Sunday, December 23, 2012

Super Fruit Yeast Bread

As I have mentioned before my family and I are doing our best to eat healthier and make better food choices. One of the ways I am trying to feed my family better is by making our own bread. I enjoy knowing what is in our loaves of bread and also not being dependent on the grocery store to supply our bread needs. Now that I have pretty much mastered our daily bread recipe I am going to be trying various fruit bread recipes to get my kids, especially my youngest 3 who are all under 2 years old to eat more fruit, specifically super fruits like goji berries.

Here is my Super Fruit Yeast Bread recipe:

2tsp yeast
.5 cup honey
1.5 cup warm water

Mix above ingredients and let stand until bubbly

3.5 cups whole wheat flour (sometimes I do all whole wheat and other times I substitute with 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup rolled oats
1.5 tsp sea salt
1.5T butter cut in 3 chunks
.5 cup vital wheat gluten
.25 cup ground flax meal
2tsp cinnamon

.5 cup dried mulberries
.25 cup goji berries

Mix dry ingredients except for the berries. Add above ingredients to your bread machine according to your machine's instructions. Typically the wet ingredients are added first and the dry ingredients are added on top. Add fruit when you machine does the "ok to add fruit" beep, typically near the end of the first kneading cycle.

Wait until the loaf is done baking and enjoy!!

As an aside, I use all organic ingredients in my bread baking when available. I have found that even when using organic ingredients my per loaf cost is still less than that of preservative and chemical laden store bought bread.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy

As I mentioned in a previous post I have been searching for a science curriculum that was not only fun and exciting, but one that was also engaging and educational. Most important however, was to find a science curriculum that explained science topics from a creationist young world view.

As we near completion of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy: Young Explorer Series I can say with certain that we have found a science curriculum that fits the bill of what I was looking for and much more.

My boys and I enjoyed this book so much that we finished it in just a few months, despite it being a year long program.

This Exploring Creation with Astronomy book begins with the sun and each subsequent chapter discusses the planets progressing outwards from the sun. Included is also a chapter on the moon, space rocks, stars and galaxies, and space travel.

Not only is this book scientifically sound but also included in each chapter are solid arguments for why God is the creator of our universe. The author Jeannie K. Fulbright, presents naysayers thoughts and gently but affirmatively discusses why it makes more sense that God created each event and object in our universe perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing these points of arguments with my boys and feel confident that these discussions have added to their ability to defend their faith and belief in creation rather than evolution.

To our studies I also chose to add the optional notebook journal. Their is a junior notebook journal or a regular "older child" journal available to augment this study. We chose the regular journal for our 6th grade son and advanced 3rd grade son. The activities and notebooking assignments are well suited for their abilities. The notebooking journal includes crossword puzzles, review questions, interesting fact journaling, recording space for experiments and mini books for each chapter. I felt that each activity in the journals complemented the textbook wonderfully and added to my boys understanding and retention of astronomy. Many of the journal assignments added to our discussions and acted as a springboard for further study and learning.

The textbook and notebooks (regular and junior versions) are available from a number of book retailers. Because I purchased these resources I will refrain from recommending one vendor over another.

Suffice to say we are thoroughly enjoying exploring astronomy using Apologia's text and notebooking journal. My boys and I are already discussing which science topic we will study next.

Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions in this review are mine. Compensation was not provided for thsi review.


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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Verse of the day

This past week has been full of changes, changes for the better but changes nonetheless.

During the dark hours of this morning I had a few moments to immerse myself in His word. I launched the Holy Bible app on my iPad so as not to disturb my family that was still sleeping. As I pondered what God was about to teach my in my current study I was greeted with this daily verse:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

While this verse refers to new believers I found it so appropriate to the changes that have happened in my life this past week. As we grow in Christ and learn to become more like Him our "old" life is continually shed and a new life begins. Let us not remain stagnant in our faith but rather always learning and growing to be more like our Father in Heaven.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Azure Standard

In response to my recent post on buying organic and non-GMO products for my family, many of you have asked how I afford this new diet change for my large family of 8.

Put simply, I shop our local grocery store on their discount health food day and purchase a large portion of our monthly grocery items from Azure Standard.

Azure Standard is based out of Durfur, Oregon and ships organic and natural food and household items all across the country. Azure orders are shipped monthly via independent trucking companies and utilize local volunteers for coordinating drop locations. Drop sites are dependent on local interest and the willingness of others to help manage each drop location. I am a drop coordinator for my local location. We receive nothing in return for our efforts, not even a discount on our orders. I work to keep Azure coming to my town because I appreciate the ability to buy organic foods at a discount price compared to my local stores. Azure also carries a wider variety of organic options than what I can find in my midwest town.

Yes, buying all organic and natural foods for a large family can be difficult on the monthly food budget. However, if it is a priority for you then you will find a way to make it happen. I'd encourage you to take a hard look at other areas of your budget and "
surplus" spending habits. My husband and I have curtailed much of our impulse purchases and trimmed things from our budget that we do not need to free more money to buy the foods that we feel are most important for our young family.

Being that we are a young family, I enjoy the fact that I can purchase in bulk from Azure at incredibly reasonable prices. For example, I make all of our bread, no more store bought bread for our family. Because of this I use a lot of organic whole wheat flour. If I had to buy the quantity of flour that I need locally, I would break the bank. However, through Azure I can purchase 25lb bags of flour for a fraction of the cost locally (not to mention I can't buy 25lb bags in my town). Not only do I buy our flour in bulk, I also now purchase organic oats, organic sugar, organic pastry flour, and numerous other dry good items in bulk with Azure. The depth and variety of organic and non-GMO items available at Azure is varied and reasonably priced. Best of all, they are adding new products every month so the variety of items we can get through Azure is only getting better.

I'd encourage you to check out Azure and see if there is a drop near you. If there isn't don't be discouraged. Contact Azure directly and they will put you in contact with the trucking company that serves your state. Talk to the trucking company and let them know you would like to have Azure come to your home town.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

They Say Women Change Every Decade

Photo courtesy of
It is generally said that every new decade in a woman's like brings marked change and growth. We mature, grow, and typically improve with age. Looking back upon my own life I can see now points at which I changed and grew into the person I am now. However, never before did I realize I was in the midst of a change as it was happening. That is until now.

I can see it, I can feel it. The change is dramatic. It is life changing. Life altering. My family and I will never be the same because of this change, a dramatic change in our eating. From the outside the change seems simple but the difference in my mindset is dramatic.

This change in our eating habits has been slowly growing over the past few years. However, a few months ago after educating myself about the food handling industry in this country my mindset about what I feed my family has changed 180 degrees. Sure I have always cared about what I fed my family, made sure there were vegetables at nearly every meal, tried to cook low fat recipes, and overall tried to give my family well balanced food options. But we all still enjoyed plenty of junk food. Fruit snacks, processed foods of every kind, and never gave any thought to where our meat and dairy products came from. I have bought as much organic vegetables as our budget could allow for quite sometime but didn't give enough thought to what it meant when we didn't buy organic.

Enter the documentaries Food Inc. and Food Matters, both of which can be found on Netflix. Food Matters is regularly offered for free on their Facebook page. These two films were the springboard for the complete overhaul of my cooking and grocery purchasing choices. Organic fruits and vegetables only enter this house now. If I can't afford grass fed beef or organic chicken then we do without and make what we have last longer. I bypass 90% of the grocery store aisles now, opting only for the organic and health food sections. Organic vegetables, homemade goods and unprocessed foods have invaded our home and I couldn't be happier.

Why such an overhaul and drastic change in our eating habits? Simply put, it now sickens me to think about all of the preservatives, genetically modified, and empty calorie food that was being brought into my house. And keep in mind we have always eaten "healthy" compared to most families. I can no longer in good conscience purchase preservative and genetically modified laden foods for my family. It makes me sick to think about putting that stuff on their plate or mine. Also, I am a strong believer in using the blessings that God has given us to the best of our ability. In this case that means using the financial means that He has bestowed upon us the best that I can and I do not believe that God ever intended for us to be putting all of that unnatural stuff into our bodies. Therefore, I can not with clear conscience purchase those things for my family with the money he has blessed us with.

The way I now grocery shop, prepare meals, and feed my family is a complete diversion from earlier times in my life. I am also creeping up in age and nearing the infamous "40". Growing older hopefully means also growing wiser. My new way of thinking is not a fad, a new craze, or a passing fashion. I don't have the mindset of "oh we will just do this for a while" like most of us think when we embark upon a new diet. There is no end in sight for this new "me". This is simply just "me". I know now what happens to our meat supply, I know what is in that genetically modified (GMO) fruit and vegetable. I know what all of those preservatives do longterm to our bodies. Please research these topics for yourself, watch documentaries on these subjects. The truth is not pretty and is frankly digesting.

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Burnt out on homeschooling? Tired of planning lessons week after week? Or perhaps you have lost the luster of lesson creativity and now just throw things together to "check one more lesson off of your list". 

I have been there and will likely be there again as I continue down our homeschooling career.

Thankfully this year I have found my answer. When I don't have the time or energy to plan a spelling lesson or teach a math lesson I can now turn to for my solution. 

If you have been homeschooling for a while perhaps you have heard of or are familiar with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Teachers Toolbox. replaced the old Teachers Toolbox and now provides an updated, streamlined, and more accessible source of teaching tools and lessons. The new site provides daily, weekly, and monthly lessons on a wide variety of subjects. Everything from the basic subjects like math and language arts to more specialized subjects like guitar and foreign language. With your monthly membership you not only get access to all of the lessons but also menu planning and each of the 5 Schoolhouse Planners when they become available (after 9 months of paid membership).

Photobucket is jam packed with such a variety of lessons and wonderful "daily" content that it is hard to pick my favorite to highlight. So instead I will discuss the resources that I have been turning to most often since beginning my membership. 

For my kindergarten daughter I am using the spelling lessons and reading lists most often. I am enjoying that the spelling lessons present four words over the course of one week. During that week the student uses those 4 words in a variety of ways such as answering questions, fill in the blank, and picture drawing. My 5 year old is a hands on learner and is enjoying the varied approach to learning her words each week compared to our previous "workbook" style of spelling lessons.

My 3rd grade 8 year old is most enjoying the history and United States geography lessons. He is crazy about both subjects and is excited each day to find out what the new lesson is and what he gets to research and explore. These lessons have been wonderful spring boards for further research and learning opportunities. I appreciate that fact that he is excited about and learning things that I hadn't thought about introducing and also frankly don't have the time to prepare because of other family obligations (namely 3 littles ones under the age of 2).

A few months back I began praying for a guitar lesson opportunity for my 11 year old 6th grader. Weekly lessons at the music store aren't not feasible for a variety of reasons right now but I know how badly he wants to learn how to play. So imagine my surprise and joy when I noticed that includes guitar lessons. My 11 year old is thrilled (as am I). These lessons alone more than pay for the monthly fee that charges. Now my oldest son can advance his guitar abilities at his pace from the comfort of our home. 

So as you can see is not geared towards a certain age group of students. There is a wide variety of lessons and learning opportunities for every age, including adults (music, voice, and foreign languages to name just a few).


Specific Details:
Price: $1 for the 1st month and $5.95 each month thereafter

Included with each membership (taken straight from the website FAQs):

A membership provides you with all the daily, weekly, and monthly lessons from our expert Schoolhouse Teachers and Contributors, but there is much more. It also gives you all five Schoolhouse Daily Planners each year; the five, together, represent a $125 value. The 2012-2013 Planners will be available in June.

The 2011-2012 Planners can be downloaded at any time. Though the school year is winding down, you’ll still benefit from literally hundreds of pages of articles, supports, helps, encouragements, games, informational lists, and other benefits (as well as a few months of tracking space). The 2011-2012 Schoolhouse Planner alone is 819 pages! There are also separate planners for elementary, middle school, and high school ages, and a planner for special needs children.

A membership also provides with you access to our past (archived) and future Expo webinars—we have had up to one thousand attendees at each webinar. We cover the latest in home education trends and sponsor many free giveaways. For instance, the March webinar featured Jay Ryan teaching about astronomy and Andy Harris teaching on Google Earth. (What a blast that was!) Note: The Expo-to-Go postings will go up on our site in May.

There’s more: The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine delivered by TOS straight to your inbox monthly; all The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine digital back issues (easily searchable); a free E-Book every month; and, after 12 months of uninterrupted membership, you’ll receive a $25 gift certificate to the Totally TOS section of The Schoolhouse Store!

You can begin your membership here


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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