Thursday, September 28, 2017

Homemade white bread

I love homemade bread. My sister-in-law makes this stuff every week for their bread supply because they don't buy their bread to avoid preservatives and other ingredients. When we were visiting with them a few years ago I tried her bread and loved it, so I asked for the recipe. It's a great store bought white bread look alike. It's soft too.


I tried to get a picture of what we had from the loaf last week after I had cut it up because I didn't think about putting the recipe up until the day after I made it. This is what it looks like in a bag on day 2. Still pretty good. It doesn't last long at our house as it gets eaten fast. That's the only problem.


Here is the recipe. I will call it Michelle's bread recipe since I have no idea what the original source is, and I got it from my sister-in-law who is Michelle.

Michelle's bread recipe:

2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup oil or butter
6 cups flour total
2 1/2 teaspoons salt

Heat water in microwave 1 minute. Pour into bowl (mix either by hand or kitchen aide). Add sugar and stir. Add yeast. Let sit about 5 min. Just until you make sure it's active. Add oil.

Stir in 2C flour until well incorporated. Add salt. Stir in rest of flour 1C at a time, making sure it is well mixed each time. When all flour has been added, knead either by hand or kitchen aide until soft and smooth. When pushed it will spring back. Cover and let rise in an oiled bowl until doubled (about 1 to 1.5 hours). Flatten dough, knead a few times in bowl, let rise again 30-45 min. Shape into loaves or rolls, and let rise again 30 min. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes for 2 loaves, or 20 minutes for 30 rolls.

Notes: This bread has a lot of rising time between 3 different rising periods. Plan to start this early in the day if you need it for a certain time.

WorthyKids/Ideals (A BOOK REVIEW)


My son enjoyed reading the first 2 books in a new series, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls from WorthyKids/Ideals, an adventure story that takes kids back to the bible times.

For a paperback book these are about average length for a child about ages 7-10, and a pretty easy read for a strong reader. There are some illustrations throughout the book as well making it a interesting for those children who like pictures. My son (4th grade) was able to read them both in just 2 hours, and he had a lot of interesting things to share with me. He also had some questions, so these books got him thinking about the actual events that these books are about. He has also asked if the next book is out yet, and has requested it already, so this says a lot about how much he enjoyed them. He's a pretty picky reader.

Since he is the one that read the books I asked him to help me with this review and tell me what the books are about and what his favorite part was. The following are his words.

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls

Can you tell me what The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning (Book One) is about?

"In this book the scrolls take Peter and Mary back in time to the beginning of the creation of the earth. After, He creates the land, the plants, the light and darkness, he creates animals. They swim with dolphins, and they run into a bad snake who is Satan. He tries to stop them from figuring out the scroll. They only have 7 days to figure out what's on the scroll because it's written in a different language. When they say what's on the scroll it changes into the right words in their language. An angel helps them get out of fighting. Once they finish everything on the scroll they go back to their time."

Did you have a favorite part? When they ride the rhinoceros and the elephants.
Why is this your favorite part? I didn't know you could ride elephants or rhinoceroses.

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls

Can you tell me what The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Race to the Ark (Book two) is about?

This story is the same thing with the scrolls, and they travel to Egypt this time during the time they were building the ark just before the flood. They run into Satan again, and they help build the ark. They also figure out the scroll with the help of the same angel as the first book. One of the rules is if they go past the 7 days to figure out the scroll, they stay in that time forever. They figured out the scrolls on the 7th day and made it back. They also have a dog named Hank that comes with them in both books. The dog also helps them sometimes because he leads them to certain places.

Did you have a favorite part? When the dog barked at Satan who is called the Dark Ruler.
Why is that your favorite part? because I like dogs

A quote he wants me to share:

The Legend of the hidden scrolls
The scrolls contain the truth you seek.
Break the seal.
Unroll the scroll.
And you will see the past unfold.
Amazing adventures are in store
for those who follow the lions roar.
My son really enjoyed these books. I think we'll definitely continue the series as they come out. If you'd like to see what other crew members had to say, you can click on this banner below.

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. {WorthyKids/Ideals Reviews}
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Captain Bayley's Heir (A REVIEW)

Heirloom Audio Productions

We had the opportunity to listen to another great Heirloom Audio Productions audio theater of Captain Bayley's Heir! This tale of the old west includes everything you'd expect to find in an old American tale, the California Gold Rush, searching for gold, wagon trains, and sittin' around a campfire singing songs. It's full of adventure, and it's full of great lessons for all Christians, and anyone who will listen!

Captain Bayley's Heir

We received a set of CD's for this review, but there are also digital features that we had access to as well. Since we spend so much time in the car driving to various activities we listened to it while traveling. It keeps the kids' minds busy, and we are all in one place listening together, so that makes it easy to do. With that said, we didn't get to use much of the online features (except for me), but I will share some of the details of what's available there later.

The story

Captain Bayley's Heir begins with a conversation between G.A. Henty (Mr. George) and a young man named Frank who is on a journey with his horse and wagon. Frank and Mr. George get to talking about things and Frank discovers Mr. George is a writer and is writing a story about Captain Bayley's Heir. Frank wants to hear this story, and that's where the story starts.

Before we get to America though, the story really starts back in London with Captain Bayley, and his family. They meet young Harry when Frank (Captain's nephew) rescues his dog from the freezing water. Capt. Bayley is not happy about this at first because he is concerned that his nephew might not have made it out alive too. But, he did and all was well with the Captain. Harry and Frank became good friends after that.

The story goes on as Frank is accused of stealing money from the school (which he did not). The headmaster has decided to expel Frank, so he flees to America (as he has always dreamed of doing) unable to face his Uncle and afraid of what might come of it all. He arrives in America ready to start over, and is headed to California to find some gold. He meets 3 men at the beginning of his journey across America who invite him to join them on their wagon train going west. He takes them up on that offer, and is very thankful he did when they are encountered by Indians who attacked their wagons. They survived, and continued on west to California. When they arrived they got to work searching their claim for gold. They helped a father and son who were struggling, and the father was very sick. Frank helped the father get better, and through this they were able to find a large amount of gold. The father and son decided to go back home to England to live a better life with all their new found riches, but the father promised to take a message back to the Captain for Frank.

As Frank was away in America, Captain Bayley was discovering the truth about his missing daughter and grandson. She had left because the Captain did not approve of her choice for marriage. Captain later felt sorry for that, and wrote her a letter. She never came back, and eventually died of consumption shortly after she had her first and only baby. It was a baby boy, and the baby boy was taken in by a nice couple who found her and the baby in the street. This baby boy who is Captain Bayley's grandson is someone who the Captain has recently just met. The story goes on as the Captain discovers who this is, and helps him. The Captain also decides that he wants to find out the truth by hearing Frank's side of the story so that he can know if Frank is innocent or not.

Phew! I will stop there. This story has many twists and turns and connections that it's hard to convey in a summary. There is a lot to the story! It's a beautiful story of forgiveness and God's grace as Frank is struggling through this life challenge. He meets many people along the way that help him, and that he helps which also helps him find strength and hope along the way.

The online study guide and content

Along with this CD set we received access to the online features which include a Study Guide. The study guide is 38 pages of questions, word definitions, expanding your learning blurbs, and bible study verses. The study guide and other online stuff is available through the Live The Adventure Club which also has other downloadable and listening features. The study guide completely walks through the whole audio adventure. It has 2 sets of questions for each track/chapter. The first set of questions are "listening well" questions based on recalling information. The second set are questions that go into deeper thinking. I really enjoyed having access to the Live The Adventure Club for all the benefits and extras to go along with the audio. There is even a script to read-along (which I used when I listened to it at the computer by myself). Very useful for a visual person!

Overall, I loved this story, and the production is so enjoyable to listen to. It makes you feel like you are right in the middle of the story, literally.

If you'd like to read other reviews about this product you can click on the banner below.

Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

My weekly notebook

Life this week...

The rain came back. We had several cool rainy days, and it felt wonderful. I don't know how many days we had straight of no rain, but it was pretty much the whole summer, and everything was dry dry dry. We had/have (I don't know if they're out with the rain or not) several fires all over our state, so over the past month or so it wasn't unusual to have many smokey days where the smoke just hung in the air. But, yay the rain came down this week! It's like Oregon forgot how to rain, and when it figured it out again it let it all go.

The view out my kitchen window. I didn't capture just how hard it was pouring. This is how Fall should really look around here!

Homeschool this week...

  • Lots of Lego Mindstorms building
  • Life of Fred Math
  • April's orientation to get her back into her charter school (no public high school for her)
  • Art with Home art studio
  • Fun fall worksheets
  • Learning about matter in science
  • Getting our packages of curriculum in the mail! Now we'll finally be able to get more to work.

Reviews we are working on...

  • Captain Bailey's Heir from Heirloom Audio
  • Channie's handwriting
One of the many worksheets from

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

Ice skating continues to be a favorite outing. We made it to open skate 2 days this week. The kids get free passes for the open skate with their lessons, so we make it a priority to go so we can use up the passes. The passes are only good for the month of the lessons, and we're running out of the month of September.

This is their class for lessons. It's the beginner basic 1 class. The instructor is pretty cool, and the boys really like him. He's the guy in all black with a cap on.

Alex is really a superstar on the ice. Aric isn't quite so much, but he can at least skate around.

They are expanding, and skating around cones this week!

My favorite thing this week was...

Seeing the cat finally use his little cat cave.


My kids' favorite thing this week was...

Getting excited about halloween costumes. They had fun finding these animal things at Target while looking around for ideas in the halloween section of Target one day.

What does one do with a very large animal head after halloween?!  I think we'll pass on these, but they sure are funny.
Things I'm working on...

I worked on the yard some on Saturday. Felt good to get that done. Mostly just spraying of patios, picking up junk that needs to be tossed, and teaching Aric how to mow a lawn. I think I won't cringe when I walk in the backyard now. 

I'm cooking...

I made some homemade bread this week. It turned out perfect. I also made homemade chicken noodle soup, Korean beef, and pancakes for lunch. I am pretty pleased with how much I cooked this week.

That's about all for this week! Time for a new one tomorrow morning.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Portland, OR Rose Garden

We had a back to homeschool day at the Portland Rose Garden last week. April has been asking to go for many years now, and we tried to go on her birthday outing back in August, but it was just too busy. So, we packed up some nature study supplies, a camera, and set off to Portland on a beautiful sunny Tuesday morning.


We had a great time walking around. The roses were just beautiful, and in perfect bloom right now.


One of my goals this outing was to get some new back to school pictures for the blog. You know, to replace the ones on the side. I think we did pretty good, except that I had forgot to put the card back into my good camera. I had to use the iphone, so these pictures are pretty good, but I didn't get the best. We'll try again soon.


This archway was just beautiful.



Alex found an orange rose, just like his shirt.


This picture of April turned out just amazing. The lighting was so perfect.


Alex loved the big leaves.


A picture, Aaron style.


This sculpture was pretty neat, and the kids liked being able to walk under it.



Some beautiful flowers...


Let's Go Geography (A REVIEW)

Let's Go Geography

I have always dreamed of exploring the world without all the work it takes to get there, or in the case of homeschooling all the work it takes to round everything up just to study a country. Sometimes this busy homeschooling Momma needs one less thing to get together, and an open and go curriculum just sounds really nice. That's why I was pretty excited to find a geography curriculum for kids that would let us just take off and explore. Let's Go Geography has made it easy to find a country and explore through maps, crafts, books, flags, videos, and more with simple laid out lessons.

Let's Go Geography

This geography curriculum is an online subscription that you can have access to anywhere with an internet connection. Once you have a subscription all the lessons/countries are available to choose from, and you can download them at anytime. You can start at the beginning or jump around. There is also an email sent each week with the next country up for study to remind you where you are going next (if you choose to go in order). We started from the beginning with the United States, the Northeast region.

Alex, age 6, coloring his map for the map work.

Each lesson is broken up into sections. The sections consist of mapping, flag, music or video, exploring, and coloring or crafting. To begin we are encouraged to make a travel journal for each child so they can put all these maps, flags and other things they do throughout the lessons in one place. The flags are glued to a sheet (as pictured below) over time, and they are pretty small so several can fit on a page. Unfortunately my printer wasn't working very well during this review, but the flags print in a  way that the children can color them in with the correct colors. My kids improvised since they know the US flag pretty well.


There were a few things I really like about this curriculum, and one of them was the book recommendations. All the lessons we did had only one book suggested, which can be good or bad. I liked it because I didn't get overwhelmed about gathering tons of books. Also, the lesson takes you straight to the library call number of the book suggested. I found this to be very simple and helpful.

A book we picked up from the library about the Northeast. Our library didn't have the book suggested, but it had something close.

The next thing I really like about this curriculum is the simplicity of the pages. There is a lot of white space and pictures and different fonts in colors  to easily be able to follow through the lesson without feeling like there's a ton of reading and searching to get through it. But, even though it's simple, there's a lot packed into a lesson. The lessons basically walk you through studying the country. It's easy to break it up into separate days, or do it all in one day too.

Let's Go Geography
We received Year 1 for our review, but there are 3 years total for a full world-tour (see a schedule sample above) and complete geography curriculum. Although each year in itself has quite a bit of great places to study.

If you would like to see what others had to say about this product you can click on the banner below.

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

LEGO Mindstorms

After waiting for several weeks for our curriculum to arrive it felt like Christmas when it finally did. We had an unboxing, but I am afraid that one item for learning stole the show this time. It overshadowed any books that were in the box. I was kind of sad, but really most of the books we got were just the next level up in most of their current curriculum. Not as exciting for young boys as perhaps a LEGO Mindstorms set would be.


I really didn't need to buy a lot of actual curriculum for Aric (because we have so much already), so he had a lot of charter funds that could be used for something more fun but also educational. I thought that the Mindstorms would be a great choice for him. He's not old enough to do the LEGO robotics club at the charter school yet (5th and above), so I thought he could have this year to play with one of his own until next year when he can join.


He dived right in and built something that wasn't even in the book it came with. I guess there are all kinds of other builds online, so he picked the robot looking one. I can't even remember what it's called.


He figured out how to make it go with an app, but it can also be programmed. I might have to sit down and do this with him because I don't even know most of what it does! I was amazed to see how much he could figure out on his own.



He took a couple hours one morning to build this snake. He calls it "Nagini" because he is obsessed with Harry Potter right now, but I believe it's called the vip3r (viper). He has programmed it to strike when something is in front of it. It has gotten my leg a few times!

We'll see how long he stays interested in this. I think he will keep doing more fun projects with it for a while now. It'll be fun to see what he comes up with!

Imagine the Great Flood (A Review)

Barbour Publishing

I had the opportunity to review this book Imagine...The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing. It's a children's chapter book with an intriguing cover, 110 pages long, and about the size of an average paperback (which is what we received).

IMAGINE... The Great Flood

The story is about a 10 year-old boy who is struggling with a life challenge, somehow goes back in time to the time when Noah is building the ark, and learns some great lessons that help him to be appreciative of how his life isn't all that hard after all.

I started out by reading this to my boys as a read aloud, but they both said they weren't interested anymore about halfway through. So, I ended up reading the rest of it on my own. I really wish they wanted to hear the rest. I think they didn't quite get to the most interesting parts, and the integrated lessons. I found it to be an easy read, and good for any young reader up to teens. There were some intense parts for sure, but nothing that I found to be too much for even my 6 year-old.

I really loved how engaged Corey (the main character) was with the animals. I have never actually thought about how Noah's family might have interacted with the animals. Were they fierce? Could they really be in the same boat with a lion? Or a rhinoceros? Which by the way, Corey rides one at the end of this book. Who knows if anyone really rode a rhinoceros back when Noah's family was getting ready for the flood, but it was neat to think of the animals as tame creatures that actually helped Noah's family in a way only animals could do to get ready for the great flood.

Another interesting thing brought to my attention from this book is about the people that were on the earth at the time, they were called the "giants." In the book they are referred to as the Nephilim which is the Hebrew name for giant. They made for some pretty fierce enemies in the book, and helped me to visualize how hard it must have been for Noah and his family building a boat, and dealing with all kinds of problems from the people around them. I am sure it wasn't easy back in Noah's time, and this story about the Great Flood really shows how things might have been difficult in getting the animals rounded up and getting on the boat itself. Not to mention the fact that as the giants and others saw that the flood was really happening they were trying to get onto the boat too. I imagine there were a lot of people trying to make their way on when they realized they should have repented and listened!

This book is a nice easy read, and great for kids. What a great way for them to learn a little bit of facts about a well known Bible story. I love that it's not too preachy, and the lessons are left to be learned and understood by the reader. The overall moral is to trust God as Noah did. This is the first book of a series to be written with the next book coming in Spring of 2018 called Imagine..The Ten Plagues.

If you'd like to read other reviews you can click on the banner below.

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}
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Saturday, September 9, 2017

My Homeschool Mother's Journal: random happenings

Life this week...

We spent last Saturday getting some much needed clothes shopping done for the kids (and us). Mostly church clothes shopping, but we shopped for some regular things too. It was labor day weekend so we were hoping to hit up a few sales. We found a lot of great stuff on clearance mostly, and a few sales. I think Dad ended up with 6 pairs of new pants for work all for $30. Did I mention we love the clearance rack?
My arms full of everyone's findings while waiting at the dressing room for someone.

We hit up Burlington coat factory too. That's a great place to find good quality cheaper clothes too. Alex found this shirt, and guess what? We came home with that one. It was too cute. As you can see he's already wearing it in the picture above (at JCPenney).


Guess what else we found on clearance that came home with us that day? A new washer. We couldn't pass up a screamin' deal on this washer that was behind the checkout with a clearance tag on it as we were buying all our clothes. Our current set is 17 years old. They both have been fixed quite a few times, and we had talked about replacing them sometime in the near future. It was time to start. Besides this thing was NICE. It even sings a beautiful little song when it's done washing, as if it's happy to be done. No more annoying loud buzzer. It makes us all smile.

Salem thoroughly inspecting the new washer in town.
It took a day to get it out of the living room, but finally we got it installed. Can you see in the picture below how the handle is taped on our old dryer? Yep, the dryer's next! This washer is amazing, and can do double what my last washer could. Now to get a dryer that can dry that huge load.

new washer, old dryer

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

At the Dr. office on Tuesday afternoon. I had to take all the kids, so they waited in the waiting room for close to an hour. Usually I leave them at home, but we had other errands to run that they needed to come for, so we made life work for us that day.


Ice Skating lessons started up again. This time Aric and Alex are doing them. They had a good time, and I think they will learn a lot.


They didn't want me to take their picture...


My favorite thing this week was...
My kids' favorite thing this week was...

Buying oversize freeze pops from Cash 'n carry. Our local pool had a "free freeze pop Friday" over the summer. We only realized this the last few weeks of the summer, so we went for the last Friday, and by the time we got out of the pool they had run out since it was the last one. I asked the guy where they got them from because they were huge and we had never seen them before. He said Cash 'n carry, so I promised the kids we would pick up a box since we missed it that day. They loved having our own box.


Things I'm working on...

Until today I was working on this Christmas puzzle. It was fun to cheat a little and do this one even though Christmas is several months away. I finished it today, and will now pass it along to someone else.


What's working/not working for us...
Questions/thoughts I have...
I'm grateful for...

Being able to rescue our cat from off the roof this week without any broken bones, us or him. Aaron was able to get up on the ladder and grab him. He looks calm and relaxed in this picture, but he was not. I think he was starting to get worried about how he would get down.


He walked around on the roof like this for quite a while looking for a place to get down. There was no way. I think he used a fence to get up there, and I don't think he could quite land on the fence the same way he got off. I have a great appreciation for cat rescues now.


Mom's Favorite...

A sweet moment at church. Alex was the reverence child in primary. Basically he helps the children come in and sit down quietly while waiting for everyone to come in.


That about wraps up our week! I should have more homeschool and learning happenings soon as we get more into the swing of things.

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