Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A look back at 2013 in pictures.

The pictures in this post are some which I took throughout 2013 but never made it here to a blog post.

In January I made my husband a half cake to celebrate his half birthday. I usually make a decorate cakes for my kids, but because his b-day falls in July I hadn't made him one for the last several years. It was just too hot to bake. Turned out this was the only birthday cake he got in 2013 as we ended up moving for his birthday.

For most of the 2012-2013 academic year my son studied the solar system, planets, etc. He decided he was going to make a poster featuring what he learned about.

Snow people my children made.

From our big March storm. Snow came down at the rate of about an inch an hour. In total we ended up with about 18 inches of snow in this one storm.

After we moved my children were finding words in the packing peanuts as boxes were emptied. It was amazing how many different words they could find. This activity kept them busy for hours.

I also tried my hand at making brownie pops. I don't think they turned out so badly.

Early fall we had the opportunity to see replicas of two of Columbus' ships.

This was at a rest area in Mississippi. The various tiles on the stone name the official things of the state of Mississippi. I took the picture because I thought it was a cute idea.

Early fall we had the opportunity to go to the New Orleans area for a couple days with my husband when he went to an Orientation meeting for work. One evening we went to Bourbon Street and had 'Louisiana' food for supper. These are the crab cakes I enjoyed.

Another field trip we had in the fall was to a cotton gin. The upper picture is of one of the pieces of the gin. The lower picture shows the cotton in various stages in the ginning process. If I remember correctly the first pile is before it goes through the gin, the second is the cotton and the third is the seed.

Another interesting tidbit for 2013- I increased my number of states visited by 4, for a total of 23. I think.

So some photo highlights of 2013.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hello Fresh Meal Delivery Service

Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh is a subscription based meal delivery service, sending everything (except basics like salt, pepper and oil) you need for 3 meals right to your door. Perishables are kept cold with large ice packs and heavy insulated packing material inside a cardboard box.

Shipping Box

All the goodness safe and secure

The ingredients for each meal are bagged and labelled individually.  Meat products are vacuum sealed. Each of the produce and dry ingredients are individually bagged and then placed in one large bag per recipe.  Some of these ingredients need to be refrigerated upon receipt. Canned and pantry items are also bagged and labelled according to recipe.

Each meal is featured on its own 5 by 9 recipe card. The front side features a list and pictures of all the ingredients and the back of the card has step by step pictures and directions.

Although it is a subscription service it is easy to customize your selections. The first option is to choose a Classic or Vegetarian box. Then you are able to pick your 3 meals. Each week there are three featured meals and two optional choices. The optional choices can be swapped for one of the featured meals if desired. The third option is number of servings per box. While boxes are shipped each week you have the option to place your account on hold if you will be out of town or just don't want a box a particular week.

Classic box pricing begins at $9.94 per meal including delivery, Vegetarian boxes begin at $8.28 per meal including delivery. Gift Certificates are also available.  See Hello Fresh for complete details.

My Thoughts

I reviewed a Classic box serving 2 people featuring Penne all' Arrabbiata, Yogurt Marinated Shrimp, and Classic Beef Stew.

First off, I have to say thanks to the great people at Hello Fresh for the opportunity to review their exceptional products and service.

I really love the convenience of Hello Fresh. I appreciated not having to figure out what was for dinner and then making sure I had everything I needed. It was great to have everything on hand to make a wonderful meal.

The quality of the meats and produce was excellent as well, which was surprising to me given the season. I am not able to find salad greens and fresh herbs which are of as good a quality in the grocery store right now.

Not only were the food products great, the customer service was excellent as well. After I signed up and before I received my first delivery I received a phone call from a Hello Fresh team member welcoming me and wanting to make sure I knew how all aspects of the program worked.

 Penne all' Arrabbiata ingredients and the finished dish.

 Yogurt Marinated Shrimp ingredients and the finished dish.

 Classic Beef Stew Ingredients and the finished dish.

Even though each of the meals was designed to serve 2 people, they easily served the 4 of us.

We thoroughly enjoyed all three meals. I can't begin to say how good they were. My 9 year old son thinks he is a picky eater, but he enjoyed all of the meals just as much as the rest of us. I would not hesitate to make any of these recipes again.

 My 12 year old daughter is an aspiring foodie, she enjoys new and fancy foods and recipes. So to test out the ease of recipe preparation with Hello Fresh I drafted her to be help with cooking. She was able to complete most of the recipes herself. I stepped in to help when there were several things that needed to be completed at the same time and when the shrimp were cooked in the oven. Thus I can confidently say the Hello Fresh recipes are easy to prepare.

When I first learned about Hello Fresh it seemed to me the cost was kind of high. In order to see how accurate my thinking was I priced the individual ingredients to determine what it would cost me to purchase everything I received. The cost per dish varied, but it would cost between $10 and $15 to make any of them by assembling my own ingredients. This is based on just the amount needed for each recipe. The initial cost of the ingredients would be higher because I would need to buy larger packages than what was included in the Hello Fresh meal box. Also to purchase the pancetta I would have to drive over an hour away.

The biggest downside in cooking any of the three entrees was the Yogurt Marinated Shrimp. I say this for several reasons. Following the recipe directions you simply brush the shrimp with the marinade, instead of immersing the shrimp in the marinade. Then halfway through cooking time you brush more marinade on the shrimp. Thus when the shrimp are cooked they only have marinade on one side and it is a fairly heavy coat as well.

Overall, I was very pleased with my Hello fresh experience. They delivered high quality ingredients and fantastic recipes which provided a highly enjoyable cooking and dining experience.

Hello Fresh meal delivery is only available in some parts of the United States; mainly east of the Mississippi and a few select states adjacent to the River as well. Please look at the map at Hello Fresh to determine if they deliver in your area.

If you would like to try Hello Fresh for yourself you can use this code     57PQC6     to receive $20 off your first box. Simply go to Hello Fresh and follow the simple directions to begin an account.

Other members of the Mosaic Reviews team had the opportunity to review these and other Hello Fresh recipes. Read what they had to say at the Mosaics Review blog.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Udderly Smooth Body Lotion and Creams - A Review

Mosaic Reviews team members recently received a box of pampering products from Udderly Smooth. The products included were body cream, foot cream, and 2 tubes (different sizes) of hand cream and several small packets of body cream.

From the Udderly Smooth website, Udderly Smooth is a deeply moisturizing body cream which is non greasy and soaks into skin quickly. It was originally developed for use on dairy cows, but is now used by people around the world. Udderly Smooth does not contain any milk or bovine ingredients. All of these products are made in the USA. This is a definite plus.

My Thoughts

I am really impressed with all of the Udderly Smooth products I have had the opportunity to try. They really soak into the skin and provide long lasting moisture. I would use the body cream in the morning and by evening my skin was still very smooth and soft. My husband really liked how soft my skin was after using the body cream.

The foot cream is very soothing. I loved the way it soaked in quickly and wasn't greasy or slippery when walking. I was very surprised at how 'thin' the foot cream seemed to be. It is lighter weight than the body cream, but turned out to be very effective. When using the foot cream with a pumice stone I was able to rub off a lot of dry, dead skin. Now if I could get into the habit of remembering to treat my feet to Udderly Smooth every day my callouses would be minimized or gone in no time.

Udderly Smooth hand cream is a treat for my hands. I mainly used it after washing dishes and it made such a difference in the condition of my hands. The redness and irritation of washing dishes disappeared quickly with just a little bit of Udderly Smooth hand cream.

While all 3 of these products do have a scent, it wasn't overly strong or irritating to any of us.

My children also used the Udderly Smooth hand lotion and remarked about how quickly it soaked into their skin and how soft their skin felt after using it. My daughter's hands would get so dry and cracked all winter long from the dry cold weather. From what I have seen of how wonderfully Udderly Smooth works I am sure it would have made a huge difference for her. We recently moved to an area which doesn't get as cold and dry in the winter, so dryness isn't as big an issue for her now.

Udderly Smooth is available at many drugstores and mass merchandisers across the country. The Udderly Smooth website has a complete list of retailers.

 See what other Mosaic Review members had to say at the Mosaic Reviews blog.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fantastic Deal at Homeschool Freebie of the Day

 Homeschool Freebie of the Day has great resources available each day, if you are unfamiliar with their site, take a quick peek.

Right now (until midnight Thursday) Homeschool Freebie of the Day has a great offer for two very helpful homeschooling resources. They are The Home Educators Tutor and The Easy Homeschooling Library. Each one is only $11 or you can get both for $17. Each collection is chockful or material and information.

I own The Home Educators Tutor and really like it. However, I have not used it as much as I should. The literature selections are just awesome. So many I can't find any place else.

If you are slightly interested, take a look at the special sale page http://www.wholesomechildhood.com/72hours/

Also while you are there, take a moment to down load the huge previews from each collection so you can take a closer look at what's included.

Act fast, these are only available until Midnight Thursday.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Trip to See Columbus' Ships

Several weeks ago we had the opportunity to see replicas of two of Columbus' ships - the Nina and the Pinta. These ships are actual size and the public area is furnished the same way it was when Columbus sailed. With all the tour group members aboard it was easy to imagine how crowded it was people and supplies when the original boats sailed. 

To learn more about each of the ships and to see if the ships will be in your area, check out thenina.com







During the tour my children were asked to help demonstrate the use of the windlass. This is a device which was used to raise and lower the ship in shallow water. While they only operated it a few turns, my children discovered this was not an easy way to move a ship.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

See the Light Art Instruction DVD review

See the Light Shine



My daughter is very enthusiastic about anything that has to do with art. If all of her subjects could be connected to art she would be thrilled. So when Mosaic Reviews team members had the opportunity to review an art instructional video from See the Light I knew my daughter would be interested. 

Art Projects with Pat Knepley Repeated Sweets - watercolor painting in the style of American Pop artist Wayne Thiebaud.

The DVD contains 4 lesson sessions between 23 and 31 minutes each. Allow additional time for working on the art projects after viewing the lessons for an approximate time of  1 hour.

Lesson 1  Select Motif and Draw

My daughters drawings from this lesson. The student is directed to choose one of these drawings for their project.

 Lesson 2   Two Types of Watercolor: Wash-Flat and Graded

This is an example of practicing the principles taught in this lesson

Lesson 3 Paint in the details

First steps of actual painting.

 Lesson 4   Finish Up with Shade and Shadow

 The finished product !

 There are 9 separate DVD's in the Art Projects series, each teaching the work of a specific artist and the applicable art elements and principles. Some of these elements and principles are taught in multiple DVD's as they apply to the respective artists work. With the addition of several additional projects, research and presentation on one or two artists, and a field trip or two this series contains enough material for a full Fine Art credit for high school.

A list of required materials for each title is available in the specifics for each DVD.

Each lesson teaches proper technique and application. Pat not only verbally teaches this, but shows the viewer what to do as she explains it.

The Art Projects DVD series is for ages 10 and up. Each DVD is priced at $14.99 or $99.99 for the complete set.

See the Light also has a 9 volume series entitled Art Class and a series featuring 5 Bible Stories and related art projects.

My Thoughts

Both my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed these lessons, although I didn't produce any art. I learned about the artist (who I had never heard of) and a lot about watercolor technique.

As mentioned above the See the Light website has a list of materials needed for each DVD. This really helped me to know the specifics of what I needed to have on hand to be able to use the DVD when it arrived. Knowing about materials before purchasing the product is a great time saver and help. The majority of the supplies needed for all of the DVD's are standard art supplies.

Each lesson does contain a reference to a Bible story, but there is very little interpretation. It is simply telling a Bible story. In one of the lessons we watched Pat picked out the world 'pale' and told the Bible story of the handwriting on the wall and King Belshazzar (Daniel 5).

My daughter is 12, so within the recommended age range and with some previous art instruction, and these projects were appropriately challenging for her. She needed to take her time in what she was doing to achieve the expected result and even had to go back and redo some of her work. I think it is fair for me to say that she spent at least an hour on each of the lessons. I know she will go back and rewatch several of the lessons while creating another picture using the techniques in Repeated Sweets.

There is a lot of meat and substance to these video lessons. The viewer/ student is given a lot of information and guidance in each lesson to help them produce a quality work of art. It should not be difficult for the viewer/student to take what they have learned in the lesson and use in future projects.

My daughter says:
I really enjoyed the program, I liked it so much I wanted to do it first thing each morning.
It wasn't hard, it tells you how to do everything step by step and doesn't leave anything out.
I like that it allows the student to choose what subject to paint because I don't like it when I have to paint a particular thing.

Other members of the Mosaic Reviews team had the opportunity to review other volumes in the Art Projects set. To read about their experiences visit the Mosaic Reviews blog.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

iTooch Educational Apps by Edupad

Itooch Educational Apps from Edupad
Follow iTooch by Edupad on Facebook

The Mosaic Reviews review team has recently reviewed some of the apps from  itooch.

Edupad is a French based company, in business since 2011, developing educational applications for mobile devices. Their applications are designed for iOS, Windows, and most recently Android based devices. These apps are designed for grades 3-8 and cover math, language arts and science or health. Each app has up to 6000 Common Core aligned lessons. Edupad also has several language apps and a SAT prep app available.

Students are able to practice material in a variety of sub categories in the apps subject. While answering questions and taking tests they are able to earn points to receive belts of various colors and unlock new levels of information. Progress within a sub category is shown by the circle being colored in as the student progress through the work. The question material is supported by text selections which are read before the questions are answered and are available at any time by opening a sidebar.

Image from edupad.com

iTooch apps are available in Google Play for Android,the Windows store, and Apple App store. Each app is $4.99, Some trial apps are available for free.

  My Thoughts

Each app is subject specific ie. just language arts or math. I downloaded the 4th and 8th grade language arts apps for my children.  The apps load quickly and feature a cute little character doing many different things. My son enjoys see what it will do next. While they have been enjoying them, I don't feel they have been challenged. My youngest is 4th grade age and he has been flying through the material, usually doing three questions and then taking the test and getting a perfect score. After seeing how my son did I downloaded the app a year above my daughters age and she has experienced the same thing. So while they have been enjoying their time with the apps (and my phone) they have been practicing skills they already know, not necessarily learning new things.

My son has made a lot of progress in the 4th grade language arts modules but he has not completed all of the sub categories so I am not able to see what if anything may be earned at the end or what the various belts might be working towards.

One other thing we noticed is the apps seem to be extremely sensitive to touch. It is very easy to choose an incorrect answer when scrolling up or down or opening the text reference material. The sideways sliding to look at the progress chart is quite fast as well.

If you are able to get the itooch app for free, it is a fun educational supplement, but may not teach a whole lot of new material.

Read other Mosaic Reviewers thoughts at  the Mosaic Reviews blog.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Learning Math With Math Mammoth

From MM website

The Mosaic Reviews team has been given the opportunity to review products from Math Mammoth. We had the choice of a complete yearly curriculum or topical books. I gave my children the opportunity to choose what topics they wanted to try. So they choose South African Money, Statistics and Probability, Ratios, and Geometry 2. I received pdf copies of each of these four ebooks.

Each of these worktexts follows a similar format. They feature an introduction and information for the instructor, index of the lessons, and many descriptions and links to websites for additional practice of topics addressed in the worktext.The concepts are taught and explained which is followed by several practice opportunities.

Each lesson is 2-4 pages in length including the instructional material. The amount of instruction varies depending on the topic.

South African Money
Math Mammoth South African Money workbook cover
From MM website
Recommended for Grades 1-4

This booklet focuses on counting money, making change and solving money word problems. It explains, names and shows the different coins in the South African money system.

The material is not divided into lessons per say, but is presented in the order above. This allows the student to progress through it as they are able.

My Thoughts

This worktext would be a great addition to a geography or cultural study for early elementary students. They would learn about money from another country, while at the same time practicing money skills. My daughter enjoyed learning about the coins, even though the skills were too easy for her.

Math Mammoth Statistics & Probability workbook cover
From MM website
Statistics and Probability
Recommended for grades 5-7

There are 25 lessons with 2 reviews. Topics covered include reading and constructing a variety of graphs and histograms and stem and leaf plots Also covered is average, mode, and mean; what they are, how to determine each and graph the results as well. Students also learn what probability is, its uses, and how to calculate it.

My Thoughts

Both my 9 and 12 year olds enjoyed using this worktext. Much of the information and many of the exercises were quite simple for my oldest, but the sections on stem and leaf plots and probability were beneficial for her as she hadn't had a lot of the topic before. This was a good review for my youngest as he had just worked through some of these topics in another program.

Ratios, Proportions & Problem Solving
Math Mammoth Ratios & Proportions & Problem Solving math book cover
From MM website
Recommended for Grades 5-6

This worktext teaches ratios; what they are, how to solve them, their uses and where they are found. Students learn what proportions are, where they are found and how they are used and learn several methods of solving them. Not only do they learn how to work with proportions they learn how proportions are used in daily life. Along with the methods students learn the why behind the process. In addition there are several sections teaching students how to scale figures or in other words draw the same figure in a large size, but with the same proportions.

My Thoughts

I feel this is a very complete, yet compact text of the subject. The descriptions are simple and easy to understand, and there is enough practice to understand the concepts, yet not bog down a student who knows and understands. I appreciated the lessons on scaling figures the most as I have not found another explanation as concise and easy to understand.

Geometry 2
Recommended for Grades 6-7

Math Mammoth Geometry 2 math book cover
From MM website
Geometry 2 teaches shapes, angles, lines, and polygons. Students also learn about and how to calculate circumference, area, volume, and area. Several lessons also teach and practice conversion between various measuring systems. An integral part of the lessons have students learning to draw these concepts as well.

My Thoughts

My children really had fun with this worktext. They enjoyed all the opportunities to draw in addition to the figuring. Normally I don't care for ebooks for workbooks because I don't like having to keep track of all the pages, however I appreciated having individual pages for this worktext because we didn't have to wrestle with the book spine or keeping it flat to measure and draw.

The worktexts I reviewed, except for South African money can be completed on the computer if the computer has the proper program.

All of these worktexts are written in color, but I needed to print them on a black and white printer. It was possible to use the pages, although they were not as visually appealing or interesting. A few examples had to be colored in order for the student to do what was required, but it was simple enough to color what was necessary with colored pencil.

Math Mammoth also has full curriculum programs available for grades 1-5. In addition to the worktexts described above there are two collections of practice worksheets. The Golden series is a collection of worksheets designed to provide additional practice at each grade level. The review workbooks are written to provide a through review of math topics and tests for a specific grade level. Some Math Mammoth materials are aligned with Common Core standards.

 Visit the Math Mammoth website to see the full line of math materials available. You can also sign up to receive many samples of Math Mammoth products to help in your decision making process. Maria Miller, the author of Math Mammoth also offers several helpful videos as well as math teaching help. There is also a placement test for the Math Mammoth products.

Images used in this post are from the Math Mammoth website.

Other members of the Mosaic Reviews team had the opportunity to use and review other products from Math Mammoth. To learn what they have to say visit the Mosaic Review blog.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cover Reveal of Deadly Deception

Cover Reveal: Deadly Deception by
 Andrea Johnson Beck

Cover by Montlake Romance

Dr. Anne Jamison, a brilliant neuropsychiatrist, is living the concrete jungle life in Minneapolis with her fiancĂ©, prominent attorney Adam Whitney. But the mysterious death of Carter Leeds, her beloved former boyfriend, still haunts her…

After three years of unanswered questions, a mysterious package finds its way to Anne. The note inside reveals the possibility that Carter may, in fact, be alive. Even more shocking, her very own fiancĂ© may have had a hand in his attempted demise. Anne doesn’t know what—or who—to believe, and the deeper she digs, the more she is overcome by a dangerous game of cat and mouse. But will Anne’s trust be restored—or will she be the one left plotting revenge?

Author Biography
Andrea Johnson Beck is a homeschool teacher in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and young son. Beck vowed to write a full-length book before her thirtieth birthday, which she accomplished just weeks shy of her deadline. Deadly Deception is the first in her series of contemporary romantic thrillers. She also writes monthly articles for Homeschool Mosaics and In-Depth Genealogist. 

Stay in touch with Andrea Johnson Beck through 
Facebook : Goodreads : Site : Twitter

I usually don't write about topics not related to homeschooling, but Andrea Johnson Beck is a friend and fellow blogger and when she asked  bloggers to share the new cover of her book I offered to do so. I found this to be an exciting book which is hard to set down.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Curriculum for Fourth Grade 2013-2014

These are my curriculum plans for my 9 year old son for the coming year.


A Bible History
Catechism Review


Teaching Textbooks 

I have struggled to find an appropriate math program for several years. So we are trying TT this year. I know many other Moms and students highly recommend it so I am hoping it works well.


Story of the World 2  The Middle Ages
Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

History also includes notebooking and lapbooking. We will also use other resources to enrich the study. They include this Prof Noggin game, and Usbourne Middle Ages encyclopedia.


Elements Ingredients of the Universe

I will probably add additional resources. This is not a full year course so we will have to see what comes next.

Language Arts

Spelling Power
Vocabulary Cartoons
Scholastic Literacy Place
learn Cursive



Foreign Language

Latin for Children A
Greek Alphabet Code Cracker

Son has not picked up the grammar of Latin too easily, so I plan to go back to the beginning and take it slowly. He is interested in Greek so we will do this on the side.


Feed My Sheep
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?

I plan to read Whatever Happened to Penny Candy outloud so he will hear it. Some of it maybe a little too deep for him, but the exposure to the topic is beneficial.

We will also do lapbooks and notebooks on various topics, some which I choose, others which he chooses.

You have probably noticed I have left some subjects out, I do plan on covering things like writing,  grammar, and geography I just don't know what I am going to use yet. We moved a month ago so most of the summer has been consumed by planning, packing, moving, and unpacking. I also have a wish list, but will have to see how much of it I can find or purchase.