How to Make Edible Maps

Edible Maps


Today we made edible maps and it was a lot of fun! Usually this is something that I will skip over, especially since it was an optional assignment, but today we had extra time so I said, “Why not?”

Well, the kids were excited! Were they excited about learning or about the sugar? I suspect it was the sugar since we limit the dreaded white stuff in our house. I thought it would be a fun project, but was pretty skeptical about the kids actually learning anything. Boy, was I wrong!

They all picked China as their country of study. Since they had to make a physical map, they learned the shape of the China by shaping their “dough” into a model of China. They learned the shape of the coastline because they ocean was made with blue icing that they carefully placed on their plate with spoons. They learned where the mountain ranges were because that is where they placed the chocolate chips. It was okay to eat a couple of pieces while they were at it too! They placed M & M’s where cities are located and tried to draw rivers with blue icing (with little success).

Finished Edible Map







Sharks went into the ocean. We were lucky that the only blue icing at the dollar store also came with sprinkles shaped like sharks. SO fun and perfect.

Recipe for “dough”:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup syrup (we used cheap “maple” syrup)

Mountains were designated by chocolate chips, cities by M & M’s, and water was blue icing.

Edible Maps 4







Call me a mean mom, but I did not let them eat their maps. I did let them mix the M & M’s and chocolate chips with some raisins and peanuts to make trail mix. They each ate some trail mix and Daddy even had some at lunchtime. Delicious!

Edible Map 5


FREE How to Homeschool Book!

Homeschool Book
Homeschool Book








FREE Homeschool Book!

For a limited time, I will be sharing my “How to Homeschool Your Child from Pre-School through High School” book for FREE!  It will be available from May 19 – 23, 2017 at this link. This is an Amazon Kindle book, but you do not need a Kindle to read it. On the book’s page, there is a link to get a free kindle book reader download for your computer or device.

This book is great for any homeschooling family or anyone that is thinking of homeschooling. It’s free, so why not check it out?

I have homeschooled my children for over 20 years and have three homeschool graduates. My eldest child went on to the United States Air Force Academy after his homeschool career. I still have six kids at home and am always tweaking my schooling each year. I like to explore new options, but have a good foundation for my overall curricula.  This book is a short read with lots of information that lists where to find the resources suggested along with fun ideas to help make homeschool great!

Please share this link with a friend. Hurry, the offer ends May 23, so get your FREE book now!

Get the book here!




How To Make Bread In A Bag

Kids love to cook! That’s why this Bread In A Bag Recipe is perfect for your kids to make delicious, homemade bread. I am usually the bread baker, but one day I was busier than usual, so I thought, “Why not let the little kids make the bread today?” They thought it was a great idea too!

Bread in A Bag Recipe


  • Gallon-Sized Resealable Bag
  • 3 Cups Flour + More for dusting surface
  • 3 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. Yeast
  • 1 Cup Warm Water
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • Butter


First, the kids gathered up the ingredients. I gave them a simple bread recipe to use instead of the recipe I usually make and it turned out great.

bread ingredients

Then they each got a gallon-sized resealable bag and put 1 cup of flour into it. Next, they added 3 Tbsp. of sugar, 2 1/4 tsp. yeast, and 1 cup of warm (not hot) water. Then the fun part: Squishing the bag!

mixing the bread dough

They squished the bag until the ingredients were blended and then let it rest for about 10 minutes. Next they added 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and one more cup of flour to the bag. They squished the bag for a few more minutes, then added another cup of flour and squished again.

Then they squeezed the dough out of the bag onto a lightly floured surface and kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes.

kneading the dough

They then shaped the dough into loaves and put them into greased loaf pans. We covered the pans with a towel and let it rise in a warm place (on top of our stove) for an hour, when it had risen to the top of the pan.

dough in pans

Then, we baked the bread at 375°F for 30 minutes. We let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, and then took the loaves out of the pans and placed the loaves on the wire racks. We rubbed the top of the loaves with a stick of butter and allowed the loaves to cool completely before slicing and eating.

baked bread


Our Homeschool – 2016

I have been homeschooling for over 20 years! Things have changed since I started with my oldest son, but it still remains dear to my heart. We are a Christian homeschooling family and began our journey in homeschooling with my eldest son, Nick, and never looked back! He went on to enter the U.S. Air Force Academy and is now going to be 27 years old. Where did the time go?

Nick getting his USAFA appt.
Nick receiving his USAFA appointment.

We have had two more children graduate our homeschool high school and now we only 😉  homeschool our remaining six kids. The children are in 11th, 9th, 8th, 6th, and two kids are in 4th. To get a look into what we do, I have listed our curricula below. We have some kids that school comes easily to, and some that it is quite challenging for. I love that I can take the time needed for each child’s ability. We start everyday with Bible reading and prayers, and then each child has assignments for their particular grade.

kids on playground
Our kids with their cousins at the playground.

11th Grader’s Curricula:

9th Grader’s Curricula:

4th – 8th Grader’s Shared Subjects:

  • The 4th through 8th graders are all doing Year 2, Level M for History, Art, and Music – Easy Peasy (free online)
  • Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day – Apologia Science
  • Piano Lessons – Hoffman Acadamy (free online)

8th Grader’s Additional Curricula:

  • Learning Language Arts Through Literature – Gray Book
  • Algebra I – Teaching Textbooks

6th Grader’s Additional Curricula:

  • Learning Language Arts Through Literature – Tan Book
  • Math – Saxon 7/6
  • Handwriting – Italic Book G

4th Grader’s Additional Curricula:

  • Learning Language Arts Through Literature – Orange Book
  • Math – Saxon 5/4
  • Handwriting – Italic Book F
  • Explode the Code Books

The older girls are able to do their coursework on their own with some assistance from me. I LOVE Teaching Textbooks for math because it is automatically graded, which leaves less grading for me. My kids love it too and do well with it. I find teaching the Easy Peasy History, Music, and Art classes to all the younger kids at once to work very well and is more enjoyable for all. Of course, I require more from the 8th grader than I do the 4th graders. 🙂

We do lots of other things that are part of our school. The kids spend a lot of time outside. We enjoy our little homestead, hunt, fish, hike, cook together, sew, garden, raise chickens, etc. In fact, we call my daughter Celia the chicken whisperer. She is often seen outside singing to her chickens. They sit on her shoulder and on her arm while she talks and sings to them. Their favorite song is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

Celia and Her Chickens
Celia and Her Chickens

What do you do in your homeschool? What curricula have you found to be especially helpful? Please share int he comments below.

God’s Blessings,


Delicious Slow Cooker Greens Recipe

We grow a LOT of kale and collard greens in our garden so I am always looking for a new recipe to try.  If a recipe can be cooked in a slow cooker then I love it.  Well, below is a slow cooker recipe I found on facebook from DIY Natural for greens that you can start earlier in the day and it is ready at dinner time.  You can freeze the leftovers if you don’t eat it all, so that is a big plus.  It is great to have vegetables frozen so you can eat them in the winter when your garden is done producing.

greens from the garden

Crockpot Greens


  • 6 – 8 cups of greens, stems removed & chopped (we use collard greens & kale)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups of bone broth, stock, or water
  • ham hock or several slices of cooked, chopped bacon
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (we omit this)
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to your slow cooker.  Cook on low heat for about 6 hours.  Turn off heat and adjust seasonings and vinegar to taste.  If using ham hock, remove it from slow cooker, pull off meat and stir meat into greens.  Serve warm as a side dish and refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

We tried these greens last night with dinner and they tasted great! We don’t like the vinegar flavor, so next time we will omit this ingredient.  We did not have any leftovers, even the kids liked them.  I am going to make more for the purpose of freezing for later in the year.  Greens are very beneficial to your health.  They detox, are loaded with antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory, and support cardiovascular & digestive health.  If you have never tried greens this would be a great recipe to start with.

So try some slow cooker greens for a healthy side dish that is quick and easy to make.  Your family will love them!


What To Do With Garden Tomatoes

What To Do with Garden Tomatoes

(Or Best Tomato Sauce Ever!)

Last year when my tomatoes were FINALLY ripe, I decided to make a ton of tomato sauce with them. The most time consuming thing was to peel the tomatoes.  You have to dunk the tomatoes in boiling water for 3 minutes, then in ice water for 3 minutes. Then you have to wait until they cool and hand peel them. Then you can start to make your sauce. I found this very time consuming and I did not like timing all these batches of tomatoes.

What’s a busy mom to do? Find a different way to do it. So, the next time I picked 2 basketfuls of tomatoes, I decided to roast them. It takes 5 minutes of prep time, and the rest of the time the tomatoes are in the oven. WAY quicker. WAY easier. I’ve been asked to share my roasted tomato sauce recipe, so here it is:

Roasted Tomato Sauce:

  • Get a pan and cover the bottom with organic olive oil.
  • Slice the tops of the tomatoes off and place cut-side down in the pan on top of the olive oil.
  • Fill the spaces between the tomatoes with cloves of garlic, quarters of onions, and chopped fresh basil & oregano (I use scissors to chop).
  • Sprinkle everything with sea salt.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for 1 hour. Let cool. When cool, pull the skins right off the tomatoes (they come off very easily).
  • Put everything in a blender and blend it.
  • No timing, no measuring, no chopping. Just quick & easy.

I fill freezer containers with 2 cups of sauce each and freeze. You could easily use baggies if you’d like. I  save a bowl of sauce to try, and it is the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. Yummy! My prep time takes 5-10 minutes, and to peel and blend everything takes about 10 minutes. A lot easier than boiling, icing, peeling, chopping, and then cooking.

Even if you are super busy, this is a fast and easy way to enjoy your garden tomatoes.

Kindergarten Homeschool

Homeschooling Kindergarten can be a time of fun and learning. I have 9 kids that I have homeschooled for over 20 years and I have successfully homeschooled my eldest son into the U.S. Air Force Academy. I love each and every grade, but Kindergarten is a time full of wonder and learning like no other grade. A lot of people ask me how I homeschool, so I am sharing how I homeschool Kindergarten in our large family with you today.


I have an eclectic style of homeschooling. I pick and choose which curricula I would like, instead of purchasing an all-inclusive package that has all the subjects and everything you need. One isn’t better than the other, I just prefer to pick and choose. I also have a pretty laid back style of homeschooling Kindergarten. I feel that it should be a time of discovery and a time to develop a love for learning. We have a set schedule everyday, but that’s because I am a schedule kind of person. Homeschooling doesn’t need to happen on a schedule. I just find it easier to get the kids’ school done everyday if I am on a schedule.

muffin tops

I don’t do sit down, scheduled pre-school. I have found that pre-schoolers tend to learn through play. So, Kindergarten is the first time we actually sit down at a table to learn. Kindergarten is all about learning the basics. If a child hasn’t learned their alphabet, then that is what comes first. I teach them the alphabet song and then work on letter recognition. We then match lower case letters to upper case letter. In the photo above, my boys are play the Muffin Top Game from Happy Phonics that I purchased at I have one daughter who pretty much taught herself to read after a few lessons in the book, Alpha Phonics, however, the rest of my children did not learn to read so easily. Numbers are equally as important as letters, so number recognition is learned at the same time as the letters. Colors, shape, and other basic skills are usually already learned by the Kindergarten year. If not, these are best learned through play and daily conversation. A lot of kids learn to read and write before they even enter Kindergarten, and that is fine of course. I prefer to focus on their gross motor skills first, and then their fine motor skills. Life skills are taught on a daily basis when a child is homeschooled, so they need not be taught in the scheduled class time.

cooking cookies

Basic things that children should learn in Kindergarten besides learning to read, write, and do math facts are:

Tying their shoes
How to write their full name
How to write their address
Telephone number and how to use a phone
How, why, and when to dial 9-1-1
Basic safety (fire safety, earthquake, etc.)
Basic physical education (kick ball, jumprope, walk on a beam, etc.)
How to count from 1-20 and backwards (at least)
Basic reading and writing
How to share
How to take turns
Holding a pencil correctly
Using scissors correctly

Child making butterfly

Below is a list of curricula that I like to use in Kindergarten homeschool:

Explode the Code for learning letters, sounds, and reading
Alpha Phonics – reading
Singapore Math (I use this in Kindergarten only)
Saxon Math, which I use through Middle School
Apologia Science (this is actually for the older kids, but the Kindergarteners listen and do some of the activities)
Christian Liberty Press books for history, beginning science
Italic Handwriting Series by Getty & Dubay
Apps on my iPad for learning math facts
Apps on my iPad for spelling
Apps on my iPad for learning Geography
Large maps in the hallway (1 of the U.S.A. and 1 World)
Happy Phonics from Love To Learn

botany notebook

Below is our current homeschool schedule:

7:00 a.m. – Wake up and do chores while mom cooks breakfast
8:00 a.m. – Eat breakfast. Teens start lessons. Little kids run around outside if weather is good, mom exercises.
9:00 a.m. – Prayers, reciting & learning 10 Commandments, Bible Story, and 4 Chapters of Bible Reading (1 Chapter Old Testament, 1 Proverb, 1 Psalm, & 1 Chapter New Testament)
9:30 a.m. – Teens go to rooms to do school. K – 5 graders do Science & History together.
10:30 a.m. – K – 2 take turns doing math facts on iPad. Kindergarteners do their handwriting, play phonics games or go outside again. Mom sits down and does math with 4th & 5th grader. 2nd grader does Explode the Code, educational apps on iPad.
10:45 a.m. – 4th & 5th grader do their math problems, mom does math with 2nd grader, and periodically helps with phonics games for little ones.
11:00 a.m. – Kindergarteners do math & Explode the code while 2nd grader does her math problems.
11:30 a.m. – Mom starts 4th & 5th graders on their Language Arts lessons. Mom does Language Arts with 2nd grader.
Lunch at 12:30 p.m. with Daddy who is home for lunch.
Kids do keyboarding, art, other subjects after lunch on their own time while teens are finishing up their lessons. Mom works at home on her business.

painting tube

snake craft
Our schedule is not as hectic as it sounds. It actually flows quite well. As you can see, the kindergarteners sit for Bible reading, etc. for approximately 30 minutes. Then they sit through our science and history lessons with the older kids for an hour. They can get up and move around if they like while we are going over our science and history. Then they just take turns playing phonics games or doing educational games on the iPad until I have time to do the rest of their school. If it is really nice outside they just go play outside and do the phonics games & iPad games later in the day. At about 11:00, the kindergarteners sit down for book work in their Explode the Code and their Singapore Math. This takes about 15 minutes.

Nick getting his USAFA appt.
Receiving Appointment to USAFA

I have successfully homeschooled my eldest son through High School and then he was accepted into the Air Force Academy. So, don’t think I am too laid back in my homeschooling. The Academy has very rigorous standards and is difficult to get into. I miss my eldest son now that he is grown and gone. One of the best things about homeschooling is that I am able to spend my days with my kids. I never thought I would have the patience to homeschool, but God has given me the patience and has rewarded me with more time with my children. If you have any questions about homeschooling kindergarten, please ask them in the comments below. Also, I would love to hear your homeschooling experiences, so please share your kindergarten homeschool ideas in the comments below.



Best Homemade Ice Cream Recipe

I hope you had a wonderful Father’s Day last Sunday. We enjoyed the day by going to church, grilling bratwurst, and making my husband’s favorite – homemade banana ice cream! His family has been making this recipe for at least 50 years, so it is a tried and true smooth recipe.

How to make homemade ice cream:


  • 3 Quarts Half and Half
  • 2 Cans Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 5 Bananas Mashed (or any fruit you want to add)
  • Ice (if using ice cream maker)
  • Rock Salt/Ice Cream Salt (if using ice cream maker)


We use an ice cream maker but you can also mix ingredients well and place in a pan, freeze at least two hours, and then scoop. (omit ice and rock salt)

  • Place Half and Half, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, salt, and mashed bananas in ice cream maker. Mix well.
  • Fill outside section of ice cream maker halfway with ice, layer some rock salt on top, then repeat ice and rock salt until full.

ice cream in ice cream maker

  • Turn ice cream maker on until ice cream is to desired thickness.
  • Enjoy your yummy homemade ice cream!

ice cream

Our kids LOVE it:

boy eating homemade ice cream

Dad is happy!

dad with homemade ice cream


Best Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day is this Sunday! Are you ready for it? Dads are notoriously difficult to get gifts for. What do you get Dad? Here’s a list of the best gift ideas for Dad on Father’s Day:

  • Favorite Hobby: Enjoy his favorite hobby with him! We usually take my hubby fishing because it is his favorite summertime activity. Take dad golfing, hiking, swimming, camping, bowling, boating, surfing, or whatever makes Dad smile.

Family swimming

  • Gift Certificate: If you can’t enjoy dad’s favorite hobby with him, then get him a gift certificate. Not just any gift certificate though, get one to his favorite golf shop, outdoorsman store, fishing shop, etc.
  • Make His Favorite Meal: The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, at least that’s what they say. So, grill dad his favorite steak for dinner or start the morning off with homemade cinnamon rolls.


  • Framed Funny Photo: Give dad the gift of a smile. Frame a photo of the kids goofing off or a photo of your last vacation together. A digital photo frame can let dad see lots of different photos that will show him just how special you think he is.
  • Picnic: Have a picnic down at the lake, at the park, or in your own backyard. You can make it fun by using downloadable printables from Lia Griffith that you can get here.

family picnic

  • Attend Worship Service Together: We always start our Father’s Day by attending church. It helps us to remember that we are not alone and that our heavenly Father loves us.
  • Visit Care Center: Make cards to give to other dads who may not be blessed enough to have visitors on Father’s Day or if you don’t have a dad around to celebrate. Visit your local nursing home, veterans home, or a neighbor.
  • That Thing He’s Always Wanted: You know what it is. It’s that thing he researches on the internet, always looks at in the store, or wishes he had but won’t buy for himself.
  • Time: Most importantly, give dad the gift of your time. That is what he really wants anyway. 🙂

dad holding girl's hand

  • Write Him a Letter: In today’s digital age, hand-written letters show just how much you care. Write dad a letter telling him exactly what makes him such a great dad. Your caring words will be cherished for a lifetime.

Have a safe and happy Father’s Day!



DIY Lava Lamp Fun

Our kids love to make DIY lava lamps! It’s a fun thing to do during the summer when it is too hot to go outside or when we are experiences an afternoon thunderstorm. Below are the directions on how we make our lava lamp fun:

lava lamp supplies


  • empty plastic bottle
  • vegetable oil
  • Alka-Seltzer
  • food coloring


Fill the empty plastic bottle about 2/3 with vegetable oil.

lava lamp oil

Add water to fill the bottle.

lava lamp water

Add several drops food coloring. Each of our kids picked a different color so we knew which lava lamp belonged to each kid.

lava lamp food coloring

Break an Alka-Seltzer into several pieces and add each piece one at a time to the oil/water mixture.

lava lamp 4 pieces alka seltzer

When the tablets hit the water they will start to fizz.

lava lamp starting to bubble

Each time you add a new piece of Alka-Seltzer it will fizz more.

lava lamp really bubbling

My boys set their lava lamps on a lighted flashlight for more lava fun. The kids really loved this and it was super simple. I hope you have fun with it!