large, colorful recipe cards that they include for each recipe. Not only does it include the list of ingredients & measurements but it also includes the nutritional info! Then on the other side, it shows pictures along with the step by step instructions of how to make this recipe. So the guess work is taken out of it for even the most novice cook. 

All seasonings were pre-measured, even the garlic cloves were peeled & ready to chop up!

My kids love to cook so they really enjoyed taking over a lot of the food prep & cooking. They felt the recipe cards made it easy to know exactly what to do & they didn't think the recipes were very complicated at all to prepare. 

Occasionally, there are one or 2 minor things you need to add to the dish that isn't included, like a 1 tsp of sugar but this is noted on the recipe card with an asterisk. 

The second meal we made was steak & brussels sprouts stir-fry over basmati rice.

I never would've thought to put brussels sprouts in a stir-fry but let me tell ya, it was amazing!!! Browning them in the pan with a little olive oil (after quartering them up) really gave these veggies awesome flavor (I hated them as a kid). We loved the kick of heat that the jalapeno added to it.

The pic isn't smudged, that's steam coming off this yummy dish!

The third recipe we made was chicken quinoa stew. I have been cooking with quinoa for awhile so I knew we would love this recipe!

chicken quinoa stew
We enjoyed this soup and found it very filling, perfect for a cold, winter day!

Each meal we made was meant for 2 people but let me tell ya, those portion sizes were very generous and easily fed my older 4 kids & I for a lunch. In fact, we had some of the stew leftover for another day. All the veggies were fresh and things like the scallions & garlic were in sealed baggies so no worries of the other food all tasting like them. The meat was vacuum packed. We loved the steak & brussels sprouts stir-fry so much, I went out & got some meat & brussels sprouts to make it for another meal this week!

All in all, this was such a treat having someone come up with tasty meals AND put the food on my doorstep! I definitely felt spoiled! I think Hello Fresh would be perfect for the busy family who doesn't have time to come up with & shop for healthy food & recipes. It would also make a great gift for new parents! How about a friend or family member who lives in another state and since you can't take them a meal when they need a hand, this would make a great gift as well.

Classic Box Price (3 meals):
2 people- $69
4 people- $129

Veggie Box Prices (3 meals):
2 people- $59
4 people- $109

Pricing includes shipping!

If this sounds like something you'd like to try or to treat yourself to one week, use the code MBDSX9  to receive $40 off your first box!!!

Christmas Party (w/recipes!)

The 2nd Christmas after Noah died, I decided I wanted to host a Christmas party for my fellow homeschool co-op moms. I figured it would be a way to be surrounded by supportive friends and a way to distract myself for just a little bit. Since then, I've continued to have them over as it gives me something to focus on with the holidays being bittersweet. And because I love cooking so  much, I make all the food so the moms can feel like they truly have a night out! I didn't do up the food as fancy this year since the party was the day after one of my children was discharged from the hospital and my time was a bit limited in the days prior due to that.

I forgot to take pictures until we were already digging into the food but you get the idea! I had a surprise for the moms this year, a chocolate fountain!! No, that's not mine unfortunately. I have connections and was able to borrow one though.

For a simple veggie tray, I laid out broccoli, broccoli-flower (a green cauliflower), cherry tomatoes & red/orange/yellow peppers to make it look like a decorated Christmas tree (and it was partly eaten in this picture lol) Another idea for a veggie tray would be to make a wreath with the veggies.

These cute little bites were filled & shaped to look like little Christmas trees (didn't try it but as I write this I guess I had a theme going huh?) I used yellow tomato in these but wish I had used red so the color would've popped a bit more.

8 oz. Cream Cheese softened. 
1/2 cup mayo
 8 slices Bacon, cooked & crumbled
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
4 tortillas (8 inch) I used green but any will work
1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce
Black olives (cut in half if they are big)

  Mix cream cheese and mayo in medium bowl. Add bacon and tomatoes; mix well. Spread onto tortillas making sure to go to the end so it "holds" when you roll it up; top with lettuce. Roll up tightly. Shape it into a triangle then wrap & let chill in the fridge to let the cream cheese harden up. Cut into slices then using a toothpick, secure a piece of black olive on the bottom.

The cups on the back of the cookie sheet are Taco Bites and the ones in front are Pepperoni & Sausage Pizza Puffs. I had a dish of sour cream & salsa that everyone could top their taco bites with and in a mini crockpot, I had some of my homemade pizza sauce to dip the pizza puffs in.

Pizza Puffs
3/4 cup flour 
3/4 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten 
1 c shredded cheese 
(I used some mozzarella & cheddar, any kind would work)
1/2 c pepperoni, diced up
4 oz sausage, cooked and crumbled 

pizza sauce for dipping

Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, sausage and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.
Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
(printable recipe)

Some of the other food I had were dip & homemade hummus for the veggies, cocktail weiners in a sweet & spicy sauce (in one of the mini crockpots), a hot dip served with a side of beer bread or crackers, and all sorts of things to dip in the chocolate fountain. To drink, there was hot mulled cider and a Christmas punch.

For the hot dip, I know this sounds weird but it is a HUGE hit! Mix 1 cup of real mayo, 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese and 1 cup of diced vidalia onion (I chop mine up good in the food processor). Blend well and place in a baking dish. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until top browns. Serve with bread pieces or crackers, yum!!!

Of course, we played our typical regifting game of "Now You Have It, Now You Don't". We all bring something from home wrapped up and the gifts are anything from practical to funny or embarrassing!

Have you gone to any Christmas parties this year or hosted any? Do you have any favorite "go to" appetizers or finger food you like to make?

Don't forget to check out the Christmas Recipe Exchange. Last I saw, there were 29 recipes linked up!

Signs from Heaven

Last fall, I had shared a post about signs from Noah. Those special things that happen out of nowhere that remind me Noah & Jesus love and care about me.

Earlier in the week, I was having one of "those" grief days, they've been happening more frequently lately. This time of year is tough with the holidays and knowing my son isn't here. I was feeling so unmotivated and not up to doing anything. I forced myself out of the house even if it was only to drop off a book at the library and a stop at the bank. My 2 youngest were napping so it was a rare few moments alone.

My older kids told me to swing by the Reuzit store (a second hand shop) to see if I could find any Christmas decorations for a party I was going to be hosting. So I stopped by to take a quick look around.

There are several areas and many shelves filled will all sorts of Christmas themed knick knacks, ornaments & really anything you can imagine that people would donate. I was walking around with several pieces in my hands trying to envision a sort of arrangement I could make all the while keeping my eye out for other pieces I could possibly add to it.

I was pretty much done but felt drawn back to an area I had already passed. As I came to this corner, I stopped and looked down on the shelf. I saw this piece of material folded up. I don't know why I even bothered to pick it up as I had already walked by it earlier. At first glance while it was folded up, it didn't look like it belonged in the Christmas section but rather in the craft area.

Whatever it was, was still brand new with tags on it from Michael's.

I opened it up and my jaw just dropped and I got tears in my eyes. I was dumbstruck and had to read it twice before it truly sunk in:

Wow!! Talk about an obvious sign! Of course I didn't hesitate and bought it!! It looks like it was meant to be the front of a large pillow but I think I am going to turn it into a wall hanging.

I like to think the "and friends" part are the babies of so many of my friends, both online & in real life, who are also in Heaven with Noah!

I'm so very thankful for these precious signs at a time especially most needed!

2nd Annual Virtual Cookie Exchange

YAY!!! The week has arrived to share your Christmas recipes!! Whether it's cookies, candy, a dessert or whatever you feel like sharing! My goal is to hopefully share a new recipe each day this week but we'll see what life allows. We've had some challenges the last few days so no promises. But either way, this link up will be open until Dec15 so please feel free to link up new or old posts sharing your favorite recipes! Go ahead and share this post all over so we can get as many people to participate as possible! I love reading & trying new recipes so even if you don't have a blog to link up, come back & check out the new recipes. And thank you to each of you who take time to participate!!!

To get started, here is a simple candy recipe that is a hit with everyone!

1 pack of Oreo cookies (or a knock off brand which is what I usually use)
1 8oz block of softened cream cheese
Melting chocolate

Crush the cookies either in your food processor or put them in a ziploc bag & whack the heck out of them to smash them up. Then blend the crumbs well with the cream cheese. Roll into small balls & place on a waxpaper lined cookie sheet. I put them in the freezer to harden to make it easier to dip. Melt your chocolate either in a mini crockpot (like I used), microwave or double broiler. Dip the balls into it & let harden. Chill & try not to eat them all at one time!

Don't forget to check out all my recipes I have listed on my blog!

This recipe is also part of a Christmas recipe roundup hosted by the SchoolHouse Review Crew.
Christmas Recipes

Online Cookie Exchange!

I don't know about you but I love this time of year knowing all the baking my kids and I get to do. We have recipes that we make year after year but we also like to branch out and try new things. Last year I started doing a virtual cookie exchange here at TLB, a way for us all to share our tried & true Christmas recipes we love. Once again, I will be hosting a link up where you can post your favorite Christmas cookie or dessert recipe that you make for the holidays. Feel free to link up an older post or use this as an excuse to dive into baking this week and post a new recipe. The linky will be open from Dec 2-7 so come back and link up as many recipes as you'd like. If you don't have a blog, that's ok. Come back & visit the other blogs to check out the recipes and maybe find some new ones to try this year. Please feel free to share this on your social media, the more the merrier (and the more recipes we get to see!!!) I can't wait to see what you all share this week!!!!

link up party, christmas cookies, recipes, desserts

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so very grateful for each and every one of YOU my readers!! Praying you each have a blessed day wherever you are!

If you have a few minutes, please take time to read this article to gain a glimpse into my thoughts & feelings as well as so many other moms like myself this holiday season!


Free Small Appliances at Kohl's

UPDATE: 2 of the 4 appliances are sold out. I don't know if they will be restocking them or not so definitely keep checking the links in case they do. In order to get the $15 Kohl's cash & free shipping, you'll have to add something else to your order in addition to the 2 appliances that are left in order to hit $50. (you can still get the rebates on the 2 appliances that are left.)

I  mentioned last week on my blog Facebook Fan Page that I would try to share deals as I see them in the coming weeks. This is one I did last year and you can't BEAT getting FREE small appliances (after rebates).

How it works, go to either Shop At Home or if you have a discover card, go to shop discover & log in through there. Using either of these will give you an additional 10% cash back. (you have to go to one of these places first which will then redirect you to Kohl's or you won't get the extra 10% cash back.) Then when at Kohl's, you have to buy 3 different appliances for $19.99 each.

4 quart programmable slow cooker
Presto Cool Touch 20" electric griddle
Bella Rotating Waffle Maker
Bella Panini Maker

Add them to your cart. Your total will be $59.99. (or a few dollars more with tax).
At checkout, use code BLACKFRI for 15% off
Pay $50.43 (or close to that amount)
Shipping is free over $50
Use this rebate for $36.00 back in visa gift card (you'll need to cut off the UPC's from the product once you get it.
This brings the total of the appliances down to $14.97 for the 3 appliances
You'll then get $15 in kohl's cash to spend from 12/2-12/9. So your appliances end up free!!!!!!

I use my small appliances heavy and with a large family, it helps having extra ones around. Be sure to follow my Facebook Page to keep up with the latest deals as I won't always be able to post them on my blog. And feel free to spread the word! :)

My Heart Hurts

It's been a crazy last few days. So it goes. We just packed up a box for Operation Christmas Child. We started participating in this charity after Noah died, figuring since we can't give him gifts, we can bless a boy his age with some gifts. That's what makes it bittersweet. We LOVE being able to shop & pick out special things for a child Noah's age.

But as we put everything into a box tonight and wrote a Christmas card to this unknown boy & took a picture for him, it all hits me. I should be anticipating buying gifts for my 3 year old.

I just can't stop crying.

I am missing Noah SO MUCH!!!!

This just sucks. It's an ache that is just indescribable.  One that is always there under the surface and sometimes things like packing this box just knocks the wind out of me.

While I am thankful we can bring a smile to the face of a sweet little boy in a far away country, I still wish I had my son here to wrap gifts for. I still at times question God and ask WHY did he feel the need to take my son Home so soon.

It truly isn't fair. So  many people take their children for granted and here I am longing & aching for my sweet Noah. A piece of me that will always be missing with every breath I take.

Dear Jesus, take this box of gifts and use it to bless a precious boy in memory of Noah. I pray this boy knows how much he is loved and knows we are praying for him!!!

Breastfeeding Photo Shoot

Breastfeeding is such a special time for mom & baby. I've had the privilege to nurse all my children (including my twins exclusively) yet rarely do I have any pictures of me feeding them. I take that back, I think I have one picture of when I was in the hospital nursing both my twins at the same time.

Sorry, not posting THAT picture!

Recently, my friend over at Still Playing School held a giveaway for a breastfeeding photo shoot to be done by Ronice Kay Photography and I was ecstatic to have won it!

Ronice asked if I had any specific place I wanted it held at but I really didn't have a certain location in mind. She suggested a memorial park about 10 minutes from me where ironically I had a few of my senior pictures taken there many moons ago.

Nope, not showing you those pictures either! haha

Anyway, our schedules finally lined up last month to meet for my much anticipated shoot. Of course, I was agonizing over what Ava & I would wear. Ronice gave me some websites to check out on tips for dressing for pictures which helped.

So with Ronice's permission, I am sharing with you a few of the photos she took. I seriously loved them all and can't choose a favorite.

*note, because I watermark all photos shared here but I didn't take these pics, I am putting Ronice's name on them. This isn't her official watermark.

haha check out the thumbs up Ava was giving! Guess she loves her mama's milk!

Love how Ronice captured a piece of Noah with Ava <3

 Ronice was SO sweet to surprise me by offering to take a picture of me with all 7 of my children! 

 I am always the one behind the camera so this was a rare treat to have one of them with me!

If you are local, go check out Ronice Kay Photography. She was wonderful to work with and captured some great shots! Thanks again Ronice for these priceless photos! 

Butternut Squash Cupcakes w/Maple Cream Cheese Icing

The theme of the cooking class I teach this semester is entitled "Fresh Foods", meaning the main ingredient I use has to be something in season. Thankfully I live in an area surrounded by farm stands now that my garden is done producing. This week I wanted to change things up and make a dessert using an unusual ingredient, butternut squash. I know, say WHAT!?!?!

This orange beauty is often overlooked for it's cousin the pumpkin but did you know, you can often substitute butternut squash for pumpkin in recipes? It tastes very similar and it's also cheaper to buy than pumpkin, especially right now as it's in season and super inexpensive!

Today, we made butternut squash cupcakes with a maple cream cheese icing and let me tell ya, it was a hit! The cupcakes are moist and the maple flavor takes the cream cheese icing to a whole new level.

I actually made half a batch of these cupcakes the night before my class as I knew the moms would want to try them. I used my mini muffin pans with success so I added those instructions. If you don't have maple syrup, try adding a 1/2 tsp of maple extract. If you don't have that, no worries, regular cream cheese icing will still taste great on these!

I'll give you a little hint on making those cute little icing swirls. . . it was late evening when I made these & I didn't feel like dealing with my pastry bag and tips so I took a ziploc bag, put the icing in it & snipped a small piece of the corner off, wa-la, mess-free way to dress up the cupcakes!

For those who never made butternut squash puree, what you want to do is cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the pulp & seeds (save the seeds and read down further what I did with them). Place the squash inside face down on a pan & roast for 45-60 minutes at 400 or until the inside is soft. Scoop out the inside & put into a food processor to puree (a blender would also work). Leftover squash can be froze.

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
4 egg
2 cups butternut squash puree

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese room temp
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temp
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in squash puree.
  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed (15-20 minutes if using mini muffin pan). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely before frosting
  4. For Frosting:
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add maple syrup, vanilla, and powdered sugar; continue beating until well combined and smooth. frost cupcakes and drizzle with maple syrup if desired.

Yields 24 regular size cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes

I am tickled to say I now have a way for you to easily print off this recipe by clicking on Printable Recipe Here!!! As time allows, I will slowly go back over my archived recipes and add a printable link to each recipe.

Bonus! If you clean off the seeds you scrapped from your butternut squash, you can roast them like pumpkin seeds! So while I was working on the cupcakes, I roasted my seeds at 375 for about 20-25 minutes. After rinsing them in water, I let them dry off on a paper towel. Then I sprayed them with olive oil spray & sprinkled on some old bay seasoning & salt (you can use any seasoning, garlic salt, cinnamon/sugar, etc) After about 15 minutes, I tossed the seeds around. And yes, I ate them all up while baking! ;)

Also, stayed tuned for Treasuring Life's Blessings 2nd annual virtual cookie exchange coming up! Starting Monday December 2nd thru Saturday December 7th, come link up your blog posts (new or old) that highlight some of your favorite Christmas cookies, candies or treats. Don't have a blog? That's ok, just stop by to check out the recipes posted. This is a great way to find some new recipes to try out! And feel free to spread the word, the more who participate, the more yummy recipes we'll have!

recipes blog hop

Capture Your Grief- Sunset

 To close this project and this month of Baby Loss Awareness I thought that we could all photograph the sunset from wherever we are in the world.

I saw this sunset from my back porch, barely peeking through the trees. I was in the middle of making supper, but I stopped what I was doing, grabbed my keys & camera and ran out the door with barely a word to the family. I knew I had just minutes to quickly drive around the corner to try and capture this magnificent sunset. This picture doesn't even do it justice. It was breathtaking. 

I sat in the middle of the quiet, abandoned road with my car in park as I tried to capture the beauty of God's hand-painted picture. As I sat there completely alone, I cried for all I was missing. 

My son. 

My Noah.

Oh how my heart still breaks in a million pieces even 3 years later. 3 long years. How can this possibly be? How am I still here, functioning?? I honestly have no idea. I don't know how I got to this point, still standing. Only by the grace of God is all I can figure out. That & a few caring people who have stuck by us.

I still have my days I can barely function. Oh, most wouldn't know anymore around me because I've gotten better at hiding it, or maybe they just don't want to recognize it anymore. It's easier for others to forget my son & my grief.  I think that's more what it is. People think after a few months you should be "all better". I won't ever be, not until the day I die. Blessed are those who realize this & still love me. Still stand by me. Those who ignore or forget my son intentionally, I have no words. I can't imagine treating others like I have been treated by you. May you never experience this gut wrenching ache.

This is a hard, lonely path as I've come to discover. But there have been amazing blessings along the way. Many of which I can't put into words. I've had some amazing people brought into my life because our heavenly babies brought us together. I've learned what true joy means & have a deeper appreciation of life. I've learned to ignore the petty things & embrace who & what truly matters. I have become a better mom to my living children.

All because of Noah.

My dear son, you have taught me a lifetime of lessons in your brief life. I still continue to learn and will until the day I see you again. I love & miss you more than you know!!!

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
Matthew 5:4

Apologia-Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics

When it comes to the world of homeschool science curriculum, we are no strangers to Apologia Educational Ministries. Being that we are in our 9th year of homeschooling, we have used many of their homeschool science resources and have loved each subject we've studied. We heard almost a year ago, that author Jeannie Fulbright was coming up with yet a new volume to add to their science line, Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics that was just released this past September. We had the privilege of being amongst the first to receive this brand new curriculum to review.

We received both the  textbook and notebooking journal and were pleased as usual with the quality and information presented. The textbook is a hardbound book and the notebooking journal is a spiral bound consumable.  All the curriculum in Apologia's science line are presented with a Biblical worldview which is important to me. There are 14 lessons broken down into 28 weeks. In the beginning of the notebooking journal, there is a schedule broken down exactly how to cover the entire text, when to read certain pages and do the activities in the corresponding journal. Personally, I love any curriculum that breaks down into a well planned schedule for me so all I have to do is implement the lesson plans, perfect for a busy mom!

The topics covered in this curriculum are:
-Chemistry and Physics Matter
-Moving Matter
-Building Blocks of Creation
-Compound Chemistry
-Multitude of Mixtures
-Mechanics in Motion
-Dynamics of Motion
-Work in the World
-Sounds of Energy
-Light of the World
-Thermal Energy
-Electrifying Our World
-Mysterious Magnetism
-Simple Machines

We have the unique opportunity in that our homeschool co-op is offering this course this year as one of their science classes so I have 2 children taking it. How we use this is my kids take a one hour class every Monday. They go over the material they have read the previous week from the textbook and review any homework that was assigned in the notebooking journal. After that, they usually complete projects or experiments that are listed in the book under the "try this" scattered throughout the lessons.

Lava lamps they made in Chapter 1

After Monday, we spend the next 4 days reading the text for the week, completing different pages in the notebooking journal such vocabulary, crossword puzzles, copywork (printing or cursive writing of scripture) or lapbook style mini-books. We've also done some additional experiments my children didn't cover in their co-op class.

This course is already chock full of information and activities but Apologia also included a website address that contains even more extras if you are looking to supplement this course with even more activities. (this is only accessible to those who have the textbook as it is password protected). On the website, the "extras" are broken down by chapter making it easy to find what you want. Some of the things included are extra experiments, videos, detailed explanations and interactive presentations.

Studying salt crystals

You can do this course with just the textbook alone if you didn't have the funds to get each child a notebooking journal (though I highly recommend the journals!) The textbook is written in an easy to understand, conversational tone and makes you feel like the author herself is sitting with you conversing. She takes these challenging topics and presents them in a way for everyone to grasp and understand. There are questions throughout the text that provoke in-depth conversation and make the students really think about the how & why of what they are learning. Like what a polymer is and how it can be reformed into other polymers (where then they made their own bouncy ball). Or how chemical and physical reactions work (they combined mentos & diet coke. . .outside!!!)

I know it can sound overwhelming to do experiments at home but most of the experiments we've done (and the few I've looked ahead at) contain simple components many of which you may already have around the house or other inexpensive ingredients to buy. In the back of the book, there is a list of needed supplies listed by chapter making it easy to know ahead of time what you need to have on hand. 

This was from chapter 4 the class did as a group

The target age for this curriculum is K-6th grade which again, for a busy family that schools many ages, this can be a huge plus. I appreciate curriculum that allows me to include several of my children together. Not only does it save me time, but my kids enjoy working together on projects and experiments. Since my kids are older that are using this, they sat down together and would read the book aloud then do the book work individually.

 While we used the regular notebooking journal this time, Apologia also has a Junior notebooking journal geared for the beginning writer and younger student. They accidently sent us a copy so I had the privilege of looking this over. I admit I never used a junior notebook before but I was quite impressed with it and plan to use it in the future when my little ones reach that age.

Just as we have been with all the Apologia sciences we've used in the past, we were once again pleased with the quality and content of this curriculum and would highly suggest it to any family looking for an in-depth but easy to implement science curriculum. The only minor change I would suggest would be to make the notebooking journal have perforated pages making it easier to tear out for activities as well as ease of use to put into end of year portfolios.

Textbook costs $39


Eggplant Pizza

I admit, today was an exhausting day. But after hearing how many people wanted all of the recipes from class today, I figured this was a good time to document them!!

I had my cooking class make honey garlic grilled eggplant as well as eggplant pizza (a "recipe" I came up with). Eggplant is in season now. Seriously, check out the farm stands near you. I got HUGE eggplant 2/$1.

For the eggplant pizza, peel the eggplant if you aren't a fan of the skin (though it's good for you). Slice into thin slices then sprinkle both sides with salt, laying the slices on towels to absorb the liquid (keeps eggplant from getting mushy, look at the last pic, you can see beads of water). After 10-15 min, blot the excess liquid. Place the slices on a greased cookies sheet with oven set around 425-450. Roast for 10 minutes or so then flip for another 5-10 minutes. Then place sauce, cheese and seasonings on the eggplant. Bake or broil till done till your liking.

A month of gratitude

It's so easy to focus on all the negatives in life so I am sharing a challenge, not just for my readers but myself included. Join me on my blog Facebook Fan Page and share something you are thankful for every day this month. It doesn't have to be anything huge, any little gift of gratitude would be perfect. As we enter this coming holiday season that can often be difficult for many (me included), maybe sharing the things we are thankful will help uplift us all!

Capture Your Grief- Support

Share about what has been the best support for you since the loss of your baby. Maybe it is a special friend or family member? A pet? An organization? What have they done for you? Where would you be without them?

The word support brings up many emotions for me. On one hand, it brings hurt & disappoint as there were  those who should've been here for us after Noah died yet they turned their back on us for selfish reasons. But on the other hand, we really got to experience people being the hands & feet of Jesus and reaching out to us in so many ways. Even people who we didn't know well or never met face to face.  Some of these dear people have since become close friends! I will always be grateful to those friends & few family members who willingly chose to help us carry this burden of grief & didn't shy away. The occasional phone calls, notes, little gifts or items people give us that reminds them of Noah, photos with his name written out, including his name in Christmas cards, just someone texting or emailing to say they were thinking of Noah & I, etc are just many ways people have supported us these last 3 years. 

Special organizations who also offer great support are 

I took this photo in St Maarten 4 months after Noah died