Summer's End

It is almost time to till up our summer garden. I found these beauties in it this week:
Summer garden


Poppin's Book Nook ~ The Most Famous Pirates

Affiliate links are included in this post. 
The theme for this month's Poppin's Book Nook is "Ye Olde Pirates." 

Last week while the girls were at their driver's training class, my son and I spent two mornings at the library. I began to organize our fall lesson plans and visited with a friend. He read, played, and visited my friend's son. With a little help, he found a small stack of pirate books. We also had a little discussion about card catalogs and the way things used to be. The Most Famous Pirates (Amazon link) was his favorite of the books that he found that day. 

The Most Famous Pirates by Cindy Jenson-Elliott includes short biographies of more than ten pirates and historical facts about piracy "through the ages." Additional resources at the end of the book enhance further study. A glossary, list of related books, and internet links are included. Joseph read the short stories then shared with me about them. We are reviewing the audio book Under Drake's Flag which we received the night before that library trip and had just started listening to that morning. Joseph found Sir Francis Drake in that book. He also recognized Blackbeard and the Barbarossa Brothers. 

Other pirate books that he found interesting included Real PiratesA Year on a Pirate Ship (Time Goes By)Discovering Pirates (more Amazon links.) The Brinkman Adventures audio which we reviewed earlier this year also includes a pirate tale.

We are continuing to enjoy chalk art, both in hair and on paper. I thought my daughter's picture below tied in well with the overall theme. 

pirate ship art

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God's Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy's Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy's Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A "Peace" of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

Be sure to enter the giveaway at Chestnut Grove Academy.


Scripture & A Snapshot

green fig growing
Now when David had passed a little beyond the summit, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him with a couple of saddled donkeys, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred summer fruits, and a jug of wine.  2 Samuel 16:1
     I'm way behind in my Bible reading plan. We read a book from the OT and then the NT, repeat, and should be through the entire Bible in one year. I should be in Ezra by now. Instead I'm still reading 1st Kings. But you know, no matter which schedule I follow, God's Word is living and active and speaks to me. I just finished reading about David. God provided for him and protected him against entire armies. The Psalms he wrote still bless me. We have been harvesting an abundannce of summer fruits on the farm. It is fascinating to imagine, as we pick figs, that someone might have picked them for David hundreds of years ago.

     What verses are blessing you this week? Add a link to your own post sharing a Scripture and a snapshot or leave a comment with a verse that God has placed on your heart this week. Then take time to visit some of the other links, too. Thank you for joining Scripture & A Snapshot. 

Scripture and Snapshot

This was taken near the beginning of our first attempt drying figs. If you have fresh figs, you might be interested in these muffins, too.


Virtual Refrigerator

Welcome to another week of the Virtual Refrigerator. Our weekly blog hop is co-hosted by Angels of HeartEvery Bed of RosesHomeschool Coffee Break, and a Glimpse of our Life. Link up your art tutorials or projects that your children have been working on. Then pin the same to our virtual fridge by joining our group pinterest board, just ask any of us to add you.

Last Friday we had plans to spend the day at the beach with friends. It stormed. A sweet friend brightened our day with an invitation to join her family and tie dye t-shirts. She even had everything prepared! All we had to do was find white t-shirts. It turned into a very fun and colorful morning. We dyed shirts. She dyed shirts, beach towels, even fabric. Next time I want to dye pillowcases.

The colors changed a bit when we washed them, but I'm still delighted with how they all turned out. I planned to get a picture of my son wearing his, but I forgot and it is now in the washing machine. Have you ever tie dyed anything?

Join us at the blogs of any of the four bloggers who are hosting the Virtual Refrigerator. Link up, visit others who join us, try something new, then come back and share that, too.

Click these links to visit the co-hosts' blogs.    


    An InLinkz Link-up

While the Girls were at Driver's Ed...

My son and I found this fun place:

Linked to Wordless Wednesdayhttp://www.create-with-joy.com5minutesformom,


Homeschool Piano

The following resources were provided by HomeschoolPiano for the purpose of this TOS Schoolhouse Crew review.

Do your children want to learn how to play the piano? Do you? Or maybe your child can already play but wants to learn how to compose music. Homeschool Piano with Willie Myette may be just what you need. Homeschool Piano is a subscription program that gives you access to online piano lessons.  Access was also provided to all three "Books" of lessons: Homeschool Piano - Complete Set of Books which range from their Core piano for absolute beginners to book 3 at an intermediate level which includes concepts like syncopation and advanced scales for improvisation. 

My son enjoys composing music. I love listening to him just sit and create at the piano or his guitar. It doesn't always end up a complete song. He doesn't always record them. But when he likes the way it sounds and he works at it, he can come up with pieces that to me sound quite amazing. HomeschoolPiano seemed just right for him the more and more that I read about it, and I was right. The improv lessons built right into the program are teaching him so much about composing music, and he is continuing to improve. He is now in the middle of the second unit and continuing to make progress. 

One of my favorite features of  HomeschoolPiano is the ability to view the lessons over and over again. We have. We all watch, one child tries out the techniques on our keyboard, we watch again, another one tries it, and on another day we watch it yet again. At any point, we have been free to move back and review or move forward and watch lessons out of order. Each unit includes seven lessons with video, ebook, and quizzes. 

Each of the three units includes a corresponding book as a pdf download (about 50 pages each) which can be printed or read as an ebook. 

HomeSchoolPiano currently offers two payment packages with pricing as follows:

  • Success Package (One payment of $299) which includes unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students. 
  • Payment Plan (Payments of $99.97 per month for three months): which includes unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students. 
CorePiano = absolute beginner 
Book 1 = beginner, maybe brushing the dust off and coming back to piano
Book 2 = beginner to intermediate (starts incorporating more complicated concepts, songs and improvisation ideas)
Book 3 = intermediate (toward the end of this book we are getting into concepts like syncopation, voice leading and more advanced scales for improvisation)

All ages can benefit from using Homeschool Piano and students of all abilities can learn at their own pace. 

The Homeschool Piano method is a 6-step cycle covering the fundamentals of:

  • technique
  • rhythm
  • ear training
  • improvisation
  • song
  • reading

Lessons which range from 3-10 minutes in length may be viewed on mobile devices, tablets, laptops or desktops, and songs may be practiced on a piano or keyboard with at least 49 full sized keys. Click here to read more about equipment. After viewing the video lessons, students may have a lesson quiz or corresponding pages in the downloaded book. 

Homeschool Piano offered selected Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewers a lifetime subscription for up to five students on each account. All of my children were able to access this, but my son is the one who has benefited the most. He is listening attentively, trying out the recommended scales, trying new things. I am so happy with his progress using HomeschoolPiano. 

Are you skeptical of the outcomes with online piano lessons? Try it out for yourself; they offer a free trial! Click here to see if your equipment meets their requirements. Connect with HomeschoolPiano on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Youtube.

Click on the banner below to read the Crew Reviews:

Click to read Crew Reviews



Fresh Fig Muffins with Lifeway Kefir

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

moist fig muffins with kefir

Blueberry season is almost over. Pears are ripening on the trees. Right now, we have an abundance of figs on our farm. After picking figs last year, I discovered that there are not many fresh fig recipes online. Most call for dried figs. I've tried dehydrating them, but I've also had fun experimenting with new recipes. One of the few recipes I found that uses fresh figs is fig cookies. They were a hit with our family and friends. 

This year, we are recreating old favorite recipes to use fresh picked fruit as much as we can. Lifeway Kefir can replace milk, buttermilk, and even water for a nutritious boost of probiotics to homemade recipes; for instance blueberry kefir is a perfect addition to blueberry muffins or blueberry smoothies. Even the flavor of a boxed cake mix can be enhanced by replacing the water with an equal amount of Lifeway Kefir. What #KefirCreations would you like to try? 

My growing son seems to always be hungry, and I try to plan healthy options for his snacks. The kids went with me to our local Winn Dixie. We shopped for Lifeway Kefir 32oz Lowfat Cultured Milk Smoothies and a few more supplies for biscuits, homemade fig jam, and these fresh fig muffins. Lifeway Kefir was right in the center of the dairy aisle, and they had four varieties. This time, the kids chose raspberry and strawberry-banana flavors. Plain, strawberry, and blueberry are other options. We have tried them all. The plain is the most versatile in recipes, but the kids like drinking the fruit flavored ones best. Our family has enjoyed drinking kefir since Grandmommie introduced it to us a few years ago. My son's favorite kefir flavor is strawberry. For this #CollectiveBias shop, we used the $1 off coupon we printed at home after signing up through this link on their website.


"Lifeway Kefir enhances feelings of well-being for you and your family. Lifeway Kefir is a smooth, tart, refreshing cousin of yogurt, often thought of as the “Champagne of Dairy.” Originating in Eastern Europe over 2000 years ago, kefir’s probiotic cultures have long been enhancing feelings of well-being. Lifeway Kefir contains 12 live and active Probiotic cultures that support the immune system and balance digestive health. It is naturally Gluten Free, 99% Lactose Free and contains No Artificial Sweeteners and is rich in Calcium. Lifeway also only uses milk that comes from cows that are not treated with pesticides, antibiotics, or synthetic growth hormones. The cows are grass fed and GMO free."

Inspired by our favorite fig cookie and blueberry muffin recipes, my oldest daughter helped me create these fresh fig muffins. 

how to use fresh figs

Fresh Fig Muffins


4 cups flour (we use three parts whole wheat flour to one part white all purpose flour)
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon lemon peel, cardamom, cinnamon, or your favorite spice 
1 cup melted butter (add salt if using unsalted butter)
1 cup Lifeway Kefir Cultured Milk Smoothie
2 eggs
2 teaspoons almond extract
4 cups diced fresh figs
1/3 cup sugar for topping

fig muffin recipe


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients; stir gently just until mixed. Add fruit. Scoop approximately 1/2 cup of batter into cupcake/muffin pan. Paper liners make cleanup much easier. After the first pan, my daughter remembered we had walnuts. 1/4 cup chopped walnuts was mixed into half of the batter. This recipe can easily be varied with different fruit or nuts. Be very generous with the sugar on top. It makes a crispy topping on top of a perfectly moist muffin. This recipe makes 24 large muffins. Bake 20-25 minutes until they begin to brown on top. 

muffins with jam and clotted cream

The crispy sweet topped moist muffin paired perfectly with a glass of tangy Lifeway kefir. We topped them with raspberry fig jam and clotted cream. My daughter shared muffins with Grandmommie and Pappy. Everyone who has tried these has liked them. We will be repeating this recipe! We enjoyed these for Sunday morning breakfast and plan to grab them for a quick breakfast as we leave early in the morning for the girls' driver's ed class. 

Disclosure:  I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This is a sponsored post for #CBias. All opinions are my own. 


Scripture & A Snapshot

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:14

My son got two new fish in his fish tank Friday. Saturday morning they were dead. There is so much uncertain in this life. I am thankful for each day, each minute. Earlier this week my son asked if we could have unplugged time. He suggested an entire week. We started with one afternoon, but I think it is going to become a family habit. More time together without screens distracting us benefits everyone. The days are going by so fast. 

     Thank you for joining Scripture & A Snapshot. Leave a comment with a verse that God has placed on your heart this week, or leave a link to your own post sharing a Scripture and a snapshot. Please take time to visit some of the other links, too.
Scripture and Snapshot


5 Minute Friday: Bloom

"Throw caution to the wind and just write without worrying if it’s just right...Just five minutes."

As I read Lisa-Jo's post, I thought the word would be storm. Thoughts started circling through my mind of storms I've weathered and storms we are currently experiencing. And then, I kept reading, and her delightful sunshiny pictures of daisies revealed the prompt. bloom

Bloom. Refreshing. The second time this hour my thoughts have suddenly been changed from stormy to happy. I've been trying to teach my son to be more optimistic lately. I wonder if I could redirect his thoughts so quickly. Attitude makes such a difference in how we approach the day. Do you see the storm or focus on the flowers that are sure to bloom after the rain? My focus hasn't been constant lately. I'm filled with thoughts of kids growing faster than I can keep up, planning high school, upcoming drivers ed for the girls, we seem to go go go. I want to slow down. I want to watch them bloom.

A song from my childhood comes to mind. Lord I'm keeping my eyes on you. My 5 minutes are up. I'll find a link to that song to close.

Five Minute Friday
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