Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Summer Sausage Pasta Salad

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A few months ago, we had an entire javelina turned into summer sausage. Can I just say, "YUM!" I love summer sausage, and I especially like it when it's from a wild animal that hasn't been raised on an industrialized farm. :) (Thank you Grandpa D and Howard!!!)

Anyway, after awhile my kids got tired of eating it the same few ways: cold with cheese and crackers, sausage egg and cheese on English muffins, sausage and beans casserole, sausage with rice, etc.

So, I decided to make something new thinking my kids were gonna be totally against the pasta salad thing. Nope, I was pleasantly surprised that they all really liked it!! The only con was that I didn't make a double batch. The second time I made it, I doubled the recipe. :)

Summer Sausage Pasta Salad

  • 1 box of tri-color rotini, cooked and drained
  • Approx. 1/2 a bottle of Ranch dressing
  • Approx. 1/3 bottle of Italian dressing
  • 2 TBSP mayo
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 small can sliced black olives (I usually don't use the whole can)
  • 1 cup chopped summer sausage (doesn't have to be javelina) :)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*Mix noodles dressings and mayo together. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to coat. Eat right away or refrigerate for a few hours. When you refrigerate, you will want to add a little more dressing and maybe some mayo before serving.

I am taking some to a potluck today, so hopefully everyone else will like it, too!

Linked to: Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Try a New Recipe Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, A Little Bird Told Me

Monday, April 29, 2013

Home School in the Woods: Composers Activity Pak {Schoolhouse Review}

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I am not very musical, but I do like to teach music appreciation every once in a while. So many composers have such fascinating lives! Our family is currently enjoying the complete Lap Book™ -- Hand-On History Composers Activity Pak -- from Home School in the Woods.

We reviewed the downloadable version which is $18.95. (CDs can be purchased for $19.95.) It is recommended for grades 3-8, but I think third graders and maybe fourth graders would still need help assembling the Lap Book™.
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The Composers Activity Pak contains hands-on projects to help children retain all of the information they learn about classical music and composers. The activities are designed to be used in addition to further research and independent study. While some basic information about the periods of music and composers is included, it isn't a complete unit study. An entire page of suggested books, audio, and video is provided for your convenience.
In this activity pack, your child will be introduced to 42 composers from 7 different periods of music:
  • Middle Ages (500-1400)
  • Renaissance (1400-1600)
  • Baroque (1600-1750)
  • Classical (1750-1820)
  • Romantic (1820-1900)
  • Impressionist (1890-1940)
  • 20th Century/Modern (1900-Present)

Six activities are included to complete the Composers Activity Pak. Your child will need to complete all of the activities before he assembles the Lap Book™. Each activity includes a supplies list and step-by-step instructions for assembly. Some supplies you will want to have handy for completing this Lap Book™ are: white printing paper, white card stock, colored card stock, clear packing tape, double-sided sticky tape, a piece of Velcro, a small piece of corrugated card board, and a paper fastener.

1. Periods of Music

This little booklet contains brief descriptions of each of the periods of classical music listed above. Your child will assemble the booklet and glue onto a music stand that he can color if he wishes.

2. Keyboard Vocabulary

Musical terms and their definitions are displayed uniquely on piano keys. The musical term is located on the top of the piano key, and it can be pulled back to reveal the definition.

3. Collection of Composers

In this project, your child records basic information about 42 composers such as: year of birth and death, country they were from, period of music, and list of compositions and interesting facts. Information is recorded onto small cards that will fold over to form a small booklet. A portrait image is glued onto the front of each card.

4. Composers Timeline

There are 42 portraits of composers that are glued onto a timeline which reflects the particular period of music they belong to. Once the timeline pages are taped together and put into the Lap Book™, it can be pulled out accordion style.

5. Pieces with a Purpose

Your child learns some of the different reasons the musicians composed music. The information is already included and written on several icons: CD-player, hymn book, money purse, crown, flag, and opera program.

6. Music Appreciation

Music Appreciation sheets are included for your child to research information and listen to compositions from 18 of the composers. There is space for your child to draw a picture of what he feels or pictures in his mind while listening to pieces of music.

Two additional activities are included in the Composers Activity Pak but are not part of the Lap Book™. The first one is a card game and the second is a file folder display of "The Orchestra."

7. Composer Card Game

These 4 1/2" x 5 1/2" cards feature basic facts and popular pieces of 20 different composers. You have the option of printing the images and information on separate cards or printing the information on the backs of the images. We chose the latter option. You can use them for drilling facts or playing a matching game. Obviously if you want to use them for a matching game, you have to print the images and information separately.

"The Orchestra" File Folder Display
This project shows your child orchestra seating and which instruments were introduced during these 4 eras: The Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern. There are 25 instruments in all plus the conductor. We haven't put ours together yet, but I am thinking this project will go along great with our Classical Cats™: A Children's Introduction to the Orchestra CD.

How We Used Composers Activity Pak

I decided to use this Lap Book™ with all of my children, so I did a lot of the printing, cutting, and assembling. To be honest, I wanted it to look nice, and I didn't want to waste any of the card stock (leftover Creative Memories paper) I was using.  If my 13-year-old had been the only one working on this project, I would've had him do everything except the printing on his own.

As far as the Lap Book™ goes, My children did help with coloring the cover art and Pieces with a Purpose. They also helped me cut out quite a few of the composer portraits and helped me glue them in all the appropriate places. We'd sit at the kitchen table together and play classical music while working on the projects. We also took turns reading the information contained in Pieces with a Purpose.

For further research, we were only able to use a few of the suggested materials since our library didn't carry most of them. From the suggested list, we were able to check out The Animated Classics Beethoven DVD and Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers: Peter Tchaikovsky from our local library. My kids enjoyed both of these materials, especially the book because of the funny illustrations and speech bubbles.

I really wish our library carried more of the suggested materials, but fortunately we already own a few of the wonderful books from the Great Musicians Series by Opal Wheeler. I am currently reading Mozart, The Wonder Boy to my daughter.

I found a great website, Classics for Kids, that helped my boys fill in the information for the 42 Composer Collection Cards. They used Wikipedia for the composers that weren't included on the Classics for Kids site.

Even though it can be convenient to have a unit study included with a Lap Book™, it was kind of nice being able to tailor this one to our own needs and use lots of outside sources. I like that it's flexible and that my kids can all be learning at their own levels at the same time. Even though our Lap Book™ is finished, we can still continue to learn about composers and refer back to it as often as we wish. It really is an attractive way to keep all of the projects in one place!

It's colorful, informative, attractive, and fun! If you are planning a classical music unit study, then I recommend that you consider Home School in the Woods: Hands-On History Composers Activity Pak.

Click to read more Home School in the Woods reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

Monday, April 22, 2013

F is for Fairy Garden and Other Fairy Resources

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My daughter and I have lots of fun fairy memories, so when I saw these fairy garden ideas on Pinterest, I knew I had to make an outdoor fairy garden for her! (Actually, I let her design it, but I helped plant the flowers and wild flower seeds.)

Of course we had to use what we had on hand, so I used a drawer from a free dresser and leftover items from the Wee Enchanted Fairy Garden (indoor) my daughter received for her 5th birthday. Such a great gift - so glad I didn't get rid of the fairy items when we moved!! Now they are being put to good use again.

The green flower and orange butterfly are leftover garden party birthday decorations from my daughter's 6th birthday. They're from Hobby Lobby.

The only things I bought for the fairy garden were:
  •  soil
  • alyssum
  • wild flower seeds. 

When my mom found out her granddaughter had a fairy garden, she gave her some decorations from her Easter village to use. I think they're fairy perfect!

Fairy Resources

 Online fun:




Ravensburger Fairy Playland - 100 Pieces Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Fairy Fantasy Jigsaw 48 Piece

Melissa & Doug Fairy Parade Floor Puzzle (48 Pieces)

Disney Fairies Tinkerbell 46 Piece Floor Puzzle 36"x24"

Disney Fairies 100 Piece Puzzle - Tinkerbell and Friends in a Yellow Flower Meadow


Tales From Pixie Hollow 4 copy Box Set (Disney Fairies)(Trouble with Tink, Lily's Pesky Plant, Vidia and the Fairy Crown, Beck and the Great Berry Battle)

Disney Fairies Story Collection (Disney Fairies) (Step into Reading)

Disney Fairies Storybook Collection (Disney Storybook Collections)

Disney Fairies: The Fairies Encyclopedia

Fairies Cookbook

Fairy Cooking (Childrens Cooking)

Princess Lillifee's Secret

Rainbow Magic Princess Fairies Complete 7 Book Set (Books 1-7, Includes: Hope the Happiness Fiary; Cassidy the Costume Fairy; Anya the Cuddly Creatures Fairy; Elisa the Royal Adventure Fairy; Lizzie the Sweet Treats Fairy; Maddie the Fun and Games Fairy; Eva the Enchanted Ball Fairy)

Rainbow Magic Sepcial Edition: Magical Holiday Boxed Set: (Includes four sparkly special editions!)

Rainbow Magic: Fairy Stencils Sticker Coloring Book

Fairy Gardening: Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden

Fairy Gardens: A Guide to Growing an Enchanted Miniature World

Flower Fairies Paper Dolls

Pinkalicious: Fairy House (I Can Read Book 1)

Flower Fairies Sparkly Sticker Book

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Fantastic Fairies: Dress Up Dolls (Sticker and Activity Book)

The Littlest Fairy ( A Gorgeous Illustrated Children's Picture Ebook)

As you can tell, we are book people! We've read a lot of the books on this list but not all. :)

This is what her fairy garden looks like right now - the wildflowers are growing fast. Can't wait to update with photos of them in full bloom!

Updated June 13 - finally our first fairy blooms!

Fairy Garden 2016 - still having fun planting new flowers every spring and fall!

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Check out more of the letter F at Ben and Me!

Also linked to Works for Me Wednesday, Funtastic Friday, A Little Bird Told Me

affiliate links included

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Pin It Now! Finally getting around to posting Easter pics.

I just don't take as many pictures now that my kids are older. And forget the family Easter photo - doesn't even happen anymore. Not that we ever took any good ones. My boys definitely don't dress up or anything! I offered to buy Shiloh a new dress, and she said she didn't want one. Alrighty then. ;)

This was the first year in a very, very long time that I bought myself a new dress for Easter. Found it at Ross for $15. Love it. Should've taken a picture of just me, I guess. Yeah, that would've been a bit awkward.

Here's an Easter first for us: When I woke my almost-14-year-old up for our annual family Saturday egg hunt, he informed me that he was too old this year.

Lincoln and Shiloh didn't mind one bit! MORE CANDY ~ HOORAY!

It took quite a while for the last egg to be found. Lincoln gave up, so it was just Shiloh hunting for it. Daddy and I finally had to give a couple of clues, though. With such a small backyard this year, I had to get a little creative with my hiding tactics. :)

So, as you can see by the pictures, I tried my hand at creating picture collages. I used Picasa because that's what I am familiar with, but I can tell it isn't going to work out that great. In order to make a grid pattern, I could only use photos that were right next to each other, and there just didn't seem to be very many options. Somebody, please help! What tools do you guys use to create such amazing collages?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

E is for Errands Alone

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So, the year 2013 marks a milestone in this mother's life: first time to leave all 3 kids at home while me, myself, and I run an errand. 

I think that's picture worthy, don't you?! Nothing special - just a quick trip to the library, Target, and Chick-fil-A. :) All of which are less than 5 minutes from my house.

As I sit here munching on pretzels and sipping a Coke that I got while out all by myself, I am still in awe that I have finally reached the phase of life where I can run a quick errand alone.

Yep, with an almost 14-year-old, an 11-year-old, and an almost 8-year-old this is finally doable. I don't know about other homeschool moms, but this is HUGE for me!

As of last year, I started leaving both boys at home to run errands taking only the girl with me, but this year, well, I think I have left her home with the boys at least 3 times. I know, not a whole lot, but it's a start. :) I really do like her being with me, but it's nice to be able to get some time out sans kids!

My boys usually love not having to run errands with me, but sometimes, for old times' sake, all 4 of us get out. Boy, the 4 of us getting out now compared to then (when they were all little) is such a world of difference! I've never had whiny or bad kids, but maneuvering ginormous race car carts, keeping track of grocery lists, and being able to think straight made this type A mama a little w0nky.
 E is also for encouragement. And I just want to say to mamas who are still in the I-have-to-take-all-of-my-kids-everywhere phase of life: it really does pass and FAST! :)

Now I have to brace myself for when I'd actually like some company while running errands and nobody wants to go with me. Oh well, for now, I'll enjoy these quick, close-to-home outings every now and again.

Blogging Through the Alphabet
Blogging through the alphabet is so fun ~ can't wait until the letter F!


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