Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Dinner!

Every year on Halloween I make a themed dinner which is always a big hit. This year, I decided not to wait until Halloween night. I thought it would be fun to have a Halloween themed dinner once a week. I also wanted to enlist the help of my 6 year old, Buttercup.

This was our first dinner! Buttercup and I planned the whole thing. We looked up different ideas and made a list of the ingredients we would need. We kept the whole thing a secret from her sister and Dad. We wanted to surprise them with a spooky dinner.

They got in on the fun too and were happy to just sit on the couch watching TV while Buttercup and I cooked did all the cooking.

We made "Blood and snakes" for the main course. That translates to Tomato Soup and Breadsticks. Then we had Jack O'Lantern sandwiches and Pumpkin Spice cookies for dessert.

I got the inspiration for this dinner from, this is the direct link to their recipe. As always, I didn't have the exact ingredients, so I changed it up a bit.

Here's my own version of Blood and Snakes.

  • 1 can of refrigerated breadstick dough (I think there were 5 or 6 in the can which was just right for my family. If you have a larger family I suggest 2 cans)
  • 1 large container of tomato soup (I used Wegman's brand) not concentrate (I hate those that you have to add water)
  • 2 or 3 red gumdrops

  1. Place foil on a cookie sheet.
  2. Unroll the breadstick dough and separate them.
  3. Roll each strip into a rope (I did this with my hands).
  4. Arrange the rope like a snake on the lined cookie sheet.
  5. Bake according to the package directions.
  6. Once the breadsticks are done and cooled, you're ready to decorate it with eyes and a tongue.
  7. Roll out the gumdrops to flatten them.
  8. Using a knife, cut out the tongue shape.
  9. Using a knife, make a small opening in the breadstick where the tongue will be, and place it there.
  10. Roll tiny gumdrop eyes and place them on the breadsticks. Gumdrops are sticky so you shouldn't have any problems attaching them.
  11. Heat the soup and serve with the breadsticks!

Here's how they turned out. I don't have pictures of the making process, but it was really easy.

 Jack O'Lantern sandwiches, also from, direct link to recipe.

  • 1 box refrigerated pie crusts (there are two in the box, I only used one)
  • Thinly sliced ham
  • Thinly sliced munster cheese (any other cheese will do)
  • 1 egg yolk beaten

  1. Roll out the pie crust and roll it a little bit thinner than how it is packaged.
  2. Using a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter, make the shape cut outs for your sandwiches.
  3. Make sure to cut an even number  because you will need a top and bottom.
  4. Cover a cookie sheet with foil.
  5. Cut out eyes and mouth on half of your cut outs.
  6. Place a cut out on the cookie sheet, top it with some cheese, then ham, then place a cut out (the one with eyes) on top.
  7. With your fingers, pinch the top and bottom dough to seal it.
  8. Repeat 6 and 7 for all your sandwiches.
  9. Using a pastry brush, spread some egg yolk on the dough.
  10. Place in oven and bake according to package directions.

The pumpkin spice cookies were made from a package. Next time, they'll be homemade! I put whipped cream on top of the warm cookies and sprinkled some cinnamon on it. Yum!!

This was such a fun meal! Everyone enjoyed it and it helped us get in the Halloween spirit.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Georgia State Lesson with FREE download

I am so happy to be sharing this lesson with you. As many of you may already know, I follow a basically eclectic method of homeschooling. I don't buy curriculum, I don't strictly follow any method. I do what feels right. That's not to say that I don't plan our lessons or have a structured school day. I do! Structure, planning and organization are all a very important part of who I am as a person and everything that I do. So homeschooling is no different. However, I do feel that homeschool can and should be more about the child's interests. When it comes to certain subjects I definitely let Buttercup give her input. As I was planning our school year (yes, my school year is basically planned out! Shocking isn't it?), Buttercup and I talked about studying countries of the world and states of the United States. I wanted her History/Geography lessons to be varied and not just focus on one thing. We are not trying to cover all of the states nor are we trying to learn about every single country in the world. That would not be realistic or fun. We looked through a book about the US and I let Buttercup choose which states she wanted to learn.  One of the states she chose was Georgia. That brings me to the reason for my post.

I started to research about Georgia and put together some basic information and activities. I really love how it turned out. Buttercup and I worked on this lesson over a few days, maybe even a week. She learned so much about Georgia (actually, I did too!). She now really wants to visit Georgia. And since we are a road trip loving family, I think we are going to add Georgia as a destination on our next road trip. How awesome is that! This is what I love about the learning process.

Ok, so we started with looking at a  map and seeing where Georgia is located in the US. Then we figured out which states border Georgia.

We learned the Georgia abbreviation, state flower, state bird and state tree.  Georgia Lesson Free Download.

We studied some important people who were born in Georgia and went on to do great things.

We learned why Georgia is called the Peach State. We wanted to make peach pie but I couldn't find peaches. But if you do this lesson, I highly recommend it.

We found out that Georgia is home to the world's largest aquarium. Georgia Lesson Free Download

We learned that Georgia is a pretty cool place and we will be visiting soon, not just driving through as we've done in the past.

I have compiled everything we did into a lesson that is easy to follow. I even included some games and coloring pages! You can download it for FREE here.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Casper's Scare School Review and GIVEAWAY!

Photo Credit Classic Media
I recently had the pleasure to watch and review the first season of Casper's Scare School. With Halloween coming up, I thought it was the perfect time to watch this series. Casper's Scare School is a CGI animated series starring Casper the Friendly Ghost.The first season premiered on Cartoon Network in 2009 and this year a second season will air starting in October.

I remember that my older daughter used to love to watch the Casper movies when she was little. This time around I watched the episodes with my little one, Buttercup.

She absolutely loved it. She's 7 years old and thought that Casper's Scare School was so much fun. We both loved the characters; they are well done and just scary looking enough. However, they are not so scary that young kids would be afraid.

Like most kids, Casper loves hanging out with friends — but his friends are real monsters! And at Scare School, where they have been “molding monstrous minds for 10,000 years,” that’s a good thing. In fact, the scarier the better! Whether howling at the moon, or taking off their arms to literally ‘lend a hand,’ these are definitely not your average students and Casper is no ordinary ghost. He’s a unique spirit who’d rather make friends than frighten, and he just doesn’t understand why humans (a.k.a. “fleshies”) and creatures can't get along, especially since his best friend IS a “fleshie”! Casper’s determination to be a friendly ghost makes his education at Scare School a challenge, but with his big heart and the support of his friends, Casper is sure to succeed no matter what obstacles head his way.
With the start of a brand new school year, Casper’s adventures at Scare School have gotten a whole lot crazier, a whole lot creepier and even more “fleshie”-frightening than ever before! So get ready because Season 2 of Casper’s Scare School is filled with enchanted ghost ships, possessed jack-in-the-boxes, mischievous superheroes, herds of Bog Monsters, boys that turn into ghosts and werewolves that want to be boys…and that’s just the beginning!
Be sure to check out Casper's Scare School on Cartoon Network starting October 2, 2012! The series, starring everyone’s favorite ghost,Casper the Friendly Ghost®, features twelve-minute episodes that will air Monday through Friday at 11:00 a.m. EST/PST.

Classic Media has generously offered 2 lucky Adventures of a Homeschool Mom readers their own copy of Casper's Scare School Season One DVD.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chalkboard paint rocks!!

I live in an old house. There is definitely charm to some of the original features like the wood trim around doors and windows. But anyone who lives in a really old house knows that some of the materials used back then are just not that nice. In my house it's the doors. They are a dark, cheap looking wood. They are also super thin. I hate them. I wish I could change them all, but that would be way too expensive and totally not worth it.

Well, I see all kinds of projects with chalkboard paint on the internet, especially on Pinterest. Of course, I can't chalkboard paint everydoor in my house, that would look horrendous. But I did come up with a way to spruce up one door; the pantry door.

I purchase a small can of chalkboard paint and the other materials I would need. I taped the area of the door that I would be painting. I should have put a coat of primer, but if you've been reading this blog long enough, you know that I am not very patient at all, so I skipped the primer.

I put on 3 coats of chalkboard paint, letting each coat dry for about 2 hours. That was torture for me, let me tell you.

The next day, once the paint was nice and dry, I peeled off the tape. The back of the paint can says to wait 72 hours before writing on it. Thankfully, I did not have any chalk at home so I was forced to wait.
Ugly door!
Attention to detail.

Finished door.
All in all, I am very pleased with the turn out. The door is till kind of ugly but now the focus is more on the chalkboard, less on the ugliness! And it's great to write notes on!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Show Me a Story Book Review and Giveaway!!

I'm so honored to be doing a review for Show Me a Story by Emily K. Neuburger. Ms. Neuburger is a teacher and crafter who compiled over 40 activities into this book with the intent to spark kids' imaginations.

She couldn't have done a better job in choosing the activities. The projects are creative, inclusive and hands on. They encourage thinking, discussion and participation.

One of my favorite things about this book is that it encourages play as a way to spark imagination. I strongly believe that imagination is a stepping stone to good writing.

The book is divided into 4 sections: Story Starters, Story Evolution, Story Activities, and Story Play. They can be done consecutively or randomly. I started with the first section because it made sense for us to start with a simple, easy activity.

As a homeschool mom to a very creative 2nd grader, I never thought writing would be a challenge. Boy, was I wrong. This year started with a big roadblock called writing. My daughter simply refused to write.

When I was asked to review Show Me a Story, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try something new, something different. And I could put this book to the test with a real life challenge.

We started with story disks. I made them with card stock instead of wood and it worked just fine. We used to pictures on the disks to create all kinds of stories; silly ones, funny ones, realistic ones.

As we got more comfortable with the book, I decided to jump around and try different activities. We tried writing simple things, like a list of favorite toys, coming up with and writing down the toys character traits, and more.

Now that the focus has shifted from the mechanical aspect of writing to creativity, the roadblock is gone. No more tears!!

Emily Neuburger is graciously offering one lucky Adventures of a Homeschool Mom reader a copy of her book. US residents only please!

The GIVEAWAY is simple! Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Allow a few seconds for the form to load. The giveaway will run from 10/17/12 to 10/24/12, so hurry and enter to win!" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Recipes around the web!

Last week I posted some of my favorite Fall decoration ideas; beautiful things I've seen around blogs that I follow.

As the weather turns colder, I can't help but think about all the yummy comfort foods I love to eat. And there are plenty of great recipes out there and I wanted to share with you some that caught my eye.

One of my favorite things to make when its cold outside is SOUP. You really can't beat soup for that blanket of warmth it provides. This Curried Butternut Squash and Lentil soup has it all, it's got spice, it's creamy, and it's healthy. Check out the recipe at Eat Live Run.

This is a new one for me, Pumpkin Carrot Loaf, but boy doesn't it look good? Recipe via Food and Whine

This next recipe comes from Chocolate Chocolate and More and it's a Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake. Love it! It's perfect for this time of year. In fact, I think I will make this for Thanksgiving this year just to change things up.

Now, I have to say I'm not a huge rice krispies treat fan, but I thought this Thanksgiving treat over at Meaningful Mama was so cute, I had to share!


Here's another fun Halloween treat to make with your kids....zombie eyeball cookies via Life as a Lofthouse.
Loving this idea to carve out bread like a pumpkin and fill it with chili or soup! Check out the recipe at Kellis Retro Kitchen Arts!
Well, folks, that's it for now. I have to get in the kitchen and start trying some of these recipes! In the meantime, I would love, love, love for you to share some of your favorite Fall, Halloween, or Thanksgiving recipes!! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2nd Grade Christopher Columbus lesson

This week we focused our History lessons on Christopher Columbus (quite appropriate, wouldn't you say?)

I would love to say that I planned this informative, fun filled week of history. But I can't. Since I decided at the last minute to do a unit on Christopher Columbus, I really didn't have enough time to plan out a great lesson. So off to the internet I go in search of kid friendly information and some fun activities.

I was so lucky to come across a couple of free sites that had some really great information. So, I compiled what I liked and put together my own lesson to make a complete study of Columbus. Everything you need to teach your kids about Christopher Columbus at the elementary school level is right here. Buttercup is doing 2nd grade work, but I think this lesson would be great for a 1st grade level or even a 3rd grade level.

And I am thrilled to let you know that I found the story here and the puzzles and coloring pages here.

I gathered information and activities from both sites and here's what I got:

  • A simple story with illustrations
  • A worksheet with fill in the blanks and matching activities
  • A lesson on past tense verbs
  • Two word scramble games
  • A search and find word game
  • Three pages for coloring (Columbus' three ships)
I thought the story was a little simple for my 2nd grader, but it was fun talking about what she read. We took it a step further and got out a huge map of the world and Buttercup showed me where Columbus left from and where he wanted to go. Then she showed me where he wound up.

I really liked the writing activities; they were not too long or boring, just enough to keep her interested. Since Buttercup loves puzzles, I knew she'd have no problem with the 3 that were included. Puzzles are like a treat for her, she doesn't think of them as work, even word puzzles! Yay, I love that about her.

Of course, her favorite part was the coloring. Even I got in on the fun!!

So if you're looking for some great but simple ways to teach your kids about Columbus, I highly recommend this lesson.

 These are the free sites I used, TeacherVision and Classroom Jr.

Disclosure: I found these sites on my own and was not asked to do a review. I'm simply spreading the love, because I truly think this was an awesome find.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spooky Halloween candle holders

Buttercup and I made these candle holders last year which we are using again this year because we love them. They were super easy to make!

For one of them we used a Smucker's Jam jar. The other two are from the dollar store.

We made simple cut outs for the eyes, nose and mouth. Buttercup cut triangles for the eyes and nose and I did the mouth, since the cuts were more difficult to make.

We taped the shapes on the glass jars and painted them orange. That's it. I think a second coat would make it darker and then the effect with the lit candle would be better.

We are using tiny battery operated lights instead of candles, so Buttercup can turn them on and off whenever she wants and I don't worry about her burning her little fingers!

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall project ideas!

It seems that without any warning whatsoever, Fall has snuck up on us here in the Northeast. I like Fall but I do enjoy the gradual change in temperatures.  Oh well! Here we are and I've been seeing a lot of posts with awesome Fall and Halloween project ideas as well as some really great recipes. I want to share with you some of my favorites. In this blog post, I'll focus on arts and crafts and decorating ideas for Fall.

For an elegant Fall table setting, this one over at The Cards We Drew has got to be my favorite.

For an easy, fun Fall/Halloween project to do with your kids, check out this beautiful centerpiece from The Penny Parlor. She uses dollar store pumpkins and paints them gold for a super cute, different look.

Another super easy project that will get your kids involved and make your house look nice for the Fall, thanks to Spoonful for this toilet paper roll pumpkin project.

I just love these beautiful candles from livelaughrowe. Absolutely gorgeous and her tutorial is easy to follow. I'll definitely be making these to decorate my dining room table!

For a different take on garland, I love this from Craft Interrupted. Pom Pom garland to decorate your mantle or doorway.  I'm not really good at making pom poms, but I think I'll give it a try. Jaimee and Tiffany have other amazing Fall decor ideas too!
I hope these ideas get your imagination going! I know I will be trying some of these crafts out.

Monday, October 1, 2012

CNN article on homeschooling

A couple of months ago I was approached by CNN to write an article about homeschooling for their Schools of Thought blog. My first reaction was "Yes!Yes!Yes!", my immediate second reaction was "Why me? Who am I to write for CNN?" Afterall, I am just a homeschooling mom blogger. I am certainly not an expert on homeschooling. Like I've said many times before, I fell into this thing and am finding my way every single day.

I talked to my husband about it and thought long and hard about it. I finally decided to do it. Mostly because I thought it would be a great challenge for me.

The folks at CNN asked me for a few topic ideas. I came up with topics such as why I chose to homeschool, the challenges of homeschooling, myths about homeschooling and a few others. They chose myths about homeschooling.

Since the title of the article would be "My views: ......", I decided that would be exactly what I wrote about. I wrote an article that shared my own views and experiences. I did not write an article full of facts or statistical data. That is not what I set out to do. I set out to give my opinion. I wrote about the issues/myths I faced as a homeschooling parent. Not anyone else's.

I was very happy with the end result. I happily sent it off to CNN and they loved it as well.

This morning I received an email from CNN letting me know that my article was published and it was a front page feature on their blog. I was so excited. I had never seen my own writing on anything other than my own blog. This was a big accomplishment for me. Those feelings of pride and happiness quickly turned into feelings of frustration, anger, and defensiveness.

I've always known that homeschooling is a hot topic. I just never realized how close- minded, bigotted and down right mean people can be. I sat at my computer in tears as I read many horrible comments; attacks on me personally and people completely twisting my words.

I wanted to respond to those people, to let them know that there were no statistics because these were my opinions, my personal experience. I wanted to let them know that I am not trying to control what my child learns, instead I want to open up her world to all the possibilities. I wanted to make them understand that I respect all religions and I am not a religious zealot. I realized that none of that would matter. I cannot change people's minds.

I sat and read through all of the comments and there were over 350 by the time I decided to close the computer. I respect people's opinions and the fact that not every one agrees with homeschooling or any other topic. My problem is not the fact that people expressed differing opinions. I was distraught by the level of rudeness and ignorance.

Amidst all of that, there were positive comments; homeschooling parents that have faced some of the same things. I appreciated those comments. There were also comments from non homeschooling parents who are objective and non judgemental. I welcomed their points of view as well.

Here is my article if you are interested, CNN. I had hoped to dispel some ridiculous myths about homeschoolers. But the truth is, those close-minded people will never accept any ideas other than their own. They will always be close-minded. They will always judge without knowing. They will always be afraid to challenge the status quo.

After all is said and one, I still believe that my decision to homeschool is the right choice for us. I am grateful for all of those who support homeschooling and I welcome healthy dialog on the topic.

As always.....Happy Homeschooling Adventures!