Monday, May 23, 2016

Concord Cunningham, the Scripture Sleuth

This year, we discovered a great set of fun reading books for elementary aged kids!

Concord Cunningham, the Scripture Sleuth books are wonderful. They're the kind of book that get with the intention that my daughter will read them as part of her schooling. But, before we even get the opportunity to incorporate them into school, my daughter has devoured the book - reading it cover to cover. The only time she stops is to race across the room and grab her Bible from a shelf to look up the next clue!

Concord Cunningham is a wholesome, Christian schoolboy who helps his Dad solve mysteries. Think "Encyclopedia Brown" but Christian. The books teach Christian values and respect for Parents. Concord solves mysteries by finding one last clue in his concordance - the Bible reference for the clue is given at the end of the short story so that the reader can look up the clue in his or her Bible. This way the reader is learning logic (by solving the mystery) and Bible reference skills all at the same time. And it's all presented in a format that couldn't be more fun.

No - this isn't an "affiliate link" I didn't get a free copy or any money - I just LOVE how much my daughter loves this series, and wanted to share it!

Concord Cunningham, the Scripture Sleuth

Monday, May 16, 2016

Three Minute, Three Bite Brownie for One

If you're craving a Brownie, but don't want bake an entire pan, here's your solution. It's quick, it's
easy, it's Vegan - and there's no obligation to finish off 15 more Brownies in front of the T.V. tonight : )

These are really delicious - fudgy, dense, chewy - they really hit the spot when you're craving a Brownie!

If the batter seems WAY too thick, add a few drops of water till it's just right. With such small quantities, you have to use a little more of your own judgment on texture of batter. 

Three Minute, Three Bite Brownie for One
Basic Method
Mix together in a small, microwavable dish
(I use a Pyrex Custard cup - as seen in the picture)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cocoa
Dash Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Oil
1/2 Tablespoon Water
8 Chocolate Chips
Pat down
Microwave 30-45 seconds (depending on how crunchy you like it, and the power of your microwave)

Or, make it like this if you have my mix on hand:

Three Minute, Three Bite Brownie for One
2 Tablespoons StuffedVeggies Cake & Cookie Mix
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Water
1/2 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Oil
6 or 8 Chocolate Chips
Microwave in microwave safe dish for 30 to 45 seconds.
Cool enough that you don't burn yourself!


Vegan Cookie Mix for the Pantry

A canister of homemade Vegan Cookie Mix
Measure into canister, shake & store
4 1/2 cups Flour (your choice - unbleached flour or whole wheat pastry flour)*
2 cups Sugar (your choice, brown, white or turbinado/raw sugar)**
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Monday, May 9, 2016

Lemon Snack Cake (Vegan)

What is a "Snack Cake"?

It's a cake that is simple, quick to make, and is usually served in its baking pan, informally.

It's the kind of cake you can make if you're the kind of family that invites guests over and THEN decides what to make.

Not that we ever do that ; )

It might be frosted with a simple frosting, or it might just be dusted with powdered sugar. For this picture I used the remainder of the store bought frosting I had on hand, but the previous time I made it,  I whipped some up from scratch (no picture of that because it disappeared too fast!)

This is the kind of cake that you can whip up for guests while you're making dinner, and not miss a step : )

Just combine the ingredients in one bowl, stir, pour into prepared pan and bake.

Of course, if you prefer, you can use the batter to make a quick batch of cupcakes.(cupcakes bake at the same temperature, but for a shorter time - about 30 to 35 minutes)

Before mixing Cake Batter, Oil an 8x8 square cake pan or a round cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Easy Vegan Lemon Snack Cake
Mix in a single bowl, till batter is smooth:

2 1/2 Cups stuffedveggies Vegan Cookie & Cake Mix (recipe here)
2/3 Cup Water (or a smidge more - enough to make batter like a thick, fast food milkshake)
1/3 Cup Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Light Flavored Oil (I use Sunflower)
A few drops of Yellow Food Coloring (I use 8)

Stir all ingredients together in one bowl. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit - until done (toothpick inserted in center is clean, cake pulls away slightly from edges of pan - you know - the standard cake-doneness tests)

Cool before serving warm. For best frosting results, wait till entirely cool so frosting doesn't melt. But, if it does melt a little, it's still tasty! : )

Monday, May 2, 2016

Vegan & Omnivore Spring Menu

If you're looking for some Vegan ideas for a week's worth of menus, and wish to also serve an Omnivore in your household here ya go:

Vegan Mock Crab Cakes  
With Fish Sticks or real Crab Cakes for the Omnivores
With Baked Potatoes in the Slow Cooker
And Salad

Vegan Mock Crab Cakes 

Baked Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

Szechuan Green Beans over Rice with
Teriyaki Chicken for the Omnivores
Spring Rolls, Easy Vegan and  
Sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce, Three Minute 

Szechuan Green Beans over Rice

Spring Rolls, Easy Vegan

Greek Style Black-Eyed Peas ( Louvia ) 
With Tuna for the Omnivores
With Veggies and Dolmades from a Can

Greek Style Black-Eyed Peas ( Louvia ) 

Confetti Spaghetti 
With Cubed Chicken for the Omnivores 

Confetti Spaghetti

Indian Lemon Rice with Peas  

Trader Joe's Veggie Masala Burgers
With Tandoori Chicken & Raita for the Omnivores
& Salad

Indian Lemon Rice with Peas

Mexican Haystacks  
with "Taco Meat" for the Omnivores

Mexican Haystacks

Burgers & Fries Vegan Style
With Regular Burgers for the Omnivores

Burgers & Fries Vegan Style

AND This Week's Featured Dessert
Samali (Greek Semolina Dessert)

Samali (Greek Semolina Dessert)

Monday, April 25, 2016

St. Paul Visits Paphos, Cyprus

St. Kyriaki's Church in the background,
with the ruins of St. Paul's Church in the foreground
Saint Paul was one of the greatest Saints of Christianity. He wrote much of the New Testament, and influenced the Christian Church to an immeasurable degree.

Under the inspiration of God, he gave us such beloved and powerful passages as

I Corinthians 13


Romans 8


1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Yet, he is constantly maligned in modern culture, both by secularists and by some Christians who fail to understand who he really was and what he really taught.

False claims abound that St. Paul was a misogynist, promoted slavery or other such nonsense.  He is wrongly painted as a authoritarian, domineering figure who picked on those weaker than he was for his own power trip.

But, the real actions and life of St. Paul are simply ignored. His works are neglected, and misquoted by those who falsely speak against God and His Church.

A real glimpse into the life of St. Paul can be seen at "St. Paul's Pillar" in Paphos, Cyprus.

Here is the Pillar where St. Paul was tied with ropes and beaten bloody with a lash because of his Love for God. Here is the man - weak in his flesh - who was willing to suffer any amount of pain and hardship for Love of his Savior.

This image of St. Paul being beaten - weak, a prisoner, bloody, in chains - is not the image that those who would malign him portray. Where is the domineering figure who pushes around women and slaves for his own power trip? He didn't exist.

Here is St. Paul, as he described himself in 2 Corinthians 11:

. . . I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? . . .

All this because if his Love for God!

There was no one lowlier in Roman culture than a prisoner! Women were often quite high ranking and powerful. Contrary to our modern concepts, even slaves could hold impressive jobs like Doctor, Teacher, Actor, Banker or Skilled Craftsman .  But, a prisoner on the verge of a death sentence was the lowest of the low. The weakest of the weak. But, God's strength was made perfect in the weakness of St. Paul! 

His weakness - his status as a prisoner and eventually as a Martyr - was the vehicle that God used to spread the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.

St. Paul's Pillar, where he was tied and beaten with a lash for love of Christ

Archaeological site in the foreground, with Church in the background

The Pillar of St. Paul

Map of the Ruins of St. Paul's Church, Paphos, Cyprus

Another view of St. Paul's Pillar

Mosaic Flooring in the Ruins of St. Paul's Church, Paphos, Cyprus

Ruins of St. Paul's Church, Paphos, Cyprus

St. Kyriaki's Church in the Background with St. Paul's Church Ruins in Foreground

If you found this post interesting, you might also like these:

Bible or the Constitution? 

Common Pain
Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Most Un-Christian Word in the English Language 
Mrs. Good & Mrs. Bad, The Story of 
ONE Sin God Doesn't Care About 
Peace Sign, Origin & Meaning of 

St. Anna, the Grandmother of Jesus
St. Euphrosynos, Patron Saint of Cooks
St. Lazarus, Whatever Happened To? 
St. Nektarios of Aegina

Virtual Visit to Kykkos Monastery, Cyprus
What are YOU looking at?

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Teaching What is Good

Monday, April 18, 2016

Teaching Math: Home School for Cheap or Free

Even if you're bad at math, you can teach math well - for cheap or FREE!
In educating my daughter, one thing I know is that I want her to be better at Math than I am!

I was a victim of "New Math." By the time I was done with high school, I was pretty good at the logic that was needed for math, but horrible at computation. Simple facts like 7+3 or 8x6 required me to count or double numbers, rather than just know the answer. Which meant that when I took Algebra, I could do the equation properly, but still get the wrong answer. I lost my confidence, and became anxious when presented with numbers. I became very frustrated with math, and was convinced that I had an undiagnosed numeric learning disability.

From my own math experience, I can confidently attest that the "learn math reasoning and skip the drill" philosophy - which is central to Common Core, and is rewarmed "New Math" is a complete failure. Reasoning is important - but if you don't automatically know such facts as 8+4 or 7x9, you will never REALLY be proficient in math. Successful math instruction requires BOTH drill AND reasoning!

A few people have asked how I could possibly home school math when I'm bad at it. Well, there are three tricks, 1) I know good resources, 2) I learn WITH my child (just like we do for Greek!) and 3) In case of emergency, I have a husband who is smarter than me! ; )

As it happens, we haven't really needed to use the third trick much, because 1 & 2 are working so well. But, one day when we get to Calculus . . . .

Turns out, Math is pretty easy to teach - even if you're not good at it! There are so many wonderful resources out there! And they're cheap or free! : )

The great side effect? I am becoming better at math as my daughter learns math! Turns out there wasn't a learning disability, but rather there had been a teaching disability!
It never ceases to amaze me when home schooling parents talk about the high cost of "curriculum" - there are SO many free resources out there! 

These are the ones we use and love (okay, there are days my daughter doesn't always LOVE them - but she's learning math and as she masters new concepts, THEN she loves them. And I love them because I know that they're providing her with the skills and education that she needs in order to know and love math! : )

I glean homeschooling ideas wherever I find good ones, and I was impressed by Dr. Robinson's recommendation that children should spend about 2 hours a day on Math.  His children have excelled in mathematics, and this seemed to me to be a very helpful idea. We don't time each subject, and I'm sure that there are many days when we don't reach two hours, but the idea that we shouldn't just do 15 minutes of drill, but should really immerse ourselves in math for a long time each day has been a beneficial one. By using a variety of resources, we break up the time so that it is possible to focus. So, yes, we use ALL of the resources below (just not all on the same day)!

These are the resources that we have found most helpful thus far:

Counting Books - In infancy, I began reading my daughter baby books that taught counting. We counted babies, birds, toys - everything. On each page I would read the text, "9 baby ducks" for example - then count the ducks, one by one. This way, she learned how to count and one-to-one correspondence without any real work for either of us! Most of the books were gotten from the thrift store or were gifts. Sometimes they were even gifts that were bought from the thrift store!

Double 9 Dominoes - These (thanks to the recommendation of a friend) were one of our most helpful addition resources. My daughter would look at the two groups of dots and add them up. This taught her not only to know that 5+5=10 but to know what a group of 5 and what a group of 10 looked like. She could say the numbers at a glance without counting the dots. (I always discouraged counting to add - even from the beginning. We would count to understand the concept, but never for drill. These usually run about $10.

Skip Count Kid Bible Heroes- this is a favorite audio CD for the car. It teaches skip counting by every number from 2 to 10 - and ties each skip counting song in with a Bible story. In preschool, my daughter could skip count most of the patterns which meant that she could (unwittingly) do simple multiplication. For instance, she asked how many cans of food were in a case, and she could skip count three cans by four rows (or vice-versa) and figure out the answer on her own. When we started multiplication, she just sailed into it, thanks to this CD! Currently, this resource can be downloaded for under $10. - but it is priceless!

Starfall - as with reading, Starfall has nice, fun math games for little kids. And, part of their site is free.

Mnemonic tricks for addition - I created simple mnemonic tricks for each of the addition facts, inspired by The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas. This way, there was never any counting on fingers, simply thinking of pictures and giving answers. Because I know from experience that counting is a VERY bad habit that leads to lots of wrong answers in higher math.

Xtra Math - Xtra Math is the source of everyday math drill. It is essentially just electronic flash cards, but timed by a machine, so that the answers must be given in 3 seconds for mastery. This is a great resource - and FREE!

Khan Academy - Mr. Khan is a wonderful teacher. He introduces math concepts like Perimeter, Area, Angles, Place Value - and on and on. And, there are practice questions, mastery questions, and all sorts of virtual badges and awards for progress. My daughter enjoys this program and finds the awards very motivating. One serious flaw is that Khan Academy has no drill. It teaches reasoning well, but cannot be a stand-alone program because it is lacking in this vital area. It is central to our math instruction - and we love it - but it cannot stand alone. Khan Academy is free for everything from introductory addition to college level math, science, and lots of other subjects.FREE!

ICT Games - I love these games. They're older and slower so are less about eye hand coordination, and more about math. There are great ones about bonds of 10, and making change at the grocery store, and many others. And, they help make the school day a little more fun! And, it's FREE! 
I cannot speak highly enough about this site. There is a short video with a mnemonic to teach each of the multiplication facts by memory, a puzzle or two to reinforce the fact, and lots of fun video games to practice. This is a site that my daughter looks forward to visiting, and has even been known to spend time on when it was her "day off!" And, it's FREE

Peter Pig's Money
Your kid can learn to count counts without making a mess all over the floor! Can't beat it! And, it's FREE! 

20 FREE math questions a day on a variety of topics and levels.

Math Songs
Mr. R's World of Math & Science. Free Site with helpful songs. My favorites are Fraction Songs for teaching things like numerators & denominator. FREE!

Tick Tock Clock - 
Practice telling time by matching a digital & analog clock. FREE!

Workbooks from the Thrift Store
Although I'm not a huge workbook fan, they are handy while traveling. Also, there's something to be said for getting used to doing math on paper with a pencil : ) I find many wonderful workbooks at the thrift store. Families buy them, use a couple of pages, and fail to stick to it. Then, they donate a nearly-new book, and I find it for - usually - under a dollar : ) Right now, we're using a Kumon Multiplication book that I got for 99 cents. 

Just another site for basic math drill. It's a nice, prettier alternative to Xtra math some days. It has a "fun" look to it. And, it's FREE!

Soccer Math
Fun practice for adding two, two digit numbers. After you get the right answer, your player gets to try to kick the ball into the goal. FREE!

Sheppard Software
This site has lots of free, helpful games for learning math skills. One of our favorites is Fruit Splat. The games are enjoyable, but well designed so the student is actively learning. FREE!

elearning for Kids Math
Lots of great stand-alone lessons here to introduce or practice math concepts. My daughter really enjoys this site. The lesson on Mean, Median & Mode was great. I find that this is a great site to plug into for variety on those days when we lack motivation, or energy for a more traditional approach - like on sick days or snow days. FREE! 

Multiplication Quick Tricks from ABC Teach
This is a downloadable booklet that helps hone quick multiplication tricks. It has been quite a blessing to us! FREE!

Divisibility Rules Printable from ContentedatHome
Need to know at a glance if a number is divisible by 3 or by 8? This Chart will be a HUGE help! FREE!

If you liked this, Check out my other Homeschooling Posts:
Teaching Music: Homeschool for Cheap or FREE!
Teach Reading with Confidence: Homeschool for Cheap or Free
Design Your Own Mini Unit Study 
Home School for Cheap or Free: Why Greek is Better than Latin!
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Reading
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Conversation
2 1/2 Minute Homeschool Lesson Planning
10 Homeschool Lessons from ACE Curriculum 
The Perfect Homeschool Organizer  

This is being shared on:
The Art of Homemaking Mondays
Merry Mondays
Modest Mondays 
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Teaching What Is Good
Trivium Tuesday
Monday of Many Blessings
Tuesdays with a Twist
Penny Pinching Party
Coffee & Conversation
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Frugal Fridays

Monday, April 11, 2016

Teaching Music: Homeschool for Cheap or Free

 Teaching music is rather daunting for a home
This beautiful keyboard was a gift from loving family members : )
schooling parent who is not a musician. Here in Ohio, home schooled children are required to have music education. This was one of the things that concerned me when I first set out to home school. As it happened, I found out that music is one of the easiest subjects to teach - even for non-musicians!

Thinking back to my own early traditional music instruction, there were three main components.

1) Singing songs at school with a group.

2) Formal lessons from a piano teacher.

3) Attending musical events, like concerts, with my family.

When I broke it down like this, it was much easier to duplicate the good parts, and fix the bad parts!

1) The singing of songs, and familiarity with valuable cultural music was simple! 

If there was a song I wanted to teach, I could simply pull it up, often with lyrics on Youtube. Like this:

I soon discovered that there was all sorts of information that could be mastered at the same time as learning music. A win-win! Like these (and many others):

The names of the tribes of Israel:

The Traditional Greek Orthodox Christmas Hymn:

The States and their Capitols:

We also got CD's to sing along with in the car for everything from math to Bible memory.

We use many CD's and music downloads to learn things like Handel's Messiah, traditional Christmas Carols, and other songs.

We also listen to Greek Orthodox Chanting on CD - which I've just discovered is also available free online, with lyrics!

For these lessons, I use MANY CD's that I already had before my daughter was born - which saves a lot of money.

The biggest bonus to this part of our day? I usually turn this music on when we're doing our morning routine - so that we can be educated while we eat breakfast, and it also makes for a relaxing, enjoyable morning. 

Greek Orthodox Learn To Chant Audio 

But, we still needed music theory and an instrument.

2) What a Blessing when I learned about Hoffman Academy! 

Joseph Hoffman gives FREE online Piano lessons on his website! This is SO much better than the formal lessons I had when I was a child. Mr. Hoffman is gifted at teaching children - his lessons are both easy to understand and enjoyable. We can progress exactly as we are ready. When I was a child, piano lessons were exactly once a week whether I knew the material or not. Usually I had not practiced and was not ready for the next lesson. My teacher was frustrated, my Mom was paying for it, and I was embarrassed and felt like a failure! On the other hand, my gifted, diligent sister had to wait a week even if she mastered the material the first day. Not so with Hoffman Academy. The diligent child who is ready can take a new lesson every other day, whereas the one who misses too many practice sessions can wait until they have practiced enough. And the one who just doesn't get it can watch it again. Best of all? It's all FREE! (Did I say that already?)

I am learning more piano online than I ever did as a child taking lessons - but my daughter is learning even more than I am! She learns both theory and performance - important things like how to read musical notation, and fun things like how to play "Jingle Bells."

Hoffman Academy does charge for accompanying materials, like sheet music and accompaniment tracks, but the prices on these materials are excellent - probably much less than you'd pay for similar materials required by a traditional teacher. And, it is possible to take the lessons without the materials - just not ideal. 

I don't know where I originally read about Hoffman Academy, it was on someone's blog, but I cannot remember whose - and I have since seen it in a couple of other places. But, I cannot praise it enough. It is WONDERFUL! Check it out!

Many THANKS to the sweet family members who gave us a beautiful Keyboard as a very generous gift! : )  We actually took the first 20 lessons on a toy that we had around the house before we were given this lovely gift!

 Hoffman Academy - Free Piano Lessons! 

 3) The final component is musical events

In our Church and in our community, there are endless opportunities (often Free!) to attend concerts, or to be in events like Christmas Nativity plays. These opportunities round out our music education.

Our local music conservatory has performances by students, too, and some of them are free! Contact your local conservatory to see if they offer free student recitals.

As you can see, teaching music in home school can be really easy for a parent, fun, and free!

Check out my other Home Schooling Posts
Teach Reading with Confidence: Homeschool for Cheap or Free
Design Your Own Mini Unit Study 
Home School for Cheap or Free: Why Greek is Better than Latin!
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Reading
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Conversation
2 1/2 Minute Homeschool Lesson Planning
10 Homeschool Lessons from ACE Curriculum 
The Perfect Homeschool Organizer  

This is being shared on
Modest Mondays
The Art of Homemaking Mondays
Trivium Tuesdays
Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays
Tuesdays with a Twist
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Coffee & Conversation
Think Tank Thursday



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