From Scratch Adventures: Jambalaya

So I'm on a quest to make things from scratch... Since we live in Louisiana now we, as a family, have fallen IN LOVE with Jambalaya! Shortly after we moved here, we were invited to a football gathering at my new friend April's house and that's where we were introduced to this wonderful Cajun food. None of us were interested in trying it... until we did. Then a few weeks later we hung out with April's awesome family again and her dad made Pastalaya... and it was over... we were hooked!!

(btw... my friend April blogs over at Wildflowers and Whimsy! You should check her out! She's so creative!)

photo credit
Anyway so to get our Jambalaya fix at home... we have been buying a box of mix for a couple bucks, throwing some chicken in and chowing down. Like all the time. Like several times a week...

First we were buying this box of Zatarain's... till I realized that it has *caramel coloring* in it which is very bad for you. The most common place to find it is in sodas...

Then we started buying this box of Tony Chachere's which doesn't contain *caramel color* but it still has a bunch of ingredients that I do not understand... lol

So it occurs to me at this point, that we eat this dish so much it needs to just be one of those things I make from scratch. To save us some money and also to save a little bit of our health. LOL

So I started googling recipes online and was pleasantly surprised to find a wide variety of different ways to make this amazing dish!

The first recipe I found, a cabbage jambalaya, had me laughing really hard though because of the description... Because I have extremely picky eaters in this house! I let you click on over to it and read it. 

poto credit
Are you back...? HAHAHA! Did you read the part about how "your kids will be eating cabbage like it's going out of style!"?

Yea that cracked me up...


This is the recipe (from I'm going to go ahead and tackle this week! After I do... I'll just edit this post to reflect the outcome!

I am super stoked!!  Stay tuned! :)

Lazy Dayz

Does anyone else just take a super long break around the holidays?

Seems my blog was on the list of projects to put down as well! LOL! This was not intentional... I think I had applied to be a curriculum reviewer too and at this point I have the next school year planned so if I don't get included... I'm cool.

We live in the south so we have been taking our long breaks in the winter when we can ACTUALLY be outside... in the summer it's just way way way too hot down here in TX and LA, where we have been living.

Anyhoo... sorry for the delayed postings.. hopefully my enthusiasm will resume after Christmas. :)

For now.. I leave you with an adorable picture of my son hugging a tree! :)

From Scratch Adventures!!

It's time... And the time has been comin for a while. I've been hiding from the inevitable... But it's finally time to embrace this calling in my heart.

From Scratch Cooking!

New segment on the blog... Each month I will tackle 5 new from scratch items and share them with you. I'm taking this slowly so that I can stick with the things I learn to make. 

I'm also getting the whole family involved!  So this will be super fun! 

This month's list: (processed things I desperately want out of my home...)

Crescent Rolls/Pizza Dough
Ramen Noodles
Peanut butter
Spaghetti Sauce

As I make em... I will share the recipes and reviews with you!! Im so excited!! 

Wish me luck!! <3 

Life of Fred

Ok who doesn't like Life of Fred?? lol! We love Fred around here. In fact, Life of Fred (LOF) did something neat for my oldest son... when he started reading Fred... it was like a lightbulb turned on in his brain and all avenues for learning and exploring were opened. <3 It's hard to explain but when you are a homeschool parent and a light bulb goes off... it's a magical thing, isn't it? 

Why I like Life of Fred: Because it's funny! Come on, have you read a Fred book to your kids lately? It's so entertaining!! It's soooo much better to be *forced* to read LOF to my kids than some of the other things they bring me sometimes...  And the amount of knowledge my kids get from these books is astounding! It's unreal how much my sons retain after a read. They will even take a long while to digest some concepts and start exploring them on their own! Like the time my seven year old got his tape measurer out and started measuring everything in the house! Even my small 3 year old will remember and learn things!! LOF is a series I will be saving for my grand kids someday. Also... LOF is inexpensive for the value it holds in my family.

Why my sons like Life of Fred: Seriously they love it! Fred doesn't even look like a "curriculum" to them. To them it's just a book! We read Fred at their leisure and enjoy it very much. My older son, in particular, has been completely influenced by the style of writing inside the Life of Fred books. He has started writing his own stories because of Fred and he has started READING on his OWN because of Fred. :) I waited and waited for that spark... and when he connected with Fred, it happened! :) Like I said above, magical! I know that some families out there get real serious with LOF and will do the chapters on schedule and things like that but we do not. For my kids, Fred is like a friend they can visit with whenever they want and play with for however long or short they want to. 

I highly highly highly recommend LOF and although you may see reviews on my site sometimes that I may do for incentives, this is not one of those cases. We simply love Life of Fred and I wanted to share it with you. :)

Christmas on Apple Ridge: A Review

I am a big fan of Amish fiction and so this review will most likely reflect that fact. Christmas in Apple Ridge is a compilation of three books in which the characters lives intertwine. In the first book we meet Beth. This book is my favorite of the three stories, hands down. 

Book one is entitled The Sound of Sleigh Bells and it's story has the most intriguing conflict for the main character. My heart connected with this one better than the others. I truly understood Beth's struggle with love and why she lives the way she does. I cheered for her when she finally let herself love the man who's art broke through the wall she had created after the tragedy she had been through. 

My guess is, your heart will connect with one of these stories too.

In the second book we meet Mattie, who is so sweet. She, like Beth, has also been burned by love. We get to read as her heart heals and she finds a happy ending as well. And finally, in the third book, we meet Sadie who is the spunkiest of all the women in these stories.

I loved that as I read each book I was able to continue to peek into the lives of the women I had previously met throughout the books. It kept me interested until the very end. I also really liked how independent these women are among the Amish faith. They stand on their own feet and involve themselves in their own destinies, listening to God all the way.

If you are looking for a light read through the Christmas season that is both heartwarming and wholesome then this is your book.

Click Here to download chapter one of this sweet story! 

Click Here to buy this wonderful book through the publisher! 

Click Here to find it on Amazon!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. 

Math Mammoth-Blue Series

We love Math Mammoth around here! So much that my son wants a stuffed mammoth for Christmas this year.. So much that he likes to color Mathy the Mammoth pictures all the time. (You can download a picture of Mathy on the Math Mammoth website. :) 

Why I like Math Mammoth - Blue Series: 

I like it because before I found it... I was lost. Math-wise lol. I looked up so, so many lists of standards and math subjects kid should learn and how and when to teach them.. my head was spinning. We tried to "school math" so much with too many curriculums. It was a math nightmare... Math almost did me in for homeschooling... I was ready to quit. Then I found this. Let me add really quickly, that Math Mammoth has grade level curriculums... but we do not use that. We use the blue series because it is by topic and skill level. Which is more important to us than grade level.  Anyway, I love this curriculum because it gives me confidence and a backbone behind my math guidance. ALSO this curriculum is so inexpensive!! It's truly a wonderful tool. At any time I can pull it out for a fresh perspective and I never feel bad when it's time to put it away for a while and do some math unschooling because it's cost does not keep me strapped. 

Why my sons like Math Mammoth - Blue Series: 

With this series of curriculum... my kids are in control of what they learn and when they learn it. If my son wants to learn about clocks today, we grab his clocks folder and go to town. We do some hands on activities with our big play clock and check the real clocks around the house for the time. Stuff like that. Then we do a few problems on whatever worksheet we are on until my son has had enough for the day. He is in control of it and this is how he wants to learn. It gives my older son the ability to compartmentalize his math. He likes that. It's comfortable for him. To him Math Mammoth is not a curriculum and it's not even mandatory. It's a tool for him. And he loves the way the author explains concepts to him while he's working. He has connected so well with this curriculum. I would say that before this curriculum appeared in our homeschool... he had zero math confidence. He spent a lot of Kindergarten in public school and then most of first grade de-schooling from that. So now in second grade, he is finding his learning feet and Math Mammoth has really helped him a lot. 

Have you used Math Mammoth in your homeschool? If so, I would love to hear about it! Math Mammoth is not the only math curriculum we use. We also love Life of Fred around these parts. :)

**Although I do sometimes receive incentives for my reviews... this was not one of those circumstances. :) We simply love Math Mammoth and I wanted to share. <3 


Easy Spooky Spiders

So I've been blogging some of the things I'm crafting to decorate my sons Halloween/Birthday party. <His idea entirely!! He has been planning this for like a year...>

Here is another super duper easy Halloween decoration you can do to give some special extra spooky details to your spider webs! 

Everyone has probably used those neon green or white spider webs as decor but I decided to add a kick and make some little pipe cleaner spiders to stick in the webs! 

What you need:
-Pipe Cleaners

That's IT! :) 

1) Start by deciding what color(s) you would like your spiders to be and then set those pipe cleaners aside.

2) Cut ALL THREE pipe cleaners in half. Take two of the halves and cut them in half again... so you should have 4 short little pipe cleaners and on big half left.

3) Arrange the four short little pipe cleaners in a star-like pattern so that you have eight points sticking out.

4) Take the pipe cleaner half you have left and wrap it around the middle to make the spider's body and ALSO to secure the legs to each other.

5) Bend the little legs slightly to create creepy legs! :)


I then stuck mine in those cheap spider webs decorations. They made for an awesome addition to my son's birthday party decor!

If you make these and blog them! Post a link so we can see!!! 

Happy Crafting!! 

Homeschooling is: Freedom

Something I learn every single day with my boys about homeschooling is that freedom has many characteristics. Freedom is a beautiful word... full of exploration and discovery. Freedom means ability. Freedom means choice. And freedom means gain.

Freedom means having the ability to be with my children all day long... as much as I want and not being weird for wanting that. Having the ability to know them better than I ever could if we weren't together as much as we are. They have the ability to see me for what I am... just a person. A person just as they are who will fail and get back up again. I am not hidden from them in the business of days gone by. They know me right now. And we will always be closer because of this freedom.

Freedom means choice. WE get to choose what we do, how we do it, and when we do it. If we don't like something we can choose to change it. We can choose our daily lives for ourselves... set our own schedule. And in the bigger picture... my kiddos have been blessed with an amazing opportunity to CHOOSE their destinies for themselves in the safe environment of their loving family. They have the Freedom to follow God's plan for their lives and listen to His influence more so than outside sources. Their hearts have the Freedom to be shaped more so by the Holy Spirit than the world. 

Freedom means that I gain... daily. I gain so much being with my kids everyday. Sure it's a tough job. And we all have those days where we're like, "what was I thinking?!?" :) But the amount of blessing I gain far outweigh those stressful days. Freedom also means that my children gain... they gain knowledge. The true kind. The kind they sought to learn. They kind that will stick. The kind that will take them places... oh how wonderful it is to think about how much THEY gain by being homeschooled.

With Freedom come responsibility though. It is important to me that the Freedoms my family has in homeschooling be used responsibly and the best way I know how to do that is by consulting God every step of the way. <3 I am so glad I have the Freedom to do that... aren't you?

If homeschooling is freedom... what is freedom to you

Let the Nature Journaling Begin!

I got a new library book today!! I am so excited to dig into this book! I have already read the first chapter which inspired me to grab a sheet of paper right away and draw the little guys on my back porch. There are like 3 or 4 Leopard Geckos that live behind the light fixture. <3 I used to keep Leopard Geckos in a cage as a kid and so I love them a lot. Now, having them as neighbors is awesome.

I don't know if I will be drawing a lot in my nature journal... I may just take pictures. I'm not very good at drawing. When I was in 1st or 2nd grade as a kid I loved to color and draw! But I distinctly remember the crushing moment when all the love I had for art was bulldozed over by this teacher of mine. We don't need to get into the details... :) I'm over it and have decided to add art to my list of self education pursuits. :) I definitely have gaps in art appreciation and application that need filled. :)

Anyhow this book is amazing. HIGHLY recommend it!! The series is called the Amateur Science Series and so far I know of three books in the series. The Amateur Naturalist is the one I have now. I have read The Amateur Geologist (Which is also amazing!!) Next on my list to aquire is The Amateur Meteorologist.

The Amateur Geologist book does have an old world/evolution view point. (you know millions and millions of years...) The value in this book supersedes any bending I had to do around that aspect though. I'm not sure about the view point in either the one I am currently reading or the one I haven't read yet ... but so far, these books are amazing and worth it for anyone looking to journal these different genres of nature.

The authors in this series seems to absolutely love their area of expertise and it bleeds through the pages. Their words make you excited and they make you want to literally jump up right away and get started! I did with the geologist book and am finding myself doing it again with this one.

Some of the first exercises in this book include keeping a list of your non human neighbors -even if you don't know their names, so you can find out later, investigating bird feeding preferences (which is next on my to-do list), investigating ant lion diggings, investigating wooly bear caterpillar wanderings and so much more... just in the first chapter!!

See if your library has a copy of this book immediately... :) I promise you this book will pose questions in your heart that you just have to answer.  I would even go so far as to say this book might motivate a reluctant jr high or high school student to get up and love on some nature. :)

Let me know if you read it too! :)

Happy Reading!!

Boolicious Batty Bean Bag Toss

Homemade Bean Bag Toss Game for Halloween Party!!

I call this contraption the "Boolicious Batty Bean Bag Toss"

My son is turning 4 next week and this weekend is his birthday party! He special requested a Halloween Themed Birthday! More specifically... he wants everything to be bats!

So I made this for him! I thought I would share it with you in case you want to make on too. It wasn't super hard and he is thrilled about it.

For the bean bags, you will need:

-Beans or rice
-A few old socks (I used six)
-A glue gun (you could sew these I suppose... but I don't sew lol)
-Some scissors for cutting the socks.

And that's it!! :)

Step 1) Throw a couple scoops of beans into your socks... fill to your preferred size. I used 3/4 cup of beans. They're just heavy enough but also light and easy to throw.

Step 2) After the beans are in the socks... cut the top of the sock off to about a 1 1/2- 2 inches above the layer of beans.

Step 3) Fold the left over sock inward and glue together. :)


For the Bat Game Box, you will need:

-One large box (My box came from two boxes taped together when we were moving-it was used to hold pictures) Any tall box will do. You could also tape two or three boxes on top of each other depending on how tall you want your game to be!
-A sharp knife or pare of scissors to cut (I used my husband's pocket knife)
-A pencil to draw your design with
-Paint (I used regular old Crayola washable paint)

Step 1) Assemble your boxes if you have more than one.

Step 2) use a pencil to draw your design on there. For bats it's pretty simple (That's why I picked up) just a big circle and some wings... make SURE if you are having the children throw bean bags into the mouths that you place the bean bags actually on the box while you are drawing to make sure the holes they are going to go through are big enough! :)

Step 3) Cut your holes out with scissors or a knife

Step 4) Paint and let dry!!

If you make one of these please please link back on the bottom of the blog so the rest of us can check out your creativity!! I don't care if it's better than mine........


Happy Halloween!!! 

Life of John: John and Jason Walk to the Fire Station

This story is brought to you today by my Sweet Son who likes to sit with me and tell me stories.  He decided he would like to tell you stories as well on my new blog. I am thrilled! So without further adieu... 

The pictures in this story and the inspiration behind the story came to you today after a super awesome field trip we took the the fire house this week! 

Life of John

John and Jason Walk to the Fire Station 

Last time we saw John he was at the end of the woods. He had reached the end of the woods. He was going to visit the city to see his brother Jason. And he was bringing his new pets, the owl, the gopher, and the deer. John said, "We finally got to the city pets! Now it's time to go see Jason." Jason was so happy that John came to visit him so they could walk together to the fire station. Jason and John went to the fire station and the pets stayed at Jason's house. The fire station was filled with firemen. Soon the alarm went off "Reeeerrrr Reeeerrrrrrr!!!" The firemen got in their truck. 

Jason and John snuck in the fire truck to go with them. They were at the fire. The fire was big! The fire was scary! Jason hid but John was fearless. John went to get a hose. Jason got out from his hiding spot and got a hose too. They both put out the fire with the firemen. The fire was soon gone! No more fire!

 Then the workers came and they had to rebuild the whole house! The workers finally built the whole house. Then John and Jason went home together and they were singing about the fire station. 

The End. 

Seasonal Nature Table

Our Nature Table

One way I am trying to involve my children in nature study is with this awesome nature table I created in the corner of our sunroom.

Although we unschool, we do have a school room. My kids and I like to have a designated place of engagement. Think of it like your husband's man cave or your craft room... This is where we keep all the things that inspire our creativity! 

Anyway.. This table was on my neighbor's lawn one day in her giveaway pile so I snagged it! I folded up a cheap, white shower cutain and stapled it over the top. The kids pained fall colors on it and we picked out some store bought decorations for fun.

Throughout the fall we will be collecting things from outside and placing them on the  table. Sticks, rocks, and lots of accorns adorn table as of now and the space is proving to be quite awesome and engaging for the whole family! My sons are really loving finding things all over the place to save and bring home! 

Do you have a nature table? Or somewhere you or your children display your findings from the out of doors? What do you keep there? 

Share with me!! I'd love to see!! 

Tree and a Free Kindle Book!

"I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree. 
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the Earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray..."

from the poem Tree by Joyce Kilmer

He wrote this poem in 1913 and it was probably his most popular poem. His work is often criticized as being simplistic... and "they" are entitled to their opinion but since I can't write poetry AT ALL and his Poem Tree inspired me to seek out a tree...  and study it... well I'll give the rest of his poetry a shot. :) So far I am enjoying reading it every now and then! Sure glad it was free for Kindle!

His book is free on kindle here!! 

Enjoy!! :)
As for the tree in my photo above... I took that out on the Bayou! I live in Southern Louisiana now and this place is beautiful. Swamps are beautiful. So many birds and trees... ahhhh :) I could sit out there all day and gaze.... if it weren't for the gators I KNOW are waiting for me to stick a toe in the water!! HAHA! 

The tree in my picture is a Cypress tree. And it is beautiful. <3 She is going in my nature notebook. And if I ever muster up the ability to paint her... I will share with you. :) 

Fire Station Demonstration!

You know how sometimes as homeschoolers... you get to see and do things that are just really really neat!

Well today was one of those times! :)

A bunch of local homeschoolers in my area met at a neighborhood fire station a got a tour and learned a lot! Field trips like this happen all the time...

But here's the kicker! After the firemen talked about fire drills at home... they demonstrated their fire drill to show the kids what THEY do when there's a fire in someone's house! It was so cool!!

Check out my facebook page for the videos!! (In the videos section)

Here are some pictures from the trip! Needless to say... we had a blast! My three year old has been saying lately that he wants to be a fireman when he grows up... this adventure may have solidified that dream for him! :) His little face was so cute the entire time. Almost as if he was picturing himself all grown up and becoming a fireman someday! :) 

I highly recomend that all children, at some point, tour a fire station and meet some local heros. It puts a face to the realization that someday someone may need to save them from a fire. It puts perspective on emergency situations and the purpose of dialing 911. It allows children to build respect for people in our community who risk their lives for our overall safety. It's hard to set up a meeting between your child and heros sometimes. Police stations might not be the best environment for young kids to walk around and it's hard to meet military members at work unless they are part of your family. But firemen love to have kids come and tour their work spaces. This fire station in particular said we could come on by anytime! :) 

Special thanks to the Adventures in Homeschooling group for facilitating this avenue and to the organizer of the event, specifically... thank you so very much! We had a blast!!

Life of John: A Walk in the Woods

This story is brought to you today by my Sweet Son who likes to sit with me and tell me stories.  He decided he would like to tell you stories as well on my new blog. I am thrilled! So without further adieu... 

Life of John
A Walk in the Woods

One day John was walking in the woods and he saw an owl. The owl flew over a tall, tall tree and he landed on a branch. He was so comfortable on the branch. He went to sleep. 

John kept on walking. He saw a little gopher. The gopher was fast! He climbed on John and he licked him! The gopher was so happy to be with John. He stayed with John for the rest of his walk. 

Soon they went jogging. Next they saw a wolf. The wolf chased them all around the woods. The wolf would not stop! The gopher and John were so tired and the wolf kept running towards them. John didn't know that the wolf was a nice wolf so they rested for 10 seconds then they kept running. Soon the wolf got tired and he stopped. 

John and the gopher stopped right next to a tree and the owl was in THAT tree and he flew down on John's arm and John gave him a little birdie to eat. (Owls eat other birds sometimes) And John also gave the gopher a carrot to eat. 

Next they saw a little white baby deer. The deer was so nice! John named him Snowy. He was so white, he was as white as the clouds. He was as white as a star. So he changed his name to Star Light Star Bright. Then after John named the little white deer, Star Light Star Bright, they finally got to the end of the woods. 

The End. 

for now... :) 

Spiders, Snakes, and Other Outcasts: A Review

"To call a man a worm is to indicate about the lowest possible opinion of him. This betrays ignorance. Worms are among the most successful forms of life. They are so remarkably successful, in fact, that it is necessary to go in for careful definitions to decide whether many wormlike creatures deserve the accolade of being called worms." -Robert Froman
-Spiders, Snakes, and Other Outcasts 1965 -Robert Froman

This quote amuses me... my husband says in the oil field (where he works) they call new guys "worms"


I. Love. This. Book. 

I am constantly discovering these wonderful living books inside my small town library. I mentioned this book inside a facebook group I belong to but I wanted to go into it with a a little more detail to show you why this book is so cool and why it's so alive.

The author seems very upset by the fact that most people find some extraordinary animals "hateful". He is clearly one of the "few thousand human beings" that find these animals fascinating. He writes this book with chapter titles such as The Not So Humble Worms and They That Go Upon The Belly. This book has a copyright date of  1965!! I wonder how long it has been in my library...

This first chapter of this book called Why the Hate has some awesome information in it for the reader. It talks about Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. He also explains why being terrified by certain creatures stops us from being able to learn about them and understand them. And he has a few theories on why people might be so revolted. :)

This book is filled with tons of information on worms, spiders, octopi, bats, snakes, vultures, roaches, and toads. Some of it could be scientifically outdated but that just creates more learning opportunities as far as I am concerned.

My ONLY qualm... which I find I have for a lot of random living books I end up finding in my old library is that this author loves evolution and sees through that lens exclusively. So all information in this book is filtered through his views. There is even a section in the back where he lays out a timeline of when things first appeared or evolved... Now I do not believe in evolution one bit so I had to filter this entire book through my own lenses and such... but not hard to do depending on the age and maturity of the reader.

My favorite part about this book... the vocabulary. This book is RICH with awesome descriptive imagery. And my brain absolutely loves reading books with words I don't usually use or see daily. It keeps me interested and turns gears for me while I read so that my short attention span can stay tuned.

Here is the Amazon link to this book should you wish to check it out further. :)

Happy Reading!

My Nature Journal: The Beginning

Do you have a nature journal? Do your kids keep one? I can't get my boys to even blink an eye in the direction of keeping a nature journal. Why? Because they would {winey voice} "have to wriiiiteeee!!"
-or draaaaaaw
-or paaaaaaiiiiint
-or whatever other thing they would need to do with their hands to record their own account of God's Glory in a treasured notebook.

So I decided that I am going to start one. :) A big one! A family sized one! And they can help but... this is for me. Maybe they will catch the bug someday.

I am very inspired after reading this book Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals by Karen Skidmore Rackliffe that I bought from a friend in TX for $5 last year and only just recently picked up to read. It's wonderful. I'll admit.. I envy other people's children just a little bit when they create such beautiful nature notebooks. And she shows lots of examples of her children's journals in this book.  But then I realize... my boys have nothing to go by when we bring paper and colored pencils outside to sketch. They don't like drawing. And they don't like sitting still... :) They are still young. But anyway... this book is a great resource on nature notebooking and one I know I will reference many times.

Another wonderful book that was given to me in curriculum trade off between me and another homeschooler friend was The Nature Study Idea Book by Mary E. Woodis. In here you can find all kinds of ideas for study. The cover says even a high schooler could be interested! It has readily available poems and Scripture you may be inspired to write in your journal. Tool kit instructions for different kinds of study like geology (rocks) and ornithology (birding). And the conversational way she writes is like having a really good friend sitting next to you and explaining all the exciting adventures you are about to have with your nature journal. I love it!

Check these two books out... they are fairly inexpensive for the amount of value inside.

Anyway... so this notebook of mine that I am going to start... I'm gonna do it right in front of my kids. While they play at the park. Outside in the backyard. On the porch. I am going to cary it with me and treasure it. And show them what I am doing inside. I'll let them help me if they wish and hopefully this will inspire them to create their own! :)

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