Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2015

The blog has been quiet as we battled much sickness over the past two weeks. Influenza and its associated problems eclipsed our Christmas.

Several blog posts, looking back at 2014, have been scrapped. I have looked over the posts that won top views from this past year, and most have to do with fun projects that we have done for Science and History. There are also several recipes that made it into the top ten.

For 2015, there are several different areas this blog will be focusing on. Fun stuff. I want to really be a help to other families out there. I don't consider myself an expert on anything really...but I do find some fun and helpful stuff, and I plan on sharing it here. Perhaps it will be a help to someone else!

Here are a few areas that I will promote on the blog in 2015:

  1. Review from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew - checking out new curriculum and home school materials, and showing you how they worked in our family.
  2. From My Bookshelf: Periodic reviews of books we are currently reading.
  3. Family Movie Night: Periodic reviews of new movies we find. I know how hard it is to find movies that will stay in tune with our conservative Christian family values. When I find them, I will share about them.
  4. Family Game Night: Fun new games that we come across.
  5. Organized Home Project: I am joining up with a 34 week decluttering and organizing project and will share results and ideas here.
  6. Recipes - I will continue to share allergy friendly recipes as we create them.

If you are not a current follower of the blog, I recommend signing up to follow by email (you'll find the spot to do this on the right side of the page) to keep in touch!

May God give you a blessed 2015!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Two Fabulous Last Minute Christmas Gifts

This past year, we completed several reviews that turned into favorites and made our top ten list of reviews. Two of those vendors came out with new products just in time for the holidays...just in case you want to add it to your list! I might or might not have added it to mine! ;-)

The first is the long awaited Brinkman Adventures Season 3. The Brinkman Adventures are audio drama missionary stories featuring a large, adventurous family. This volume includes stories about Bible smugglers, Alaskan glacial hikes, and an escape from a Taliban prison. If you need a refresher about the Brinkmans, read my review from last April.

The Brinkman Adventures CD sells for $25 for a set of 4 CD's, or $17 for an mp3 download. They are also offering free shipping of the CD sets if you purchase for Christmas, through this weekend. 

Also, we raved about Clued In Kids and the fun treasure hunts that we reviewed in October. They came out with a new printable treasure hunt that can easily be downloaded for Christmas. The cost is $5.99 and it comes all ready to be printed and set up. It is called All About Jesus and has a lot of fun filled Christmas activities. 

 If you are still looking for a few last minute gifts, I would highly recommend these!

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Sale at Veritas Press

This past year we reviewed a self-paced history program from Veritas Press, and LOVED it! In fact, we are still using it, finishing off the entire program, even though the review has been already been written.

I wanted to pass along a tremendous sale that Veritas Press is having for Christmas. If you were considering trying out a Veritas Press program in your home school, this would be a great time to purchase. Program start dates can even be deferred until next fall - so you can even get a head start on next year's curriculum.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sugar Plum Spice Jelly

This is a simple recipe I created to make a sweet Christmas jelly for homemade gift giving. One of my daughters described it as "hitting every type of taste bud in your mouth". I think that's pretty accurate. It's sweet with a tinge of fruity zest. We have really enjoyed it and I hope you will too!

You will need 5 small 8oz jelly jars with lids. Wash and sanitize your jars before starting, and then boil them in your canner so they are hot before adding jelly.

While your jars are getting nice and hot in the canner, boil 3 cups of water to make your sugar plum spice base.

This is a small batch jelly. It will make you 5 jelly jars with some extra to leave out for sampling. And you will want to sample....believe me!

I have to make several batches to ensure having enough to give away and satisfy my family too!

This jelly can be made gluten and dairy free as well.


1 box of Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Spice Tea
3 cups water
1/2 cup unsweetened apple or cranberry juice
5 cups sugar
2 tsp. butter (can safely be omitted to make the recipe dairy free)*
1 3oz. pouch of liquid pectin


Boil 3 cups of water. When bubbling, remove from heat, add the contents of one box of Sugar Plum Spice Tea, cover and let steep for 20 minutes.

Remove and discard tea bags. Use the tea for a base, and mix in juice and sugar. Stir well.

Set up hot jars on your workspace, ready to be filled when the jelly is done boiling.

Bring mixture to a boil and allow it to boil hard for about 2-3 minutes. Add butter and liquid pectin. Stir well. Stir continuously. When it gets back to a rolling boil, again allow it to boil for about 1 minute, then remove from heat.

Working quickly, use a ladle and canning funnel to fill jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Use a long, slender tool, such as a butter knife, to carefully stir jelly, removing air bubbles. Wipe the heads of the jars clean with a damp cloth, then seal with lids and bands. (always helps to warm your lids before sealing - you want every part of the jar to be hot)

Place the sealed jars in the hot water bath canner, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set out to cool. Check lids for proper seal before storing.

Jelly may take up to a month to set, so make it early if you are planning on giving it away for Christmas. 

It is delicious on toast, english muffins, and quick breads.

*Butter is used to eliminate the foam that this jelly produces. If you omit the butter, take a moment to skim the foam off the top of the pot of jelly before pouring it into jars.

This recipe is the property of my blog - you are free to share - but please credit this blog post when doing so.  Thank you!!

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

This recipe has been shared at "Try A New Recipe Tuesday" with Lisa Boyle.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Making History Lessons Come Alive {Kindle Fire Giveaway}

History has always been one of my passions, and apparently I have passed that legacy on to my children. While we were studying American History last school year, I came across a set of incredibly helpful books on Amazon for my Kindle. Even though they were not expensive, I only purchased one to 'try it out' before handing it over to the girls. I quickly learned that purchasing more was a wise investment!

When I was young, I had quite the affinity for "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. I used to read through books too quickly, then had to suffer through the boring wait until I could get to the library again. With "Choose Your Own Adventure" books though, I could keep reading the same book repeatedly, choosing different outcomes, to make the story last longer.

My attempt to find interesting books for our literature-rich American History studies ended when I found the "You Choose: History" books for the Kindle.  This was my first real venture into incorporating tablet technology into our studies, and it was wildly successful!

A quick Amazon search for interactive history studies leaves you with an overwhelming 431 options! I would like to discuss a few of our favorites. Once I purchased and downloaded these, the whole family was reading, choosing, and discussing their varied adventures. What an inspiration to have so many fascinating conversations revolving around our current historical topic of study!

Some of our favorite "You Choose: History" books include:

Once downloaded and opened, in the first chapter the reader will learn their own personal story and background. They take on the character and personality of the protagonist of the book, and each time an important decision is to be made, the reader must make what they feel is the best choice with the information they have learned up to that point in the story. Reading these books on the Kindle makes interacting with the story incredibly easy, as the reader just touches the screen to indicate their choice, and the e-book automatically delivers them to that continuation of the story.

Once they reach a 'dead end' they are automatically given an option to start over or return to a previous spot in their life's story.

My children read these until they exhausted every possible option to each story. Because they actually became a part of the story itself, they learned so many fine details about each historical era that they might not have otherwise considered.

I really believe that these interactive historical books are an extremely effective way to learn history by completely immersing the student into the lives of those who lived it. Needing to make decisions causes their brain to actively engage in the process, weighing the options, almost as if they were experiencing these activities in real life.

The 'You Choose: History' books are not just for American History though. There are a number of current and ancient history matters that are dealt with in many fine books, such as:

The bottom line is that I highly recommend this as a fun and interesting way to learn history! (I must confess....these books are not just for kids - even I enjoyed reading these e-books, although I typically had to wait until the kiddos were in bed to have my turn on the Kindle)

With Christmas coming, a Kindle would make an excellent choice for a fun gift that sneaks in some education to unsuspecting students.

To help some wonderful, hard-working family further their children's education, I am participating in a large giveaway of 3 brand new Kindles! Perhaps the winner will want to pre-load it with some interesting interactive history adventures before wrapping it as a gift.

To enter the giveaway for your chance at a Kindle, see details below.

{This post does contain Amazon affiliate links - purchasing through my links pays me a small commission to help fund our home schooling efforts - thank you!}

Christmas Fire Giveaway

 The Crew is on hiatus from writing reviews until January. So while we have a little time on our hands, we thought we'd bless our awesome readers with a super cool Christmas Fire Giveaway! Twenty of our team members and The Old Schoolhouse have joined together to sponsor this incredible giveaway with 3 winners! We are excited to be giving away not one, not two, but THREE Fire HD Tablets! One person will win a Fire HD 7 Tablet, and TWO people will win a Fire HD 6 Kid's Edition (in your choice of lime green, blue or pink).

Fire HD 7 Tablet ($139 value, one winner)

Powerful, full-featured Fire HD tablet—with beautiful 7" HD display, 2x faster quad-core processer, dual speakers with Dolby Audio, and unsurpassed reliability in its class.

Fire HD 6 Kid's Edition ($149 value, two winners)

All-new Fire HD 6 tablet—with 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, Kid-Proof Case, and a 2-year worry-free guarantee—up to $95 in savings


To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. The winner will be announced at our It's a Crew Christmas Facebook Party on Tuesday, December 16, 9PM ET. RSVP for the Christmas Party. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Amazon. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn. Entry into this giveaway will subscribe you to the Schoolhouse Review Crew email list.

Sponsoring Crew Bloggers

Only Passionate Curiosity I Choose Joy! Homeschool Encouragement Ben and Me The Potter's Hand Academy As We Walk Along the Road Adventures with Jude A Mama's Story futureflyingsaucers Kathys Cluttered Mind Footprints in the Butter Crystal Starr Lextin Academy Living Life and Learning My Harbor Lights Our Homeschool Studio Pea of Sweetness Embracing Destiny Be The One Simple Living Mama Our team of bloggers will be sharing about how tablets can be used in homeschooling, and linking up their posts here for you to learn more.