Thursday, October 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday ~ Halloween Punk Rocker Fail

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Oh yes, the 80s. Legwarmers, Cindy Lauper, Madonna, black lace fingerless gloves  . . . there's a lot to love from that era. (Insert sarcasm) Oh wait, I almost forgot about Pac Man - I still love that game! ;)

Anyway, I was 80s all the way. I hate to admit it, but Cindy Lauper and Madonna were a couple of my favorite singers back then. Seems like yesterday I was singing "Material World" at the top of my lungs and walking the catwalk to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

Which brings me to a few more of my old Halloween costumes. I remember trying to dress up as a punk rocker lots of times. However, I'm going to have to say my attempts rank as epic fails. (Which is probably a good thing.)

Pretty tame punk rocker as a 4th grader here. Picture is very fuzzy, but I am wearing a lace glove on one hand and my hair has hot pink washable dye in it. Blows my mind that my own daughter is the same age now as I was then. THANKFULLY she has zero desire to dress up as a punk rocker or any other super star.

I think I'm in 6th grade here. Except for the too-short skirt, still pretty tame. Hideous perm days. Bleh.

I think I am in 7th grade here. I really have no idea what image I was going for. Looks like a throw-something-together-at-the-last-minute costume. I'm noticing now that my clown sister was this close to smearing lipstick on my jean jacket!

I do think dressing up is fun. I would've loved to dress up alongside my kids over the years, but dressing up costs $! (And I didn't have a lot of time or energy to be frugally creative.) It was more important to me that my kids were having fun. If I had some elf ears right now though, I could probably pull off going to our harvest festival as a LOTR elf. Well, I'd probably need this, too. :)

Image credits go to the web.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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New Liberty Videos sent Schoolhouse Review Crew Members several different DVDs to review:
*Anthem for a Nation 
*The Forbidden Book
*Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls
*A Nation Adrift
*Teaching Origins Objectively
*Warriors of Honor
Our family received Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Details At a Glance
Cost: $19.95
Length: 1 hour
Age Range: General audience, but I would say interest level would be for ages at least 12 and up.
About Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls DVD
This DVD is comprised of three parts: Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew Word Pictures, and The Forbidden Book.
Part 1: Dead Sea Scrolls

Ever wondered what the greatest archaeological discovery of all time is? Well, during this first lecture, Joel Lampe discusses just that - the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jam-packed with geographical, historical, and scientific data, he explains why the scrolls are in 19,000 pieces and how they are reassembled into about 800 scrolls. It's taken some pretty neat technology to be able to do all of that! He reveals what percentage of the information in the scrolls is actually Scripture, the languages in which the scrolls are written, and the different types of materials on which the scrolls are written.

You will learn about the caves in which the scrolls were found and which cave is the most important. You'll also discover which Old Testament book was the only one not found, what other kinds of useful information are contained in the scrolls, why they were left in the caves never to be retrieved by their owners, and more.
Part 2: Hebrew Word Pictures

In this talk, Dr. Frank T. Seekins explains how the ancient Hebrew language is constructed and shares what makes it different from every other language. He gives several examples of Hebrew word pictures that depict truths found in the Bible and demonstrates that ancient Hebrew is a meaningful, relationship based language.
Part 3: The Forbidden Book
Dr. Craig Lampe takes viewers on a quick journey back in time to the Dark Ages during his presentation. After covering a brief history of leadership and spiritual oppression at that time, he talks about a few courageous men - Erasmus, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, and William Tyndale - who no matter what the cost, dedicated their lives to preserving the Bible and sharing the Gospel with all people.
I was a little disappointed after watching this DVD with my whole family. It didn't meet my expectations. The production quality wasn't very impressive, but I guess that's because judging by the cover, I thought it was going to be more like a documentary instead of brief lectures. Illustrations, photographs, and maps were used during the lectures which did help the overall quality.
While some of the information was very interesting, it felt like the speakers were trying to pack in too much information in a short amount of time. It was easy to get lost, especially in Parts 1 and 3. Part 1, according to my husband, sounded a lot like a presentation you'd sit through at a museum. Parts 2 and 3 reminded us a little of infomercials since after these presentations there were advertisements for products pertaining to the talks we'd just listened to. After Hebrew Word pictures, the product advertised looked like a DVD. I am not sure if that DVD contained additional information or if it was the exact same presentation we'd just heard. After The Forbidden Book, the product advertised was a book called, The Forbidden Book. Again, I am not sure what was different about the information within except for the fact that the book comes with original pages from the Geneva Bible.

The presentations in and of themselves were OK but didn't feel complete, especially the last two. It seemed like we were only getting summaries of the products that were being advertised. Now having said that, we did learn some new things, especially in Hebrew Word Pictures. My interest has been piqued to find out more on that subject when time allows. We were only give a few examples of how the language works, so it whet my appetite but didn't satisfy it.

Though my 9-year-old patiently and quietly watched the DVD, I know she had a hard time keeping up with the fast paced presentations. Plus, a lot of the information was over her head and didn't keep her interest. Although both of my boys (12 & 15) like learning about history, they didn't like the DVD format. Like me, they would have preferred a documentary presentation. Plus, I think my boys were a little bored since they've already learned about a lot of the information in history. I really thought the DVD was going to be a documentary that brought the material to life, sort of like an icing-on-the-cake kind of product.

If you aren't really familiar with the subjects of these lectures, this may be a great introductory tool for you and your older children. I wish, though, that I'd picked a different DVD from the list. If you'd like to check out the other DVDs with me that the Crew reviewed, click the banner below.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

TBT: A Few of My Old Halloween Costumes

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Yes, I grew up dressing up and trick-or-treating on October 31st, otherwise known as Halloween, every single year. Candy? I'm there, people! ;)

Apparently because I looked more like a boy than a girl at the tender age of 1 1/2, my parents decided to just go with it - Mickey instead of Minnie.
And a few years later after my hair finally grew, I got to upgrade to the girl mouse! Yea. My mom was obviously a frugal mom and saved the Mickey costume for any siblings bound to come along. I bet you anything if the Minnie costume had come first, my brother wouldn't have had to wear that!

By this age, I had definitely blossomed into a girly girl. Looks like I had some amazing makeup skills for sure! Anything look familiar, here? Yep, my sister's like, "Awww, I gotta wear Brandi's old costume?" Well, at least she didn't have to be Mickey. ;)

That's all for this week. Next week I will share a few I-think-I-am-trying-to-be-a-punk-rocker pics.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Homemade Cider Tip

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Mmmm, when I make my first batch of Harvest Apple Cider usually toward the end of October, I imagine crispy air and gold & crimson leaves dotting the skies. Trust me, that takes a lot of imagination here in the desert.

Anyway, I still make the cider so my family can feel all comfy, cozy, and fallish.

TIP: To make cider last a little longer, double your cider recipe (or the one above) and store leftover cider in the fridge. I leave the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves in the cider, but I take the tea bags out. Heat up a single serving whenever you feel like it! Make sure to stir the cider before you pour it into a mug, and don't let any whole cloves sneak in. :)

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Middlebury Interactive Languages {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, it's been such a privilege for my children and me to have been exposed to so many different foreign language courses over the years. When I saw that Middlebury Interactive Languages was offering a full semester's worth (six months) of language learning in Spanish, German, Chinese, or French, I jumped at the chance for my 4th grade daughter.  
This program offers courses for children in K-12, and my daughter and I chose one of the German Courses: Elementary German 1, Grades 3-5. Below you can see which language courses are available for each grade level.
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
For an overview of how Middlebury Interactive Languages operates, you can watch a brief video below. If you don't want to enter your email address to watch the video, click "skip" in the bottom right-hand corner.

Overview of Elementary German 1, Grades 3-5 
Elementary German 1 for grades 3-5 provides stress-free, self-paced introductory coursework that covers the basics. The program uses an interactive, immersion approach that concentrates primarily on vocabulary achievement although grammar principles can be understood through the various stories, songs, and activities. Your child's initial exposure to the German language is truly easy and fun.
At a glance, here's what your child learns in the first semester:
  • Sounds and rhythms of German
  • 600 vocabulary words
  • Aspects of German culture
  • How to begin to read, write, and speak in German
  • How to identify unique practices and products of German speaking countries

How It Works

After you receive your log in information, you can begin lessons right away. You can access lessons by clicking on the menu icon (4, white, horizontal lines) and then choosing the Calendar tab or Table of Contents tab. Within the Calendar, you click on a day with the appropriate scheduled lesson and then click the play button to view the lesson playlist. Since I don't necessarily follow the exact schedule on the calendar, I prefer to use the Table of Contents which I will explain further in the next screenshot.

Make sure to watch the brief Welcome video first, but after that you can click on Unit 1: Family to begin your lessons. You can see in the screenshot below that there are 6 lessons in Unit 1. When you click on the Lesson 1 folder and then the U1L1 folder, you will see 7 activities to complete in the order in which they are presented. As you work through each activity, a green check mark will appear in the box upon completion.


There are 8 units in this first semester course: Family, Numbers, Greetings, Adjectives/Feelings, Food, Hobbies/Professions, and Body. Each unit features 6 lessons except for the last unit which is a review that is broken down into 3 lessons covering units 1-3, units 4-5, and units 6-7. (45 lessons total.)
Each unit begins with a brief introduction video, objectives, and a story video that is narrated entirely in German. Following are interactive activities such as learning new vocabulary words from the story by clicking on images, matching words to the correct pictures, practicing speaking the words by either saying them out loud to someone or recording them. If you want to record yourself speaking, you will need a microphone for your computer. Since I am sitting with my daughter during German, I have her say the words out loud to me. I haven't bothered to hook up a microphone yet.
You can see in the above screenshot (Table of Contents Examples) that Lesson 1 introduces Family 1 vocabulary words and ends with the Speaking Lab. Lesson 2 begins with review, practice, and speaking lab with vocabulary words already learned. After that, there is a quiz. The rest of lesson 2 introduces new vocabulary words (Family 2), and the process begins all over again. Lesson 3 reviews both Family 1 and Family 2 words and has another quiz. In Lesson 4, you explore German culture and families and learn some new phrases. You listen to a song in Lesson 5 and learn more German family phrases. Finally, in Lesson 6 you view a unit summary, print the unit story and vocabulary words, and take a vocabulary test and a speaking test. Basically, this is the format each unit follows.
Middlebury Interactive Languages keeps a record of all quiz and test scores. You can access grades to your quizzes and tests under Gradebook in the dropdown menu. See first screenshot under "How It Works."
Below, you will find some samples from the activities in Elementary German 1. Even though I already touched on the types of activities and the format the lessons follow, I wanted you to see for yourself how simple and inviting they are.
All instructions have a sound icon that you can click if you want them read out loud. This feature is great for kids who are unable to read them on their own yet. Instructions are spoken in English without a German accent, however, German vocabulary words are spoken by natives.

How We Use It and Our Opinion

My daughter and I are thoroughly enjoying this German course. My daughter says it's one of her favorite products that we've reviewed over the years. We typically do one lesson per day four times per week. (The standard pace for the elementary course is 2-3 days per week.) Lessons don't take that long, about 15-20 minutes at the most. We've just started Unit 4 and are looking forward to the rest of this course!

I like that it is self-paced and easy to use. Truly, my daughter could do the program all by herself no problem, but I like learning German, too! If I wasn't sitting beside her, I would want to utilize the recording option for the Speaking Lab that I mentioned earlier.

We both love listening to and watching the video stories read aloud in German. It's so neat being able to hear what the language sounds like as a whole instead of only in parts. Though we can't understand most of what's being read, vocabulary words from the lesson appear in the story. After you learn the new words, you get to listen to the story again. Later on, you will even have a chance to print the story in German with an English translation beside it.

It's also nice that we are able to print vocabulary words and other phrases we learn throughout the lessons. We keep the pages in a folder for easy reference. They are great to have handy for review, too. Know that you can always go back to a lesson and listen to it again if you want to.

We did encounter one issue when we started the Numbers lesson. The pronunciation of the number 2 in German (zwei) was a little unclear. Based on my knowledge of how a W should be pronounced in German, I had a good idea of how it should sound, but my daughter wasn't convinced. The W was sounding more like a P than a V. Fortunately, a friend from church who knows German confirmed the proper pronunciation for us. :) While there are some German words that are difficult to pronounce, this is the only time so far that we've run into a problem with understanding pronunciation.


There are two options for purchasing this course:
  1. Without teacher - $119 for one semester per child
  2. With teacher - $294 for one semester per child
We did not have teacher support, so I can't really say from experience how that works.

I highly recommend Middlebury Interactive Languages! We love it, and I would totally purchase the next semester if I could. Check out other courses and what Schoolhouse Review Crew Members had to say by clicking the banner below.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday ~ Our first October in Arizona

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I know. It's not Thursday. I've been so busy, and I am just now getting this posted. I couldn't bear to call it Froback Friday, though.

October of 2006 - our first month of living in Arizona. All I can remember is thinking how swelteringly hot and unOctoberish it felt. Well, that and the fact that I was excited about our new venture but missing familiarity, friends, and family back home.

We spent our first 5 months living at my mom's house. Boy, those were some fun, crazy, sad, stressful months! We made it though, and here are a few pics from that October that feels like yesterday and so long ago all at the same time. So sweet looking back at these precious little faces!!

Made some festive chocolates on sticks.

There's just something about cute little pumpkins and baby feet all in the same picture. ;)
Carving silly faces.

Enjoying our very sweaty day at Schnepf Farms. Little did I know then that we'd end up living right next to this place.

Making festive wormy punch.

Seriously, my heart is about to melt down to my toes right now. So cute! Poor thing - it was probably an oven in that costume.
Hard to believe that this is our 8th October of AZ living. I've grown to love Arizona again (I lived here from birth to 9 years old), but October will always be the hardest month for me. I'm thankful for cooler mornings and evenings, but it is still SO incredibly hot during the day. Plus, I long for turning leaves and crispy air. I feel a Prescott day trip coming up, hopefully.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

iWitness Books From Apologia {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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Have you ever had questions about the Bible or wondered if it's truly God's Word? Has anyone ever asked you questions about the Bible that you weren't able to answer? Well, if you'd like answers but don't know where to start or are turned off by material that's too intellectual, the following apologetics books that my family recently reviewed from Apologia Educational Ministries may be the perfect solution for you.

We received iWitness Biblical Archaeology, New Testament iWitness, and Old Testament iWitness. All three of these books are great resources that render strong evidence that the Bible is historically accurate and indeed God's Holy Word.

About iWitness Books

The books in the iWitness series are written by Doug Powell who received a Christian apologetics master's degree from Biola University. He used his training to write these books in order to provide answers to questions that he once had as a Christian and to provide answers to questions he needs to know in order to defend his faith. He also wanted to provide answers in an understandable yet interesting way without dumbing down the information. Readers like you and me (and our kids) get to benefit from all of his hard work!

Mr. Powell has compiled the evidence in such a way that makes you feel as if you are the one doing the research yourself. All of the information appears to be written on different scraps of paper and text is presented in a variety of mostly "handwritten" fonts. Information is categorized by topic to make reading and processing the material easier, and the historical images and photographs really give each page a rich, authentic air. Each book in this series about 60 pages long.

Reading level: ages 11 and up

Cost: $14.00 per book

New Testament iWitness

Did you know that there are more copies of the New Testament than any other ancient book? Well, it's true! Plus, it has more original-language manuscripts than any other ancient book in human history. The New Testament is very important since it's where we learn most of our information about Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy regarding Jesus as Messiah. You'll learn so much as New Testament iWitness leads you on a trail to discover answers to questions that are vital to the Christian Faith such as:
  • Why do certain books make up the New Testament?
  • Who decided on which books to include?
  • How do we know who wrote the books?
  • How do we know they are accurate and haven't been changed over time?
 New Testament iWitness is arranged according to the following topics:
  • Councils of Hippo and Carthage - AD 393 & 397
  • Canon Criteria
  • Athanasius - AD 367
  • Eusebius - AD 324
  • Church Fathers - 3rd Century
  • Church Fathers - 2nd Century
  • Muratorian Canon c. 170
  • Marcion Canon AD 140
  • The Gospel - AD 120
  • The Apostle - AD 150
  • Apostolic Fathers - AD 90 - 150
  • Apostolic Age AD 30 - 100
  • Synoptic Problem - 1st Century
  • Hymns and Creeds - 1st Century
  • Rejected Books
  • Canon Certainty
  • How It Was Copied
  • Number of Copies
  • Copying Methods
  • Differences in the Copies
  • Manuscript Families (Or Text Types)
  • Textual Criticism
  • Recovered Text

Old Testament iWitness

Everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ, our promised Lord and Savior. Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew scriptures. As you can imagine, it's important for Christians to be familiar with it.

I have grown to love reading the Old Testament. In my own experience, it's given me a better understanding of God the Father and Jesus, His Son. It helps me to see how freeing it is to not be judged according to the law.

I've enjoyed learning more about the Old Testament through reading Old Testament iWitness. I was surprised to learn that there aren't very many O.T. ancient manuscripts - you'll have to get the book to find out why! You will also learn which version of the Hebrew scriptures Jesus quoted from, the importance of the Torah, how the Jewish people could recognize a true prophet, what other books were important to Jews but not considered Scripture, and so much more. Towards the end, there is also a little bit of information regarding some archaeological finds and the New Testament. A timeline that shows early history, time of the judges, time of the kings, etc. is also included.

Old Testament iWitness is arranged according to the following topics:
  • Manuscripts
  • Copying
  • Canon Criteria
  • Tanakh
  • Canon Formation
  • Septuagint
  • Torah
  • Prophets
  • Documentary Hypothesis
  • Covenants (And Near East Treaties)
  • Nevi'im
  • Major Prophets
  • Minor Prophets
  • Ketuvi'im
  • The Scrolls
  • Wisdom Books
  • History Books
  • Intertestamental Period
  • Apocrypha
  • Vulgate
  • Apocrypha Acceptance
  • Apocrypha Canonization
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Archaeology
  • New Testament
  • Timeline

iWitness Biblical Archaeology

Since the Bible claims to contain actual historical events, it's natural to assume that archaeologists should be able to find physical evidence of things mentioned in the Bible. Thankfully, lots of evidence has been uncovered over the years, however, that still doesn't mean you can prove that the entire Bible is true. It does mean that you can trust the historical accuracy of the Bible which in turn can help us trust the rest of the claims in Scripture. I do appreciate that the author makes this clear in the introduction.

So, what kind of biblical evidence has been found throughout history? iWitness Archaeology reveals lists of kings, nations, and pharaohs; tablets, clay prisms, and scrolls that record specific events; types of coins and other artifacts that were used during the time of Jesus; remains of what is believed to be Peter's house; and so much more!

Do you know what's considered to be one of the most important archaeological finds in biblical history? Well, it isn't the burial shroud of Jesus, although I find this one the most intriguing. You'll have to get the book to find out the answer to the question and also to read about all sorts of fascinating discoveries!

iWitness Biblical Archaeology is arranged according to the following topics:
  • The Flood
  • Looking for Noah's Ark
  • Egyptian Chronology
  • The Exodus
  • The House of David Inscriptions
  • YHWH Inscriptions
  • Sennacherib's Siege of Jerusalem (Finds at Nineveh)
  • Sennacherib's Siege of Jerusalem (Finds at Jerusalem)
  • Old Testament History
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Oldest Old Testament Copies
  • Hadrian and Constantine
  • Jesus' Judges
  • Jesus' World
  • Jesus' World (Jerusalem)
  • New Testament Locations
  • New Testament Inscriptions
  • The Burial Shroud of Jesus?

What We Thought

After receiving these books in the mail and looking them over, I decided not to use them as read-alouds. I felt that the information was too much for my 9-year-old, and because of the way the research is presented, I concluded that the books would make more sense if my boys and I read them on our own. So, I've read all three, my oldest son has read iWitness Archaeology and New Testament iWitness, and my middle son has read Old Testament iWitness.

At first glance, the books seemed busy, but after a while the overall design grew on me. Now that I've read them all, I can say that I actually like the way the information is compiled. It's different and appropriate to the author's original intent - for readers to approach the text as if they are the ones doing the research.

My boys did mention that a couple of the fonts were more difficult to read than others, but that they liked the information. My oldest and I really liked learning about biblical archaeology, especially about the mysterious burial shroud of Jesus.

As a Christian, it thrills me when historical documents and discoveries provide physical evidence that back up Scripture. While I know there's no artifact or document that can prove that Jesus is the Son of God, it is exciting when archaeological finds validate historical events in the Bible.

I wish the type of information in these books was the kind that stuck with me. It's not, so I'm glad my kids and I have these resources to refer back to when needed. They're wonderful books to have handy in your "faith" library! Be sure to check out what other Crew Members and their families thought by clicking the banner below.

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

My First Pastors' Wives Conference

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I had the opportunity to attend my very first pastors' wives conference this week. At first I thought, Really? I've only been a pastor's wife for a month. Surely that doesn't count - at least not enough to have the privilege of going to a conference. "Conference" sounds so official!


Being able to attend the conference proved to be the perfect way to start my journey as a pastor's wife. The theme of the conference couldn't have been more fitting: Rooted.

I can't really be an effective pastor's wife, or Christian for that matter, if I am not rooted in Christ. I need big, strong roots to weather the storms and to grow up as a "healthy oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." (Isaiah 61:3)

I gleaned so much during the 2-day whirlwind! Here are a few nuggets of truth that stuck out to me:

I must continue to surrender my life to the Lord daily.

I must continue to live my life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I must continue to have godly fear - the kind that radiates reverence, awe, and trust in God, but get rid of godless fear - the kind that brings on anxiety and worry.

I have to say that the highlight for me was getting to hear Naghmeh, Pastor Saeed's wife, speak. It was such a surprise because she was an unscheduled speaker, but it worked out for her to be there for just a few minutes at the very beginning of the conference. I feel so blessed to have heard her speak in person.

I appreciated her transparency and realness about marriage and life. She basically gave us pastors' wives three exhortations:
  1. Be free from fear
  2. Deny yourself - die to self and dig deeper into the Word of God during hardships
  3. Take pleasure in infirmities
Difficult truths to live out, but what an encouragement to hear these things from her, someone who knows what it means to truly suffer for the Gospel.

I came home exhausted from lack of sleep and a bit miserable due to a diverticulitis attack and a bad headache, but it was worth it. :) Now I am playing catch up and trying not to worry about all the things I need to do and the upcoming homeschool review deadlines!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Easy Crock Pot Sausage and Beans

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Let the fall crock pot cooking commence! This dish is usually the first fall crock pot meal that I make - probably because it's so easy.

Oh, how I love being able to take the main dish out of the base of my crock pot! Anyway, for the first 15 or so years of marriage I had an old fashioned crock pot that didn't come apart. Not fun to wash at all.

Do you need a new crock pot for fall and winter cooking? If so, check this one out on Amazon. I am definitely enjoying mine. :)


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