What I read in August 2020

You guys, it is finally an -er month. That means fall is around the corner! So exciting! I didn’t read a ton of books this month, it has just been busy around here! We are trying to finish up school and all of these other things keep happening. I know y’all know how it is! Anyway, here is what I read in August.
What I read in August 1
This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust – An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War. During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today’s population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. The eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death. Faust details the logistical challenges involved when thousands were left dead, many with their identities unknown, on the fields of places like Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. She chronicles the efforts to identify, reclaim, preserve, and bury battlefield dead, the resulting rise of undertaking as a profession, the first widespread use of embalming, the gradual emergence of military graves registration procedures, the development of a federal system of national cemeteries for Union dead, and the creation of private cemeteries in the South that contributed to the cult of the Lost Cause. She shows, too, how the war victimized civilians through violence that extended beyond battlefields-from disease, displacement, hardships, shortages, emotional wounds, and conflicts connected to the disintegration of slavery.

What I thought: Ok, I did not know this book was pretty much all about death. I know it says it in the title, but this book is all.about.death. Once I figured that out I was able to put what I read in a different compartment than what I normally do. This was definitely an interesting read about the Civil War!
What I read in August 2
Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott – This edition of Little Women is based on the unabridged 1896 edition with the original illustrations by Frank T.Merrill.

Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869.
The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters.

What I thought: Ok, who hasn’t read Little Women? This isn’t my first time reading it, but it has been a while. I enjoyed this one with the illustrations. It was nice reading this again!
What I read in August 3
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

What I thought: I saw so many good reviews for this book and I thought it was just ‘meh’. It took forever to read about parts that seemed like they could be shorter. I did like the fact that you could understand Snow a little more. I still don’t like him.

Well, that’s all I read in August. Not much at all! I know I am due to finish a few in September, so the list should be longer for sure!

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What I read in July 2020

This month was a tad crazy.. I mean, have I said as much with each of these posts this year? I know I am not the only one. I haven’t been able to have time to read as many books for me lately, but I think I had a great month of books! Here is what I read in July!
What I read in july 1
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye – 1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever.

Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, fantasizing about the day he has enough money to win the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this new “police force.” And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward – at the border of Five Points, the world’s most notorious slum.

One night while making his rounds, Wilde literally runs into a little slip of a girl – a girl not more than ten years old – dashing through the dark in her nightshirt… covered head to toe in blood.

Timothy knows he should take the girl to the House of Refuge, yet he can’t bring himself to abandon her. Instead, he takes her home, where she spins wild stories, claiming that dozens of bodies are buried in the forest north of 23rd Street. Timothy isn’t sure whether to believe her or not, but, as the truth unfolds, the reluctant copper star finds himself engaged in a battle for justice that nearly costs him his brother, his romantic obsession, and his own life.

What I thought: This book turned out to be something that I didn’t expect. I enjoyed reading it, the characters were well written and it made me wanting more.
What I read in july 2
Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon – The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually… make peace with who they are.

What I thought: I had just read a book with the same general topic and so I wasn’t sure if I was going to appreciate this one as much. I thought it was great! Some parts were a little expected, but I enjoyed reading through this book!
What I read in july 3
What You Should Know About Politics…But Don’t by Jessamyn Conrad – In a world of sound bites, deliberate misinformation, and a political scene colored by the blue versus red partisan divide, how does the average educated American find a reliable source that’s free of political spin? What You Should Know About Politics . . . But Don’t breaks it all down, issue by issue, explaining who stands for what, and why—whether it’s the economy, income inequality, Obamacare, foreign policy, education, immigration, or climate change. If you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or somewhere in between, it’s the perfect book to brush up on a single topic or read through to get a deeper understanding of the often mucky world of American politics.

This is an essential volume for understanding the background to the 2016 presidential election. But it is also a book that transcends the season. It’s truly for anyone who wants to know more about the perennial issues that will continue to affect our everyday lives. The third edition includes an introduction by Naomi Wolf discussing the themes and issues that have come to the fore during the present presidential cycle.

What I thought: I thought this book had a lot of information in it! Someone that maybe forgot some things, or didn’t know other things..this book would be perfect for. A lot of this they do not teach in school, that’s for sure!
What I read in july 4
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

What I thought: Seems like all of my friends were reading this a while back. We didn’t start it right away, but I am glad that I read it. I do believe that this should be read in school. I am interested to see the movie and how everything was portrayed.
What I read in july 5
All Different Kinds of Free by Jessica McCann – A free woman of color in the 1830s, Margaret Morgan lived a life full of promise. One frigid night in Pennsylvania, that changed forever. They tore her family apart. They put her in chains. They never expected her to fight back.

In 1837, Margaret Morgan was kidnapped from her home in Pennsylvania and sold into slavery. The state of Pennsylvania charged her kidnapper with the crime, but the conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the first time a major branch of the federal government had made a pro-slavery stand, and the ruling in Prigg v. Pennsylvania sewed the bitter seeds of the states’ rights battle that eventually would lead to the Civil War.

Yet, the heart of this story is not a historic Supreme Court ruling. It is the remarkable, unforgettable Margaret Morgan. Her life would never be the same. Her family had been torn apart. Uncaring forces abused her body and her heart. But she refused to give up, refused to stop fighting, refused to allow her soul to be enslaved.

What I thought: I thought this was another great book. A lot of the things actually happened which was an interesting part of this book. This woman went through so very much and I think the story was well written.

That was what I read in July! I really enjoyed the books this month! I think I look forward to school more than the kids do, the book selection has been so good!  Let me know any of your favorite books lately!

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Progeny Press Literature Study Guides {Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I have used Progeny Press study guides a few times in the past. They are always so thorough and perfect for our homeschool! This go around we chose Animal Farm  Study Guide and Little Women Study Guide.
Progeny Press book covers
We have read both books in our homeschool throughout the years, but never with a study guide of any sort.

We received E-guides for both books, everything is online in a PDF. But what is great is that they are interactive, which means that you can input the answers directly on the PDF!

You also have the choice of printing out as many or as few pages as you would like, it is just your preference. We have done both in the past.
Progeny Press Animal Farm
We started with Animal Farm, just because it was a shorter book. If you have read it, you know that there is a lot to this short book though!

This Animal Farm study guide is geared towards 9-12th grades and there are 72 pages included. They suggest that each study guide is worth 1/4 credit for high school.

What is interesting about Progeny Press is that they suggest the student reading the book first. In the past we have always read aloud and so we just read it together.

There is a section on the best way to use the study guides included in the Note to Instructor chapter.
Progeny Press Animal Farm contents
Each study guide is set up the same, which I appreciate. You can see how the Animal Farm one is broken down. I really enjoyed having the Background Information section as it goes through different governing systems and economic systems.

There are a few pre-reading activities if you are interested in doing those, it helps to understand more as you read the book.
Progeny Press Animal Farm vocab
Each section is set up pretty similar. They start out with vocabulary. What I like about how Progeny Press does their vocabulary section is that it isn’t the same every section. For example, the first section wants you to list two synonyms for each word. The next section wants you to write how you understand the word to mean and then look it up. Some of those are tricky!

You can see how each page has the lavender section, that is where you can type your answers. I know my kids play the exhausted card when they have to write too much, so if yours are like that also, they may enjoy typing their answers better than writing!

There is a section on how different animals represent different people and you are supposed to look up each person and their relevance to the events in the beginning chapters. In my opinion, this is one activity that is helpful if you have read the story first like they suggest!

At the end of each section there is a list of Optional Activities. There is usually something there for everyone. These are typically quite involved. There are a lot of research items, but there are also cooking or sewing projects and that sort of thing.

One activity was timely with how things are today, it was a political campaign analysis and it wanted you to analyze a presidential or political race and see if they did negative campaigning.
Progeny Press Animal Farm Bible
I also like how Progeny Press brings the Bible into these stories. This section of Bible verses was very helpful and are good to look up in general!

At the end is an overview section and then an optional section for essays and projects. These are more involved than the ones throughout the study guide. A lot of thought goes into them!
Progeny Press Little WomenThe Little Women Study Guide is set up pretty much identically to the Animal Farm one, like I mentioned they are all pretty similar.

This one is 94 pages and is geared toward 8-12th grades.

We haven’t finished this one because they suggest that each study guide takes between eight to ten weeks.

What I have found interesting about this study guide is that it includes some while-you-read activities. They suggest having a notebook or something similar to write down words and phrases that might not be known. I know a lot of people do that as they read but I usually just skip over. This is just a good idea for people to do in general so that they can understand the book more as they go.
Progeny Press Little Women bread

One activity I am excited to do is to make this bread. I tend to stay away from anything that includes yeast, but I think this is just something we will have to do! I also spied a recipe for Brown Sugar Apple Pie towards the end of the study guide! Exciting!

Both of these are fantastic study guides. They have many different book titles available also!

In the past I have done The Silver Chair, Great Expectations, and Perelandra. You can read all about them at those links.

As great as these are for your students at home, I can also see these being used in a co-op setting. Some of the activities are really geared to more than one student and I think it would be great to get opinions and ideas from more people!

But the study guides themselves are so thought provoking.. You really don’t want to rush through them, even if you are tempted to just get ahead. It’s really worth it to take them at a slower pace.

If you want to read what others chose for their study guides and how they used them, feel free to click on the link below! There are guides for many age groups and there may be some listed in your childs group.
Progeny Press Literature Study Guides

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What I read in June 2020

We had sort of a wonky June. I don’t know about anyone else! So many things happened and we took a couple weeks off school as well.. I did get a few books read though! I need to step it up a notch to get back on track with my Goodreads challenge. Here is what I read in June 2020.
What I read in June 1
American Colonies: The Settling of North America by Alan Taylor – In the first volume in the Penguin History of the United States, edited by Eric Foner, Alan Taylor challenges the traditional story of colonial history by examining the many cultures that helped make America, from the native inhabitants from milennia past, through the decades of Western colonization and conquest, and across the entire continent, all the way to the Pacific coast.

Transcending the usual Anglocentric version of our colonial past, he recovers the importance of Native American tribes, African slaves, and the rival empires of France, Spain, the Netherlands, and even Russia in the colonization of North America. Moving beyond the Atlantic seaboard to examine the entire continent, American Colonies reveals a pivotal period in the global interaction of peoples, cultures, plants, animals, and microbes. In a vivid narrative, Taylor draws upon cutting-edge scholarship to create a timely picture of the colonial world characterized by an interplay of freedom and slavery, opportunity and loss.

What I thought: I appreciated how they included so many things that aren’t in a typical history course. It was well done!
What I read in June 2
American Politics: A Very Short Introduction by Richard M. Valelly – American politics seems to grow more contentious and complicated by the day, and whether American democracy works well is hotly debated. Amidst all this roiling partisan argument and confusing claims and counterclaims, there has never been a greater need for an impartial primer on the basics of the American political system.

This Very Short Introduction gives readers a concise, accessible, and sophisticated overview of the vital elements of American democracy, emphasizing both how these elements function, their historical origins, and how they have evolved into their present forms. Richard Valelly covers all facets of America’s political system: the bicameral Congress and the place of the filibuster, the legislative-executive process, the role of the Supreme Court, political parties and democratic choice, bureaucracy, the partisan revival, and the political economy. He offers as well an original analysis of the evolution of the American presidency and a fascinating chapter on the effects of public polling on political decision-making and voter representation. Valelly shows that the American political system is, and always has been, very much a work in progress–unfolding within, and also constantly updating, an eighteenth-century constitutional framework. In a refreshingly balanced and judicious assessment, he explores the strengths of American democracy while candidly acknowledging both gaps in representation and the increasing income inequality have sparked protest and intense public discussion. Finally, Valelly considers the remarkable persistence, for more than two centuries, of the basic constitutional forms established in 1787, despite the dramatic social changes that have reshaped virtually all aspects of American life.

For anyone wishing to understand the nuts and bolts of how our political system works–and sometimes fails to work–this Very Short Introduction is the very best place to start.

What I thought: I could understand someone wanting to read this that had no idea about American Politics. I found it a tad boring and slightly one-sided…
What I read in June 3
The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown – In April of 1846, twenty-one-year-old Sarah Graves, intent on a better future, set out west from Illinois with her new husband, her parents, and eight siblings. Seven months later, after joining a party of pioneers led by George Donner, they reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains as the first heavy snows of the season closed the pass ahead of them. In early December, starving and desperate, Sarah and fourteen others set out for California on snowshoes, and, over the next thirty-two days, endured almost unfathomable hardships and horrors.

In this gripping narrative, New York Times bestselling author Daniel James Brown sheds new light on one of the most legendary events in American history. Following every painful footstep of Sarah’s journey with the Donner Party, Brown produces a tale both spellbinding and richly informative.

What I thought: I enjoyed reading this book. I can’t imagine being in that situation at all. I also enjoyed some of the teaching moments the author included in this book. It was well done!
What I read in June 4
Nothing is Forgotten by Peter Golden – From the beloved author of Comeback Love and Wherever There Is Light, comes a novel about the life-changing journey of a young man who travels from New Jersey to Khrushchev’s Russia and the beaches of Southern France as he finds love and discovers the long-hidden secrets about his heritage.

In 1950s New Jersey, Michael Daniels launches a radio show in the storage room of his Russian-Jewish grandmother’s candy store. Not only does the show become a local hit because of his running satires of USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, but half a world away, it picks up listeners in a small Soviet city.

There, with rock and roll leaking in through bootlegged airwaves, Yulianna Kosoy—a war orphan in her mid-twenties—is sneaking American goods into the country with her boss, Der Schmuggler.

But just as Michael’s radio show is taking off, his grandmother is murdered in the candy store. Why anyone would commit such an atrocity against such a warm, affable woman is anyone’s guess. But she had always been secretive about her past and, as Michael discovers, guarded a shadowy ancestral history. In order to solve the mystery of who killed her, Michael sets out to Europe to learn where he—and his grandmother—really came from.

What I thought: This book took me a little bit to get into at the beginning. Once I realized more how the book was written I was getting invested with the characters. The ending was frustrating for me, but now that I look back on the book I totally get it…


Well, four books isn’t bad..I guess I made up for reading so much last month. This was what I read in June 2020. Let me know what you have read lately!

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I’m quiet…and that’s not bad

One of the most common things I hear about myself is how quiet I am. A lot of the time it is mentioned with some sort of distaste, like it is a bad thing. But yet it is rare to have someone complain about someone being loud. What makes being quiet so different? I just want to say, I’m quiet…and that’s not bad.

Silence doesn’t mean that something is wrong.

Just because I am quiet does not mean I am suffering or angry or lonely. It does not mean I am being rude. Even if I have major RBF going on, it does not mean that I don’t like you or am judging you.

If you are talking to me and you think me uninterested or bored, that is more than likely not the case.

In a conversation, I listen for a long time before I even think about speaking. In life, I pause and observe. In relationships, I learn from others. On my own, I spend time getting to know myself.

I am not broken and I don’t need to be fixed.

Society almost has it in for us quiet people. The noisy people are regarded as ‘normal’. Quiet people get asked all the time what is wrong with them.

People close to me know that I hold a lot in until I feel I have something worth saying. If I say ‘I don’t care’ or ‘whatever’ I mean it! Once I have something to say, then you know that I have an opinion or have really thought about the topic.

In a group, I am mostly multi-tasking during discussions. I am thinking about what the person is saying, thinking about what I want to say, thinking about how I would rather be somewhere else, thinking about what I need at the store, thinking about the weather, thinking about how I could do this one thing that I thought about earlier. The list is endless.

My blank face doesn’t mean anything against you. Unless it does…but that is a whole different thing…

I don’t like gossip or nosiness.

I honestly don’t care to be in everyone’s business. I’m not interested in what John down the street said or what cousin Sophia is doing. I really couldn’t care less.

When friends and family are gossiping or getting all nosy in my business I kind of shut down.

I could not imagine getting nosy into their business and so it makes me quite uncomfortable when it is happening in front of me.

You will not hear me asking question after question about your life or the lives of people you know. If you volunteer information then I will for sure listen, but again, I will more than likely be multi-tasking.

I notice more than you think I do.

Since I am quiet, I notice so many things that the average person wouldn’t be fazed by.

Looks between two people that are in the early stages of a relationship, the weird attitude that someone gives me when they think I am not paying attention, the mannerisms between family members.

I notice plenty of things that don’t involve people at all! Knowing when one of our pets is slightly off and they appear normal to everyone else, the plant that grew a couple inches overnight, the fence that is going to break any day now.

It is a fascinating world and to observe so much is quite interesting.

If you know someone that is quiet, please don’t just assume anything about them. It’s not better to be loud. I’m quiet…and that’s not bad.


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The Mayflower at Cape Cod by Rebecca Locklear {Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Reading has been an important part of us studying American History this year. We are reading a lot of books, and quickly! I was happy to check out The Mayflower at Cape Cod – Stories, activities, and research that connect 1620 with life today from Rebecca Locklear.
The Mayflower at Cape Cod CoverBack when we weren’t so involved in senior year we would spend a lot of time doing unit studies. This reminds me of our time doing those! I think there is something for everyone.

The book itself is just seven lessons, but there is a lot in that seven lessons. It would go great with any American History study. Included are 70 activities and 80 research items.

I received an e-book, but there is also a choice to get a printed copy. It just depends on your preference as well as who you are teaching.

Upon reading how the book flowed, I was even more intrigued. Each lesson starts with a story. Each one isn’t very long, but all are very informative.
The Mayflower at Cape Cod activities
Then, there are choices of activities. As you can see, there really is something for everyone. I know kids don’t learn the same, and this really helps you to be able to pick activities that your child is interested in. Or hey, if they are totally into it, you could do them all!

After the activities, the research items are included. For lesson 1  there are eight choices for research topics. They all vary in intensity, so again, there is something for everyone.

Since we just started our school year in February, we were still pretty early on in our American History studies, so this was perfect timing for us.
The Mayflower at Cape Cod objectiveThis objective in Lesson 1 really got me… It can be said up to things happening nowadays as well as things in the past. And that ties in to what part of the title says, connecting the past to today.

We did many of the activities listed, but they were hard to photograph. But one of our favorites was the Survival Essentials Activity. We had just read about the Donner Party and everything that happened with that, so this was perfect for us.
The Mayflower at Cape Cod activityThe activity was choosing ten things that would fit in your pocket that you would take on two different trips. I gave one trip to Kyle and one to Lauren.

Rather than gather all of the items, since we hardly have any of them..or printing out pictures of them because of ink, I just made a list and had them choose from there.

After reading about the Donner Party, I think it was easier for Lauren to pick items from the list. But it really makes you think about things that you might need like that. How often do we just go on trips and experiences without even thinking of emergencies at all?

Also, some of the things that people picked led to discussions on if those items would really be the best thing!

Some of the activities are thought provoking, some are just fun, and some involve cooking. I am looking forward to making the pumpkin muffins!

You could easily turn this into a longer study! One thing could lead to another thing and so on. That’s where I thought it was like a unit study. You could build so many things onto this one thing.

As much as I enjoyed doing this with my two kids, I think it would be fantastic in a group setting, such as a co-op. There are so many activities that would be so great with more people.

Some of the activities were a little young for my kids, but the book is geared for grades 6-12, so that makes sense.

I appreciate the photography and the research that went into making this book. It was also neat since I went to Cape Cod not that long ago and I can just picture that whole area.

Along with this The Mayflower at Cape Cod – Stories, activities, and research that connect 1620 with life today, there is also Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service 1878-1915: 17 Student Workshops with 120 Activities which is a much longer study that sounds quite interesting as well!

You can also sign up for her email list and once a month receive teaching tips and other resources.

If you are interested in checking out what others thought of either of these books, feel free to click the banner below. A lot of people might have had kids your age that would help show things more. I am going to check out what other activities people did!
2-Click-Here-to-Read-More-Reviews-2016The Mayflower at Cape Cod by Rebecca Locklear

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Eight years ago..

This date kinda of jumped at me without knowing it was coming! But eight years ago we started on our trek to move to North Carolina! I am so very happy that we finally were able to do it! Every year on this date we take a new picture in front of the house. This year was a little different! Scroll down to see the current dealio!

The deal is that we all just come out in whatever we are wearing. As tempting as it was going to be to all come out in pj’s this year, some of us had to get dressed for something happening. Probably a good thing…









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What I read in May 2020

It hasn’t felt like I have read much at all this past month. Basically I read a little bit at breakfast and that is it! I miss the times that I could just tuck away and read for as long as I wanted, but that has been a few years ago that I have had that. Here is what I read in May. Seems like I read more than I thought!
What I read in May 1
Native American Songs and Poems by Brian Swann – In this carefully chosen collection, encompassing traditional songs and contemporary Native American poetry, readers will find a treasury of lyrics verse composed by Seminole, Hopi, Navajo, Pima, Havasupai, Arapaho, Paiute, Nootka, and other Indian writers and poets.
Selections range from the beautiful, traditional Seminole “Song for Bringing a Child into the World” to the cynical, knowing “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel.” Permeated by the Indian’s deep awareness and appreciation of nature’s beauty and rhythms, these poems deal with themes of tradition and continuity, the Indians’ place in contemporary society, love, loss, memory, alienation, and many other topics.
Taken together, these poems offer an intimate, revealing record of the Native American response to the world, from time-honored chants and songs to the musings of urban Indian poets coming to grips with twentieth-century America.

What I thought: I really enjoyed reading a lot of these poems. Some of the more modern ones I didn’t like as much as the older ones though.
What I read in May 2
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and once girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.

What I thought: This isn’t my first time reading this book, but it has been forever so it was nice doing a re-read. We also watched the movie after and that was fun.
What I read in May 3
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle – When Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college, her father, her ex-fiance, Tobias, and Audrey Hepburn.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Sabrina contends with in Rebecca Serle’s utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as Sliding Doors, and The Rosie Project.

As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together, and as Rebecca Serle masterfully traces Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias and her coming of age in New York City, The Dinner List grapples with the definition of romance, the expectations of love, and how we navigate our way through it to happiness. Oh, and of course, wisdom from Audrey Hepburn.

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a modern romance for our times. Bon appetit.

What I thought: Parts of this book seemed to creep along, but yet I was wondering where it was going and it kept me reading. It wasn’t a favorite book, but I enjoyed it all the same.
What I read in May 4
The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction by Linda Greenhouse – For 30 years, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Linda Greenhouse chronicled the activities of the U.S. Supreme Court and its justices as a correspondent for the New York Times. In this Very Short Introduction, she draws on her deep knowledge of the court’s history and of its written and unwritten rules to show readers how the Supreme Court really works.

Greenhouse offers a fascinating institutional biography of a place and its people–men and women who exercise great power but whose names and faces are unrecognized by many Americans and whose work often appears cloaked in mystery. How do cases get to the Supreme Court? How do the justices go about deciding them? What special role does the chief justice play? What do the law clerks do? How does the court relate to the other branches of government? Greenhouse answers these questions by depicting the justices as they confront deep constitutional issues or wrestle with the meaning of confusing federal statutes. Throughout, the author examines many individual Supreme Court cases to illustrate points under discussion, ranging from Marbury v. Madison, the seminal case which established judicial review, to the recent District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which struck down the District of Columbia’s gun-control statute and which was, surprisingly, the first time in its history that the Court issued an authoritative interpretation of the Second Amendment. To add perspective, Greenhouse also compares the Court to foreign courts, revealing interesting differences. For instance, no other country in the world has chosen to bestow life tenure on its judges.

A superb overview packed with telling details, this volume offers a matchless introduction to one of the pillars of American government.

What I thought: Well, I guess it was as interesting as it could be. I did enjoy learning a few things that I didn’t know previously though.
What I read in May 5
Becoming a Citizen Activist by Nick Licata – Basically all the book is about it in the title.

What I thought: I have no desire to become a citizen activist so this book was not for me. I did enjoy some of the stories though.
What I read in May 6
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – It’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.

What I thought: This was a cute story, it came highly recommended and I am glad I read it. I love reading about different time periods and especially about people that enjoy books as much as I do.
What I read in May 7
1776 by David McCullough – In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence – when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, an his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.

At the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no more of war than what they had read in books – Nathaniel Green, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston in the dead of Winter.

But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost – Washington, who had never before led an army in battle. Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough’s 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history.

What I thought: I enjoyed reading this book.. I don’t think I would like to watch the movie though. The back and forth between the two sides was sometimes hard to follow unless I paid close attention, I tended to be lazy with this book.
What I read in May 8
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill – Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedom―and of the knowledge, she needs to get home. Sold to an indigo trader who recognizes her intelligence, Aminata is torn from her husband and child and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan, Aminata helps pen the Book of Negroes, a list of blacks rewarded for service to the king with safe passage to Nova Scotia. There Aminata finds a life of hardship and stinging prejudice. When the British abolitionists come looking for “adventurers” to create a new colony in Sierra Leone, Aminata assists in moving 1,200 Nova Scotians to Africa and aiding the abolitionist cause by revealing the realities of slavery to the British public.

This captivating story of one woman’s remarkable experience spans six decades and three continents and brings to life a crucial chapter in world history.

What I thought: This book was fantastic, the writing was great, the main character was very interesting to follow. It all tied in so well together, definitely recommend this book!
What I read in May 9
The United States Constitution by Jonathan Hennessey – Our leaders swear to uphold it, our military to defend it. It is the blueprint for the shape and function of government itself and what defines Americans as Americans. But how many of us truly know our Constitution?

The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation uses the art of illustrated storytelling to breathe life into our nation’s cornerstone principles. Simply put, it is the most enjoyable and groundbreaking way to read the governing document of the United States. Spirited and visually witty, it roves article by article, amendment by amendment, to get at the meaning, background, and enduring relevance of the law of the land.

What revolutionary ideas made the Constitution’s authors dare to cast off centuries of rule by kings and queens? Why do we have an electoral college rather than a popular vote for president and vice president? How did a document that once sanctioned slavery, denied voting rights to women, and turned a blind eye to state governments running roughshod over the liberties of minorities transform into a bulwark of protection for all?

The United States Constitution answers all of these questions. Sure to surprise, challenge, and provoke, it is hands down the most memorable introduction to America’s founding document.

What I thought: It was ok for a graphic novel. The book got the point across but it wasn’t a favorite to read. Some of the graphics were silly, but I guess that is to be expected.
What I read in May 10
The Herd by Andrea Bartz – The name of the elite, women-only coworking space stretches across the wall behind the check-in desk: THE HERD, the H-E-R always in purple. In-the-know New Yorkers crawl over each other to apply for membership to this community that prides itself on mentorship and empowerment. Among the hopefuls is Katie Bradley, who’s just returned from the Midwest after a stint of book research blew up in her face. Luckily, Katie has an in, thanks to her sister Hana, an original Herder and the best friend of Eleanor Walsh, its charismatic founder.

As head of PR, Hana is working around the clock in preparation for a huge announcement from Eleanor—one that would change the trajectory of The Herd forever.

Then, on the night of the glitzy Herd news conference, Eleanor vanishes without a trace. Everybody has a theory about what made Eleanor run, but when the police suggest foul play, everyone is a suspect.

What I thought: It was an ok book, decent to read, but it wasn’t a favorite. I did want to read to see ‘who done it’, but I could easily put it down and get back to it later.


Finally, this is what I read in May. I didn’t realize it was so many books. At least I put a dent into my reading challenge! Last month I was a few books behind!

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Fermentools Starter Kit {Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I have friends that swear by eating fermented foods. But all the time they mentioned sauerkraut. I know that I don’t like that. When I was asked to review the Starter Kit from Fermentools, I immediately started researching!

Thankfully, Fermentools has a blog that had a lot of tips and recipes! I am such a newbie when it comes to fermenting things, that I definitely needed this extra help. I decided to try a Fermented Lemons and Mint recipe from the blog as my first attempt at fermenting.

The kit that I received comes with everything you need except the jar and whatever it is you are wanting to ferment. I went to the store and found some cool colored jars that I thought would be perfect. I haven’t really read on if colored jars do anything different, but it seems that for this recipe you only want the jar to have minimal light.
Fermentools lemons
I cut up a bunch of lemons, I tried to keep them as uniform as possible. I always think that lemons are so pretty, especially as the temperatures start warming up.
Fermentools mintAfter putting the lemons in my jar, I added a few mint leaves from this plant. I made the mistake of taking the wrapper off and the whole thing fell to the side almost immediately. Oops! I gave it to my mom who then planted it and she said it is doing great!
Fermentools saltThen I added some water and salt to the mix. It is superfine Himalayan salt. This big bag of salt is included in the kit! The jar is quite large so don’t be deceived by the size in the picture! I was intrigued on the whole lemon thing so I wanted to make a lot.

Before I closed it all up, I sat the included glass weight on top of the lemons to make sure they wouldn’t float.
Fermentools kitI know this looks like a science experiment, and really, it kind of is! But it all just works to help in the process!

The recipe mentioned that lemons tend to take a longer time than other vegetables and fruits, so as much as I wanted to peek, I just left it alone. When I thought it was time, I opened it right on up.

I was hoping that I didn’t mess anything up, but really, is is pretty foolproof. At least this recipe is for me.  I smelled it and it didn’t smell bad, in fact, it smelled nice!
Fermentools finalI am not sure how to tell if it is ‘done’ or not, but it seemed ok to me! They definitely looked pretty!
Fermentools rice
On the recipe it suggested putting it with some rice. We just happened to make some for my daughter and thought I would check it out. It made the rice have such an interesting flavor! My husband cooked up some chicken and I added it to it and had a sort of lemon chicken dish. I never would have thought of adding it to a dish like this!

Even though I added just a little bit of mint to the jar originally, you could still get the flavor from it. I would love to add it to a drink, maybe a strawberry lemonade? Yum!

There are so many things to ferment that I never would have thought of. Just the fruit and veggie category alone have numerous choices. Even if I never make sauerkraut, I could keep busy for a long time with other recipes!
The starter kit sells for $21.49 but you can use the code CREW2020 to get 15% off until June 30!

It comes with:

  • A Stainless Steel Lid
  • One Glass Fermentation Weight
  • Air Lock
  • Two Rubber Stoppers
  • A Rubber Canning Gasket
  • An Instruction Packet

It was also packaged in a nice bag. But if you feel like you want to ferment more than one thing at a time, you might want to get more than one starter kit or check out Fermentools for more ideas!

If you want to check out what other people fermented, feel free to click on the banner below!

Fermentools Starter Kit

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What I read in April 2020

Well, with the virus and Jeffy still recovering from his surgery, I thought for sure I would have a lot more books read this month. We ended up getting a little guy at the beginning of the month and he is staying with us for a while! Thankfully we are still able to get school done in a timely manner, and actually I can get a little bit of reading in for myself too! Here is what I read in April!
What I read in April 1
The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction by Donald A. Ritchie – Many scholars believe that the framers of the Constitution intended Congress to be the preeminent branch of government. Indeed, no other legislature in the world approaches its power. Yet most Americans have only a murky idea of how it works.
In The U.S. Congress, Donald A. Ritchie, a congressional historian for more than thirty years, takes readers on a fascinating, behind-the-scenes tour of Capitol Hill–pointing out the key players, explaining their behavior, and translating parliamentary language into plain English. No mere civics lesson, this eye-opening book provides an insider’s perspective on Congress, matched with a professional historian’s analytical insight. After a swift survey of the creation of Congress by the constitutional convention, he begins to unscrew the nuts and pull out the bolts. What is it like to campaign for congress? To attract large donors? To enter either house with no seniority? He answers these questions and more, explaining committee assignments (and committee work), the role of staffers and lobbyists, floor proceedings, parliamentary rules, and coalition building. Ritchie explores the great effort put into constituent service–as representatives and senators respond to requests from groups and individuals–as well as media relations and news coverage. He also explores how the grand concepts we all know from civics class–checks and balances, advise and consent, congressional oversight–work in practice, in an age of strong presidents and a muscular Senate minority (no matter which party is in that position).
In this sparkling addition to Oxford’s Very Short Introduction series, Donald Ritchie moves beyond the cynicism and the platitudes to provide a gem of a portrait of how Congress really works.

What I thought: Well, it was for school….so for that reason, it is quite helpful. It wasn’t totally exciting, but it wasn’t totally boring either.

What I read in April 2
The Witch of Blackbird Pone by Elizabeth George Speare – Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.

What I thought: I really enjoyed this book. I admit I thought it would be a little cheesy by just reading the snippet about it, but it was well done. The characters were my favorite.

What I read in April 3
Remembrance by Rita Woods – Remembrance…It’s a rumor, a whisper passed in the fields and veiled behind sheets of laundry. A hidden stop on the underground road to freedom, a safe haven protected by more than secrecy…if you can make it there.

Ohio, present day. An elderly woman who is more than she seems warns against rising racism as a young woman grapples with her life.

Haiti, 1791, on the brink of revolution. When the slave Abigail is forced from her children to take her mistress to safety, she discovers New Orleans has its own powers.

1857 New Orleansa city of unrest: Following tragedy, house girl Margot is sold just before her 18th birthday and her promised freedom. Desperate, she escapes and chases a whisper…. Remembrance.

What I thought: When a story is broken up in different time periods, sometimes that is just hard for me. I was able to keep them straight after a couple chapters. The end was just…meh for me and I didn’t understand some of the point of the book….but it was still an enjoyable read.

What I read in April 4
Wildland by Rebecca Hodge – When Kat Jamison retreats to the Blue Ridge Mountains, she’s counting on peace and solitude to help her make a difficult decision. Her breast cancer has returned, but after the death of her husband, her will to fight is dampened. Now she has a choice to make: face yet another round of chemotherapy or surrender gracefully.

Self-reflection quickly proves impossible as her getaway is complicated by a pair of abandoned dogs and two friendly children staying nearby, Lily and Nirav. In no time at all, Kat’s quiet seclusion is invaded by the happy confusion of children and pets.

But when lightning ignites a deadly wildfire, Kat’s cabin is cut off from the rest of the camp, separating Lily and Nirav from their parents. Left with no choice, Kat, the children, and the dogs must flee on foot through the drought-stricken forest, away from the ravenous flames. As a frantic rescue mission is launched below the fire line, Kat drives the party deeper into the mountains, determined to save four innocent lives. But when the moment comes to save her own, Kat will have to decide just how hard she’s willing to fight to survive–and what’s worth living for.

A heart-pounding novel of bravery, sacrifice, and self-discovery, Wildland will keep you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.

What I thought: I was expecting a little cheese with this book, but it was definitely one that I didn’t want to put down. A little of it had to do with the fact that it was based pretty close to where I live! The writing made it all so exciting like you were there..

That is what I read in April! If you have a favorite book that you have read lately, let me know!

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