Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tidbits and Snippets for January 31st

How We Create a Learning Atmosphere in Our Home - Excellent tips! (Large Family Mothering)
Also see a later book-end post, Homeschooling: No Freedom Without Order. I'm really enjoying Sherry's latest posts!
Trim Healthy Mama for Newbies and Pregnant Mothers - Good stuff here. (Growing Home)

Three Things I'm Missing When I Lose My Joy in the Home - "There’s a difference between just being a bit tired as a mom and being wearily joyless... When this happens, it’s probably because three crucial things have been pushed to the side and lost their importance in my days or weeks." (A Mama's Story)

Dear Mama: Satan Is Doing Everything He Can to Keep You From Reading This Letter - Excellent! (For Every Mom, hat tip to Contentment Acres)

Love, Infatuation, and the Pre-Teen Crush - "It should come as no surprise when a young man begins to notice that young women are different in ways that seem interesting rather than irritating. There’s nothing wrong in that – God created the differences and celebrates them in Scripture – but like everything in life, there are side paths, crossroads, pit falls, and traps that we need to guide our sons through and around." (Raising Real Men)

From the Bookshelf

The Notorious Benedict Arnold

If you ask the average American about Benedict Arnold, I think most of us could answer that he was a traitor. But further than that? Nope, nada.

This book is an excellent and thorough (and extremely well-researched) treatment of the life of Benedict Arnold, birth through death, with a detailed explanation of his military service during the Revolution and his attempted betrayal of the Patriots to the British. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to high-schoolers or adults who want to fill in their knowledge of this fascinating epoch of American history.

The author, Steve Sheinkin, has numerous other historical works, and I'm planning to dive into them soon.

A note to parents: The book begins and ends with a moving description of an execution scene. Additionally, some of the descriptions of battle are a bit on the gruesome side. Don't hand this one off to students who are too young or immature to handle this. But for older students, this is an excellent resource for studying the Revolution.

The Black Pearl Mystery (Boxcar Children #64)

Only nos. 1-19 in the Boxcar Children series were actually written by Gertrude Chandler Warner, so this one is an "in the style of" continuation by an unknown author.

I'm not often much of a fan of "in the style of" books, because they often come across as awkward and stilted. However, this one was very well done. I'm not sure I would have known the difference on my own.

We used this book as part of our unit study on Hawaii, and the 9yo loved it.

High Tide in Hawaii

I find the Magic Tree House books to be very useful in homeschooling. They're not intensely detailed or difficult, but they're easy reading that appeals to a wide range of ages without too much stress. Plus, there's a Magic Tree House book for practically every history topic under the sun, a big bonus! (I exaggerate, but sometimes it feels like it!)

I also love the Magic Tree House Research Guides - an interesting and fun non-fiction companion volume for each adventure story. Our children love both the fiction works and the non-fiction companion works.

Meet Kirsten

We are using the first of the Kirsten books (by American Girl) as one of our morning read-alouds. It's a hit! I love all of the Kirsten books. And after my disappointment with one of the more modern American Girl series (due to its militant feminist ideology), it was a relief to return to the Kirsten books, which are sweet, gentle, fun, and teach a lot of good history.

We plan to work our way through the entire series over the next few months.

Still More Stories From Grandma's Attic

We are slowly working our way through the Grandma's Attic series. It has been a complete hit with the 9yo!

I received this series as a gift from my own grandmother. She made a fun game of leaving one book around every so often for me to find, and I treasured them. I still read them as an adult! And now I'm sharing the same books with my children.

Really, I can't say enough good about these books. They are fun, interesting, and teach excellent morals without being corny or preachy. If you haven't yet invested in the set, they are definitely worth the time to track down.

Then There Were Five

This is the third book in the Melendy Quartet series, an older set of books set around the time of World War II.

I've always been a huge fan of the Melendy books, but I'd never read this one. Now, twenty years later, I'm finally finishing the series.

And I loved it!

This is the story of how the four Melendy siblings acquired a fifth adopted sibling, Mark, along with all of their usual adventures.

If you haven't yet enjoyed the Melendy Quartet series, give it a try!

And from the world of adult books...

The Adrenal Reset Diet: Strategically Cycle Carbs and Proteins to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, and Move from Stressed to Thriving

This book was recommended by the authors of "Trim Healthy Mama," and it was a great read! Though the THM ladies eventually disagreed with Christianson's approach of cycling protein and carbs, there is a wealth of awesome information in this book. Recommended!

Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline

This is a rewrite of the original "Trim Healthy Mama" book, and it's a keeper. The formatting has been beautifully redone, with pictures added, and the bulkiness has been slimmed down into a beautiful and streamlined book that is pure pleasure to read. The authors' style is witty, funny, and wise. I devoured this boo and can't wait to read it again. Even if you don't want to use the THM eating style, this book is sheer enjoyment in the reading. I learned quite a bit!

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook

And finally, if I'm not around much, it's because I'm with my new love... this cookbook. A sweet friend gave me my own copy (instead of the borrowed one which the library, oddly enough, wanted back), and I'm in love. Every recipe I've tried has been great, the format is terrific, the pictures are lovely, and I love the authors' casual and amusing tone.

Another positive about the book is that the "family size" meals really are decent-sized! It's often frustrating to me that most health books include recipes sized to feed two people (and usually use a large amount of meat and pricey vegetables to do so). But with the THM cookbook, even mamas with truly large-ish families (say, seven-plus children) would only have to, say, double these recipes. A huge plus in my book!

Two recipes I've found to love are the Wise Shepherd's Pie and the Chicken Jalapeno Popper Soup.

Recipe Corner

Luscious Lemon Yogurt (Trim Healthy Mama FP) - This was amazing. Too bad Greek yogurt is so expensive! I'm going to try this with regular homemade yogurt too. (Gwen's Nest, quoting recipe from Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook)

E-Z Drop Biscuits - I have avoided making biscuits for years, dreading the this-takes-ALL-NIGHT butter cut-in process. This time, I thought to search for biscuits that used melted butter instead. And... (drumroll, please)... they take 30 seconds to prepare and are as good or better than the cold-butter version. YES!! Biscuits are back on the menu. I made mine gluten-free using my favorite gluten-free flour mix. (

Absolutely Best Brownies - I've finally found my go-to brownie recipe! And even better, this one is easier to tell "yes, it's done!" than most brownie recipes. I've already made these for a new-baby family, a church potluck, dinner guests, and our family. (

Dear readers, have a lovely week! 


  1. Tell me about boxcar children... I've never heard! Good unit study?

    1. Never heard of the Boxcar Children?? Oh, my! You must try them! They're a series of books for mid- to upper-elementary aged children. There are over a hundred, I believe, but the first nineteen are the originals. And the first one, "The Boxcar Children," is a must-read. Basically, it's just four children (siblings) who have adventures and solve mysteries. Nothing fancy, but children love them - I lived on them during my childhood. I think they're set in Illinois in the mid-1900's or thereabouts. Enjoy!! :)

    2. As far as unit studies - not sure. You could check the internet, but I've never heard of Boxcar Children unit studies. For us, I did the reverse - used one of them in one of our unit studies. It worked well!

  2. Tell me about boxcar children... I've never heard! Good unit study?

  3. Doesn't take long at all to cut in the buyer if you have a pastry blender. My mom used to make drop biscuits, but she's a horrible cook, so I never got a good impression of them. I'll try those sometime when I'm in a hurry.

    1. Ah, but you don't know one of my main character flaws... procrastination in running errands!! I've been meaning to buy a pastry blender for the past 15 years!!! LOL

      If you ever try these, you can let me know what you think - I don't know if they'd stand up to true Southern standards, since you all have the best biscuits!! :)

    2. I'd love to make this biscuits tonight, but the link is to a gluten-free flour mix.

    3. My apologies, Cindy! Here's the real link. I think I left out the cream of tartar, based the the reviews. Cheers!!!


    4. I'll try them next time I need biscuits. Thanks!


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