Friday, July 30, 2010

Apple Pie in a Jar Canning Recipe

The early apple trees here in the midwest are beginning to hang heavy with fruit. Not wanting to waste any of the beautiful fruit that has grown from the trees in our yard I have had to seek out canning recipes for apples. If you like apple pies or apple pie filling, then this recipe is for you. The smell when this is cooking is simply amazing. The scent of cinnamon and nutmeg fills the house as the syrup is cooking.

Apple Pie in a Jar
Makes enough for 8 quarts

4 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
10 cup water
3 T. lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together except the lemon juice. Cook until bubbly and thick. Then add the lemon juice. Peel and slice apples. Boil water in a medium sized pot. Place clean quart jars in boiling water for at least 1 minute. Carefully remove hot jar and fill with sliced apples. Cover with syrup and seal with hot ring and lid. When all of the quarts are filled place in a hot water bath for 20-25 minutes.

A note of caution: make sure the jar lids are tightly closed. Also, do not immediately remove the jars from the hot water bath. Let them cool for a while in the bath. If you remove the hot jars immediately from the hot water you run the risk of having the jars leak. I lost 2 quarts of this yummy mixture because of leakage. After all the hard work I put into peeling, coring, and slicing the apples I was slightly upset to loose any of my hard work. Rather than throw out the apple mixture from the leaking jars, I froze the mixture and will use in the next month or so on waffles or pancakes.

Apple pie in a jar can be used as apple pie filling during those cold winter months. Just open a jar and fill your favorite pie crust with this yummy mixture. Also, my family loves apple pie filling over waffles and pancakes.

I hope you enjoy this recipe next time you have extra apples to prepare.

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Reaping the Blessings From the Garden

Since moving to the midwest almost 4 months ago my family and I have experienced a dramatic shift in our lifestyle. The change we have experienced has been a huge blessing.  Because this move was sanctioned and shepherded by our Heavenly Father, the blessings that have bestowed us are because of Him. While the blessings in our new life and plentiful, in this article I want to focus on the bountiful blessings from our garden.

Early this Spring my Mom and I tilled the soil, weeded, expanded her garden to provide for the extra food needs my average sized family needs, planted our seeds and seedlings, and finally said a prayer over all of our hard work. My prayer included the typical things you would say over an area of land that could potentially burst with fresh foods for my family but it also included a closing line of "grow or die". Sounds odd I know, and in my family it is more of a running joke. But when you think about it, it is true. You want your seeds and seedlings to either grow with heartiness or quickly wither and die so you can replant. In the midwest a potentially bountiful garden can be quickly destroyed by a strong storm full of wind and hail. The storm can wipe out all of your hard work in a matter of minutes. Fortunately, for us a storm of this magnitude has not come to fruition this summer. As a result, our arms are over flowing with the bounty of our hard work early this Spring.

As I am quickly coming to realize is that the vegetables from the garden are more numerous than we can consume before they spoil. As a result, canning has taken on a whole new magnitude in the past month or so. In the coming weeks I will begin sharing my canning recipes, many of which have been handed down from previous generations and have stood the test of time. My canning recipes will include salsa, tomato sauce, apple pie in a jar, refrigerator pickles, dill pickles, pickled beets, spicy pickles, spicy carrots and peppers, and many more!

If there is a canning recipe you are in need of and do not have a recipe just let me know and I will see what I have stashed away in our family canning book.

As a side note, I want to apologize for not posting lately. Reviews have deadlines so when I am busy with country life they take precedent over other postings. I miss posting desperately though. As our homeschool starts ramping up I will share more about our new journey of homeschooling in the midwest.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review: Same Kind if Different As Me

Are you looking for an inspirational Christian book to read this summer? Do you want something more than just the average motivational, scripture referencing book to sit down with and enjoy the final days of sun and relaxationSame Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together just might be the book you are looking for.

I enjoy true Christian stories written from a first person perspective. I appreciate that fact that these real life stories tell about the good and bad aspects of reality as a Christian. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is a first rate true life story about two very unlikely men who come to know each other through a very Godly woman, Ron's wife Debbie. A series of amazing events bring these two unlikely men together for what becomes a lifetime of friendship, brotherhood, and missionary work together side by side. Ron comes from an average middle-class family and becomes a multi-millionaire selling art internationally. Denver is a 1960's share cropper from Louisiana who escapes his life of poverty by jumping on a train for California but ends up settling in Fort Worth, Texas homeless and illiterate. When Ron and his wife Debbie start volunteering at the homeless shelter on the other side of the tracks their paths join with Denver's and neither of their lives will ever be the same. In a story of love, hope, loss, and rejoice these two men forge a bond that otherwise seems impossible. Only the hand of God could bring these two men together. 

In one short afternoon I read through this average length book. In the easy to read first hand account written from both Ron and Denver's point of view I was immediately drawn into their lives. I felt pain as I read about Denver's early life on the plantation in the mid twentieth century in an area of the country stuck in a time warp from the days of slavery. I felt hope for Ron and Debbie as they struggled through marriage problems. I rejoiced as Ron and Denver began to forge a friendship that was clearly ordained by our Heavenly Father. I cried buckets of tears as the two walked through a great period of loss together. And finally felt relief and love as they continued their missionary work with the homeless despite their pain and loss. This book will most certainly become a permanent part of my book shelf collection. Not only for repeated readings when I need encouragement and hope of what God can do in the lives of otherwise hopeless people but also to share with friends and family. 

Book description from the publisher

A true, inspirational story that crosses the barriers of society.
Meet Denver, raised under plantation-style slavery in Louisiana until he escaped "da Man"—in the 1960s—by hopping a train. Then, after another 18 homeless years on the streets of Dallas, God moved . . . and a godly woman named Deborah prayed, listened, and obeyed. Mountains began to move, beginning with her husband, Ron, an international art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani suits and art-collecting millionaires.
The story takes a devasting twist when Deborah discovers she has cancer. Will Deborah live or die? Will Denver learn to trust a white man? Will Ron embrace his dying wife's vision to rescue Denver? Or will Denver be the one rescuing Ron?
There's pain and laughter, doubt and tears, and in the end a triumphal story that readers will never forget.

Thomas Nelson Publishing provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: TOS June 2010 Travel the World module

If you regularly read my blog you know that I am a The Old Schoolhouse (TOS) Crew member for the 2010-2011 school year. As a crew member I will be reviewing homeschool related products on a regular basis. My first review assignment as a TOS crew member is the TOS June 2010 Travel the World Module.

My boys and I will be studying geography this coming school year so I was excited to get this module in my hot little hands.

Upon first review it was obvious that this e-book was packed with useful information, educational hyperlinks, and fun but educational games for students to utilize. As my boys and I gathered around the computer to read the module and interact with the numerous links that are spread throughout the lesson we were immediately engrossed in the subject at hand. We enjoyed learning about longitude and latitude, the tropic lines, the hemispheres, and all the various countries described in this module just to name a few.

As a Mom and their teacher I appreciated that this module from TOS presented the geography material in easy to read paragraphs with a minimum of 2 relevant links in each subsection. I screened for relevant and age appropriate links within this e-book before sitting down with my boys. I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of the links were educational, relevant, and added helpful discussion points as we went through the lesson. My boys most enjoyed the geography quiz games that we played after learning about the various continents. The games were simple enough that they could operate the game themselves while at the same time quizzed them on the names of the countries within each continent. 

At only 54 learning content pages this ebook is short enough to print and not worry about wasted ink or paper. Personally, I printed a copy of the book to read through before teaching my boys because I enjoying having books in my hand. Having a printed copy by my side as I went through the lesson with my kids helped me to keep my place as I scrolled through the ebook file.

In addition to all the education information within the TOS June 2010 Travel the World module there are also coloring pages, lapbook beginnings, word searches, other fun geography related activities, as well as enrichment activities for high school students. My boys (ages 8 & 5) and my 3 year old daughter enjoyed the coloring pages and word search. Lapbooking is not our style but I did look over the lapbook materials and they appear to be of high educational quality just like the rest of the module. Additionally, the high school supplements are challenging and educational for the older kids in your family. As a Mom teaching to different grade levels I can appreciate the fact that having a high school portion in this module is of great asset. It is so convenient to teach the same lesson to numerous grade levels within the same family. Take the hassle out of planning lessons for every child in your family on the same topic, use a TOS module.

I am looking forward to going through this book again later this year as we delve more into geography during our school year. If you are looking for a geography lesson or simply something to add to your geography plans for this year, I encourage you to check out the TOS June 2010 Travel the World Module.

To view a sample of this module click here.

You can buy the TOS June 2010 Travel the World module for $7.95

If you would like to read more reviews on this product please visit the TOS Crew blog

You can visit The Schoolhouse store here

From the The Old Schoolhouse website:

Packed full of information, hyperlinks, puzzles, quizzes, and more, all to add fun to your investigation of the world!
How is the earth the setting for God’s story?
Can you piece together the countries of Africa by their shapes?
How do numbers help us find locations on the globe?
Here’s a wonderful opportunity to use your child’s natural curiosity to enhance his or her knowledge of related science and geography topics while investigating many fun facets of learning about God’s wonderful design for the earth. 
Look inside this module to find exciting learning adventures:
  • Travel around the seven continents researching your favorite places to visit.
  • Explore fun geography facts with links to even more geography fun!
  • Begin creating your own Travel the World lapbook.
  • Discover what the Bible says about God’s design for earth.
  • Learn important lessons from map activities!
  • Enjoy Internet games as you tour each continent.
  • Use the high school expansion section and integrate geography into many interesting fields of study!
What is a module?
module is an add-on for The Schoolhouse Planner, the amazing planner brought to you by The Old Schoolhouse®. This module includes a study guide, activity pages, quizzes, coloring pages, copywork, lapbooking, and more! 

You do not have to have The Schoolhouse Planner to use the modules. Each module is designed to be its own stand-alone unit study. You can choose to purchase the modules by themselves or bundle them with The Schoolhouse Planner.

I received the TOS June 2010 Travel the World module free of charge from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for the purpose of this honest review, no other compensation was received.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: Purely Products Pocket Purifier and Sunmate Giveaway

Do you wipe down shopping carts, diaper bags, and purses with chemical disinfecting wipes everyday  like I do? Are you looking for a chemical and waste free solution that is still effective in disinfecting germs and bacteria?

Purely Products Pocket Purifier might be your answer.
The Pocket Purifier by Purely Products is a handheld germ eliminating light which uses UV (ultraviolet light) to sanitize surfaces (keyboards, cell phones, computer keyboards, kitchen countertops, sinks, public bathrooms & transportation, toys, pacifiers, bottoms/interior of purses & diaper bags, etc). UV nanotechnology kills 99.9% of germs that cause colds & flu, plus e-coli, salmonella, mold, fungus, and MRSA (staph) without chemicals.
Purely Products recently sent me a pocket purifier to use. After fumbling around (strictly operator error) with the 4-AA batteries I was able to get the unit functional. I was pleased to find out that it is lightweight and fits nicely in my average sized purse. I am a habitual user of the disinfecting wipes offered near the shopping carts in my local grocery stores so I was excited to ditch the mess and use my new pocket purifier on my next trip to the store. I have to admit that my next couple of visits to the store did not include using the pocket purifier. I simply forgot I even had it with me out of sheer habit to grab the chemical wipes near the shopping carts. After making a mental note on my next trip to town I used the purifier for the first time. The manufacturer recommends using the purifier for 10-15 seconds on the areas you want to disinfect. Personally, I like to wipe down a large portion of my shopping carts to make sure my kids and I are not exposed to germs and bacteria. Holding the purifier over each area for 10-15 seconds proved to be a little time consuming, especially with 3 kids in tow. However, when I was shopping alone using the pocket purifier was not a hassle at all. Also, I used the purifier to disinfect the bottom and inside of my purse which was incredibly fast and easy. Another added bonus I found on the pocket purifier was the flashlight. One night my husband went to bed early and I used the flashlight to continue reading my book while he slept. After numerous uses, the pocket purifier has proven to be a very convenient and useful addition to my purse. If you are looking for a chemical free way to disinfect surfaces, consider Purely Products' pocket purifier.
Purely Products also sent me another one of their products to try. My family and I spend a lot of time outside during the summer so I was very excited to use Purely Products' Sunmate. Convenient and light-weight, the Sunmate was an excellent way to measure the intensity of the sun's rays so that I could make good sun protection choices for my family. With the simple push of a button the Sunmate gave a read-out of 1-5 which indicated the UV intensity. The Purely Products website indicates that the Sunmate was rated "Best Beach Tech" by Shape Magazine in May 2009.
About the company: Purely Products provides responsible products for responsible living. Purely is focused on developing eco-friendly products for clean and healthy living for families, while also helping kids.  

Price: Pocket Purifier is $29.95; Sunmate is $19.95.

A percentage of every Purely Products sale supports diaperLove, a non-profit providing diapers to children in need.  For more info, go to

From now until August 5, 2010 Purely Products is offering 25% all of their products (excluding UV replacement bulbs) for all of my readers. Visit their summer sale to receive your special discount.
Would you like a chance to win your own Purely Products Sunmate? Purely Products is graciously giving away a Sunmate to one of my readers. For a chance to win a Sunmate leave a comment on this post describing how you could benefit from using a Sunmate with your family.
For additional entries:
  • Follow my blog either through Google or Networked blogs. Leave a comment.
  • Blog about this giveaway. Leave a link in the comments.
  • Tweet about this giveaway. Leave a link, one comment per day allowed.
  • Visit the Purely Products website and comment here about another product you would like to use.
Giveaway ends at midnight, Thursday, July 29th, 2010.

This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Purely Products for this review.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Writing for the

I recently became the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) homeschool writer for the Not only do I get to write about a topic I love; homeschooling, I also get paid for my articles. If you have a love of writing (or even just enjoy it) then you can get paid to write. Extra cash is always a good thing! is  looking for local writers in a variety of topics. Examiners write about everything from home improvement, politics, technology, education, and may more subjects. Check out today and if you decide to become an Examiner please let them know I sent you and then let me know where I can read your articles.

Happy writing friends!

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Lessons learned this week

I am a firm believer in reflecting upon your day, your week, and sometimes even your life to learn lessons and grow from them. Growth can not happen without reflection. Having said that, I thought I would share with you some things I learned this week.

1. I have 2 boys that are wired completely different. One can sit for long periods of time and do all the school work I assign him. While my other son has a physiological need to be active. He has a real need to climb and can not focus until that energy is spent.

2. When the school day starts out rough it is OK to pause. Letting the disruptive or discouraged child run outside and play with the promise that school will get done today is GOOD for all parties involved. (this technique saved our Thursday)

3. It is OK to pick up what you are working on and take it to the park so the kids can play. A change of scenery is often beneficial for all parties involved. Next time though, I will pick a park not near a cow farm so the flies aren't so atrocious.

4. I was blessed with a son that does not baulk when I ask him to clean the bathroom. I will be utilizing this gift as much as possible. :)

5. Kicking the side of a car door accidentally hurts really badly. This will cause you to limp for hours and not be able to bend your knee for even longer. Note: DO NOT kick the side of a car door with your knee on accident unless you desire the afore mentioned side effects.

6. My mind too often turns "on" in the middle of the night. Staying awake for hours on end in the wee morning hours makes for a very tired Momma at night. Note: if at all possible get a nap on those nights when sleep was tough.

7. My back is not cut out to mow lawn on a riding mower. Lesson learned, our house will have a smooth lawn; no hills and no bumps.

8. I am blessed! I have amazing kids and a wonderful and loving husband.

What are some lessons you learned this week?

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Research Supporting Homeschooling

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is no stranger to the homeschool community. On the other hand solid research on homeschool statistics and outcomes is incredibly hard to come by. So when I found out that the HSLDA had commissioned a study on homeschool education including family dynamics and overall education achievements I was excited to read the results. You can read the Homeschool Progress Report 2009: Academic Achievement and Demographics here. The study was performed in the Spring of 2008 by Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute.

Thank you Dr. Ray and the HSLDA for commissioning and publishing a thorough study that shows exactly what us homeschool parents already know; homeschooling is the best hands down for a child's education.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review: Cast of Characters: Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God

Have you ever wondered about certain people from the Bible? Ever questioned what happened to them? Why were they important? Why were they chosen?

I know in my reading of the Bible I have wondered these and many other questions about the various people described in the Bible. Because of this I was intrigued to read Max Lucado's book Cast of Characters: Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God. As with the other books I have read by Lucado, I was not disappointed with this one. In his book Lucado wonders out loud about everyone from Joesph to Peter. In his typical short chapters and easy reading, Lucado asks and answers the same questions many of us wonder while we are reading scripture. Of course he can not answer everything, there is so much left for the imagination in the white spaces of the Bible. Despite this, Lucado's wit and humor make for an enjoyable read about a wide array of characters presented in the Bible. 

Also included at the end of each chapter is a set of review/study questions about the character and topics discussed in the proceeding chapter. I found these questions to be particularly insightful when Lucado referenced verses. Through these review questions I stumbled upon verses I have either never read or have never really "read" for their meaning.  If you have ever wondered about the cast of characters in the Bible or you enjoy Lucado's writing style, I highly recommend this book.

From the publisher book description

Some of the most powerful stories from the Bible will come alive for today’s readers through these inspiring selections from the writings of Max Lucado. Max provides a compelling look at the most high-impact moments in the biblical narrative, drawn from his previous 20+ years of writing. At the end of each chapter will be study guide questions so the reader can go deeper into this scripture.

Extraordinary stories are told about the following characters: Mary, Peter, Matthew, Joseph, Nicodemus, Woman at the Well, David, Esther, Job, The Samaritan Woman, John, Rich Young Man.
Thomas Nelson Publishing kindly provided me with free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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First Year Went Way Too Quickly!

I remember it so clearly; this time last year I was eagerly and anxiously awaiting the start of our first year of homeschooling. I thought I had it all figured out. I had chosen a "boxed" curriculum, I had all the school supplies, and we had a cute place to work. All I was waiting for was August to roll around and we'd begin our first year. SO much has changed from July 2009 to July 2010, I will spare you all the details. Suffice to say, our first year of homeschooling was a HUGE blessing and an even BIGGER challenge some days.

Through it all though, I feel like our first year flew by with lightning speed. The boys and I learned about everything from Creation to the Greeks, the human body to a greater detail than I remember learning in elementary school, math facts spilled from their lips, and we gleaned a lot of enjoyment from our morning devotional time together as a family. I just simple can not believe that our first year has been finished for over 2 months and we are on the cusp of starting a new year. No longer am I a "first year homeschooler", but rather I am a "second year homeschool Mom who doesn't know much more than last year but I know how to stumble through the bad days and rejoice on the great days".

I am incredibly excited for our 2nd year to begin sometime in August. No, I haven't set a date for our "official" first day. Much to our style, we will just start when it feels right. I know the boys will start showing signs when they are ready to get back to the books in earnest. As it stands now, my oldest is reviewing stuff from last year that he struggled with and my 5 year old is knee deep in his 1st grade materials. My boys have 2 very different learning styles and personalities which keeps our days interesting to say the least. I have one son who burns out very quickly but always has to be challenged so I have to manage his work load very carefully to maximize the time we spend together learning. My other son will do anything I put in front of him without one word of complaint. But I digress, I am excited about the new curriculum we are adding and the old favorites we are returning to.

In the coming weeks be on the look out for curriculum reviews, TOS Crew reviews, book reviews, and the typical musings from this homeschool Mom.

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