Monday, April 28, 2014

A Real Garden For You, Stampy

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Dear Stampy,

Recently, our family fasted from all forms of media entertainment for 7 days. Our youngest had to go without X-Box which meant no Minecraft and YouTube which meant, yes . . . no Stampy. Gasp!

Stampy has become quite the common household name around here. Off and on, sound waves float your jolly voice and infectious laugh all the way from England to our loft and every nook and cranny of our desert Arizona home.

I think it might be safe to say that our daughter, Shiloh, has a slight obsession here. In fact, every morning after she completes Math and Spelling (she's homeschooled), she rewards herself with a Minecraft Stampy video. And then throughout the day, she's bound to ask for another Stampy episode, especially if her friends can't play outside.

Well, in light of our recent media fast, although she didn't watch a single Stampy broadcast, she still talked about you. :) Instead of pining after (good grief, as I am writing this, my daughter kindly interrupted with this plea, "Can I watch a Stampy?") Anyway, instead of pining after forbidden fruit, she decided to be productive and turn her backyard fairy garden into a STAMPY GARDEN.

So, Stampy, this garden was made by 8-year-old hands with love for you. :)


We plant new fairy flowers each fall and spring, so a few days ago she ripped up shriveled pansies and replaced with them white petunias and yellow/orange marigolds. She insisted upon orange and white explaining that those colors are official Stampy colors. And now it's complete with a lovely foam flower Stampy sign! We hope you like it. :)

Oh, and she also spent some of her media-free leisure time creating what she calls her "Stampy bracelet."

Our home has totally been Stampified!

As Shiloh loves to say . . .

(Sign made using The Keep Calm-O-Matic.) I think she wants a shirt now. ;)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Are You Blessed?

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I'm guilty.

I naturally tend to think of blessings in the material form like unexpected, anonymous money gifts or a brand new, first ever bistro set for front porch sitting

or trading in a teeny car that scrunches too long legs for a dreamed for Jeep that fits a family of five comfortably. Just to name a few, recent blessings our family has received. :)

I also tend to think of blessings in the form of family, health, being able to go on vacation, and living in America, and stuff like that.

And, truly, all of those wonderful things are blessings for which I am extremely thankful. However, there's another side to this blessing coin, and it comes straight from the sermon on the mount. If you are wondering if you are blessed, just ask yourselves the following questions:

Not too long ago, all three of my children took several weeks to memorize the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). Every week, I had the privilege of hearing them recite what they'd learned, and I began asking myself based on this particular Scripture, words spoken by Jesus, "Am I blessed?"

Blessings aren't always the things that make us feel all warm and fuzzy feely. In fact, sometimes the biggest blessings come from some of the most difficult circumstances. I've seen it over and over again in my own life, but usually in the very midst of a difficult season, I am too blinded by discontent to see it as blessing. It's hard to bow the head and close the eyes and proclaim, "Thank you for these blessings" when they feel anything but. I usually pray for God to take away the things that don't feel good, the things that don't feel like blessings.

As a believer, wouldn't everything count as a blessing, though? I mean if Romans 8:28 is true, then all things are working for my good. And if all things are working for my good, then isn't everything that comes my way a blessing? If only I was mature enough to see it that way. God is working on me. :)

Jesus loves me, I am heaven bound . . . I am blessed.

Are you?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Philosophy Course for Teens {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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Schoolhouse Review Crew Members recently reviewed several downloadable titles from Home School Adventure Co..
  • Philosophy Adventure
  • Mere Christianity Journal
  • Philippians in 28 Weeks
  • The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions
Our family received Philosophy Adventure by Stacy Farrell.

Philosophy comes from the Greek word, philosophia, and literally means "love of wisdom." Essentially, philosophy is the discipline that explores the answers to the three deepest questions with which humans wrestle:
  • Where did I come from and why am I here?
  • Why is there evil, suffering, and death?
  • Is there hope for my future?
Did you know that how you answer those questions will actually influence what you value and how you behave? Makes sense, doesn't it?

With Philosophy Adventure, you can equip your teens to discern all of the ungodly ideas of the past and present and encourage them to not be taken captive "through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ." (Colossians 2:8)

The Curriculum

Philosophy Adventure is a complete curriculum in which students will study the history of philosophy and the influence of ideas. It is designed to help mature 6th graders and up develop and defend a biblical worldview by helping them learn how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately. Students in high school should be able to manage this course on their own while students in middle school may need help.

Children in high school who use this curriculum can earn credits in English, History, Geography, Logic, and more. A detailed breakdown of credits that can be earned is found in the introduction of the Reader. Philosophy Adventure can be used as a primary curriculum or as a supplement. If used as a primary curriculum, it should take about one semester or less to complete, and you will want to make sure and add subjects not covered in the curriculum like Math, Science, etc.. If used as a supplement, your child can move at a slower pace. A suggested 4-5 day schedule is included in the Reader to help students manage their time, but it can be easily adjusted to adapt to their specific needs.

Philosophy Adventure covers a broad variety of subjects focused on the lives and ideas of eight philosophers:
  • Thales
  • Pythagoras
  • Xenophanes
  • Heraclitus
  • Parmenides
  • Empedocles
  • Protagoras
  • Democritus
 The Philosophy Adventure™—Pre-Socratics digital download includes three components:
  • Reader
  • Student Workbook
  • Teacher's Resources

The Reader is where students will meet each philosopher and learn all about their lives and ideas. It is visually appealing (huge plus for a visual learner like me) and presents information in a consistent, easy-to-use format.
Lessons are about 10 pages in length, and there are several components that repeat in every lesson: story of the philosopher's life, Write, Think, and Speak articles and assignments, geographical information, School of Thought the philosopher participated in or founded, and a Contrast section that includes primary sources if available, secondary sources, and how the philosopher's ideas do or don't align with a biblical worldview.
Also included throughout each lesson are important words in bold letters such as vocabulary, dates, people, and places. Significant details - Birth, Death, Works, School of Thought, and Contemporaries - are featured on the right side of the first page of each lesson as you can see in the image above.
Student Workbook

The Student Workbook contains Notebook Pages, Maps, and Creative Freewritings for each philosopher; Write, Think, and Speak Journal pages for each philosopher; Checklists for writing papers and giving speeches; and a Glossary in which terms and page numbers are given but students fill in the definitions. 
The first part of the Student Workbook is pretty straightforward - answering questions from the text, filling in information on maps, and completing free writing assignments. The Journal takes things one step further by encouraging students to think about and apply what they've learned to their own lives. For instance, the first few questions my son encountered in the journaling section were:
  • Where did I come from and why am I here?
  • Why is there evil, suffering, and death?
  • Is there hope for my future? If not, why? If so, what is the source of that hope?
I think the Journal portion is a wonderful part of the curriculum as it forces students to really think about answers to difficult questions, however, there were a few times some of the questions and assignments were vague and confusing. This can be frustrating for kids who want to be told exactly what to do.
One example in the second lesson that caused a bit of confusion for my son was when the Journal asked my son to write answers to a set of questions based on a text of his choice. To us, it was unclear if that text should come from within the curriculum (choosing one of the philosophers) or from without the curriculum, and if so, what sort of text then? My son ended up choosing an outside source, but some suggestions to help narrow down a source may have been more helpful.
Teacher's Resources
 Teacher's Resources contains Memory Cards, Timelines, Maps with answer keys, and Quizzes with answer keys. There are no answer keys for the notebook pages, though, so students need to make sure they are filling in the correct information from the text.

Memory Cards can be printed on cardstock and are a great tool for studying for quizzes. Timelines are also a great tool for enhancing the overall learning experience. There are three timelines: master timeline of ancient Greek philosophers, blank student timeline, and student timeline key. Over forty images of philosophers can be printed off and affixed to the student timeline as they are encountered in the lessons.

I found one very minor mistake in the Teacher's Resources - when I went to grade my son's first quiz, Thales, I thought the answer key was missing at first. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was only out of place. The red arrow shows where it should be. Not a big deal, just wanted to clear up any confusion for those who purchase this curriculum. :)

How We Use Philosophy Adventure

My oldest son, who is almost a sophomore, is the one using Philosophy Adventure. During the review period, I printed off all of the materials from the Student Workbook and Teacher's Resources my son needed to complete the first 3 lessons, in other words, the first 3 philosophers. I did not print The Reader since my son was able to read the text on his Kindle Fire.

To organize all of the printed materials, he used a 3 ring binder divided into three sections: Notebook Pages, Journal, and Checklists. He used the pockets for storing his Memory Cards and quizzes. We did not make a section for Timelines, though you could include that as well.

I let my son go at his own pace, and he was able to complete 3 lessons during the review period. So, he covered 1 philosopher about every 2 weeks. After reading a lesson, he worked on notebook pages and maps before moving on to the journaling portion. To get ready for a quiz, he matched the Memory Card questions with their answers and then studied them for a day or two. Finally, he'd take his quiz.

I didn't really put a huge emphasis on the timeline or glossary portions but may include those components when we continue the course for the 2014-2015 school year.

Our Opinion

My son and I both like the curriculum, but my son says he would like it better without the journaling section. This does require a little more brain power! Plus lots of thinking and writing. There are parts of the journal, such as the personal questions, that I really like and think are important, though, so as we continue the course, maybe we can come up with some sort of compromise. :)

I like the design of the Reader and appreciate all of the important details at a glance throughout the text. I especially like seeing who the contemporaries are. I also think it's great that we get to see how the philosophers' stories end and how their philosophies played out in their own lives. I am certainly looking forward to reading about the remaining philosophers.

I thinks it is extremely important for my kids to realize that many of these so-called "Great Thinkers" maybe weren't so great after all. It's definitely important to me that my kids understand that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ so that they'll be able to stand against the fine sounding arguments the world has to offer. (Colossians 2)

If you are looking for a way to teach your older children about philosophy that's not at all intimidating or overwhelming, and that focuses on the importance of a biblical worldview, I think you will like Philosophy Adventure.


The complete Philosophy Adventure digital download is available for the reasonable price of $39.95. For a limited time, save 10% on any download purchase from Homeschool Adventure Co..
And don't forget to click the banner below to read about all of the Homeschool Adventure Co. products the Crew reviewed!
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Baskets, Eggs, & Candy ~ 3 of My Favorite Things

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Our Easter basket surprises and egg hunt fun have always been celebrated on the Saturday before Easter. (And, yes, that means no "Easter" Bunny - I promise kids can have TONS of fun without him!)

Little kids and rushing around on the morning of Easter Sunday just didn't set well with me, plus I wanted my kids to truly understand that the miracle of Easter had nothing to do with earthly things. Celebrating with the fluffy, non-essential stuff (although very fun!) on Saturday made for a much more peaceful Sunday morning! Easter Sunday afternoons were (and still are) for relaxing and spending time with family. :)

Pardon me while I scrapbook a bit - here's some of our Saturday-Before-Easter fun. My kids actually read my blog now, so kids, enjoy the memories!

Filling baskets is one of my favorite things to do! I will say it's getting a bit more challenging to come up with ideas for my boys, though. I don't like filling baskets up with a bunch of useless items, either. This year I shopped with our upcoming media fast in mind. Shiloh got some new Rainbow Loom bands, Lincoln got a Rubik's Cube, and Mullin got a neat book about Tolkien. And . . . candy. No, candy is NOT useless. ;) Okay, I know it is, but it's just so YUMMY!

Well, this is the second year that only 2 of my kids participated in the egg hunt. Lincoln and Shiloh racked up! I remember the days when there was like no $, and I'd have to limit my kids to about 10 eggs each. This year we had over 100 eggs! Hey, I think next year the kids should hide the eggs and mom and dad can find them. :)

We did something different with our egg decorating this time. Well, I was really just using a kit I had leftover from last year. Our eggs look NOTHING like the ones on the cover of the kit, and there wasn't enough paint. I love that my kids still had fun and said so! We even tried to get creative with letters. Next year, we are so gonna nail it! And I will try to be more prepared and not last-minute. ;)

Showing off some of the goodies - got my boys vintage shirts. (They hate having their pictures made - oh the teens.) I will NEVER be able to look at a Ninja Turtle and not think of Lincoln. Mullin used to be a Star Wars fanatic. Lincoln liked Star Wars, too, but Mullin never really got into Ninja Turtles much.
Shiloh's already loomed 2 bracelets - one for me and one for herself. She knows my favorite design is the simple Fishtail.
And the question of the day is, "Will Lincoln ever return the Rubik's Cube to it's original design?" He's already been researching the Internet for clues. ;)
At least one of my children still lets me photograph her face. Shiloh with her new Beanie Boo, Babs.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Biggest Easter Fear

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Each week we all memorize passages of Scripture, and every Friday we say them aloud. In less than an hour, I'll be reciting the above verses before my husband leads our morning Bible study.

Every Easter my biggest fear is that because I've heard the salvation message so many times and have been a believer for so long, I will become numb to the incredible miracle of grace. I will tell you, though, tears unexpectedly welled up in my eyes as I was typing those beautiful words from Philippians chapter 2.

I am glad that no matter how old I am as a Christian, hearing those words never gets old. In fact, I think they may be getting more powerful, more meaningful as I mature in the Lord. The older I get, the more I realize just how wretched I am, the more I realize there's nothing I can do to remove the ugly stain of sin from my being. It's only by His Blood, praise God!

One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! That's something to get excited about - Happy GOOD Friday. :) (Click the link to hear a wonderful song of worship.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mother's Day Gifts for Moms Who Love to Read

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My kids know that I LOVE to read. In fact, last year my daughter filled out an all about mom page in Sunday School, and guess what she wrote in the what-does-your-mom-do-for-fun blank?

Yes, read.

I'm a real thrill seeker, let me tell ya. ;)

If you have a mom who loves to read, too, consider gifting her with one of these inspirational books!

Moms Who Changed the World by Lindsey O'Connor

I've had this book for years and have read it several times. It's such an encouraging book about what a difference moms really make in the lives of their children. All of the moms portrayed in the book raised kids who made a lasting impact on the world . . . John Ruskin, George Washington, Augustine --just to name a few.

Such a blessing to learn from these dedicated mothers!

A Mother's Legacy by Barbara Rainey and Ashley Rainey Escue

This book is special not only because it celebrates the gift of motherhood but because it was given to me in March 2001 by one of the authors (Ashley) with a sweet note. We were in the same Young Married Sunday School class at the time and I had just announced I was pregnant with baby #2. Ashley wrote that she hoped the Lord blessed my firstborn son with a brother so they could be friends. :) Even though I ended up miscarrying that baby, the Lord did bless me with another pregnancy and a healthy baby BOY in January 2002!

This book will bless you with the memories of legacies, lessons, and love that only a mother can give.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

This book isn't specifically about moms, but it's written by a farm mom with a brood of six children. Ann dares readers to live fully by living each day deeply rooted in gratitude.

I'm only half way through the book and all I can say is, "Wow, just wow." Ann writes in a way that makes you feel like you're actually thinking her thoughts. She makes you want to fully surrender yourself to the Maker of the Universe and embrace everything He gives.

I've been inspired to start my own "one thousand gifts" journal. So far I'm on #50. This book is truly a treasure that I think any mother would love!

*Add a cute bookmark, a fun drink, and a fun snack and you have the perfect gift for moms who love to read!

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

You Might Be A Ginger If

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You might be a ginger if this Julian Smith video applies to you. *wink*

Warning: if you don't find the genres of sarcasm and satire funny or you don't like light-hearted poking fun, please do not press play.

All in fun. ;) My ginger liked the video, anyway.

I was a true ginger for probably less than a year. Then my hair turned into more of a golden blonde and kept getting darker until it was very dark brown. Sunlight still brings out some gingerish highlights, though.

I guess the true ginger trait got passed down to my middle son. He did go through a couple of phases of blonde but has returned to a nice shade of ginger. :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Educational DVDs for Curious Kids {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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Do you have curious kids? Who doesn't, right? As a Schoolhouse Review Crew member, I had the privilege of watching some neat DVDs with my family and learning new things about fruit, fungi, and sea animals.

Curiosity Quest sent my family two DVDs:

Curiosity Quest is a fun, unscripted, educational television program geared toward children ages 7-14 that airs on over 100 PBS stations across the U.S. Each episode's adventure begins with just one person's curiosity. Joel Greene, the show's host, travels all over the country to answer curious viewers' questions.

In each episode, children learn all about a particular subject pertaining to a viewer's specific question. They hear Fun Facts that are spoken throughout the program (mostly by children), learn interesting information from experts on site, and get answers to questions that are asked to random people, including kids, out in the community. Sometimes the answers people give to these questions are quite funny. ;)

The website offers viewers the chance to purchase all of their favorite episodes. There's even an option for becoming a member in which viewers can pay a monthly fee to receive DVDs every month. The particular DVD Combo Packs we received can be purchased on the website for $24.95 each.

I originally planned to watch these DVDs during school hours with my children, however, we ended up watching most of the episodes at night during our spring break. I let my kids, starting with my youngest, take turns picking which ones they wanted to watch. (My children are 14, 12, and 8.) While winding down for the evening, we were not only entertained but educated as well!

The DVD Combo Pack - Produce includes three episodes on one disk which show how three different produce products go from farm to store. Each episode is approximately 30 minutes long.

Cranberries (Episode #402)

Joel traveled to a fresh, cranberry-growing Wisconsin farm in October. It was already so cold there that it started snowing! We learned that cranberries are perennials, where they grow, when growing season starts, and when harvest starts. We saw how cranberries were collected, measured, and packaged, and we learned what size a cranberry needs to be and how to tell if it is good and not a reject. We heard about a few health benefits and even found out who named the cranberry and why.

Questions asked of random people in the community:
  • What does buoyant mean?
  • How do you know when a cranberry is ripe?
  • What do cranberries taste like?
  • What does harvesting mean?
  • Why do farmers flood the cranberry field?  
I was so surprised at how many people had never eaten a cranberry! I actually love to pop a few in my mouth before I make homemade cranberry sauce. :)

Orange Packing (Episode #507)

Joel went to the Gillette Citrus Company in Dinuba, California to show us all about harvesting, washing, sorting, and packing oranges. We also found out which oranges have seeds, which ones are harvested in winter, which ones are harvested in the summer, and which types are used for juice. We watched machines sort oranges by size and learned how they tell the good oranges from the bad ones, we learned how many oranges are grown in the U.S. per year, and we found out who brought the first orange seedlings to America.

Questions asked of random people in the community:
  • What is your favorite type of orange?
  • What type of climate do oranges grow in?
  • How do they make the oranges ripe?
  • Do you have fresh fruits and vegetables at your house?
  • How do oranges get to the supermarket?
Watching this episode really made me miss having my very own orange tree in my backyard. Freshly squeezed orange juice is the best!

Mushrooms (Episode #607)

In Watsonville, CA Joel visited Monterey Mushrooms farm and facility where we learned all about mushrooms - from preparation to packing to shipping. We learned when and where mushroom farming started, all the prep that has to take place before growing mushrooms, and the ideal growing temperatures and conditions. We observed the phases of mushroom growing - I think I counted 5 - and were told how many pounds of mushrooms are picked per hour. Joel also went to Royal Oaks where the mushrooms are packaged, and we also learned about Portabellas while he was there.

Questions asked of random people in the community:
  • What is the first step to growing a mushroom?
  • What is a mushroom?
  • What is mycelium?
  • What is the harvest?
  • How many mushrooms can you pick an hour?
  • How big can a mushroom get?
My oldest son loves to eat and cook mushrooms. I only like them if they are chopped up and disguised in spaghetti sauce or something like that. I do think they are so cute when they are growing, though. ;)

The DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea includes three episodes on one disc which show the life cycles of penguins and salmon and the rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles. Each episode is approximately 30 minutes long.

Penguins (Episode #708)

Joel dropped by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Long Beach, California to teach us all about penguins. We mostly learned about the temperate Magellanic penguins. Any guesses for whom they are named? We witnessed how their food is prepared, what they eat, how they eat, and how much they eat. We also learned about porpoising, preening, penguin bones, and why penguins are black and white.

Questions asked of random people in the community:
  • What do penguins eat?
  • What does it mean to molt?
  • What does a penguin sound like?
  • What do they feel like?
  • What is husbandry?
  • Why can't penguins fly?
Salmon (Episode #512)

Joel journeyed all the way to Juneau, Alaska to visit a salmon hatchery. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game informed us on the life cycle of salmon, how many species are in Alaska, where they start out, how long they stay in the hatchery, and when they are let out. It was neat to discover that salmon spend part of their lives in fresh water and part of their lives in salt water and how they find their way back to the same place in which they were born in order to spawn. We also found out what happens to the fish after they spawn. Do you know?

Questions asked of random people in the community:
  • What is imprinting?
  • Why do we need fish hatcheries?
  • When do salmon lay their eggs and why?
  • What is a net pen?
  • What do salmon eat?
Learning about salmon was interesting, but I do not like to eat them or any kind of fish really. My husband and kids are so deprived!

Sea Turtle Rescue (Episode #408)

Joel stopped by The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida to give us the scoop on sea turtle rescue, rehab, and release. We were told how many turtles the hospital has at one time and got to meet several of the turtles living there. We also saw one turtle who's missing a fin and found out which one has been there the longest. We learned all kinds of neat facts, too, such as the types of food turtles eat, what their noses feel like, which turtle is the rarest, how big the largest sea turtle can get, where sea turtles lay their eggs, how hatchlings find their way to the ocean, how turtles are able to drink salt water, and why it looks like they cry.

Questions: asked of random people in the community:
  • What do sea turtles eat?
  • How much can a sea turtle weigh?
  • How can you tell a boy sea turtle from a girl sea turtle?
  • How long can a sea turtle live?
  • Why does everyone love sea turtles?
The Turtle Hospital has an education center that the public can tour. What a fun field trip that would be!

What We Thought

I thought these educational DVDs were very enjoyable and a fine alternative to other types of television shows. I wish our local PBS station aired the episodes because there are quite a few more I'd love to see - Jelly Belly, Dog Sledding, Gentle Giants Rescue, Dog Training, Dolphin Training, Mrs. Fields Cookies, and Lego Land . . . just to name a few. ;)

Out of the six episodes my family watched for the review, my favorite and my two sons' favorite episode was Cranberries. It was really neat seeing how these lovely, ruby-red berries are grown and harvested, plus I personally think they are so pretty! My animal-loving daughter's favorite episode was Penguins. They were cute. :)

Our least favorite part of the shows were the Fun Facts because sometimes it was difficult to understand what the kids were saying. Subtitles would be really helpful for this part of the program. It was such a small part of the program, though, that it wasn't really a big deal. Also, just as an FYI, out of the six episodes we watched, two of them briefly referenced evolution.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Two New Juice Recipes to Try

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Spring is absolutely lovely in desert Arizona. Time for some fresh juice to clean out the mess from all the heavy fall and winter foods. Not to mention I need to lose a few pounds gained from eating way too many irresistible Christmas goodies. So, after a trip to a local farmer's market, we were ready to get our juice on!

I like to try new produce, so I bought a parsnip. Never had one in my life, at least not that I know of. Though I have added ground ginger to many a pumpkin pies, I'd never actually bought that ugly root looking thing. This time I did. I was a little nervous about the ginger because, I am not a huge fan of the taste.

Now to add them to some freshly juiced juice. :)

I often get lazy with my juicing techniques and end up throwing whatever produce we have on hand down the juicer's shoot, but I actually made up distinct recipes this time which tasted super yum, especially the red one. ;) Following is what you'll need to make both of these juices.

Parsnip Zip

* 2 golden delicious apples
* 2 yellow mini bell peppers
* 1/2 lemon
* 3 stalks celery with leaves
* 1 cup green grapes
* 1/2 cucumber
* 1/2 parsnip
* 2" chunk of ginger root

** Made about 24 oz. This really didn't taste bad. Clean and fresh, and the ginger really added some zing! Makes for a nice wake-up-and-start-your-day juice.

Berry Grape Bliss

* 2 large red delicious apples
* 5 strawberries
* 2 cups red grapes
* 2 large carrots

** Made just a tad more than 24 oz. This was absolutely delicious! More like dessert juice. My hubby says it's for the weak - me. Yes, I do have a difficult time swallowing juices that are overly vegetable-ish and not a bit sweet. I did read in a juicing book my mom gave to me that you can add raw honey to sweeten vegetable or more bitter juices. I may have to try that next time I'm feeling kale, spinach, and beet brave.

The juicing book my mom gave me is really wonderful. It's called The Juicing Bible by Pat Crocker. Not only does it have 350 recipes for fresh juices, tonics, cleansers, teas, smoothies, etc., it has a section on Healthy Body Systems, a section on Healthy foods, 93 Health Conditions complete with healing foods and which recipes may be beneficial, and more. It's definitely a great resource. Check it out!

Linked to Try a New Recipe Tuesday and WFMW.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Easy, Delicious Over the Hill Cake

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Oh, what cake to bake for my hubby's 40th birthday?

I usually make this pie for his birthday, but pie for a 40th birthday celebration? I think not. I knew I didn't want to buy a cake - too expensive, and they usually don't taste very good anyway. I knew I didn't want to slave over fondant - it looks nice but it doesn't taste all that amazing either. I knew I did need to use what I had on hand, so I put my thinking cap on and came up with this cake . . .

If you want to make one, too, here's what you'll need:
  • 9x13 baking dish or cake pan
  • ball cake pan or small, oven safe bowl of some sort
  • 2 boxed cake mixes (or make your own from scratch)
  • 1 package coconut
  • 1/2 - 3/4 package of crushed Chips Ahoy cookies (or something else that resembles dirt)
  • buttercream frosting (follow directions on back of powdered sugar bag)
  • green food coloring
  • Over the Hill sign
  • 4 and 0 candles

Here's what you'll do:

*Advance prep - Tint coconut with green food coloring and mix well until desired shade is reached. Finely crush "dirt" cookies. If you use Chips Ahoy, there will be small chocolate chip chunks. If you don't want that, use graham crackers, maybe? Also, be sure to lather your pans with Crisco and then flour, so the cakes can be removed easily. Before adding cake batter, pour out excess flour after making sure every inch of the pan is covered.

*Prepare both cake mixes. (I used chocolate for the bottom and French vanilla for the "hill.") Bake according to package directions, however, the "hill" will need more time in the oven. After about 30 minutes, check every 5 minutes or so for doneness. I think I baked mine for at least 15-20 minutes longer than normal. Let cakes cool before attempting to remove them from their pans. Tip: Hold a cutting board on top of cake and then turn upside down.

*Set "hill" on top of the rectangle cake. (You can put a little frosting on beforehand to act as glue.) Frost both cakes as one with green frosting. Use a toothpick to draw the size of the dirt road you want. Immediately top with crushed cookie inside the road lines. (I used a small cup to pour some on a little at a time and used my hand to tamp the crumbs down. Messy but not too hard.) After that, add the coconut to the remaining part of the cake. Make sure the frosting hasn't dried yet. If it has, add another layer of frosting. Again, use your hand to make the coconut stick to the frosting.

*Embellish with an Over the Hill sign (I made mine with cardstock and letter stickers) and candles.

It might not be the most professional looking cake, but it's cute, homemade with love, and VERY tasty!!!

If you'd like to use the same soccer ball cake pan that I did, you can purchase it on Amazon.

Linked to Try a New Recipe TuesdayWFMW, Tasty Tuesdays

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