Feb 28, 2013

Budget stuff

You all know that we are moving out of the city later this year.  With the robbery, the daily issues with bullying for Princess Belle, the vandalism, the terrible neighbourhood, I have had enough of the city.  I have been doing my best to save as much as I can to get this move done.  And I will have enough to move. 

My secret wish was to move to Ontario.  The homeschool laws are SO much better there and with the changes here, I am nervous.  But no matter how I do the budget, we will be a few thousand short from having the funds to move to Ontario.  I can make a comfortable move here but as for Ontario, I can't make it happen.  So we have resigned ourselves to moving to the country here in Nova Scotia. 

There are some nice areas here and I can only hope that moving out of the city may mean that the homeschooling decision makers leave us alone.  I wish I could come up with some way of making more money to save, but as much as I try, there isn't any. 

The thing is, if it weren' t for the homeschooling worries, I would be thrilled to be moving to other parts of Nova Scotia, they are beautiful and the people are so friendly.  I am just really scared of having homeschool issues and I CAN'T make Princess Belle face public school again.  I WON'T do that to her!

Feb 27, 2013

Cinnamon Bread

I wanted to make something new and yummy for breakfast today and so I thought I would try this new recipe.  It was a yummy cinnamon swirl bread that was a big hit with kids and adults alike! The kids like it with peanut butter but it is really good with just a little butter too.

Cinnamon Bread


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice (combine with milk, let sit 10 min)
1/4 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons margarine


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9x5 inch loaf pan.

2. Measure flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt, milk mixture, shortening, eggs and vanilla into large mixing bowl. Beat 3 minutes. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Smooth top.

3. Combine 2 tablespoons white sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and butter, mixing until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over smoothed batter. Using knife, cut in a light swirling motion to give a marbled effect.

4. Bake for about 50 minutes. Test with toothpick. When inserted it should come out clean. Remove bread from pan to rack to cool

Wordless Wednesday: Handsome Little Prince

Wordless Wednesdays
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Feb 26, 2013

Coconut Macaroons (Paleo/Primal)

Coconut Macaroons (Paleo/Primal)

Oil spray for greasing baking sheet
4 egg whites, at room temperature
2/3 cups granular sugar substitute or 1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated unsweetened coconut
1/6 cup sliced almonds


Heat oven to 325F.
Spray two baking sheets with oil spray.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites until medium peaks form.
Gradually beat in sugar substitute, vanilla extract and salt.
Turn speed up to high and continue beating until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in remaining ingredients.
Drop tablespoon-sized mounds of mixture onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake 15 minutes.
Cool on sheets 1 minute before carefully transfering to wire racks to cool completely

Tackle it Tuesday

(click the pic above to get to other Tackles for this week)
I have one area of the house that is NOT organized.  It is the room that everything gets put into when it has no place to go in this house that is WAY too small.  It is my bedroom, home office, storage area and general place to hang out when Little Prince is sleeping.  I like to use bookshelves for my clothes instead of dressers.  I use dressers in other areas for other things, but I do not like to put my clothes in them.  But then, in a room that has a lot of people going in and out of, my clothes get messed up. Stuff gets piled on it, and it begins to look shameful, embarressingly messy, like the pic below. The only reason I am showing it at all is because I have a better picture to follow.

So, I made a trip to the dollar store and found some storage solutions. I began to purge some clothes that were now too big since I have been losing weight and I began to organize the piles again and this is what I came up with.

The top shelf has one basket for casual shirts and one for dressy shirts.  The second shelf has one basket for jeans and one for casual pants.  And the bottom shelf has a basket for jammies and one for summer things that I can't wear right now.  The little box with the lid has all my unmentionables and the little boxes organize the other clutter.  One for my makeup and shampoo, one for other odds and ends like the measuring tape, picture hanging kit and studfinder, and one for my homeschooling bits likes pencils, pens, crayons and erasers.  All in all, it looks great.  Every container came from the dollar store, but they are all canvas and look great!  The whole thing cost me less than $20!

I LOVE this and Prince Charming said that this looks so good, I could do his too.  LOL

Feb 25, 2013

11 Months Old!

Little Prince is 11 months old can you believe it?  He will be a full year old next month.  Time has flown by so fast.  My happy, cuddly little boy is the perfect addition to our family and all the girls adore him completely.

Feb 24, 2013

Traditional Irish Stew

It may be a bit cliche, but I think the perfect thing to have for supper on St. Patrick's Day is a traditional Irish Stew;

Traditional Irish Stew

Serves: 8

1 pound lamb stew meat
3 pounds potatoes
1/2 pound parsnips (carrots can be used)
2 or 3 onions
Oil for sauteeing
1 tablespoon brown sugar
480ml liquid stock (equal parts cooking wine and water)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
5 bay leaves
1 teaspoon basil

1. Brown onions and meat in oil.
2. Slice parsnips (or carrots) saute them and add little bit of brown sugar to glaze.
3. Slice potatoes and put in large pot along with meat and onions.
4. Add liquid stock, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and basil.
5. Add parsnips (or carrots)
6. Cook for 1 1/2 hours
Serve with Irish soda bread.

Gratitude Sunday

Gratitude Sunday
Sunday's heart felt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.

My list of gratitudes for this week:
  • a cuddly baby boy who slept in until almost 8 o'clock this morning so I got to wake up on my own.
  • meeting a friendly neighbour who has four children like I do.
  • a clean kitchen that is starting to be a better reflection of and my tastes
  • quiet evenings with Prince Charming planning our life together in the country after our move later this year.
  • friends who may be near or far who are always in my heart.
  • children who love each other and play together constantly.
  • quiet mornings cuddling my baby boy before the hustle and bustle of the day starts.
  • Good coffee in the morning and tasty tea in the evenings.
  • thrift shops that carry lovely vintage items like pretty fabrics and this tea set
  • a diet that is finally feeling comfortable for me.
  • getting my house a little under control.

The House Where a Child is Loved

Feb 23, 2013

Irish Tea Brack

Since St. Patrick's Day is coming up, I have been thinking of doing a special day that day like I did for Valentines day. 

I am going to do some baking such as muffins and cookies, but I would like to do some traditional Irish foods as well.  One of the things I am going to try is Irish Tea Brack.

Barm Brack or Tea Brack is a a sort of cross between cake and bread.  The word Brack comes from an old Irish word, ‘breac‘, meaning speckled. Barm (often is pronounced Barn) is thought by some to be from an old English word ‘beorma‘ meaning yeasty. Others say it is a mispronunciation of ‘aran’, which means bread. Aran Breac would have meant Speckled bread, so that version makes sense to me.

Traditionally small items are mixed into the brack before it is baked, each with a message or prediction for the person who gets it in a slice. The items always include a ring, which predicts a wedding within the year, but any or all of the following are sometimes included.
 ■a coin for wealth
 ■a small piece of cloth for poverty
 ■a pea for plenty
 ■a thimble for a spinster
 ■a button for a bachelor
 ■a matchstick to beat your husband/wife (perhaps leave that one out, I ‘m not sure it sends a good message!)

If you are using any of these items, wrap them well in greaseproof or waxed paper before adding them to the mix.


1½ cups Cold strong tea
2 cups flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
3 cups mixed dried fruits
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 teaspoon Grated lemon rind (optional)
1 egg


Put the tea, sugar, molasses, lemon rind and dried fruit in a bowl. Stir well, then cover and leave to soak overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease the tin with a little butter. Beat the egg and mix it thoroughly with the fruit. Sieve the flour, spices and bread soda together and stir well into the fruit mixture.

You can mix in any of the charms you are using at this point, or wait until the batter is in the tin and push them in then.

Turn the batter into the 7″ round tin, place in the oven and bake for 90 minutes. Allow the brack to cool for about 20 minutes in the tin before turning it out to cool on a wire rack. Don’t eat until completely cool.


Saturday Photohunt: Upper and Pet Portrait

The themes this week are Upper and Pet Portrait.  Now we haven't had a pet in YEARS but I do remember when we had a puppy.  I remember how excited Princess Belle was at the time.  So I went back and found a picture of them together.  AND . . . it was taken from an UPPER window.  Princess Belle is also holding tightly to the dog leash so that she can have an UPPER hand on him.

Feb 22, 2013

Moments that bring me Joy

Last night, Prince Charming and I were snuggled up under a blanket watching television together.  This is no shock, we do this most nights.  Last night, we paused the television to chat for a moment (again no shock, we have never been able to get through a whole show without chatting.  It has been known to take us 2 hours to watch a 1 hour show and it is even worse now with the kids around LOL).  But last night we got chatting for hours while our show was paused waiting for us.  We never actually watched it.  We got talking about our plans for when we move out to the country.  Things we would like to do, learn, and accomplish.  How we would like our life to look and how we plan to make it that way.  It was fun and exciting.

I LOVE early mornings with Little Prince.  I love cuddling him for a little while, and then putting him on the floor and watching him play while I take an early morning moment to enjoy my tea.  I am never thrilled to be getting out of bed early, but those mornings with Little Prince are special.  It is quiet and sweet and lovely. 

While out yesterday running some errands, I stopped in a little thrift shop and bought an old china tea pot and cups.  Princess Belle has been asking to have a real tea party with me and I knew she would be thrilled.  The tea set is beautiful and it suits my style of vintage, old fashioned country.  I am thinking I would like to collect pretty tea cups and pots from various thrift stores and things and display them in my kitchen and in a few years when Princess Belle is ready to leave home, I will et her pick out her favorite to take with her.  I also bought some cute little glass cannisters for my spices and I saw some vintage fabrics that I might be going back for.

This Moment: Tub time

A beautiful and fun Friday ritual. Inspired by SouleMama.

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. – Amanda Soule

Feb 21, 2013

A+ Tutorsoft, Inc. - TOS Crew Review

Math as always been an issue for Princess Belle so, we have different programs and approaches to try to get through the mental block that she has with regards to math. She has newly been introduced to computer usage, and is excited by it so I was happy to give A+ Interactive Math a try!

We put aside our usual program and gave the fourth grade A+ tutor soft online homeschool edition from A+ Tutorsoft, Inc. a good try.  It covers all math concepts and is divided by grade-school years, covering 1st-6th grades as well as Pre-Algebra and Algebra.  You can take the free placement test to make sure you know where to begin with your student. 

It is a simple process.
  1. You as the parent create an account with the company.  Then you log in and set up the student account and password for the student.
  2. The student logs in using this pre-created account and chooses the next lesson from the table of contents. (I sat with Princess Belle through this process as she needs guidance to keep her on task sometimes.)
  3. Watch a video presentation of the days topic which auto starts when clicking on a topic in the table of contents. (Princess Belle has little patience didn't always like watching the complete videos, but she saw the value afterwards)
  4. Chose to do an interactive Q&A session or go straight to do an online worksheet where the student answers an average of 10 questions. 
  5. Upon completion you can select to review your work or finalize the worksheet at which time you have instant feed back. (Number of questions answered, number correct, number incorrect, percentage)
  6. Sign out of the program.
  7. Each Monday a certificate is generated showing the past weeks tests and worksheets completed. 
  8. I sat with Princess Belle because she has a tendency to get sidetracked when she in on the computer, but parents do have the ability to watch any lesson that the children did.  From the parent account there is an admin page where you can review how the online worksheets and exam went: score, how long it took her to do it, which are completed and which are pending etc.

Some additional items available for free:
worksheets (Algebra 1, 3r Grade, 4th Grade, 5h Grade, 6th Grade and Pre Algebra)
-  PDF Exam sheets (Algebra 1, 3r Grade, 4th Grade, 5h Grade, 6th Grade and Pre Algebra)
multimedia lessons and Interactive problem solving
-  homework Help as part of the package.
CD demo OR an Online Demo 

Princess Belle worked on this program without complaint.  She liked the idea of working on a computer even if it meant that I had to work a little harder to keep her on task.  She liked the format and that the first part wasn't too much of a challenge for her while she was getting the hang of the program.  She liked the animated lessons and I liked that when she got something wrong, the lesson was explained to her.  The audible instruction is pleasant and pretty clear and the visual examples do enhance the lesson quite a bit. This is a great product, but I did find that I needed to work with her to provide explanations and to answer questions when she had them.

Each grade level of A+ Interactive Math is available online ($19.95 monthly, $49.99 quarterly, $124.99 yearly) or CD (standard edition - $99.99 and premium edition - $124.99). Each subscription covers one student. You can try the online homeschool edition for free for one month here.  If you decide that your children can benefit from this curriculum and are ready to purchase, feel free to use the coupon code spoffer50 for 50% off any purchase, online or software, until the end of March 2013.  How awesome is that?  You can find a button for this discount on the main website too. The creator of this curriculum also hosts another great website with various math freebies called just that, Math Freebies.  This is a solid curriculum that I warmly recommend to you.

Aplus Tutorsoft Coupon Code March 2013

If you'd like to read more reviews check out the Crew blog!

Disclaimer: I was offered a free subscription to A+ tutor soft for the sole purpose of writing an honest review. I received no other compensation and I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own and my daughter's. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.

Feb 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: LOVE these Smiles

Wordless Wednesdays
Click the pic above to get to other Wordless Wednesday Participants or go check out

Peanut Butter Cookies

I usually make the easiest ever recipe for Peanut Butter cookies.

1 cup sugar (brown is good, but you can use white)
1 egg
1 cup peanut butter

Mix, form into balls, place on cookie sheet, use fork to push down, cook at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes.

But today, I wanted to make chewy peanut butter cookies.  So I tried a new recipe:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda

Mix ingredients
Form into balls
Place on ungreased cookie sheets at least 2 inches apart (they spread!)
Use fork to push down
Cook at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
 VERY big hit with the kids!

Feb 19, 2013

Simple Muffins

I was out of eggs this morning and wanted to do some baking for the kids.  But I found this recipe to make for breakfast for the kids.  It was a huge hit! 

Simple Muffins


1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
nonstick spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl.
2. Add water and oil. Mix together. Place baking cups in a muffin pan or spray with nonstick spray.
3. Pour mixture into cups. Bake for 20 minutes.

How many you make depends on how big your pan is and how much is poured into each muffin.  I doubled the recipe and slightly overcooked my first batch in the oven. So, I cut the time back to 20 minutes and it was perfect.

Tackle it Tuesday

(click the pic above to get to other Tackles for this week)

I have been working on my kitchen.  I know I am only going to be here for about 5 months, but this kitchen is driving my crazy, so I decided to get it a little more organized.  Here is what I did

The freezer was just a jumble of mixed up things.
The freezer isn't as well organized as I would like, I have some organization items I want to get, but this is better.  The container on it side, holds all the stuff that I have saved to make broth or soup out of.  The red container holds frozen veggies.  There is bread and buns on the side of that a two little bags in the front.  
Bags and Bags of crusts of bread that I have saved to make bread pudding, strata, or stuffing.  

Bread crusts combined to one bag, margarine and frozen herbs moved to the door, and bottles of frozen broth still on the door. 

Paleo Chocolate Almondt Butter Cup and Banana Pancakes

Chocolate Almond butter and banana pancakes

  •     2 tbs. coconut flour
  •     1 tbs. flax
  •     1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  •     1/2 tsp. baking powder
  •     1 small banana
  •     2 egg whites
  •     1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond breeze
  •     1 tbs. almond butter


  1.     In a bowl combine your flax, coconut flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder making sure to rid the mix of any clumps from the cocoa powder.
  2.     Add in 1/2 of your banana mashed, the egg whites and almond breeze and mix.
  3.     Lastly add in your almond butter. 
  4.     In a skillet sprayed with olive oil spray cook your pancakes making sure to flip and cook on both sides.
  5.     Top your pancakes with the other half of the banana sliced and a drop of peanut butter!  Dessert for Breakfast is Served!

Makes 1 serving (4 small to medium sized pancakes)

Feb 18, 2013

Chinese New Year celebration feast

We had our Chinese New Year celebration feast last week to end our study on China.  It was fun.  I have been meaning to share some of the pics.  (the food was North American Chinese, not really authentic food from China as that is what Prince Charming requested, I may cook some more authentic Chinese food another day for fun)

Here are some decorations Princess Belle made:
 Opening their red envelopes filled with money (chocolate coins)
 Princess Belle drew snakes because it is the year of the snake.  We made each child a red envelope and put the animal from the year they were born on it.
 We bought some Chinese takeout boxes for fun
 Everyone dressed in red as that is the lucky color.