Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Circle Time Ebook {Review}

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Meet Kendra Fletcher, wife, mom to eight, author, speaker, blogger and fellow member of the TOS Review Crew

Now somehow I have missed out on Kendra's wisdom at Preschoolers and Peace until now, but I am catching up on reading her blog, which focuses on homeschooling. Kendra has recently written an ebook entitled Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Dayand I had the privilege of reading it for this review.

You may be thinking, 'Um, Scarlett, you don't have preschoolers, so why in the world are you doing this review?' Good question, and one I asked before the review, as well. Even though Kendra's blog has "preschoolers" in the title and the ebook has "Circle Time" in the title, which reminds us all of Kindergarten, her focus goes way beyond the younger years. Her own children range in age from 5 to 20, so while circle time and preschoolers have been her focus for a number of years, her range also includes children the ages of my own children (and older).
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Here is the description from the website:

Circle Time is our fabulous, all-ages-are-welcome, group teaching time that allows us to pray together, laugh together, and get to the subjects we often run out of time for.
Plenty of insight, ideas, tips from other moms who use Circle Time in their homes, printable planning pages - are you excited, too? If you’ve been wondering how exactly you can fit Circle Time into your day, then you’ll love having Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Day! to guide you. It’s like having seasoned homeschooling moms walking right alongside of you. Pretty great!
  • Planning a Circle Time That Works for You
  • Strategies for a Peaceful Time Together
  • How to Get Your Kids on Board
  • Questions From Moms Like You
  • Words of Wisdom From Other Moms Who Do Circle Time
  • Resources, Activities, and Ideas
  • Printable Planner Sheets
This is a quick read, only 33 pages. Kendra encourages homeschool moms to think about our homeschool days and how they are scheduled. What subjects do our children need to work on independently and which ones can be done together? What goals do we have for each child? What memory work do we want to include this year? What about devotions and prayer time together as a family? And what about books we will read aloud together? She gives her schedules for Circle Time, both for the school year and for a lighter summer version. Kendra includes the materials she uses and how to be organized in order to stay on track with what she wants to accomplish during her Circle Time. There are printables included, as well.

What I thought of the ebook:

While I have never called our "together time" in our homeschooling "Circle Time," we have been incorporating some of Kendra's same ideas in our homeschool for years. We have Prayer and Worship Time, which I wrote about earlier this year. We also have Read Aloud time, which I have mentioned before is usually during lunchtime. I enjoy these times so much and believe they are crucial to staying connected as a family. I especially enjoyed seeing Kendra's memory work list and am planning to incorporate some of the items on the list in our homeschool this year. Here is her list:

I recommend Kendra's ebook to any homeschool mom, those just starting out or the ones, like me, who have been at it for awhile. It's always fun to read what other moms are doing and to learn or think about something new for our home. I appreciate Kendra sharing her experience and wisdom in this ebook and on her blog!

PDF format, Immediately downloadable  $4.99

To read what other moms thought of this product, click the banner below:


Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan {29 July}

(Scrumptious peach pie the girls made last week!)

Happy last few days of July and on to the beginning of August! 

We had a great weekend. We found out last week that some friends from Canada were coming our way for a camping trip! They arrived at our house yesterday, went to church with us (Bob was preaching at our new church, but I hadn't even told them), came back to the house for lunch and to catch up a bit, then they headed to a new camp site in Maryland and took Emma and Ben along for an adventure! It has been strange without those two (I'll just say it: Much quieter, LOL!). They are having a fabulous time, though, and we are so happy for them. I still have some organizing to do this week, we're planning to see a free movie with friends one day, and the weather is perfect, so if it stays as beautiful as today, we'll be outside enjoying it.

Here's a tentative plan:

Monday - Pasta Carbonara (We didn't have this last week, and I'm not sure it will get made tonight either!)

Tuesday - Grilled cheese, fruit

Wednesday - Slow Cooker Country Style Beef Ribs, Hash Brown Casserole, Salad

Thursday - Tacos, Spanish rice, chips, guacamole

Friday - Bacon and Mushroom Quiche, salad

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Snack-y supper

What's on your menu this week?

Blessings! xo

I'm linking up with Laura and the ladies from Menu Plan Monday! Check out their menu plans for this week, too. 

Tyndale Rewards = Free Books

I have been a member of Tyndale Rewards for several months now and just wanted to take a moment to remind you of this simple way to earn points for free Bibles and books. There are concordances, children's books, novels and more that are available from which to choose. I have already accumulated 155 points very easily and am trying to decide: spend them now or save up a little longer?! 

About Tyndale Rewards
The Tyndale Rewards program is designed to provide you with opportunities to get books and Bibles for zero dollars. That’s right—F. R. E. E. As a member of the Tyndale Rewards program, you’ll have access to inspiring literature, Bibles, special promotional offers, and much more.
Other member incentives include a free gift on your birthday, along with opportunities to share your personal recommendations and feedback concerning Tyndale products. The more participation you have with the program, the more points you earn—and points translate into free stuff!
The Tyndale Rewards program is a great way to get free books and Bibles that you can keep for yourself or give to friends and family. Your journey to earning free faith-based products is here!
Website: Tyndale Rewards (Sign up here using my promo code.)

A glimpse at the rewards to choose from....

Disclaimer: I am a blogger for Fly By Promotions and am writing this post on as a part of a special promotion. Tyndale Rewards is offering one of the Fly By bloggers a Kindle Fire HD to whomever has the most referrals by August 30. I appreciate anyone who signs up through my links in this post.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

FREE Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

Now, through Thursday, August 1st only, you can purchase 1 pint of certified organic Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions and get a 2nd one FREE! That's a $50.00 retail value for only $19.95 and a $19.95 savings over the regular sale price!

Click HERE to get take advantage of this great savings!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Christi the Coupon Coach {Review}

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If you have read my blog very long, you know that I am trying many different avenues not only to save my family money but also to get the most from the money we make. I have sold clothing, books and jewelry (I didn't blog about the jewelry as it was too painful). I shop sales and have used coupons, as well as store loyalty cards. I have started shopping at Aldi, which saves me money (but due to their already low prices, they do not accept coupons). When I do shop the regular stores, I normally buy store brand/generic items for most things. I regularly read several coupon-focused blogs, and I am a member of my local Freecycle group. When I was given the opportunity to review Couponing Made Simple by Christi the Coupon Coach, I jumped on it. I am always open to learning from others who have found a system that works for them. I also enjoy reading other people's stories and learning about their lives. I believe it makes my life so much richer and broadens my horizons. 

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Christi Bassford, a.k.a. The Coupon Coach, states in her introduction, 
This is not "extreme" couponing, but real couponing for real people. This is not about having 100 boxes of cereal or 540 rolls of toilet paper stored in your home, but this is about buying a reasonable amount of items at the lowest prices for your family to use until the next sale cycle comes around.
Christi is a wife and the mother of four children, and she educates her children at home. She does not have hours and hours to devote to extreme couponing, so I knew right away that she could offer some sound advice. Here are the chapter titles:
  1. Success Stories
  2. A New Way to Shop
  3. The Language of Couponing
  4. Organization System
  5. Step-by-Step Process
  6. Tips and Tools
  7. Couponing Ethics
  8. Networking and Communicating
  9. Bonus Section
10. Beyond Couponing

Christi's two main rules for couponing are: 1. Buy on sale, and 2. Stack coupons. The buy on sale part I have down pretty well, it's the stacking that was new to me. Christi goes into detail about where to find coupons and how to combine sales and stacking. She starts with her Sunday paper and buys one copy for each member of her family. I did that one Sunday in my little town with one newspaper, which cost me $2.50. At this point in our financial situation, all I could think about was "That could buy a gallon of milk!" Since there are 7 of us, I just cannot justify $17.50 for newspapers. Yikes. So, I have stuck with printing out the coupons I hope to use and getting others in magazines (which I subscribe to free of charge!) or in samples that I request. I do think Christi's system is simple and brilliant, and I hope to work my way there when our finances are more stable.

One big thing I learned from Christi's encouragement is to check out drugstore sales. We have a fairly new Walgreens in our area, and I had not shopped there at all. I started paying attention to the Walgreens sections of the coupon blogs I follow and to the store flyer that comes each week. A few weeks ago I was almost out of laundry detergent. I noticed that Walgreens was having a great sale of Buy One Get TWO Free and the one that I paid for was also on sale. So instead of $5.79 each, I paid $5.49 for all three! That's a great deal! I am keeping my eye on Walgreens and which coupons I can stack with the weekly sale items, plus I am utilizing the sale booklets they provide in store each month.

Couponing Made Simple is a wonderful tool for any household, whether you are a veteran couponer or have only wondered if coupons were really worth your time. Christi has done a fabulous job of putting her experience and expertise into this easy to read book that can give you some extra ideas for saving money or get you started with clipping your very first coupon. I highly recommend it and am hoping to get to the point where, like Christi, I can save 80% on a regular basis!

Couponing Made Simple is available for $18.00 for the paperback or $4.99 for the Kindle edition.

While Christi does not mention any specific coupon or savings websites in her book due to the ever-changing Internet, you can see her favourites here.

You can also connect with Christi on Facebook!

Read what others on the Review Crew thought by clicking the banner below:


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Picaboo Yearbooks {Review}

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Would you like to document your school year in a beautiful softcover book? If so, then don't miss this post. It has all the information you need for making your very own homeschool yearbook!

This is a review of Picaboo Yearbooks, specifically for their 20 Page Softcover Yearbook. When I found out that the TOS Review Crew would have the opportunity to review this product I was thrilled! Picaboo is a company that produces school yearbooks, as well as church directories and yearbooks for all kinds of different groups, which now includes homeschool families! I had never attempted any kind of digital scrapbooking or digital memory-keeping, but I have loved taking photos for many years now. I am very much an amateur, just snapping as I go, but it is one of my favourite things to do. 

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Since I was unfamiliar with digital scrapbooking, there was a bit of a learning curve for me. Once I logged in to my account, I chose the photo for the cover, as well as the title for our yearbook. I really like that the cover photo wraps all the way around the book.

Second, I chose the titles of the sections and how many pages would be assigned to each section. Then started the process of choosing which photos I wanted to include. I divided my sections this way:

Our Mission
Our Students
Field Trips and Activities

Once I understood the process, things went smoothly from there. There are so many ways to design your book, with many layouts available. The toughest part was narrowing down which photos to use. Here is a shot of choosing photos, backgrounds, etc. for the Our Students section. You can see to the right some of the backgrounds that were available (there were hundreds to choose from):

And the finished pages:

It was enjoyable to think about each one of my children and her/his strengths, interests, personalities, activities, etc. Here are our individual student sections:

This was such a fun product to review, and I would love to make a Picaboo Yearbook for our homeschool every year. This could also be used for a baby's first year memory book or a wonderful gift for graduating senior or a photo book for a family holiday or a source of documenting the fun had in a co-op group. The possibilities are truly endless.

The price for this 20 page softcover book is only $8.49, plus shipping, which is $8.99. You can also add pages for $0.22 each. And additional copies of the yearbook are $0.99 each. (I think it would be a nice gift to give each of the children to have as a keepsake.) The turn-around is only 3 weeks, but mine came within one week!

To find out what other homeschool families thought about their experience with Picaboo Yearbooks, click the banner below.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan {22 July}

(I was so excited to get this crate of "seconds" on Saturday for making some summer goodies!)

Happy Monday! 

I cannot believe it's already the end of July. Wow! Summer is moving right along, eh? We have been cleaning out closets, drawers and cupboards for the past week. I really want to get organized before school starts and do not want to wait until the last minute. I am re-evaluating things for our new school year and looking at what the schedule will be starting in September. We also received word last night that we may be welcoming Canadian friends for a visit this week, so that is super exciting!

Here is my plan (for now):

Monday: Squash Casserole, tomato slices and Ginger Peach Pie (This is a country, summer supper, thanks to the squash from one of Bob's customers and the peaches and tomatoes I scored from a local fruit stand!)

Tuesday: Shrimp Fried Rice

Wednesday: Oven BBQ Chicken, rice, salad

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Spaghetti Carbonara, salad, garlic bread

Saturday: Bacon and Avocado Grilled Cheese, veggie tray

Sunday: Snack-y supper

Have a wonderful week! xo

I'm linking up with Menu Plan Monday. Click over to join the party!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ed Douglas Publications {Review}

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I received 25 Truths: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us from Ed Douglas Publications for review. This book was offered for grades 6-12, and beyond. The paperback is listed at a price of $15.50. 

Mr. Douglas was with a bank for almost thirty-two years, which included the positions of president and CEO. He is the author of Making A Million With Only $2000 and The Money Marathon: 7 Simple Steps to Financial FreedomHe is a Certified Financial Planner and currently operates Ed Douglas Certified Financial Planning/Consulting. In 25 Truths, Mr. Douglas uses his own personal experience, along with scripture and inspiring quotes, to share his 25 essential truths that, if followed, can lead to a happy and fulfilling life.
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The truths presented in this book are arranged in short chapters, just 3-5 pages each, which include several questions for each truth. Mr. Douglas originally wrote a list of 25 things he wished he had known earlier in life and that he wanted to pass down to his children and grandchildren. Later, he began to share these truths with the students on the high school tennis team that he coached, and the father of one of the team members encouraged him to publish them in a book. This book was not intended to replace any Biblical truths, but rather is based on those truths and will help one learn to lead a happy, more-fulfilling life. It can be used in school classrooms, locker rooms, Sunday school classes, Bible studies or simply around the dinner table each evening. These concepts are mainly common sense, but I appreciate having them in one compilation. 

Here are some of the truths:

Watch What You Say, Do, and Write
Be Quick to Apologize
Utilize Compound Interest: The Eighth Wonder of the World
See the Glass as Half Full
Set Goals and Write Them Down
Make a Difference in the World

I asked my 13 year old son to read this book on his own. Here are his thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed it. One of my favourite sections was "Protect Your Reputation" because a good reputation takes a long time to build. It's worth protecting. I enjoyed reading the story regarding Mr. Douglas being quoted incorrectly by a reporter. Because of his good reputation, in the end, he was able to clear up the matter and was believed. Another good section was "Take it One Step at a Time" because everyone seems to be in such a rush these days. Things don't go well when we are in a rush, and we do not enjoy life as much. I also liked "See the Glass as Half Full" and already practice it in my life. There are many grumpy people in the world. If we see what the best outcome could be and try to reach that, our lives could be a lot better.
I will also make this available to my older daughter to read soon and for my younger children to read when they are ready. This book is applicable for any family, homeschooling or otherwise. The truths are relevant to everyone.

To see what other families thought of 25 Truths, click the banner below:


A Quick Update . . .

On one of my delivery runs this week, a mechanic friend calls out, "Hey, Rev.! I want you to pray for healing for me."  So we found a quiet spot outside the shop. I laid hands on him and spoke healing in Jesus' name.

Three things I'm thinking:

1. Humility. . . asking for help
2. Faith. . . believing there is supernatural power to help
3. Setting. . . normal workday, not in a religious meeting, just doing life
The tide of spiritual awakening is rising.  

Wow . . .

Also, I have three unsolicited preaching engagements in the next 6 weeks which is very unusual.  I am very grateful for these opportunities.  Please pray for the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit to help me prepare and also to come during these meetings.

Thanks for your continued prayers and financial support as we move forward to expand our donor team.


To join our support team, click on Field Staff Support at IFA Royce Team.

Bob Royce
Intercessors for America
Mobilization Coordinator
PO Box 915
Purcellville, VA 20134
540-317-2097 Direct

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan {15 July}

(This was our amazing lunch on Saturday, thanks to our local farmers market where we found the peaches and the maple syrup!)

Hello, lovely friends! How are things where you are? They are calling for a hot week for us here in Northern Virginia. Have I mentioned that although I grew up in Texas, I am a big heat wimp. Sigh. But we will try to make the best of it by hanging out in our basement and playing in the hose in our backyard. This week we have much going on, so I am going to use my crock pot a few times to try to help out with getting our meals on the table in a more timely manner (one night last week we ate at 8:00pm!).

Monday - Leftovers 

Tuesday - Slow cooker beef ribs, creamy dill potato salad, baked beans

Wednesday - Thai Chicken (Thai food is my favourite, so I am excited to try this for the first time!), jasmine rice

Thursday - Taco Salad

Friday - Pioneer Woman's Corn Chowder with Chilies, French bread

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Snack-y supper

What's on your menu plan for this week? 

I'm linking up with Menu Plan Monday. Click over and see what the other ladies are planning for this week!


Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil {Review}

I was sent a jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil for review from Tropical Traditions and I have been so excited about this fantastic product! We devoured every last drop! I have used coconut oil in my cooking for a number of years but did not know what brand to use when we moved back to the States. I was so glad to learn about Tropical Traditions and the wonderful story behind the company. I use coconut oil in my cooking just like any other oil or butter for sautéing, in baking, in smoothies and as a spread. 

Here is one of my favourite things to eat for breakfast . . . toast spread with Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil and drizzled with raw honey. So yummy and so good for you! Bob and most of the children enjoy this simple breakfast, as well. 

I cannot make any official medical claims regarding coconut oil, but we use it for cuts, abrasions, dry skin, chapped lips in winter, etc. I recently had a deep cut from a very sharp kitchen knife. After a day or two of it being quite painful, I remembered to dab it with coconut oil and within 12 hours the pain was gone and it was healing nicely. I truly believe in the health benefits of coconut oil and hope you will think about buying it for your family.

Check out this informative video for more information on Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil:

Watch this video for more ideas on using Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil in your every day life:

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

I really like this blouse from ThredUp. I have shown it to you before, but I paired it with my capris and sandals this time. I like how versatile it is and that it is lightweight for this heat we've had recently.

Blouse - ThredUp
Capris - Kohls
Sandals - TJ Maxx
Earrings - TJ Maxx

Hope your week is going great! xo

Disclaimer: This post contains referral links. Thank you for your support! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Classical Conversations {Review}

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Classical Conversations is a company based in North Carolina which offers a plethora of materials for multiple ages. I have had several friends use their curriculum with raving reviews. I recently had the opportunity to review one of their products and am very pleased with it. I received one copy of PreScripts Cursive Words and Drawing ($12.99). It is a spiral-bound workbook which teaches the building blocks of cursive. It also includes verses of Scripture, as well as activities for learning the basics of drawing. It is designed for children ages 5-10.
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I had Maya (age 6) use this workbook to begin learning cursive skills. She thought it would be too hard, as she has tried reading cursive and was not successful. This workbook moves through the alphabet first, then adds words and then sentences. The words and sentences come from the different Bible verses that are used. The drawing lessons start with very basic skills such as circles and lines and then moves to flowers, wiggly worms, and then combinations of curves and lines to make other pictures, such as dragonflies, jellyfish, etc. 

Honestly, I have gone back and forth on whether or not to include cursive writing in my homeschool studies. Over the years, I have read some who believe it is no longer relevant or necessary, while others believe just the opposite. Some say regular schools are no longer teaching it, due to everything being done on computers or electronic devices these days. However, I still write in a form of cursive (my handwriting is more of a combination of printing and cursive) and I believe it's important to learn to write it and read it. I found it interesting that in the midst of reviewing this product, I saw an interesting "conversation" take place on Twitter all about cursive. The woman I follow on Twitter is Elizabeth Scalia and she tweeted sadness over watching a court session of a recent high-profile alleged murder. The lady testifying admits to not being able to read cursive (you can watch here, if interested). Ms. Scalia then tweeted: 'There is beauty and individuality and history in cursive writing. Why do we not teach it anymore? Makes me ache.' And then she wrote an endearing blog piece on the loss of cursive writing. Find it here.

My conclusion is similar. Handwriting is important. It should not be swept under the rug or thrown out the back door just because most of us rely more on a keyboard to communicate these days. I want to continue to encourage my children to write letters, thank you notes and to journal, with an actual pen and on actual paper! This curriculum has been just the avenue for starting Maya on her cursive handwriting journey. It's a stretch for her and a discipline to sit down and practice it on a daily basis, but I believe she will benefit immensely from this practice. I recommend PreScripts Cursive Words and Drawing.

The TOS Review Crew bloggers were given the opportunity to review other Classical Conversations cursive books, which you can read by clicking on the banner below.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan {8 July}

(A recent, simple tea party I put together for my little girls!)

Happy new week! I am linking up with Laura at orgjunkie.com for her Menu Plan Monday. Click over to her site for great organizational ideas and menu planning tips. I have had several readers say they wish they could menu plan. It's really not hard. It just takes a bit of forethought. And just because you write it down (or post it on a blog) does not mean it is set in stone. I consider my plan to be like a general outline (which is why I write it in pencil on my calendar). I can easily move meals around or not include them at all this week. Planning and flexibility go hand in hand.

Here is what I am planning for my family this time around . . .

Monday - Zippy Beef and Ziti Skillet, salad, garlic bread 

Tuesday - Smothered steak, mashed potatoes, salad (we didn't end up having this last week)

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Sole Meuniere, rice, sautéed asparagus

Friday - Crock pot BBQ chicken sandwiches, potato salad, veggie tray

Saturday - Grilled cheese sandwiches

Sunday - Snack-y supper (Does anyone else want/need a night off on Sundays?)