Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blueberries, Blueberries, Blueberries

It is one of my favorite seasons...BLUEBERRY SEASON.  Okay I admit, it is not a real season of the year, but for us it is one of our favorite parts of summer.  We love, love, love blueberries in our house and because we love them we don't mind heading out to the blueberry patch to go blueberry picking.  We also don't mind going picking because you can eat as you pick, it's a good thing they don't weight us as we have to sample what we are picking.  We have been twice already this year to pick blueberries and we might head out one more time, it just depends on if we can find time in our schedule.  We all love fresh blueberries, but we love to eat them frozen too.  Did you know that frozen blueberries are really sweet?  They are like candy for me.  So we eat blueberries year round.  I also do baking with blueberries.  That is what I thought I would share with you this week.  I just baked these treats yesterday as I am busy, busy, busy today and tomorrow.
Our must have is Blueberry Buckle.  I use this recipe for it.  This is my favorite recipe for it and it never fails.  If you are wondering what Blueberry Buckle is, I would say it is kind of like a coffee cake with blueberries.  I wait all year to make it and we savor it.
We love this Blueberry Buckle so much I doubled the recipe.
We also love to have Blueberry Muffins made with our fresh blueberries.  I have tried a lot of muffin recipes and I don't have a particular favorite that I have to go back to so I usually try a new one every time I make blueberry muffins.  This is the recipe I used this year for Blueberry Muffins with Oat Pecan Strussel.  It is very tasty and I would make them again.
Lastly I wanted to try something a little different so I went for this Blueberry Oatmeal Bread recipe.  It was super simple to make and looks delicious.  I haven't tried it yet because I ate a few too many blueberries while cooking yesterday and I was gone all day today.  So I can't tell you how it tastes yet, but if it is as good as it looks it won't last long in this house.
Do you go blueberry picking?  Do you have a favorite blueberry recipe?  I would love to hear about it.  I am always on the look out for more blueberry treats to make.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Review of Trust Fund from Mapelle Films

We love family movie night in our house.  I do my best to make sure the movies are interesting, wholesome, and appropriate for everyone since we do have an age gap between kids, but it isn't always easy.  This is why we were excited to receive Trust Fund from Mapelle Films to review recently.
Trust Fund Movie,  family entertainment,faith-based,prodigal,prodigal story,family drama,romantic drama,young adult,jessica rothe,tessa violet,la la land,movie night,movie review,familymovie,family fun,family night,family,forgiveness,romance
Mapelle Films is a production company ran by Sandra Martin and Isaac Alongi.  Sandra has the role of writer, director, and producer.  She has also written three books.  Isaac has the role of cinematographer and producer.  In addition to the two movies Mapelle Films has produced, Isaac's work has been seen in many feature films, tv shows, documentaries, and more.  He has over 20 years of cinematography experience and those experiences began when he was homeschooled and given creative freedom to pursue his passion of photography and cinematography.  This was another reason I was excited to review this movie.  I love showing my homeschooled kids what other homeschooled kids have accomplished.
Trust Fund is a faith-based movie that is inspired by the Prodigal Son story found in the Bible.  It is the story of two sisters who seem like night and day, but when it really comes down to it, they want the same things.  Audrey, the older sister, seems like she has everything under control and like she is very successful.  It is easy to see that she just wants to make sure that everything is done the right way and she doesn't upset anyone, especially her father.  Reese is the baby sister who seems like a free spirit.  She wants to explore her creative side and accomplish her own goals, her way.  At the beginning of the movie, Reese's motives and intentions seem purely selfish.  She finds out there is a trust fund set aside for her and Audrey and once she learns about it, the fund is all she can think of.  Reese finds a way to gain access to the money, but once she gets it she runs off to Italy where things go badly for her.  She makes many bad decisions and gets involved with Milo who leads her further astray.  Reese finally realizes that she can't keep doing what she is doing and calls her dad to see if she can come home.  The tension between Audrey and Reese builds as Audrey thinks Reese gets off easy for all the things she did and when things start to fall apart for Audrey.  Audrey wants Reese to grow up and take responsibility for her actions and Reese wants Audrey to live a little.  You will have to watch the movie to find out if they ever see eye to eye or if they give up on each other.  This movie received the Dove seal for approved viewing for ages 12 and up, but it can also be watched by younger children when viewed as a family.
Our family enjoyed this movie.  There was enough action to keep the boys interested in the movie and there was plenty of drama to keep us girls involved in the storyline.  There were just enough plot twists and turns that kept us from being able to guess how the whole movie would turn out.  It was very interesting for our kids to watch this movie because while they are not exactly like Audrey and Reese, their personalities are very similar to each of them and they found that they could sympathize with each character.  They also found that sometimes when you don't think you understand your sibling it is because you are more like them than you realize.  This movie lead to some really great family discussions about the choices we make, understanding your sibling, and why parents make the decisions we do.  We also discussed how the storyline of the movie was like that of the Prodigal Son from the Bible.  I was also able to get some more topics to talk about from the download study guide that Mapelle Films put together for the movie.  Their study guide has questions, deeper topics, and plot summaries for the movie.  It is a nice resource that they have right on their website.  They also offer the book Love was Near by Sandra Martin.  This book was inspired by the movie and it is designed for girls ages 12 and up.  It digs deeper into Reese's story and what she is thinking when she makes the decisions she does.  I really appreciate that Mapelle Films didn't just create a good movie, they offer resources that can help you make it a family movie and a family discussion.  It is a movie that we will watch again.

You can learn more about Mapelle Films on their website.  You can learn more about Trust Fund, the movie we watched here and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  It is definitely a movie worth watching and discussing.  My friends on the Homeschool Review Crew also got to review this movie and some of them even got to review the Love was Near book, so click on the banner below to read their reviews.
Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Series: Crochet 101 - Part 4

I hope you have been following along with my Summer Series this year.  I am sharing my love of crochet with you and maybe, just maybe, teaching you along the way?
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Beginning Crochet, Chain Stitch, Crafting, Crochet, Crochet 101, Summer Series, Tutorial, Single Crochet
So far we have covered the basics - the tools you will need, different types of yarn and how to read the labels, and chain stitches which are the foundation for your work.  This week I am teaching you the SINGLE CROCHET stitch.  It is pretty easy to figure out and there are tons and tons of projects you can do with single crochet.  Again this week I am doing a photo tutorial of how to do this stitch because I think it is easiest if I show you how.

How to Single Crochet
For this I picked up left over Lily's Sugar and Cream Yarn which is 100% cotton and a medium weight yarn.  I like using it for pictures because it holds the shape well.  I used a 5.5mm hook which is I if you got by hook letter or it is also called an I-9.

1.  Start with a foundation or starter chain, it is called both.  This is what we learned last week.  So make a chain of 10 stitches and a turning chain.
This is what a starting chain of 10 plus a turning chain looks like.
This has the stitches numbered so you can see.
2.  Once you have your starter chain done, you are going to crochet into the back of it.  This will give your piece a nice finished edge. 

3.  Insert your hook into the first stitch and yarn over your hook.
This is the hook inserted into the first stitch
Hook in the first stitch and yarn over.
4.  Pull your hook back through the stitch and you should have two loops on your hook.
This shows the two loops plus the yarn over for the next step.
5.  Yarn over again and pull your hook through the both loops. YOU DID IT!!!
The SINGLE CROCHET stitch is insert your hook into a stitch, yarn over, pull the hook back through the stitch (you should have 2 loops on your hook), yarn over, and pull hook through both loops.
Creating a single crochet  Pulling through both loops on the hook.
6.  Repeat steps 3-5 until you get to the end of the row, then chain one stitch for your turning chain.
This is the first row and the turning chain (I have already turned my work).
Do you see all 10 stitches there?  It is important to count your work as you go.  I won't tell you how I know this, but trust me, I know this....count, count, count.

7.  Now you will turn your work and insert your hook under both parts of the first stitch.

8.  Yarn over and pull your hook back through the stitch.  

9.  You should have 2 loops on your hook.  Yarn over again and pull through both loops on your hook.

10.  Repeat all the way to the end of the row, chain one and turn.

11.  Start the next row.  Keep repeating the pattern until you have the amount of rows you desire.

What do you think?  Is this something you can do?  Gather your supplies and next week, we will make a simple dish cloth.  You will need a crochet hook - J or 6 mm (this is my favorite starter hook).  You will also need 1 skein of Lily's Sugar and Cream yarn in the color of your choice.  Meet me back here next week and I will have a very simple dish cloth pattern for you to try.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Review of the Make-a-State Activity from Home School in the Woods

I must confess that I have not had Little Miss focusing very much on geography yet for school.  It isn't because I didn't want her to learn about geography, it is more because I usually don't focus on it until about 4th grade.  So I was very excited to receive access to the Make-a-State Activity from Home School in the Woods to review with Little Miss.  The Make-a-State Activity is part of the Activity-Paks series from this company which includes: Make-a-State, The Old Testament, The New Testament, Composers, and Artists.
Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-State, History, hands-on, hands on lap book, lapbook, elections, hands on learning, U.S. history, United States, United States history, Time Line, Time Line Figures, Biblical History, Ancient History
Home School in the Woods is a family run company that was created when the Pak family began their homeschooling journey.  Amy saw a need to make history come alive and not bore her own children, so she dove in and started pulling together resources.  She used the resources she pulled together and others she created to start the business.  Now her whole family is involved and they each have their own unique role at Home School in the Woods.
Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-State
The Make-a-State Activity-Pak can be purchased as either a digital download, like we received, for $18.95 or a CD version for $19.95.   You can use it to study any state in the U.S., including Washington D.C.  Using this Activity-Pack, your student creates a lapbook for each state you choose.  There are 20 projects for each state and each projects uses a variety of methods such as creative writing, illustrating, coloring, research, and mapping.  The projects include learning about:
  • Key State Facts
  • Origin of State Names
  • State Motto
  • State Symbols
  • State Song
  • State Wildlife
  • Regions
  • State Landmarks
  • State Geography
  • State Government
  • State Seal & Flag
  • State History
  • Famous People From...
  • Native Tribes
  • State Industry/Agriculture/Climate
  • Sports Teams
  • State Quarter
  • Recipes
  • State Vocabulary
  • State Timeline
This Activity-Pak can easily be used along with state study, books, or history curriculum you are using.  It includes an introduction for the teacher, the directions for each project, lapbook assembly instructions, photographs that show the completed projects, bonus "State Pages" that give basic information about each state, a bonus "Name That State!" File Folder Game, and a list of other suggested resources for further state study.  It is recommended for grades 3-8.
Little Miss was very excited for us to get this review to work on.  She really wants to learn about geography and she loved the last HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece that we got to work on earlier this year.  She couldn't wait for me to print off the directions and her first project so that she could get going on this review.  We chose to work on the State of Michigan first because it is our state and since we just moved here, we don't know too much about it.  She started with coloring the lapbook cover page and learning the Key State Facts.  This gave me the opportunity to show her how to look up things online and how to find good information when you are searching online.  After this first project, we continued on at the pace of  one to two projects a week.  This pace allowed Little Miss to soak in the information she was learning and it allowed her to do extra research when she found facts that interested her about our state.

Little Miss decided that she wants to do all the projects for the lapbook and then put the book together all at one time.  She thinks this way will be easier for her to make sure she has room for each project.  She completes a project and cuts it out and then puts in her file folder that will hold all of her work until she completes all 20 projects.  She is currently half way through the projects and is trying to decide what state she wants to work on next when we start the school year this fall.
My daughter loved this Make-a-State Activity because it is hands-on history which Home School in the Woods is all about.  She learns better and retains more information when she does the types of projects that Home School in the Woods produces.  These projects are just the right length for her.  They hold her attention and she doesn't get overwhelmed because they are too long or too in-depth.  She is learning because she is doing and it requires her to find the information.  Some of the activites have pre-printed items or blank ones depending on the level of your student and how much of their own work you want them to do, but I have been having Little Miss use the blank ones and doing the work herself.  I appreciate all the different options with this Make-a-State Activity-Pak.  It allows me the freedom to add as much or as little to this study with the extra resources that I want to for Little Miss.  I can customize it for what works best for us.
We are huge fans of the hands-on history approach that Home School in the Woods uses in their products.  They offer a wide range of products for students of all ages.  We have personally used their U.S. Elections Lap-Pak and it taught my son a lot about the election process last year.  Both of my kids are interested in other titles in their Lap-Pak Series.  Like I mentioned before we have also reviewed their Project Passports series and liked that one too.  Little Miss is interested in more of that series too.  I am also excited about their new A La Carte Projects they are offering.  They have made approximately 50 projects available to purchase A La Carte style.  These are smaller projects and games that fit into their larger studies, but it is a great way to purchase some of the individual projects to work on without having to purchase a whole unit (although the whole units are great too).  Right now they are even offering a FREE A La Carte project on The Erie Canal when you use the discount code alacarte at checkout.

We definitely recommend the Make-a-State Activity we reviewed.  My son has been asking me if I can add this to his school this fall to even though he is going into 9th grade.  I'm all for it.  You can learn more about all of the different products that Home School in the Woods has to offer on their website.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube.  You can learn more about the Make-a-State Activity we received here.  I highly recommend that you click on the banner below to read the reviews from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew because we got to review many of their different series.  I know I will be checking out the reviews so I can decide which series I need to add to my upcoming school year for each of my kids.
Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Friday, July 7, 2017

My Summer Crafting

I've been putting together a summer series on one of my favorite hobbies, crochet, and I thought I would just take today and share with you all the craft projects I am currently working on.  I want to get each of them done this summer before we start back to school, ideally.  Some of the projects I have been working on harder than others so I will probably have to step up my crafting.  Here they are...
This pillow case is too big for this pillow and I am planning to alter it.  

This is the bottom half of curtains I just altered and I think it will make a cute pillow case for the couch pillows.

This is the second flower like this I am crocheting.  This one will be a pillow for my bedroom.

This is the first crochet flower I did.  It will be for a couch pillow.

This is the cover for the couch pillow that I will sew the flower too once I finish it.

This is a shawl I started this spring during piano lessons.  I just need to finish it up for a gift.

This is my current cross stitch project.  The main portion is almost done and then I can add the background.
That's it, all the craft projects I am currently working on.  Hopefully I will be able to post the completed projects by the end of August.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.  What are you working on?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 2017 Menu Plan

I am so sorry I am so late posting the menu for July.  The Holiday weekend kind of got away from me.  Hubby was home all weekend and we were busy having fun and getting projects around the house done.  I got so busy working on other things and playing that I totally forgot to post a menu.  Even though it is late, here it is:
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, July 2017, Menu plan
  1. Out to Eat
  2. Salad
  3. Tortellini and Meatball Soup
  4. Hamburgers with corn on the bob
  5. Cheesy Vegetable Chowder
  6. Mini Meatball Pasta Bake
  7. Pizza
  8. Southwest Quinoa Power Bowl
  9. Miss Cindy's Burger Bowls
  10. One Pot Burrito Bowls
  11. Crunchy Taco Cups
  12. Out to Eat
  13. Korean Beef Bowls
  14. Stromboli
  15. Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake
  16. Beef and Bean Taco Casserole
  17. Sushi Rice Bowls
  18. Skinny Chicken Pesto Bake
  19. Crockpot Beans and Rice
  20. Chicken Tortilla Soup
  21. Fooled Ya Pizza
  22. Southwest Quinoa Wrap
  23. Buffalo Chicken Bowls
  24. Beef and Sweet Potato Chowder
  25. Slow Cooker Asian Glazed Chicken
  26. Stuffed Pepper Soup
  27. Meatball Parmesan
  28. Pizza Casserole
  29. Campfire Foil Sausage and Vegetables
  30. Sausage, Kale, and Bean Soup
  31. Crockpot Mexican Lasagna Stack Up
As always you can find many of the recipes for this menu plan on my July Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  If the recipe isn't there, then it is one I made up or something I don't really need a recipe for.  What is for dinner at your house this month?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer Series: Crochet 101 - Part 3

I sincerely apologize for not having this post ready at the beginning of the week.  I really wanted to get it done, but it just didn't happen.  Anyway, this summer I have been sharing one of my favorite crafts with you, CROCHET.  I have been teaching my daughter and I thought I would share on here too.  You can read Part 1 and Part 2 by clicking the highlighted links.
Today I want to show you the basic chain stitch.  It is easy and usually starts every crochet piece.  Take the time to practice the chain stitch over and over because you want a consistent starting chain for your work.  I know this is an easy thing to learn, but trust me it is important.  When I say consistent it means that all of the loops in your chain are approximately the same size and your tension is the same on the chain all the way through.  I think this one is best taught in pictures so here we go:
  1. Start with a slip knot.  You wrap the yarn around your fingers and pull the end that is still attached to the skein/ball of yarn through the hole.  Pull tight until you have a starter loop.

  2. Slide your hook into the starter loop.
  3. Put the yarn that is attached to the skein of yarn over your finger for tension.  There are several different wrapping methods to get tension and you can see from the picture I wrap my yarn around my forefinger.  This is just the method I learned when I started.  I have seen other methods and they all seem to work.  Do what is comfortable for you. 
  4. Grab the yarn that goes over your finger with your hook - this is called YARN OVER (YO).
  5. Pull the yarn on the hook through the loop that is already on the hook gently.  Your original loop that was on the hook when you started is now your first chain stitch and you have a new loop on your hook. 
  6. Yarn over (YO) again and pull it through the new loop on the hook.  It adds another stitch to your chain.  Repeat until you get the desired number of stitches in your starting chain.  
The picture below is what your chain will look like with a lot of stitches in it.  This chain has 13 stitches in it.  There are 5 pink stitches, 5 orange stitches, and 3 yellow stitches.  You typically do not count the loop that is still on the hook unless a pattern specifically tells you to.  Notice that my stitches in my chain all look about the same size and have the same tension or tightness.  This has taken me a lot of practice with chaining.  I will tell you that when I get new yarn or use a different hook, it is not unusual that I have to chain it a few times and then rip it out and start again to get my starter chain consistent.  

The picture below is the "back side" of the chain and this is where our stitches for the next row will go in.  This way you will see the pretty front side of the the chain as a finished edge to your work.

If you are just learning to crochet, take the time to practice a starting chain.  Make one and then rip it out and make another one.  It seems really boring and tedious, but in the long run it is very helpful because before you know it you will be able to make a pretty, consistent chain the first time every time.  If you think chains are boring, think again.  There are some beautiful scarves, headbands, and bracelets you can make with just a starter chain.  

Do you have any questions?  I would love to help you out and answer any questions you have.  What kinds of things would you like to be able to crochet?