Easy Shepherd's Pie (w/roasted garlic mashed potatoes)

This cold weather we've been having called for a good ole comfort-food recipe this week. I decided to make shepherd's pie with my own twist, I topped it with roasted garlic mashed potatoes. A tasty, one dish meal to fill up those bellies after spending an afternoon playing in the snow. Bonus, you could double this recipe and freeze one dish for a quick meal on a busy night.

Shepherd's Pie w/roasted garlic mashed potatoes

Kwik Stix Review and Giveaway


My children all love to color, paint and do crafts. A few years ago, we were introduced to a company called The Pencil Grip, Inc.. They have this awesome product called Kwik Stix that my children absolutely love. Recently we tried out Thin Stix Creativity Pack.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Ahhh yes that time of year.....apples, pumpkin in many forms (coffee & cappuccino anyone?) as well cool, fall nights. We've been itching to make some goodies using pumpkin and one of our latest creations was pumpkin spice pancakes. These were a hit with everyone. The pumpkin isn't strong tasting for those who don't like an overwhelming taste of it. The hint of spices rounded out this yummy breakfast and it couldn't be complete without the dollop of whipped cream on top!

pumpkin spice pancakes

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

1¼ cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour blend)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash of ground ginger
Dash of ground cloves
1 cup milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or melted butter


Directions:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices and stir with a fork to combine.  Mix together the milk, pumpkin puree, egg and oil or butter in a liquid measuring cup.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk together just until combine.  (The batter may still have a few lumps – that is okay.)

 Heat a greased skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Once the skillet is hot, add a 1/3 cup scoop of batter to the pan.  Let cool until bubbles begin to form on the top surface.  Carefully flip with a spatula and cook the second side until golden brown, a couple minutes more.   Repeat with the rest of the batter until it has all been cooked, regreasing the pan as needed.  Serve with cinnamon sugar, maple syrup, and/or whipped cream.

*note, I doubled this recipe with my family which gave me a few left overs. These also freeze well.

Unique Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools - Review

I think many of us over the years have seen our share of gospel tracts. Whether it's one someone handed to you or have seen in displayed in stores, tucked into door handles, etc. Personally, the ones I have seen aren't engaging and I imagine wouldn't make a non-believe eager to check it out, let alone capture a child's attention. I was recently introduced to Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack from Let the Little Children Come. Let me tell you, my children and I were quite impressed!

Learning to Read Made Easy- Reading Eggs Review


Reading Eggs is a very thorough program for teaching reading & comprehension to young kids. In the past, we've used their free trial to try out the program. My children have always enjoyed how easy it was to use and I loved how fast they picked up what they learned. Recently, we had a chance to review their 6 month online subscription. They also offer a 12 month subscription as well.

National Pregnancy and Infant Death Awareness Day

The month of October is recognized all over for being Breast Cancer Awareness month but many people unfortunately don't know that it is also Pregnancy & Infant Death Awareness month as well. Yes, I realize most places call it pregnancy & infant loss awareness month but if you ask many moms, we prefer the word death rather than loss. We didn't lose our child, they died.



1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of an infant shortly after birth or in the first year of infancy. I fall into the last category. My son Noah died the day after his full term birth due to Trisomy 13.

Guaranteed you have someone in your life (if not more than one person) that has had a baby die. You might not even know it because talking about baby death is still somewhat of a taboo, though that is slowly changing thanks to having a special month and day to remember and honor the babies whose lives ended much too soon. The more we talk about our babies who've died and share our stories, the more we help break the silence surrounding infant death.



Today, October 15th, is a day specifically set aside for special remembrance gatherings as well as the International Wave of Light.

If you know someone whose baby has died, please let them know you are thinking of them, even if it's just a brief note. Say their child's name as this is the most precious gift you can give to a bereaved parent.



If you are home tonight at 7pm your time, please consider lighting a candle for 1 hour in remembrance of all the precious babies who are so deeply loved and missed. (take a photo of your candle and share on social media as well to help light up the internet in honor of our babies!)


To my fellow bereaved moms, I am thinking of you and your precious babies today especially! When our babies died, so did a lifetime of dreams and memories. I know that speaking their name out loud is healing so please feel free to share your baby's name in the comments below.



Brinkman Adventures - Review


I remember as a child listening to a radio station in the evenings and hearing Christian audio dramas. Of course this was long before DVD's and the internet! Imagine my surprise to find out audio dramas are still being made today. I admit, we really haven't ever used them much in our homeschooling because I have some hearing impaired children who find it hard to simply listen to audio without being able to read lips. But I recently was introduced to Brinkman Adventures that some of my other children listened to. I had actually never heard of them before since we always shied away from audio dramas. We were given Brinkman Adventures Season 4 to recently review.

My First Letters Workbook - Review

My younger children often want to "do school" like their older siblings so I try to find things they can work on while the older kids are working on their school work. My 4 year old has really been trying to practice writing letters lately so she was excited to receive My First Letters. This workbook comes from Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math Worksheets, which is just one of several workbooks from this company and fellow mom who founded it.

Super Teacher Worksheet Review

While we have our typical curriculum we use daily, sometimes it's nice to have some extra supplemental help to work on cementing in new ideas. In years past, I have spent a lot of time scouring the internet looking for printable worksheets. This can be time consuming and also not turn up exactly what I had needed. We were recently introduce to Super Teacher Worksheets, a website with a plethora of printouts to use in our daily homeschool! We specifically used their Individual Membership plan.

Held

I'm not sure when or how I tripped across this song a year or so ago but it left me in tears. The beginning of the song mentions about a baby being taken from his mother while she prays for healing that doesn't come. It goes on to speak about us being held by the only one who can hold us as everything falls around us and reminds us that we can still survive.

It sums up a lot of my life since Noah died.

I was and am still held, and by God's grace, I'm still surviving.


"Held"
by Natalie Grant

Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling

Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
Were asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held

If hope if born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our savior

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held

My life verse since I was young:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Just Be YOU!

I came across this on Facebook recently and thought it was a good reminder and encouragement!



"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:2



Let's Go Geography - Review

Now that I am starting over with teaching elementary age in our homeschool again, it's amazing to me how many new resources are out there compared to when I first started homeschooling 13 years ago. I was recently introduced to Let's Go Geography. They offer a neat and in depth homeschool and co-op program that spans a total of 3 years. We were given access to their first year of their geography program.

Unauthorized Game Review

One of our favorite things to use for homeschooling are games. We love to change the routine up and break out different games for learning. We had previously been introduced to Chara Games and when their newest game, Unauthorized came out, we had a chance to try it out.

Stuffed Crescent Roll Breakfast Pockets

I love playing around with and tweaking breakfast foods. In fact, we enjoy having breakfast for supper which is when I came up with this simple yet delicious recipe.

stuffed crescent roll breakfast pocket

If You Were Me. . . -Review

I love building up our library of children's book with new and exciting stories. I had never heard of the author Carole P. Roman until recently when we had a chance to review several of her children's books. We reviewed If You Were Me and Lived on. . .MarsIf You Were Me and Lived in. . . RussiaIf You Were Me and Lived in. . .MexicoIf You Were Me and Lived in. . .Peru.

Progeny Press The Silver Chair - Review

Progeny Press is definitely a well known resource in our house. They are one of our favorite literature guides to use. The offer a wide variety of study guides for all ages. We were recently given The Silver Chair E-Guide.

Eye of the Storm

I've been listening to this song a lot lately. I wish I could say more as to why but needless to say I'm clinging to these words and the promises in the Bible. Especially Psalm 37. God's truth always prevails over sin!!!!

Halloween Tract - Review


It's hard to believe fall is around the corner. With that, there is Halloween and fall celebrations coming up. Along with the many fall festivals, are times of handing out goodies to kids. What if you were able to not only give kids a special treat but be able to share with them the special news about Jesus all at the same time? That is where Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract comes in. This unique Halloween tract is from Let the Little Children Come.

The Ins and Outs of Cruising on a Dime Part 1

When we went on our first cruise 9 years ago, I was overwhelmed with trying to learn all about cruising before we actually went. I wanted to make sure I was getting the best deal as well as knowing all those little tips that experienced cruisers knew.

Tips on how to plan a cruise and cruise inexpensively

No Longer a Slave


This song has been a great reminder to me that I am no longer a slave to fear (or a slave to others). God has said that I am to fear not, for he is going to turn things around and bless me in the presence of my enemies and has reminded me to hold onto my faith. Faith ALWAYS overcomes fear! 
I AM a child of God!
Psalm 7, Psalm 27, Psalm 31, Psalm 34, Psalm 52

4 Tips for Buying a Car

Sponsored Post

With having teen drivers in the house, it was only natural that one of my twin daughters next big steps in life was to purchase their own car. This is a huge decision as they are using their own money that they saved up so of course they want to get a good car but one that is also affordable. Shopping around and buying a car is fun, but it also requires a lot of research to find the best car for you.

Everyday Cooking Review

Many of you know how much I love to cook and I am always looking for new recipes to try. I was excited to be able to try out  Everyday Cooking from Vickie at Everyday Homemaking.

Veritas Press- Phonics Museum Review

Veritas Press is a well known company among homeschoolers. They are known for their classical education curriculum. My emerging reader recently had a chance to try out an iTunes app called Phonics Museum App.

Encouraging Words


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"The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold in my life, of whom shall I be afraid?"
Psalm 27:1

Quik-Sculpting Kit Review

Oh how we love art projects!! And we have done quite the variety over the years. We were recently introduced to Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit from ACTIVA Products.  They also included their free ebook, ACTIVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS.

Noah's Name Photo's 2017

I can hardly believe it is the eve of Noah's 7th birthday!! Like seriously, WHERE has the time gone? I remember after getting his diagnosis, I couldn't fathom what one year out looked like. And here we are, 7 years out?!?! Only by God's grace have I made it to this point!!

I Am Blessed

My kids are pretty amazing! I am thankful for the bonds we've formed over the years thanks to homeschooling. While some days are hard (let's admit it, we all have them), I wouldn't have traded the ability to homeschool them for anything! I've treasured our time together!

Beach Trip Take 2

Earlier this month, I shared how a group of us attempted a day at the beach, but it rained off and on while we were there. The kids and their friends talked about trying to go down again in hopes of having better weather so we recently gave it another shot.

Lightning Lit Review

All my children have a love of reading! Typically, getting them to read for their homeschool literature assignments isn't too difficult. One of our favorite literature and composition company's is Hewitt Homeschooling. They have a variety of Lightning Lit and Comp courses ranging from elementary all the way through high school. We recently had the chance to try out British Christian. This course is typically aimed for grades 10-12.

First Camping Trip of the Year

We have been quite busy so unfortunately our first camping trip got pushed back this year. We ended up staying local. The kids even had their friends come by which made it a lot of fun! We had beautiful weather and were thankful to be able to get away for a few days.


Kicking Off Summer

While it isn't officially summer yet, we've been done with our school work for a little while now. The kids and some of their friends planned in advance a day trip to the beach. With older kids, they all have jobs so it takes a bit of arranging for people to get off work.

Unfortunately the day before the trip, we saw that they were calling for a cool, rainy day. But since everyone rearranged their schedules, we still planned to go the beach and make the most of the day.

K5 Learning - Review

We like to change up our homeschooling methods from time to time. A lot of our curriculum is workbook style but we like to sometimes add in computer programs or online learning. We recently had the chance to try out the online program from K5 Learning.

Christian Heroes: Then & Now - Review

We love reading in our house! Often times, my children read for fun but there are times they need to read books for school. Sometimes those type of books they don't find interesting. We are thankful though for YWAM Publishing and the great variety of biographies that they publish. We recently had the chance to read and review Christian Heroes - C.S. Lewis. This book is part of the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series.

God Provides in Amazing Ways

Last week during some hot weather we were having, I commented to my older kids I wanted to get one of those little plastic pools for my little ones to have for the summer. But right now, I am being conservative and only spending on things we need. I shouldn't have been surprised just how God would provide. I shared about some other ways God has blessed us recently.

The Typing Coach - Review

Typing is one of those things I just take for granted. I've been typing for quite some time at a very fast word per minute pace but this isn't something I would know how to teach my children. Thankfully there are programs out there to teach students how to correctly type (instead of the 2 finger poke-at-the-keys typing). We recently had a chance to try out The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach.

Thin Stix - Mess Free Paint - Review

My kids love doing all sorts of art projects but many of them can get quite messy. As a busy mom, I don't always have time to supervise those projects, especially as often as they want to get the art supplies out. But the folks from The Pencil Grip, Inc. have created the perfect product every house with young kids need, Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors.

Thin Stix

Start of our 2017 Garden


I can't tell you how thankful I am for how much all my kids pitch in around the house! This time of year is crazy busy as the grass needs mowed and there is a lot of work to be done to get our garden going. While I only was able to snap a few pics of my littles helping out today, all my kids have really helped out lately to keep our household going!

This is just the start to our massive garden! We've already been harvesting several pounds of asparagus. We can't wait to haul in the rest of what our garden produces!!



Blessings Abound

This last week has been full of blessings for the kids and I despite living with a lot of unknowns right now.

My mower wasn't working right last Wednesday and my grass desperately needed mowed. I was feeling defeated (and this was after a rough day the previous week where the hot water heater leaked everywhere, my van left me sit while trying to get the new heater, my cell phone died so I couldn't call for help, etc).

ArtAchieve - Review

Over the years, my kids have enjoyed completing a variety of art projects. I typically use some form of curriculum that lays out all the steps as I am not artistic by nature. We have found that we enjoy using video lessons rather than a curriculum that comes from a book. Recently, we were introduced to ArtAchieve, an online art drawing lessons for kids. While they have several levels of lessons, we were given Entire Level II.



Daily Bible Jigsaw - Review


I use my iPhone for all sorts of things but rarely do I use it for something fun like games. I typically am not into any ole random games. Imagine my surprise to recently have been introduced to Daily Bible Jigsaw from Planet 316. That's right, you can do puzzles electronically!

Love Letters from God:Bible Stories for a Girl's Heart Review & Giveaway

So often you hear stories about men of the Bible but you rarely hear about the women from the Bible. Author Glenys Nellist recently added another wonderful book to her Love Letters from God series. She set out to highlight stories of women from the Bible and how they were used by God. She shares stories about 14 different women such as Eve, Deborah, Mary, Martha, etc

Hope in Front of Me

SpeedyPrep CLEP Prep - Review

My oldest daughters are juniors this year in high school, so I admit I am still figuring out things with them. Such as looking past high school and helping them to plan their next steps for the future. I recently became familiar with CLEP and how it can save a lot of money down the road. Specifically, using SpeedyPrep, an online CLEP preparation subscription program designed to help you pass the exam. You can get a detailed view about SpeedyPrep by checking out their CLEP prep.

I Will

My daughter shared this song this week with me and it meant so much! I just wanted to share it here in case there are those of you could also use this reminder & encouragement!


Memoria Press American History - Review

My 8th grade son really enjoys learning about history, especially American History. He finished his history curriculum early this year. Right about the time he finished it, we were give the chance to try out The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set from Memoria Press. They also included 200 Questions About American History Set.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad w/Poppyseed Dressing

It's coming up on one of our favorite times in the world of gardening, the ripening of our strawberry patch!  In addition to making jam and freezing whole berries for smoothies, we also like this refreshing salad. Combining our strawberries with the spinach from our garden, this salad can easily be thrown together with pecans I keep in the freezer.

I know, the thought of spinach and strawberries together sounds a little odd but even my children love this salad!

Spinach & Strawberry Salad w/Poppyseed Dressing

Creating a Masterpiece - Review

The latest curriculum that we added to our homeschool has been by far one of my most funnest reviews this year! We were able to take a subject and make it something for the whole family to do together, me included! The kids and I definitely made some memories and had a blast while completing a variety of art lessons via the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece.

Note, this is not my child but the photo that the vendor asked we share.

I'd Rather Be Your Mommy - Review

Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs ever! I know most of us definitely wouldn't trade this job for anything in the world but sometimes both our kids and us moms need a reminder of that. What better way to remind us that we'd always choose being a mom over anything else then to have a book dedicated to this specific topic! I'd Rather Be Your Mommy from Home School Adventure Co. is the perfect book to sit down with your little ones to cuddle up and read.

I'd Rather Be Your Mommy


Happy 1st Birthday Mia Grace

I literally blinked and before I knew it, my 8th baby turned 1 year old today!! I don't know where the time has gone! (Actually, I do, she's been high needs at time and often only wants mama to nurse a lot due to her laryngomalacia and reflux I'm sure). But that's ok, they are only little for such a short time.

I started her birth story not long after she was born, but again, it's taken me awhile to chip away at it due to not having 2 hands free very often. And the few moments I do find myself alone, I have a lot of other work to stay on top of but hopefully soon I'll get her birth story posted.

Happy 1st Birthday my sweet girl! Your smile & personality has brought us so  much joy and I can't wait to see how God continues to shape and mold your precious life!!!


Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level A - Review

This year we started kindergarten with my 5 year old daughter. I remember when I first started homeschooling 12 years ago, I was piecing everything together myself as there wasn't nearly the resources available like there are today. We were recently introduced to Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level A from Eclectic Foundations and had a chance to review it.

Money Saving Monday-Gardening & Homemade Laundry Soap

I often get asked how in the world do I save the money I do especially with having a large family on a small income. So I thought I'd spend some Mondays sharing a few tips & ideas on things I do.


St. Patrick's Day Treats

I love making themed food for holidays. One of my more popular desserts for St Patrick's Day is my Minty Pudding Parfaits and Shamrock Pretzels. Both are easy enough to make along with your children!

Minty Pudding Parfait, St Patty's day treat

How to Clean Foggy Headlights

Not long after my daughter bought her car, she wanted to clean it up. One thing she had noticed was the outside casing of the headlights was foggy. She remembered reading that toothpaste can clear up the fogginess, so she decided to try it out.

Baked Spaghetti

Baked spaghetti changes up traditional spaghetti a bit. I like that I can prepare it ahead of time and just pop it in the oven to warm up. It also is a great dish to freeze! In fact, make a double batch one day, have some for dinner that night and put the other half in the freezer for a future meal. I'm all about making things easy when it comes to meals. ;)

And She Bought a Car

Life has been flying by in the blink of an eye! It is SO true what they say, kids grow up SO fast! I can't believe my oldest 2 will be official adults later this year. The twins have been keeping their eyes out to each buy a car. Sarah recently found a local car and after my dad and I researched it and asked some questions of the seller via email, we made time to go check it out.

My CVS Savings for 2016

If you've followed my blog for a little while, you know that I absolutely LOVE shopping at CVS and get TONS of free or low cost deals. The CVS app keeps track of how much money you've saved over the entire year so I wanted to document here how much my daughter and I saved so we can look back to compare it to coming years.

Because we both purchase things, we have 2 cards (she has one and I have one). So that is why you see 2 different savings amounts below, but CHECK IT OUT!!!

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

 Nothing is better on a chilly, winter day than homemade cinnamon rolls. Even better, the copycat recipe to Cinnabon's Cinnamon Rolls! They take a little bit of work but they are oh so worth it! I even took pictures as I went through the process!

The Beginner's Bible Review

My little ones love reading books! We have a vast library of children's classic books as well as a lot of books based on Bible stories. One book that we recently were given to check out is the new updated version of The Beginner's Bible from Zonderkidz.

The Beginner's Bible