Thursday, February 28, 2013

Time4learning update

I wanted to add an update to my last post reviewing Time4learning, but my ipad is being a pest and I couldn't seem to get to the end of the post and add text succesfully.  On that note, time for a new post I guess!

A problem for many people who desire virtual learning for multiple children is the lack of electronic availability.  For instance we are teaching 3 children, and only have one laptop in addition to my ipad.   For the first two weeks, they were actually taking turns doing school which is not sustainable by any stretch of the imagination.  I know a lot of people believe that school cannot be accomplished on an ipad due to needing flash capabilities.  I've got good news for you!  For $9.99 there is a flash app called "Photon" you can purchase one time and have flash forevermore on your ipad.  You open up the program, simply type the address in the browser bar, and then click the lightning bolt to the right:  Voila!  Flash.  Simultaneous learning going on in our one laptop household is a beautiful thing.  :)  Hope this helps someone out there make their day more manageable.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My thoughts on Time4Learning

Hello friends,

It's been way too long.  I began home schooling again this year.  You may remember that I had done that previously with the littles and then sent them back to school after a health crisis.  This year, they came back home where they belong.  :)

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning is an online educational program that can be used in many ways including as a homeschooling curriculum or afterschool tutorial. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

This time I have 3 that are of school age, and it was tricky to be teacher to a second, fourth and sixth grader.  I was stretched pretty thin.  I tried to stage the work that they needed one on one so that they would not all need me at once.  It was a long day and required a couple of hours weekly to plan it all.

By mid year I was in a rut, or feeling near a melt-down.  LOL  This brings me to how I came to try Time4Learning.  I had heard it mentioned a few times, and I loved the idea of a virtual or online home school.  The problem is that most of the options I checked out were quite costly, and it was not an option for one, much less three children.  I decided to check this site out that I had heard about without too much hope to be honest.

I signed the boys up on a whim when I found it was only $19.95 for the first child, ad $14.95 for subsequent students.  For $50.00 per month, I could have all three children using this online source for their home learning.  I was pretty happy to find something that was actually affordable.  As a side note, there is a satisfaction guarantee with this company.  You can try it and cancel within two weeks paying nothing if you decide this is not the curriculum for you, so there is really no risk.

It's been two weeks now that we have been using Time4Learning, and it's been a life saver!  Not only is the planning done for me, but it also keeps records that can be printed out easily for portfolios and the like.  That alone was a relief.

You choose the subjects you want your child to do daily.  We chose from Language arts extensions, Language Arts, Math, science and social studies.  We had been really lacking with the science and social studies before trying out Time4Learning, as I was overhwelmed with everything else in our prior curriculum.  Now I feel good that they are getting lessons in these subjects as well.

The icing on the cake is that the children actually like it!  I have listened in on a majority of the lessons and they really are learning!  We were reading so much with our previous curriculum, and none of the boys really remembered much of it despite all of our laboring.  This gives information in digestible amounts, and exercises their reading and comprehension skills without being over-burdensome.  There are worksheets, projects, tests and quizzes and the parent decides which of these go onto their child's activity calendar.  We have been using them all.  It takes approximately 2 hours to complete daily, which is a good thing as we only have one family computer.  I'm hoping to have a second one by next year.  The rest of the day can be spent pursuing child-led interests, or co-op activities.  This is so nice as my 6th grader is interested in computer programming and spends time doing that daily along with reading his dad's success books.

If you find that a particular subject is too far advanced, or below your child's level, it is easy to go into the account and change it with a click of your mouse.  Within 24 hours the adjustment you make will be in effect.  I can't say enough good things about this curriculum.  I signed up with the intentions of just trying it out so I could take a break for a week or two, but seeing how much they enjoy it and the pressure it's taken off of me, I am going to stick with it.  The only real downside is that it only goes to 8th grade.  ;)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Time4Learning review coming up tomorrow, stay tuned!

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning is an online educational program that can be used in many ways including as a homeschooling curriculum or afterschool tutorial. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Celebrating 14 years

Hello friends!  It's been awhile!!  We changed our wedding anniversary plans.  Each year we go out to a dinner or a movie and dinner......boring!  This year since we have been working on our fitness I had the idea to schedule a photo shoot, to give us a tangible memory as well as celebrate our weight loss.

Something I've always wanted to do was ride horses, so we opted to change our plans from the photo session, which would have also cost a lot more also in the end, to an adventure date consisting of a night at a bed and breakfast of a working horse ranch, followed by a breakfast, a 20 minute lesson,  and 90 minutes of trail riding.

Our cabin for the night

We arrived in the dark, after Mike's full day at work, so we couldn't appreciate the beauty of the drive or the ranch until the next morning.  We did arrive armed with some organic dark chocolate and wine to see us through the evening.  ;0) 

The next morning at 9am we showed up for breakfast which was set up outdoors on the porch of the main house.  A nice long table with pitchers of water was set up and then another area where the food was lined up, covered.  There was cereal and milk, yogurt, coffee, a ham, cheese and egg casserole as well as pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream.

Beautiful boy

Some of the horses

A couple more beauties

We then walked down to watch the horses be prepared.  We had our short lesson, practiced in the arena and the lined up in formation to take to the trails!  Mike was third in line and I was behind him.

I rode Blade
Mike rode Casey

 What a wonderful memory we made that day.  I much prefer activity like this to the same 'ol same 'ol.  This is something I have *always* wanted to do but could never afford as a child or young adult.  Then, I simply was too heavy.  It is a wonderful freeing feeling to be able to have choices and not be held back from doing what I really want to do!  I still have a way to go with my weight loss, but I would not have DREAMED of doing this last year.   Correction:  I could have ONLY DREAMED of doing this last year.  This year after gaining some fitness I was able to DO IT!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Progressing Right Along...

Where to start?  Where to start??  I guess at the beginning.  Ok, I bought this dress in April of 2011 for my cousin's May wedding.  I ordered it online and when it came from David's Bridal, I quickly found and later confirmed that their sizes run small, so I couldn't squeeze into the size 16.  NOT.  EVEN.  CLOSE.

No problem, I'd wear it for my 13th anniversary in August, surely by then it would fit.  Ummm.....NO.  Not only didn't it fit but I actually gained 30 lbs between then and Feb of 2012.  How did I do this?  By eating any crap I wanted, when I wanted it and by not working out.  Plain and Simple.

I started my fitness journey Feb 26th of 2012.  In the first 8 weeks I ate perfectly clean without a hitch,  and did the Turbo Jam program as well as half of the P90X program.  Then in the last 6 weeks or so (losing count here) I have done well but with a few hiccups along the way of missing workouts for a week at a time or eating off here and there.  I've lost 36 lbs total and 17" despite all the hiccups.  Even though I've felt like I've stagnated, my dress proves otherwise.

I tried it on weeks ago, and I actually got it on.  I was elated!  I couldn't zip it up AT ALL in the back, but it was on and I could actually believe that it would fit me soon.  :)

Today for ha-ha's, out of feeling kind of blah about my progress and effort as of late,  I tried it on.  I had to take steroids last week and gained a few lbs, and ate some junk to make it a complete pity I am feeling off kilter and behind as I get back on track.  SOOOOO the news is that IT FIT!!!  Not only did it FIT, but I could ZIP IT ALL THE WAY UP!!!!!!  Now, it was very tight, not wearable out yet.  If i had bent down, I could have split the seam.  BUT IT actually FIT!  Wow what a gift of motivation to wind myself right back up and stop messing around.  WOO Stinking HOO.

Oh I've got a way to go but I am getting there.  Beachbody fitness programs work.  They don't concentrate on one aspect, but the whole person.  Fitness, yes, but also nutrition and mind/spirit.  4 more sizes to go to be at my ideal BMI.

8 more weeks until my 14th Anniversary, and no doubt that I will wear the dress this year.  I just wonder if I will need it tailored by then....EEK!  Hubby also rented a limo for the night, which was quite surprising, unexpected and just insane.  YAY.   It will take us to our photo shoot and back, as well as whatever else we come up with.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fitness and Health Progress with Menu!

Hello Friends,

Thought I would share my new menu.  For 3 months now I have been eating a much more "clean" diet.  What that means is minimal processed food, eliminating refined sugar and white flour products.  The way this is possible for us, a large family living on one income, is that I do not buy organic (much as I would like to), and I shop at the big discount grocery store, or the farmer's  market when that is an option, for just about everything other than the occasional supply.  We have been eating mini-meals rather than the traditional 3 heavier meals, to keep our metabolism burning steadily and more efficiently.
In the last 13 or so weeks (since Feb 26th) I've shed 37 lbs and 16-1/2",  and he's gotten rid of 30 lbs in addition to his building some muscle.  Our energy levels are better without a lot of the dips we experienced before.  We do not have a lot of $ for vitamins but do take OTC cheap brand Vitamin D3 (required due to my severe deficiency...and this supports neurological function), calcium and fish oil along with a one a day multi-vitamin.  I used to be one of those snobs who refused to take vitamin pills and insisted I ate a good enough diet (was fooling myself) that I shouldn't need them.  Then I came down with an auto-immune disease and opened my eyes to research on things like Vitamin D3 and Omega 3.  There sure was a time we existed on white flour products and the like, as we had no choice, but it is a goal and priority to do better when we are able to.  A good investment if you ask me, as this body is the only one we will get, and it carries us through this life, enabling us to connect and enjoy, or not so much, depending on the state of health we are in.

1-Greek yogurt
2-apple and 12 raw almonds
3-turkey avocado & veggie wrap with whole wheat tortilla and chilled cucumber yogurt
4- 3 bean salad
5-hard boiled egg on a bed of baby spinach with balsamic dressing
6-Grilled lemon salmon (for Omega 3) with honeyed carrots

1-homemade oatmeal with 1/2 banana, 1 TBSP pure maple syrup and 1/8 C walnut
2-celery stalk cut in small strips with 1 TBSP natural PB and 5 raisins
3-an entire red pepper cut into strips with 2 TBSP homemade hummus
4-hard boiled egg on bed of baby spinach with balsamic dressing
5-strawberry yogurt with a sliced kiwi
6-Herb roasted chicken with roasted root veggies

1-Greek yogurt with orange
2-banana with 12 walnut halves (omega 3)
3-small baked sweet potato with dash of nutmeg and 1 tsp honey on top
4-chicken lettuce cups with homemade asian dressing
5-red cabbage and apple salad with walnuts (Omega 3) and cranberries
6-parmesan crusted tilapia with syrian green beans

1-veggie omelet
2-orange with 12 walnut halves (for omega 3)l
3-greek yogurt
4-apple with 2 TBSP natural peanut butter
5-simple spinach salad
6-chicken and shrimp stir-fry with brown rice

1-homemade oatmeal with 1/2 chopped apple (skin on), 2 TBSP pure maple syrup  and 6 almonds (added at end)
2-strawberry yogurt with sliced kiwi
3-baby carrots with 1 TB hummus
4-hard boiled egg
5-zucchini pasta bake with some ground turkey and mozzarella
6-protein shake with 1% milk and peanut butter

1-protein shake with 1% milk and peanut butter
2-greek yogurt
3-apple with 12 almonds
4-hard boiled egg with sliced red pepper strips
5-turkey burger on whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, red onion and a tad of BBQ sauce with sweet potato fries
6-whole cucumber, peeled and sliced with hummus

1-protein shake with 1% milk and peanut butter
2-hard boiled egg & green pepper strips & hummus
3-apple with 12 almonds
4-simple spinach salad
5-3 bean salad
6-panko crusted baked chicken with dijon sauce made with non-fat yogurt

Shop List:


baby spinach
bean sprouts
green peppers
red peppers
2 small beets
1 small turnip
2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes
red cabbage

almonds 3.99
walnuts  3.99
dried cranberries

1% milk
8 greek yogurts
2 strawberry yogurts
1 large tub vanilla yogurt for kids
grated parmesan

turkey meat for sandwiches
roaster chicken
chicken breast

3 cans green beans
2 cans canellini beans
2 cans chick peas
1 can kidney beans

frozen salmon portions $4
frozen tilapia portions  $4
frozen cleaned raw shrimp $12 but will last for months

whole wheat tortillas
sandwich bread for kids

Already have in pantry:

peanut butter



maple syrup



soy sauce


brown rice



I still do love collecting my vintage cookbooks and booklets.  LOL  My mom just asked me about that yesterday.  My bookshelf is lined with them.  I told her when society goes BOOM and we are still kicking, I will know how to make some cheap meals and survive.  ;0)

Visit me on Facebook:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sourdough trials

I have tried making sourdough bread a couple of times.  It did work, but it took so long to actually rise during the bread making stage that it became too sour to actually eat.  I am resistant to using yeast during authentic sourdough making!!  I just don't won't have it.  SOOOOO I found an old time sourdough recipe using unbleached white flour rather than the whole wheat I've been using.  I want to get the hang of this skill and if it means starting with an easier flour, I'm all for it.  Still, it will be better than store bought!

update:  Well I had to get off my high horse and use a little store bought yeast as my first attempt rose a little bit, but nowhere near enough to produce a pleasant loaf.  Now, that said, it did taste fine, but was rather flat and wide.  The boys came home and all had a slice or two of it, and the rest of it I simly cut into strips and made breadsticks to go with that evening's dinner.  A big hit!  I combined softened butter and a lot of granulate garlic, simply brushed it on with a pastry brush and popped the pan in the oven at 350* until done.

Today I did turn out a lovely sourdough loaf, using two different old time sourdough recipes as a guide, so here is how I did it, using unbleached bread flour this time along with a small amount of store bought yeast.  (That said I have plans to try again with no yeast, using potato water to attract wild yeast)  This recipe could also be made up quite quicker which was nice!

*note:  Use glass and wooden utensils, not aluminum,  steel or plastic

In a large glass mixing bowl or crock add:

4 Cups unbleached bread flour
4 Cups warm water (not too hot! just warm)
3  TBSP sugar

Mix very well with your wooden spoon of choice.  I let it sit out for about an hour to attract some wild yeast, and beat it again real good before covering and setting to a quiet space in my kitchen for 48 hours.


After the 48 hours this is what it looks like:

You can see the separation of the fermentation process.  Just mix the liquid back in gently until it is well incorporated again.


Now we make the sponge.
Add to a large glass mixing bowl:
1 Cup starter
1 Cup warm water (not too warm) (add to it 1 tsp yeast, allow to sit 5 min, then incorporate into bowl)
1 TBSP sugar
2 Cups unbleached bread flour

Stir batter until no lumps remain with your wooden spoon.  Let this sit overnight.  This is what it looked like in the morning.

Now it's time to store the remaining starter in the fridge until it is next needed for more bread baking.  I put mine in a glass Pyrex measure/pour bowl and covered with Saran Wrap.  

Now to make your bread you add to the sponge:

1 Cup warm water (not too warm!) 
Add to the water, 1 tsp yeast --allow to set for 5 minutes and then add the remaining ingredients
3 tsp salt
enough flour to make a soft dough.  I personally used 4-1/2 Cups unbleached white bread flour.

Knead 10 minutes, until it's nice and pliable.  

Allow the dough set in bowl, covered with a kitchen towel,  at room temperature until doubled in bulk again.

1-1/2 hours later I cut the dough in half with a sharp knife, shaped into two loaves and placed on a baking sheet sprinkled lightly with corn meal.   Dust tops with a fine sprinkling of flour, and cover with kitchen towel.  Then I left undisturbed, covered with a light kitchen towel, to allow to rise once more undisturbed.

Preheat oven to 375*.  

Slash the top of the loaves gently with a serrated knife,  and pop the loaves in the oven immediately.  

After 35 minutes, check on the loaves and remove to cool.  Do not slice bread until it is completely cooled or it will be gummy inside.  

So that you could see the size of the loaf, I placed one on a dinner plate!

Here is a look at it sliced up.  :)


Now just simply feed your starter  

Add to the starter:

1 Cup mildly warm water
1 Cup unbleached bread flour
1 TBSP sugar

Stir well, cover and store in fridge for the next usage.